Friday, October 15, 2021

DID YOU CONSENT TO A POLICE SEARCH?

An officer generally must have a warrant in order to search you or your property unless an exception to the warrant requirement exists. One exception is that you consented. But did you really? While this may seem like a straightforward yes or no question, the facts can be murky, and different judges may interpret the same facts very differently.

To prove consent, the state must show you did so freely and without coercion. Consent cannot be extracted by implied threat or covert force. If your consent was nonverbal, the court will look at whether you intended to consent or were merely acquiescing to authority.

For example, in People v. Banta, the officer asked the defendant if he could search his person. The officer testified that the defendant “did not tell me no.” Video of the incident did not have sound so that the court had to infer whether defendant gave consent through his body language. The court held that even if defendant had not verbally refused, his lack of protest was insufficient to establish voluntary consent, and that the state had failed to meet its burden of proof.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did you agree to the search? Was your consent voluntary? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from an illegal search.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, September 24, 2021

WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF CHILD ENDANGERMENT IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, endangering the life or health of a child is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for subsequent offenses. The offense includes knowingly allowing or causing the endangerment or permitting the child to be placed in an endangering situation. (See 720 ILCS 5/12C-5.)

Under the law, if you leave a child age 6 or younger, unaccompanied by someone at least age 14 and out of your sight, the child may be considered unattended. Illinois courts have convicted parents for leaving a baby in a car for close to an hour and leaving a loaded gun within reach of a child. p>If you are convicted of child endangerment, a judge may defer judgment of your guilt by placing you on probation and requiring you to cooperate with the Department of Child and Family Services. If you successfully complete these terms, the case against you may be dismissed. (See 720 ILCS 5/12C-15).

If you have been charged with endangering a child or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove that you were the person who endangered the child or that you did it knowingly? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, September 10, 2021

CAN I PLEAD ENTRAPMENT AS A DEFENSE?

A friend of a friend asked you to help them get some narcotics. You don’t do drugs yourself, but you don’t have a problem with other people using them. At first, you said you couldn’t help, but the person kept badgering you until finally you gave in. Turns out the person was a police officer and you are now charged with dealing.

Is this entrapment?

Quite possibly. To plead entrapment in your defense, you must present at least slight evidence that (1) the State induced you to commit the crime, and (2) you were not otherwise predisposed to do so. Once the trial court accepts your slight evidence, the State must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt why the entrapment defense does not apply. Your predisposition can be shown by proof that you were ready and willing to commit the crime without persuasion and before your initial exposure to government agents.

For example, in People v. Lewis, the defendant was accused of various sex offenses stemming from an online relationship with a child. The defendant, however, presented evidence that he had no predisposition to a sexual interest in children and that an officer was the first person to bring up the possibility of sex with minors and persisted in pursuing that option even after defendant showed he was not interested.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Were you pushed into the crime? Even if you weren’t, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

WHAT IS SELF DEFENSE IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, you act in self defense if: (1) there is a threat of unlawful force against you; (2) you are not the aggressor; (3) the danger of harm was imminent; (4) your use of force was necessary; (5) you actually and subjectively believed there was a danger that required you to use that force; and (6) your belief was objectively reasonable. See 720 ILCS 5/7-1. Self defense can include defense of another.

To claim self defense, you cannot be the initial aggressor. Therefore, you cannot start a fight and then cry self defense because you were on the losing end. However, throwing the first punch does not necessarily make you the aggressor if the other party initially provoked the use of force.

For example, People v. Cruz involved a dispute that started on a Chicago Transit Authority bus. The defendant got on the bus without at first paying his fare and was yelling at the driver. The driver and another passenger named Perkins discussed the defendant’s difficult behavior. After some back and forth, Perkins grabbed defendant and threw the first punch. Defendant stabbed Perkins in the chest. Although Perkins threw the initial punch, defendant could not claim self defense because he had brandished a knife. The court held that brandishing a weapon is one way for a defendant to become the initial aggressor.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Do your actions qualify for self defense or another legal defense such as necessity? An attorney who is familiar with your particular judge may be able to present the facts of your case in their most persuasive light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Saturday, August 7, 2021

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED CRIMINAL SEXUAL ABUSE BASED ON “POSITION OF TRUST?”

Under one definition (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(f)), you commit aggravated criminal sexual abuse if 1) you have sexual conduct with a victim who is aged 13 to 17, 2) you are at least age 17, and 3) you hold a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim.

