Saturday, June 11, 2022

CAN YOU GET IN TROUBLE FOR CONCEALING A HOMICIDAL DEATH IN ILLINOIS?

The answer is yes, if you knew the deceased had been murdered and you did something to conceal the death beyond simply withholding information.

Under 720 ILCS 5/9-3.4, you commit concealment of homicidal death when you knowingly conceal a death and you knew that the person died by homicidal means. To conceal the death, you must perform an act for the purpose of preventing or delaying discovery of the murder. Death by “homicidal means" includes any legal or illegal act that causes the death. If the evidence warrants, the state may also be able to charge you with the murder.

To convict you, the state must prove: (1) knowledge that a homicidal death has occurred and (2) an affirmative act concealing the death. These elements can at times to lead to a rather strange outcome. For example, in People v. Salinas, the defendant was convicted of concealing a homicidal death when he set fire to a car containing two gunshot victims. Later, the coroner determined that one victim was still alive at the time of the fire. Therefore, defendant’s conviction for concealing a homicidal death on that count had to be reversed.

Concealment of homicidal death is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did police follow legal procedures in obtaining any statements you may have made? Can the state prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if 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.)

Saturday, May 21, 2022

CAN MY SOCIAL MEDIA MESSAGES BE USED AGAINST ME IN COURT?

The answer is yes, provided the state can show the messages are genuine.

The state may prove you were the source of an email, text or other social media message through circumstantial evidence, including the message’s appearance, contents, and substance. The message’s reliability may be established when a witness testifies as to the message’s distinctive characteristics.

For example in People v. Brand, the State was able to show that certain Facebook Messenger messages from “Masetti Meech,” came from the defendant. The victim testified that while they were dating, defendant messaged her via Facebook messenger multiple times under that username. Further, at least one of the messages contained unique information not widely known to other persons, such as the location of the victim’s car, which defendant had taken.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did the police follow proper procedures in collecting evidence against you? Is it clear that any circumstantial evidence points to you? Is there more than one way to interpret any messages that you wrote? Even if 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.)

Monday, April 18, 2022

WHAT IS FELONY MURDER IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, felony murder is a type of first degree murder. You commit felony murder when you, by yourself or with another, commit or try to commit a forcible felony (such as armed robbery but not second degree murder) and in the course of your crime or attempted escape, you or your accomplice cause a death. See 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(3).

Felony murder does not require an intent to kill. If there is an intent to kill, you could be charged with another type of murder. Felony murder merely requires a death in the course of committing a forcible felony. As of July 1, 2021, the death must be caused by you or another participant in the crime. In other words, you can no longer be charged with felony murder if a victim kills a third party while shooting in self defense.

To determine whether the underlying felony qualifies as “forcible,” the court examines whether you contemplated that violence might be necessary to carry out your purpose. For example, in People v. Schmidt, the defendant’s drunken theft of a van and excessive speeding in escaping was not a forcible felony even though he killed a pedestrian as a result. The court held that while this behavior could support a conviction for reckless homicide, the defendant had not contemplated that the use of force against an individual might be necessary to accomplish his escape.

On the other hand, in People v Figueroa, the aggravated discharge of a firearm was considered a forcible felony where the defendant shot at a rival gang member but killed an innocent bystander. And in People v. Phillips, aggravated arson was a forcible felony where the defendant set a fire that killed three people even though the defendant set the fire out of frustration and not out of any desire to kill.

If you are charged with felony murder or another criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Was the underlying crime a forcible felony? Was the use of violence contemplated as part of the underlying offense? The answer can be very fact specific and different judges may view the facts completely differently. An attorney who is familiar with your courthouse may be able to present your situation 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.)

Friday, March 25, 2022

WHAT IS DEFENSE OF A DWELLING IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you may use force against someone if you reasonably believe that such force is necessary to stop or end someone’s unlawful entry or attack on your home. (See 720 ILCS 5/7-2.) Further, you may use deadly force to defend your home only if you reasonably believe such force is necessary 1) to prevent a felony, or 2) to prevent violence to yourself or another and the intruder’s entry was violent or riotous.

Contrary to all those stories about burglars suing homeowners, Illinois law does not permit an aggressor to sue you if your use of force was justified. Sometimes, however, the defender may end up as a criminal or civil defendant. In that case, when did defense of a dwelling go too far? The answer depends on the definition of “justified.”

Unlike self-defense, defense of a dwelling does not require danger to life or great bodily harm in order to invoke the right to kill. Nevertheless, both defenses depend on whether the circumstances of your case caused you to reasonable believe that the threatened danger, whether real or apparent, existed. This is a highly fact-specific inquiry which different judges may view very differently. Therefore, if you are charged with battery or murder based on defense of a dwelling, you should look for an attorney who is familiar with your specific 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.

Reference: People v. Wiggins

(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 21, 2022

DO ILLINOIS POLICE HAVE TO ARREST ME IF THEY SUSPECT I COMMITTED DOMESTIC BATTERY?

Although some states require an officer to make an arrest, Illinois does not.

