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Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

Friday, October 17, 2014

Everything You Need to Know about Police Searches in Chicago

Illinois law can be pretty confusing when it comes to police searches. When are they allowed to search your home, your car or your other property? When can police search you? Can you refuse?

People often ask their criminal defense lawyers these questions, but usually they ask after it’s already happened. It’s a good idea to know when and what police are allowed to search before it happens.

When it’s Legal for Chicago Police to Search

There are times when police are legally allowed to search you or your property, including:

  • After you’re arrested. Police have to search you when they arrest you for their own safety. They’re making sure that you’re not carrying any weapons. If they find drugs or other things you shouldn’t have, those things can be used against you in court.
  • When they see something illegal in plain sight. If you’re pulled over and you have a marijuana roach in your cup holder, stolen property spilling out of your trunk or an illegal weapon sitting on your back seat, the police have the law on their side when it comes to searching your vehicle.
  • When they’re reasonably certain that you’re involved in the commission of a crime. If you speed away from a bank that’s just been robbed by someone matching your description, police may legally be able to search your vehicle.
  • When they have a warrant. If a judge feels that it’s necessary to search you or your property, he or she will issue a warrant. With that warrant, police have the legal right to search.
  • When you consent. If police say, “Do you mind if I have a look around?” they’re asking for your consent to search. When you say yes, you’ve given it. It’s the same if they say, “Would you mind popping your trunk for me?”
  • When it’s absolutely necessary. Police can search people or property if they feel it’s necessary to prevent immediate danger to life or to stop the destruction of evidence.

Keep in mind, though, that each of these types of searches has to follow the letter of the law. If you think you were illegally searched, or that your property was, talk to your Chicago criminal defense lawyer so he can examine your case.

When it’s Illegal for Chicago Police to Search

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that you’re safe from illegal searches. For that reason, police can’t just stop you and frisk you when you’re walking out of Starbucks. They can’t kick down your door and dump your underwear drawer searching for something that you may or may not have.

If a police officer asks if you’ll consent to a search, whether it’s of your person, your vehicle or your property, you don’t have to say yes. You have the right to demand that he or she produce a warrant. That is your constitutional right.

If you believe you’ve been searched illegally, make sure you call a Chicago criminal defense lawyer immediately. There may be a way your attorney can protect your rights if police have violated them.


Friday, October 03, 2014

5 Things You Need to Ask Your Criminal Defense Lawyer

 When you’ve been accused of committing a crime, it’s usually a scramble to find the best criminal defense lawyer in Chicago. Many people feel pressured into retaining the first lawyer who picks up the phone – but that can be a mistake.

Before you choose a criminal defense lawyer, you need to ask five important questions.

How long have you been practicing criminal law in Chicago and the surrounding areas?

Whether you’re in Schaumburg, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Chicago, you need to know how long your potential attorney has been working in the area. You’ll probably encounter lawyers who work all over Cook County, and that’s normal (lawyers often cover wide territories to help their clients) – but you’ll probably want someone who’s familiar with the courthouse and the local professionals you’ll have to deal with.

How long have you been a lawyer?

You don’t have to pick the oldest lawyer in the book, but you should choose one with substantial experience. Many people find it beneficial to choose a former prosecutor, because attorneys who used to prosecute people are extremely familiar with the ins and outs of Illinois’ justice system.

What percentage of your cases cover criminal law?

Some lawyers provide a range of services, but if you’re up against criminal charges, it’s probably best to work with an attorney who primarily focuses on criminal law. Illinois’ laws are complex and detailed, so an attorney who’s more familiar with divorce law than criminal law may not be the right choice for you.

How can you help me?

If an attorney tells you that he can guarantee the outcome of your case, look for another attorney. A good lawyer will tell you that he can’t guarantee anything, but he can provide you with a good overview of the possible outcomes of your case and will begin building a strategic defense immediately.

What are your rates?

Like with anything else, you often get what you pay for when you’re working with attorneys. That’s not to say that you need the most expensive lawyer – you just need to find a criminal defense attorney who has enough experience and a solid enough reputation to justify his fees.