In Illinois, “trust,” means the victim has confidence in your integrity, ability, character, and truth. For example, in People v. Miki, the defendant was a soccer coach, and the victim had been on his team starting in sixth grade. The criminal conduct occurred about a month after she had left the team when she was 17. In finding defendant held a position of trust, the court reasoned that the victim’s family allowed her to ride alone with him to games. Further, the defendant, the victim and their families attended the same church, where the victim’s father was a pastor. The victim at times sat with defendant during services. Therefore, the evidence was sufficient to uphold defendant’s conviction based on a position of trust.

If you have been charged with criminal sexual abuse or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Whether you occupy a “position of trust” can be a highly fact specific question, the answer to which may depend on your particular judge. An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse can best attempt to present the facts of your case in their most favorable light in the hopes of winning a not guilty verdict. Even if the evidence is overwhelming, the attorney may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, July 23, 2021

CAN YOU BE CHARGED WITH MULTIPLE CRIMES BASED ON ONE ACT?

The answer is yes, provided each offense contains at least one element that differs from your other offense(s).

Under the one-act, one-crime rule, you may not be convicted of multiple offenses based on precisely the same single physical act. To determine if a one-act, one-crime violation has occurred, the court looks at 1) whether your conduct consisted of a single physical act or separate acts, and 2) whether any single act formed the basis for separate but lesser-included offenses.

In People v. McCloud, the defendant abducted and sexually assaulted a woman off the street. The court found that within that one event, defendant had performed multiple acts. First, defendant forced the victim into an abandoned house, which supported a conviction for unlawful restraint. Then, Defendant grabbed the victim’s breast, which supported a conviction for criminal sexual abuse. Finally, the victim nearly escaped several times only to be recaptured and touched or penetrated by defendant. This touching in an insulting nature supported a separate conviction for battery.

However, in People v. Reveles-Cordova, the court reversed the defendant’s conviction for criminal sexual assault because all the elements of that offense were contained within the offense of home invasion. Therefore, the defendant could not be convicted of both.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can your act be broken into multiple crimes or did the state “overcharge” you? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, July 2, 2021

WHEN CAN I BE CONVICTED OF A LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE?

Police arrested you on charges that were pretty stiff, but you feel confident that the state can’t prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. That does not mean, however, that you are out of the woods. The court can convict you of a lesser-included offense even if you were not originally charged with that offense.

Under Illinois law, you may be convicted of a lesser-included offense if it is within the offense for which you were charged and the evidence at trial supports conviction on the lesser offense and acquittal on the greater offense.

For example, in People. v. VanHoose, the defendant was arrested for threatening a public official. The trial court found the evidence insufficient to convict on that charge but instead convicted defendant for the lesser-included offense of assault. (In this case, the appellate court disagreed that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of assault and reversed the trial court.)

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal charges, the state must prove all the elements of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Can the state prove the lesser-included offense? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Sunday, June 6, 2021

WHAT IS LEWD UNDER ILLINOIS CHILD PORNOGRAPHY LAW?

As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously said about obscenity: “I know it when I see it.” If you are charged with child pornography, your case may likewise depend on how your particular judge sees it.

Under 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1, the offense of child pornography includes knowingly possessing an image of a child that you should have reasonably known was under age 18 where the child is depicted in any pose or setting while lewdly exhibiting the child’s unclothed (or transparently clothed) genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or fully or partially developed breast (if female).

In People v. Barger, the defendant was convicted based on one photo of a nude 8- to 10-year old girl swinging on a tether ball on the beach. The appellate court applied a six-factor test to decide if the image was lewd: (1) Was the image’s focal point was on the child’s genitals? (2) Was the setting sexually suggestive, (3) Was the child depicted in an unnatural pose or in inappropriate attire considering the child’s age? (4) Was the child fully or partially clothed or nude? (5) Did the image suggest sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity? and (6) Was the image intended to elicit a sexual response in the viewer? Not all six factors must be present to find that an image is lewd.

The appellate court found that only one of the four factors was present—the child was nude. Otherwise, the photo’s focal point was not the child’s genitals; there was nothing sexually suggestive about the photo’s setting which was the beach; the child’s pose was not unnatural; nothing suggested sexual coyness and the photo was not taken in a way to elicit a sexual response. Therefore, the defendant’s conviction was overturned.

