Saturday, July 30, 2022

WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF GROOMING IN ILLINOIS?

When it comes to the offense of “grooming” a child, Illinois law seems to take a fairly broad approach. It is best to steer clear of anything that remotely smacks of sexual exploitation.

For example, in People v. Hubbell, the defendant sent a photo of his bare buttocks to a 16-year-old child with the message, “Now it’s your turn LOL,” and that he would like to “get with” her. He also asked her to keep the message secret. The defendant argued that he was only soliciting a picture of her buttocks which are not sex organs, and thus, the evidence was not sufficient to convict him. The court disagreed.

Under 720 ILCS 5/11-25, grooming is defined as trying to use or using an on-line, internet or local bulletin board service or any other device with electronic data storage or transmission to solicit, lure or entice a child or their guardian into committing any unlawful sexual conduct including distributing photographs depicting the child’s sex organs.

The court reasoned that the grooming statute contemplates a broad set of circumstances. Grooming is viewed as a way to facilitate the sexual abuse of children. An abuser’s conduct intends to “foster trust and remove defenses over time through a pattern of seduction and preparation, resulting in the child being willing and compliant to the defendant’s sexual abuse.” A judge or jury could properly find that “sending an inappropriate photo of something other than a sex organ was, if not a direct solicitation for a photograph of the child’s sex organs, at least a first step in a process that the defendant hoped would lead the child to send a photograph of his or her sex organs.”

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case. Can the state prove you were the person soliciting? If so, can your statements be understood as “soliciting, luring or enticing” the child. Was the conduct you allegedly solicited truly sexual? Even if the evidence is overwhelming against you, 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 22, 2022

CAN YOU BE CONVICTED FOR INVADING YOUR OWN HOME?

The answer may be yes, if you are no longer living there. Under 720 ILCS 5/19-6, you commit home invasion when you, without authority, knowingly enter or remain in another’s home or falsely represent yourself to gain entry to another’s home while having reason to know that another is present, and you (1) threaten or use force while armed with a dangerous weapon or firearm whether or not injury occurs, (2) you intentionally injure someone in the home, or (3) you fire a gun, or in firing the gun, you cause great bodily injury, permanent disability or death. A “dwelling place of another" can be a home where you are on the deed or lease, but from which you have been barred by a divorce decree, order of protection or other court order.

It is a defense if you either immediately leave the premises or if you surrender to the person lawfully present without attempting to cause bodily injury.

To avoid a conviction for home invasion, you must have both a “tenancy interest” and a “possessory interest.” For example, in People v. Lawrence, the defendant broke a window to enter the home where he had lived with his former wife. Defendant’s name was still on the lease. Nevertheless, the court upheld his conviction for home invasion because the wife had kicked the defendant out several months earlier. While he had a “tenancy interest” because of the lease, he no longer had a “possessory interest.”

Home invasion is a Class X felony.

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? Did you have authority to enter the home? Do you actually still live there? Did you leave immediately? 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 8, 2022

WHAT IS AGGRAVATED DOMESTIC BATTERY IN ILLINOIS?

Under 720 ILCS 5/12-3.3, you commit aggravated domestic battery if you knowingly cause great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement or if you strangle someone while committing a domestic battery. Domestic battery means that you caused harm to a family or household member.

Household members include current or former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren, others related by blood or marriage, persons who shared a common dwelling, dating partners or people with whom you share a child. The definition extends to the disabled and their caregivers. However, a casual acquaintanceship or the ordinary social or business mixing is not a domestic relationship for purposes of domestic battery. See 720 ILCS 5/12-0.1. Sharing a common dwelling means “to stay in one place together on an extended, indefinite, or regular basis.” The court considers the length of time the parties lived together, the nature of the living arrangements, whether the parties had any other living accommodations; whether they kept personal items at the shared residence; and whether the parties shared in the privileges and duties of a common residence, such as contributing to household expenses or helping with maintenance.

Aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. In addition to other conditions, you must serve at least 60 consecutive days in prison. Second or later violations require a mandatory minimum of 3 years in prison. You may also be subject to federal charges if a firearm was involved.

If you are charged with aggravated 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 justification to you may give the state the evidence they need to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you act knowingly? Were you acting in self defense? Were you mentally ill? Be aware that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not a defense in Illinois. Was the person truly a family or household member or was it really a casual acquaintance? 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.

Reference: People v. Bryant.

(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.)