Under Illinois law, whenever an officer has reason to believe that you have abused, neglected, or exploited a family or household member, the officer shall immediately use all reasonable means to prevent further abuse, neglect, or exploitation. (See 750 ILCS 60/304.) While the officer has discretion over whether to arrest you, he or she can also assist the victim in other ways, such as by: 1) preserving evidence, 2) providing transportation, 3) referring the victim to social services, 4) advising them to seek medical attention, 5) informing them about procedures and 6) accompanying them to pick up personal possessions.

If the officer has probable cause to believe a weapon was involved, the officer may confiscate that weapon subject to constitutional limitations.

If you have been charged with domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of the situation. What seems like a reasonable excuse to you could end up providing a state’s attorney with the evidence they need to convict you. An experienced attorney can review your situation for your best possible defense. Were you acting in self defense or to protect a third party? Is the victim in fact a household or family member? As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

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 14, 2022

CAN I BE CONVICTED OF DOMESTIC BATTERY BECAISE A THIRD PARTY WAS OFFENDED BY MY CONDUCT?

Not necessarily. A recent Illinois case has clarified that your physical contact must be insulting or provoking to the victim, not a third party.

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

In People v. Ward, the defendant pushed his wife aside and told her to “shut up” while arguing with police at an accident scene involving defendant’s son. The witness who had been rear-ended by defendant’s son was offended, but not defendant’s wife. While a victim need not testify and may even deny being insulted, the state had to present some evidence that the victim was offended. For example the state can show testimony as to how the wife reacted immediately after the push. As a result defendant’s conviction was reversed.

If you have been charged with domestic battery, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk yourself out of this offense. You may only dig yourself in deeper. Different judges may view the evidence against you very differently. An experienced attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be able to present your defense 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.)

Friday, January 28, 2022

CAN A COURT ISSUE A PROTECTIVE ORDER BEFORE YOU ARE CONVICTED?

Under Illinois law, the answer is yes “if the court finds prima facie evidence that a crime involving domestic violence, a sexual offense or stalking has been committed.” (See 725 ILCS 5/112A-11.5.) Prima facie evidence can include the complaint against you or a protective order in a separate civil case brought by the same petitioner. You may, however, present evidence that you had a valid defense in which case the court may decide not to issue the order.

If you are facing a possible protective order due to a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can help present your most favorable evidence in hopes of defeating the protective order. An attorney can also review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt? Do you have a defense such as necessity or self defense?

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 9, 2022

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED BATTERY IN ILLINOIS?

In Illinois, you commit battery if you knowingly, without legal justification, physically hurt another person or cause contact of an offensive nature, such as by grabbing them. But that battery can be upgraded to an aggravated offense depending on the type of injury, victim or place of the offense. See 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05.)

Types of injury can include if you knowingly strangled someone or caused great bodily harm, disfigurement or severe and permanent disability. That includes injury from a bomb, flammable gas, poison or throwing a caustic substance such as lye at someone.

Even if the injury was not severe, aggravation can be based on who your victim is. It is aggravated battery to harm a child under 13, a profoundly intellectually disabled person, pregnant woman, senior citizen over age 60 or a teacher. The charge is also enhanced if you harm a State of Illinois or school district official, police officer, firefighter, community policing volunteer, prison official or security guard when they are performing their duties or if you are retaliating against them because of those duties.

Special victims also include nurses and taxi drivers, and because of the pandemic, merchants relaying safety directions due to a public health emergency. In other words, it is aggravated battery to hit a store worker who is telling you to mask up.

You can be charged with aggravated battery if the offense occurred in a public place, church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship, sports venue or domestic violence shelter.

If you are charged with aggravated battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law immediately. Do not try to explain or talk your way out of the situation. What sounds like a reasonable explanation to you might only dig you in deeper with police. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did you have legal justification for the battery? Were you defending yourself or a third party? Was the contact truly offensive? Did you commit the battery knowingly? Perhaps you struck out not expecting that anyone was near you.

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, January 1, 2022

HOW YOUR BAR FIGHT CAN BECOME A FELONY IN ILLINOIS

You were out with friends at a bar. Some guy overheard something you said that he didn’t like. He came over and insulted you. You were not about to let that stand, so you punched him. You knew you lost control, but you were not expecting to be charged with a felony on a first offense. Why is it a felony? What can you do? Under Illinois law, 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. While battery is a misdemeanor, it can be upgraded to aggravated battery, a felony, for a variety of reasons including the location of your fight.

Under Illinois law, such locations include “a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, a sports venue, or a domestic violence shelter, or in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place used for religious worship.” A court looks at whether the offense occurred in an area that was accessible to the public. If so, your offense becomes a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. Some bars, however, are exclusive and private. If the bar was exclusive and private, your charges would not be upgraded on that basis.

If you have been charged with a battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the states’ evidence. As with most crimes, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Was the bar public or private? Did you have legal >justification such as by acting in self defense? Was the physical contact really insulting or provoking? 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 bargain 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.

See Illinois Battery and Illinois Aggravated Batterystatutes. See also People v. Crawford.

(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.)