If you have been charged with child pornography or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Should you have known the child was under age 18? Is the image truly lewd? An attorney who is familiar with your particular judge can best argue the six factors in the light most favorable to you in hopes of winning your acquittal.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, May 17, 2021

CHALLENGING A PHOTO IDENTIFICATION OR LINE UP IN ILLINOIS

After a witness at a crime scene picked you out of a group of photos, police asked you to participate in a line up. You stood alongside several other subjects, but something didn’t seem quite right. For one thing, you were the only person wearing a t-shirt and jeans.

Can you challenge the line up?

Under Illinois law, you have a due process right to be free from identification procedures that are unnecessarily suggestive and are conducive to an irreparable mistaken identification. If the line up was unduly suggestive, your attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the fact that a witness selected you.

To do so, you must show that you were denied due process because of the way the line-up was performed. Once you meet that burden, the state must clearly and convincingly show that the witness picked you solely based on his or her memory of events at the time of the crime.

A court will consider whether the procedure was unduly suggestive, and the identification not independently reliable. To determine reliability, the court considers: 1) the witness’s opportunity to view you during the offense, (2) the witness’s degree of attention at the time of the offense, (3) the accuracy of any prior description by the witness, (4) the witness’s level of certainty at the identification, and (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did police follow correct procedure in obtaining any evidence against you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Reference: People v. Bahena.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Sunday, May 2, 2021

WHAT IS BATTERY IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you commit battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3).

Under Illinois law, “knowingly” means you were consciously aware that your conduct was practically certain to cause a particular result. In People v. Jackson, 2017 IL App (1st) 142879, the defendant did not act knowingly because he did not understand what was happening to him and appeared to be suffering from a psychological issue. Being drugged or intoxicated, however, is not a defense, unless your intoxication was involuntary, and you were deprived of the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct.

If you had legal justification, you may wish to raise it as a defense. Illinois courts have upheld legal justification where a defendant was attempting to break up a fight, but not where the defendant was attempting a citizen’s arrest on a municipal ordinance violation.

The definition of “bodily harm” or “insulting physical contact” can be rarther vague. It seems pretty clear that stabbing or punching someone would cause bodily harm. Short of that, an offensive contact is something that might provoke a breach of the peace. Illinois courts have cited spitting or pushing. In People v. Williams, the court held that contact was still provoking or insulting even when the victim is unconscious.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case and present your case in its most favorable light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Sunday, April 25, 2021

WERE YOU CAPABLE OF WAIVING YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS?

When you are arrested, an officer must read your Miranda rights. If you keep talking, you may be giving up those rights.

Once you have clearly invoked your right to an attorney, any police interrogation must stop unless you initiate communication. If instead police restart the conversation, your statements will be presumed involuntary and will not be admissible at trial. To determine admissibility, the court looks at 1) whether you, rather than police, started the conversation in a manner demonstrating a willingness to discuss the investigation, and 2) if so, whether you knowingly and voluntarily waived your Miranda rights.

To knowingly waive your rights, the waiver must reflect an intentional relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege. That means you were fully aware of both the nature of the right you gave up and the consequences of your decision to abandon it. A waiver is not voluntary if you suffered from an intellectual disability or if police continued questioning you after you requested an attorney.

In People v. Kadow, the defendant was intellectually disabled with an IQ in the 50s, and the officer, had threatened him with jail if he did not answer questions. The court reflected that the intellectually disabled are considered more susceptible to police coercion than people of normal intellect. Thus, the defendant could not knowingly and voluntarily waive his rights.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If police coerced you into talking or you were otherwise incapable of waiving your rights, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any incriminating statements that you involuntarily made.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, April 9, 2021

HOW IS A COMMUTATION DIFFERENT FROM A PARDON?

You have a loved one in prison. He hung out with some people who were not his friends and got involved in a robbery. You want to shorten what seems like an unfair sentence. Are you looking for a commutation or a pardon?

It depends on whether your loved one has completed his or her sentence. If you want to get someone out of prison, a commutation could shorten their sentence. If your loved one has completed their sentence and cannot seal or expunge their record, they can petition for a pardon.

A commutation can be granted for health reasons or if it appears your loved one has learned from their mistakes and deserves a second chance. Note that a commutation is not an appeal. Rather than asserting your loved one is innocent or that mistakes were made at trial, a petition for commutation typically involves accepting responsibility for the underlying offense and showing how he or she has changed.

In contrast, a pardon enables the governor to nullify a conviction, one for which a sentence (in or out of prison) has already been satisfied. A pardon typically allows a defendant to expunge their criminal record, though the final order to do so will be at the discretion of a judge in the county where the case originated.

