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Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

Friday, May 29, 2015

My Ex Accused Me of Domestic Violence. Now What?

False allegations of domestic violence, in Chicago and its suburbs, are widespread. Over the course of the past year, the number of calls police receive for domestic violence have declined – but some of those calls are made by people who are not telling the truth.

Lying About Domestic Violence

Why would someone claim that they were a victim of domestic violence when they weren’t? A number of factors could cause someone to lie about domestic violence; the Internet is full of stories of people who sent their exes to jail over a lie.

In many cases, these allegations of domestic abuse stem from wanting revenge or an attempt to hurt the innocent party. However, in other cases, sometimes the person accusing the innocent partner is guilty of abuse themselves – it’s an attempt to “turn the tables” and get the other party into trouble.

What Happens When You’re Arrested for DV in Chicago?

If Chicago police arrest you for domestic violence, they’ll take you to the police department and book you into jail. They’ll photograph and fingerprint you, and you’ll likely stay there until there’s room on the court schedule for your arraignment.

Here’s the problem. Once you’ve been arrested and charged with domestic violence, the person who accused you of it cannot drop the charges – even if he or she wants to.

That’s because domestic violence is a crime. In domestic violence cases, the state issues the charges, and they can move forward with a case if they have the evidence to do so (and that evidence does not have to include the victim’s testimony or statements).

Statistics show that between 80 and 90 percent of domestic violence victims recant their stories, which means they later tell investigators that they lied about the incident. Even if the victim recants his or her story, it’s still possible for prosecutors to move forward with the case.

The best possible thing you can do, whether you’re innocent or guilty, is to get in touch with a Chicago domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will help preserve your rights under Illinois law and speak for you to help you avoid further trouble.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

BREAKING: Prison Psychologist Taking Over Cook County Jail

 

Chicago's Cook County Jail is teeming with nonviolent offenders, and as many as one-third of them report or display signs of mental illness. 

To combat the problem, the Cook County Jail has named Nneka Jones Tapia, a psychologist, as the jail's director. This is the first appointment of its kind in the country, according to county officials.

“Detention in jails should be reserved for violent and dangerous offenders, not poor, sick and nonviolent individuals who need treatment,” said Jones Tapia.

Read the full story here.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Illinois

The state of Illinois is notoriously tough on sex offenders, and in many cases, judges require people convicted of sex crimes to register on the statewide and nationally available Illinois Sex Offender Registry.

Recently, though, the whole system has come under fire for legislation and loopholes that make it extremely difficult for people to register.

So what happens if you don’t register as a sex offender in Illinois?

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Illinois

If you fail to register, or if you fail to renew your registration, the courts can find you guilty of a Class 3 felony. If it’s your second or subsequent time failing to register as a sex offender (or failing to renew your registration), the courts can find you guilty of a Class 2 felony.

The penalties vary, but at the very least, you will be required to spend at least 7 days in jail according to the law. The minimum fine is $500, although judges can order you to pay more.

The law takes it a step farther, though. If someone you know has reason to believe that you haven’t registered and attempts to help you “lay low,” he or she can be convicted of a Class 3 felony.

Who Has to Register?

If you’ll be expected to register as a sex offender, you’ll be told when you’re sentenced. Generally, any person convicted of any of the following crimes will be required to register:

  • Aggravated criminal sexual abuse
  • Aggravated criminal sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Criminal sexual assault
  • Predatory criminal sexual assault

Remember, it’s important that you know your rights if you’re accused of a sex crime in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs. Your Illinois sex crime lawyer can preserve your rights and ensure you’re treated fairly throughout the entire process, and he’ll be a valuable resource when you have questions, as well.


Friday, May 01, 2015

Criminal Sexual Abuse vs. Criminal Sexual Assault in Illinois

Any kind of sexual misconduct conviction on your record can be traumatic and life changing, but there are different terms that create a vast difference in sentencing – and many people view them differently, as well.

Criminal Sexual Abuse vs. Criminal Sexual Assault

Criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault, according to Illinois law, are two very different charges. For one, criminal sexual abuse is can be a misdemeanor in some cases; criminal sexual assault is always a felony.

Criminal Sexual Abuse in Illinois

Criminal sexual abuse can be a Class A misdemeanor or a felony. It’s a misdemeanor when the person who commits sexual misconduct is under the age of 17; it’s a felony when the accused commits sexual conduct either under force or the threat of force, or when the victim couldn’t give knowing consent to the act.

If the accused could reasonably believe that the victim was at least 17 years old, that can often be used as a defense against criminal sexual abuse charges.

Criminal Sexual Assault in Illinois

Criminal sexual assault is different from criminal sexual abuse. It generally refers to rape, and under the law, it’s sexual penetration combined with:

  • Force or the threat of force
  • A victim who was unable to understand what was going on
  • A victim who was unable to give knowing consent
  • A victim who was under 18 years old when the accused is a family member
  • A victim who was at least 13 but under 18, and the accused is 17 or older and held a position of authority, trust or supervision toward the victim

The law further establishes aggravated criminal sexual assault and predatory criminal sexual assault, both of which the courts consider Class X felonies.

Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault

Aggravated criminal sexual assault meets all the criteria of criminal sexual assault and includes:

  • The use of a dangerous weapon
  • Infliction of bodily harm
  • Making threats against the victim’s life or another person’s life
  • Commission of another felony at the same time
  • A victim who is over 60 or is physically handicapped
  • The accused drugging the victim through controlled substances
  • The accused discharging a firearm during the sexual assault, with or without causing harm or death to someone else

The accused can also be found guilty of criminal sexual assault if the victim is 8 years old or younger, provided he or she is over the age of 16, or when the victim is between the ages of 9 and 12 and force or the threat of force is used. Finally, if the victim is mentally challenged, the courts may find the accused guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault.

Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault

Predatory criminal sexual assault involves a defendant older than 17 and the victim is 12 or younger. Other factors may also come into play, such as the defendant carrying or discharging a firearm, causing great bodily harm, and delivering controlled substances to the victim.

If you’ve been accused of criminal sexual assault or criminal sexual abuse, you’ll probably want to work with a Chicago sex crime lawyer who’s familiar with Illinois law. It’s important that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible so he can protect your rights and ensure that you are treated fairly within the Illinois justice system.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Marijuana Possession in Illinois: No Worse than a Speeding Ticket?

A bill that recently passed the House makes possession of 15 grams of marijuana worth a $125 fine -- and after 6 months, people punished under the new law can have the conviction expunged from their records.

It passed with a 62-53 vote and the Illinois Department of Corrections estimates that it will save the state about $30 million. 

Read the full story here.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

House Bill 3533: Tougher Punishments for Drunk Driving in the Works

House Bill 3533, which just received full bipartisan support in the House, requires people convicted of a second drunk driving offense to submit to in-car blood-alcohol monitoring devices for at least 5 years before their driver's licenses are reinstated. Read the full story here.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BREAKING: Cook County No Longer Prosecuting Minor Pot Offenses

Cook County has new goals when it comes to minor drug offenses, including those that involve marijuana. In an effort to move nonviolent drug offenders out of the criminal justice system without forcing them behind bars, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office is focusing on treatment instead of punishment.

"If someone is caught with a misdemeanor amount of marijuana, the state's attorney's office will no longer prosecute that case," said Sally Daly, the Office's spokesperson. (Read more here.)


Friday, April 17, 2015

Prostitution Charges in Chicago

Chicago takes prostitution pretty seriously. Police frequently set up stings to catch prostitutes and their customers, so a significant number of people are arrested for prostitution each month.

Illinois Prostitution Defined

According to Illinois law, a prostitution conviction is possible for “any person who knowingly performs, offers or agrees to perform any act of sexual penetration (of the mouth, hands, or anus, however slight) or any touching or fondling of the sex organs of one person by another person for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification for any thing of value commits an act of prostitution.”

It’s a Class A misdemeanor, which means a conviction is punishable by up to 12 months of incarceration. If you’re convicted, you’re also facing up to $2,500 in fines.

You can even be picked up for soliciting others within the city of Chicago. The law is very clear when it says, “Any person who remains or wanders about in a public place and repeatedly beckons to, or repeatedly stops, or repeatedly attempts to stop, or repeatedly attempts to engage passersby in conversation, or repeatedly stops or attempts to stop motor vehicles, or repeatedly interferes with the free passage of other persons, for the purpose of pandering, prostitution, or solicitation shall be guilty of a violation of this section.”

This is a violation of city ordinance, so the penalties include a possible fine between $750 and $1,500. It also carries a possible penalty of imprisonment for 20 days to 6 months, as well as possible community service or a diversion program.

Even worse, though, the superintendent of police will make your name available to newspapers, radio stations and TV stations.

What to Do if You’re Arrested for Prostitution in Chicago

Because a conviction carries such serious penalties, it’s probably a good idea to talk to a prostitution lawyer in Chicago. Don’t admit or deny anything; you have the right to wait for your attorney before you answer any questions, so use it.

The judge may be lenient with you; if it’s your first offense and you have a clean record, he or she may even dismiss your case. However, if this is your second or subsequent time being arrested for prostitution within Chicago’s city limits, judges are less likely to cut you a break. It’s important that you let your lawyer know about the other times you’ve been to court so he can protect your rights and get the best possible outcome for your case.

 


Friday, April 03, 2015

Transporting a Firearm Illegally in Chicago

Chicago is notoriously strict when it comes to gun control laws, and those laws even extend to the trunk of your car. In fact, all of Illinois—including Schaumburg, Skokie and Rolling Meadows—falls under those very stringent regulations.