 

 


Friday, September 19, 2014

What to Do if Police Interrogate Your Child

Police can be intimidating, particularly to children – and many kids don’t know that they have the same right to remain silent that adults do. So what should you do if you find out that police interrogated your child without you?

Before you do anything else, call to a Chicago criminal defense attorney. He’ll start to do damage control and ensure that your child’s rights were not violated.

Do Juveniles Have Rights?

Like adults, kids have the right to have an attorney present when they speak to police after an arrest. Often, investigators take advantage of their youthful ignorance and press for answers and lead kids to believe that talking will help their case. (And just like with adults, it’s usually better not to say anything at all.)

Unfortunately, kids can accidentally say something that can be used against them in court—even if they’re completely innocent—and once they’ve said something, they can’t take it back.

The worst part is that children may feel like they’re being detained even when they’re not. They don’t know to ask, which can actually lead to an arrest if they stick around and answer questions.

As a parent, you have the right to be notified if your child is taken into custody.

What to Do if Police Interrogate Your Child

When you talk to your Chicago criminal defense lawyer, make sure that you provide him with all the details you have. Your lawyer will probably want to speak with your child, as well. If possible, get a copy of the police report so that your attorney can look it over and determine whether your child was illegally detained or whether his or her rights were violated.

Talking to Your Kids about Police Interrogations

The best time to talk to your children about how to deal with police is before it ever happens. Make sure that your kids know they can ask police if they’re being detained – and that if they’re not being detained, they’re free to leave the area. Tell them that they don’t have to say anything until you arrive with a lawyer.


Friday, September 05, 2014

Self-Incrimination Through Social Media

It’s no secret that ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends are snooping on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, but you might be surprised to discover that others are looking, too. From potential employers and landlords to law enforcement officers, anybody can see what you post on public profiles.

If you’re caught up in legal trouble and social media is somehow involved, call a Chicago criminal defense attorney right away. No matter what you’ve been accused of doing, working with a lawyer as soon as possible is usually your best bet.

When Social Media is Used for Spying

Public profiles are just that: public. Even if your profiles are not public and friends of friends can see the things that you post, they might as well be public. What it boils down to is that you voluntarily posted evidence that can (and probably will) be used against you in court.

It’s not uncommon for police, prosecutors and detectives to cruise social media sites to get the information they need. There have been numerous cases where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts have been used as evidence and the accused were convicted as a result. Check out these instances of social media becoming the enemy:

These aren’t the only cases, either. A convicted felon in Florida was busted with weapons and charged with 142 separate felonies when a deputy found his Instagram page packed with pictures that were used as evidence.

The point is that you should never post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want your grandma, your pastor or the police to see. If you have, and you’ve gotten into trouble, make sure you get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer who understands the impact those social media posts will have on your case.

By , Chicago criminal defense lawyer



Friday, August 22, 2014

Pulled Over for DUI in Schaumburg?

Labor Day is right around the corner, and as summer starts winding down, we all want to have a great barbecue and spend one last weekend having fun. As a Schaumburg DUI lawyer, I’m curious: would you be surprised if police set up DUI checkpoints in Schaumberg over the long weekend? They’ve done it before. In other parts of the country, police set up “No-Refusal” DUI checkpoints over the 4th of July weekend, so it’s reasonable to believe that it could happen here.

The bottom line: if you’re drinking this Labor Day weekend, don’t get behind the wheel. It’s not just that you could be pulled over – you and I both know that there’s more to it than that.

That said, if you are pulled over for drunk driving in Schaumburg, on Labor Day or any other day, here’s what you need to do.

Pulled Over for DUI in Schaumburg

Police may pull you over and request that you participate in a sobriety test. You could also be arrested, taken to jail and formally charged with driving under the influence.

If any of this happens, remember that you have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to explain anything to police without your Schaumburg DUI lawyer present; all you need to do is politely request to call your attorney.

Schaumburg Police Checks: What They’re Looking For

When police pull you over, even if you don’t appear to be intoxicated or operating under the influence, they’re watching for signs that you may have had a few drinks. You could be pulled over for failing to use a turn signal, for having something dangling from your rearview mirror or for just about any other minor reason… and police officers are trained to look you in the eye while they ask you questions and evaluate whether you may have been drinking.