Either petition for commutation or pardon generally includes character references along with other exhibits, which are then sent to the Illinois Board of Prison Review. The Board makes a recommendation to the governor who then makes the final decision. Your loved one may ask for a public hearing before the Board. For a commutation, your loved one will not be allowed to appear in person at the hearing, but you can still testify on their behalf.

If you have questions about petitioning for a pardon or commutation, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

CAN MY FLIGHT BE USED AS EVIDENCE OF GUILT?

The answer is yes. If you fled from a crime, your flight can be one of the circumstances considered to establish your guilt.

Whether an inference of guilt may be drawn from your flight depends on if you knew (1) that an offense had been committed, and (2) that you may be suspected. While evidence that you knew you were a suspect is essential, actual knowledge of a possible arrest is not.

In People v. Aljohani, a neighbor heard screaming and knocked on the door. The defendant answered and said the victim was in the bathroom. The neighbor asked to see the victim after which the defendant became angry and shut the door. The neighbor called police. The defendant told them everything was OK. The police left but then returned, at which point, they found the door to the garage and apartment wide open and the defendant gone. Entering the apartment, they found the defendant’s roommate had been stabbed to death. These facts indicated that defendant knew an offense had been committed, and that he would be a suspect. Thus, the defendant’s flight could be used as evidence of guilt.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did you know you about the crime or that you would be a suspect? Is there a reasonable explanation for your behavior? If so, an attorney can try to present the facts of your case in their most favorable light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Sunday, March 7, 2021

CAN YOU TAKE YOUR OWN CHILD TO THE PARK IF YOU ARE A CONVICTED SEX OFFENDER?

The answer depends on the charges brought against you. If you are a convicted sexual predator or child sex offender, you cannot knowingly be present in any public park or loiter in a public way within 500 feet of a public park. This is true even if you are with your own child. A first offense is a Class A misdemeanor, and further offenses are Class 4 felonies. See 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1.

However, an offense under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3(a-10) allows you to be present with your own child. Under that law, a child sex offender may not knowingly be present in any public park when persons under age 18 are present and may not approach, any minor child, unless their own minor child is also present.

In People v. Legoo, the defendant, who was charged under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.4-1(b), picked up his his son from a baseball game at the park. The defendant claimed necessity in that no one else was available to do so. The court rejected this defense, noting that the defendant could have then asked police for assistance. Defendant also argued that the same exception which allows an offender under 720 ILCS 5/11-9.3 to be in a park with their own child should apply to his charges. The court disagreed, stating that the two laws applied to different offenders and different conduct.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? The court did not rule out a necessity defense under all circumstances. Did you have a compelling reason to be in the park? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, February 22, 2021

WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF TRAVELING TO MEET A CHILD IN ILLINOIS?

You commit the offense of traveling to meet a child (under age 17) when you travel any distance by any means, or attempt to do so, in order to engage in sexual conduct with that child after using an online service to seduce or solicit the child. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-26.)

You can be convicted for engaging in such conduct with someone you believed to be a child, even if they turned out to be an adult. In that event, you might raise a defense of entrapment. However, it is not entrapment if you were predisposed to commit the crime and police merely afforded you the opportunity to do so. Your predisposition is established by proof that you were ready and willing to commit the crime without persuasion and before your initial exposure to government agents.

Traveling to meet a child is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Were you attempting to lure or solicit a child? Were you predisposed to do so before police initiated contact? Even if the police acted legally and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: People v. Lewis, 2020 IL App (2d) 170900.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Friday, February 5, 2021

WHAT IS THE NECESSITY DEFENSE UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

Under Illinois law, you may be able to plead necessity as a defense if you did not cause the situation and you reasonably believed your actions were necessary to avoid a greater harm than the injury which might reasonably result from your own conduct. See 720 ILCS 5/7-13.

To prove necessity, you must show a "specific and immediate threat.” For example in People v. Gullens, the defendant took a gun which a third party had stolen in order to return it. As a result, defendant, who was serving a term of conditional discharge, was violated for being a felon in possession of a weapon. The court, however, upheld defendant’s necessity defense. Defendant had not caused the situation involving a stolen firearm and had only taken the gun in order to return it to its rightful owner since he feared it might otherwise be sold and used in a crime.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search legal? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense? Do you have legal justification for your actions such as necessity or self defense? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

WHAT IS CHILD ABANDONMENT IN ILLINOIS?