Transportation of Weapons in Illinois Criminal Code

The way you transport your firearm matters. Whether you have a hunting rifle, a handgun or any other type of weapon (such as a bow and arrow, for example), transporting it the wrong way may be a Class 4 felony.

The Illinois Criminal Code addresses transportation of firearms, as well. You can only transport a firearm from one place to another if you have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, a Chicago Firearm Permit (in the city) and a firearm registration certificate. You also need to make sure that your weapon is:

  • Broken down into a non-functioning state
  • Not immediately accessible
  • Unloaded and in a firearm case

Transporting a Firearm Illegally: When is it a Class 4 Felony in Chicago?

A judge could find you guilty of a Class 4 felony if you were caught transporting a gun that was uncased, loaded and accessible. Even if your uncased gun wasn’t loaded, but the ammunition was immediately accessible, you could be found guilty.

You may also be guilty if:

  • You don’t have a valid FOID card
  • You were adjudicated of a felony when you were a juvenile
  • You were caught with a gun while engaged in a misdemeanor involving marijuana or controlled substances
  • You are a gang member
  • You’ve had an order of protection against you within the past two years
  • You were involved in a violent misdemeanor
  • You’re under 21

What to Do if You’re Caught Illegally Transporting a Firearm in Chicago

Because Illinois has very strict laws when it comes to firearms, most people find that it’s best to call a Chicago gun law attorney who will evaluate their case and help find the best possible outcome. Perhaps the police were guilty of an unlawful search, or maybe your gun or ammunition was out of reach; there are several ways your lawyer can defend you against weapons charges in Chicago and the state of Illinois.

 

 


Friday, March 20, 2015

What to Do When You're Arrested for DUI in Chicago

When you're convicted of driving under the influence in a Cook County court, the after-effects can be very traumatic. You could lose your driver's license, pay massive fines and face social consequences. You could even end up spending time behind bars.

While it sounds dramatic, the outcome of your case can depend on the type of legal representation you choose--and how quickly you get a lawyer on your team. 

What to Do When You're Arrested for DUI in Chicago

Generally police will take you straight to jail when you're arrested for DUI. You'll be booked and put into a cell, and from there, you will likely be given the opportunity to get in touch with an attorney. 

Take the first chance you get.

You don't want to wait for a public defender. While the court will appoint a public defender for you, which seems like the easy choice, you need to know that public defenders are often very overworked. They're burdened with dozens of cases ranging from murder charges to petty theft, and they will probably not have time to meet with you until just before you see the judge.

That's why it is so important to find a Chicago DUI attorney who can be there to help protect your rights immediately. Your lawyer will explain your charges before you're even arraigned, and he will give you case-specific advice so that you can enter the right plea for your situation. 

Remember, you don't have to talk to the police when they ask you questions. You have the right to remain silent, so exercise it! Let your lawyer do the talking for you (or make sure that he advises you before you talk).

These things can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case, and dealing with DUI charges on your own puts you at a significant disadvantage. Is that a risk you're willing to take? 


Friday, March 06, 2015

The 3 Most Common Criminal Charges in Chicago

Hundreds of people are arraigned for crimes in and around Chicago each day. Some charges are more common than others, according to the FBI, although overall crime in the city is on a decline.

But what are the most common criminal charges in Chicago?

Chicago’s 3 Most Common Criminal Charges

The FBI breaks crime down into several broad categories, such as violent crimes and property crimes. From there, they break things down further into more specific categories. The FBI tracks crime statistics for decades, and far and away, there are three crimes that are routinely the most common in Chicago.

1. Larceny and theft. Theft includes crimes such as shoplifting, and the penalties for a conviction vary widely depending on the value of the property and your criminal record prior to this charge. Larceny and theft can be considered misdemeanor or felony charges that can result in high fines, community service and even jail time.

2. Burglary. Burglary is different from larceny and theft in that it involves entering a building, motor vehicle or other place without the owner’s consent and with the intent of committing a theft or a felony while inside. Offenses such as entering a vehicle to steal something inside often result in burglary charges, as do breaking into homes to steal another person’s possessions. (Just as a side note, residential burglary is a Class 1 felony that can put you behind bars for anywhere between 4 and 15 years).

3. Aggravated assault. Aggravated assault, under Illinois law, involves threatening someone with physical violence. For example, a person can be charged with aggravated assault for physically intimidating another person or for throwing a punch but missing the target. You can be charged with assault even if you didn’t cause the other party any physical harm.

What to Do if You’re Charged with These Common Crimes

Whether or not you’re guilty, it’s important that you use your right to remain silent. Don’t say anything to investigators if you’re accused of these—or any other—crimes. When they tell you that anything you say can and will be used against you, they mean it.

It’s best if you talk to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can speak on your behalf. He’ll make sure that investigators and law enforcement personnel don’t violate your constitutional rights and ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case.


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