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.)