Under 720 ILCS 5/12C-10, you commit child abandonment when you leave a child under age 13 for 24 hours or more unsupervised by a responsible person over age 14, without regard for the child’s health or safety. The child must be someone under your custody or control.

The law provides a laundry list of factors to determine whether you left the child without regard for his or her welfare:

  1. the child’s age;
  2. the number of children left at the location;
  3. the child’s special needs including physical or mental disability or medical needs;
  4. the length of time the child was left;
  5. the condition and location of the place where the child was left;
  6. the time of day or night;
  7. weather conditions;
  8. your location;
  9. whether the child’s movement was restricted or the child was locked within a room or other structure;
  10. whether the child was given an emergency phone number and whether the child could make the call;
  11. whether food and other provisions were left for the child;
  12. whether your conduct is attributable to economic hardship or illness and you made a good faith effort to provide for the child’s health and safety;
  13. the age and physical and mental capabilities of the person who provided supervision for the child;
  14. any other factor that would endanger the health or safety of that particular child;
  15. whether the child was left under the supervision of another person.

If you are convicted of child abandonment, a judge can defer judgment of guilt by placing you on probation and requiring you to cooperate with the Department of Child and Family Services. If you successfully complete these terms, the case against you may then be dismissed. See 720 ILCS 5/12C-15.

If you have been charged with child abandonment or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Whether you have committed child abandonment can be a very fact specific question. An attorney ho is familiar with your courthouse can best present the facts most likely to appeal to your particular judge.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

DO I HAVE A RIGHT TO AN INTERPRETER IF I DON’T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH?

The answer is yes.

According to Illinois case law, fundamental due process requires that a defendant who does not fully understand English be permitted an interpreter. Otherwise, a defendant could be deprived of his or her right to a fair hearing. (See People v. Castellano, 2020 IL App (1st) 170543).

Whenever you shall be tried for a crime, Illinois law requires the court to determine whether you can understand English and can express yourself so as to be understood directly by counsel, court or jury. If the court finds that you cannot, the court must appoint an interpreter that you can understand and who can understand you. This right extends to defendants who need interpreters for sign language. (See 725 ILCS 140/1).

Any interpreter must follow the Illinios Supreme Court Code of Interpreter Ethics which requires that they shall render a complete and accurate interpretation, without changing, adding or omitting anything.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Do the police have probable cause to arrest you? Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Monday, January 18, 2021

WHAT IS DOMESTIC BATTERY UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

You commit domestic battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means: (1) cause bodily harm to any family or household member; (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.)

To be convicted of domestic battery, you must meet the definition of “family or household member.” Illinois courts have included dating relationships within the law. A dating relationship is a serious courtship, defined as a relationship with a significant romantic focus and a shared expectation of growth. This determination can be highly fact specific. In People v. Allen, a sexual on-again, off-again relationship that took place over eight months where the parties got together to watch movies was considered sufficient. (See our related blog at What is a dating relationship under Illinois domestic battery law?.)

Domestic battery is a class A misdemeanor for a first offense. Depending on if you have a criminal record and the nature of your past crimes, domestic battery can be upgraded to a felony. There are stiffer sentencing requirements if you committed such battery in front of a child, plus you may have to pay for the child’s counseling.

If you have been charged with domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. It is critical not to try to talk yourself out of the situation with police. What you think is a reasonable explanation can sound like an excuse, or worse, evidence to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were you a family or household member? Did you have legal justification for the battery? Was the physical contact really of an insulting or provoking nature?

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

WHAT IS FIRST DEGREE MURDER IN ILLINOIS?

Under Illinois law, there are three kinds of first degree murder.
  1. Intentional murder where you intend to kill or do great bodily harm to another knowing that your actions will cause death;
  2. Strong probability murder: Where you know your acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm;
  3. Felony murder: Where you kill someone while you are committing a forcible felony such as armed burglary (but not second degree murder).
See 720 ILCS 5/9-1.

To convict you, all three types of first degree murder require that you were acting without lawful justification. Therefore, if you can prove a defense such as necessity or self-defense, your conduct may be legally justified.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, an experienced attorney can review your case for your best defense. Did police obtain any required warrants before searching or arresting you? Did police properly record any confession? Was a confession coerced? Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Can they prove you were the culprit? Or that you acted with intent? Were you trying to save someone else or yourself from imminent physical danger? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)