Your lawyer can help determine whether anything the police did was illegal or violated your rights and will build a solid defense for you. Naturally, the best way to avoid a DUI charge in Schaumburg is not to drink before you drive – but if you do get pulled over after having a few, it’s important that you talk to an experienced, talented lawyer right away.

 


Friday, August 08, 2014

Your Skokie DUI Attorney: Building a Solid DUI Defense

Any Skokie DUI attorney can tell you that it’s essential to build a solid defense, but if you’re in a tight spot, having a lawyer who will examine every aspect of your case is absolutely necessary.

What Your Skokie DUI Attorney Will Ask You

If you were charged with a DUI in Skokie, your lawyer will have several questions for you. He’ll likely want to know:

  • How much you had to drink before Skokie police pulled you over
  • Whether the officer subjected you to a field sobriety test
  • Whether you agreed to participate in a breath test
  • If your car was impounded
  • Whether police followed the proper procedures from the time they pulled you over to the present

What Can Happen if You’re Charged with DUI in Skokie

If you’re arrested for DUI in Skokie (or anywhere else in Illinois, for that matter), you could lose your driving privileges, pay hefty fines and even spend a significant amount of time in jail or prison.

People with prior DUI convictions are often subject to heavier sentences, which is why it’s essential to work with a Skokie DUI lawyer who can completely dissect your case and build you a rock-solid defense. Even if this is your first offense, you need an attorney who will look out for your best interests, because there’s just too much at stake.

For Future Reference: Notes from a Skokie DUI Lawyer

If you are pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving in Skokie, the first thing you should do is contact your lawyer. You do not have to submit to a field sobriety test or to breath testing. However, if you choose to refuse these, do so in a polite, non-confrontational way – just say that you’re waiting on guidance from your Skokie DUI lawyer.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for drunk driving in Skokie, you need a former DUI prosecutor in your corner. Call me at (847)920-4540.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Can You Fire Your Gun if You Have a Concealed Carry Permit in Chicago?

Last weekend, a Chicagoan with a concealed carry permit did his best to help the Chicago P.D. capture an armed robbery suspect, but it didn't quite work out. The officer on the scene had already begun to chase the suspect when the man with the concealed carry permit opened fire, forcing the policeman to dive for cover. Read more...


Friday, July 25, 2014

What Counts as Battery in Chicago?

Battery. You’ve heard the term before, but what does it really mean? It doesn’t help that people often use assault and battery as interchangeable terms (they’re not). As a Chicago assault and battery lawyer, many people ask me where the state of Illinois draws the line between the two.

What’s the Difference Between Assault and Battery?

First, let’s clear up the difference between assault and battery. Illinois law defines assault as when one person “places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” You can be charged with assault even if you never caused anyone harm – but battery is another story.

You can be charged and convicted of battery when you harm someone or when you cause someone harm without physically touching them.

See? It’s a little confusing. So what counts as battery?

Battery: What Can Get You Charged and Convicted

If you cause bodily harm to another person, you can be charged with battery. However, you don’t even need to harm them to be charged with battery.

It’s not unusual for people to be charged with battery for things like:

  • Punching, slapping or hitting
  • Spitting on another person
  • Choking
  • Kicking
  • Pushing
  • Touching another person in an unwelcome manner

Possible Battery Defenses

There are several ways to show the courts that you’re not guilty of battery. While every case is different, your assault and battery attorney will be able to evaluate your case and see what applies to you. Your lawyer might feel that you can claim:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of another person
  • Defense of property
  • The victim’s consent

Even if these things don’t apply in your case, there may be a perfectly good reason for what happened. Your lawyer, once he knows the whole story, will be able to begin to build your defense.

The Consequences of a Battery Conviction in Chicago

There are two distinct types of battery in Illinois: simple battery, which is a misdemeanor, and aggravated battery, which is a felony.

If you’re convicted of misdemeanor battery, you could spend up to a year in jail and be required to pay a fine of $2,500. People who are convicted of aggravated battery can end up serving time in prison. It’s always best to consult with a Chicago assault and battery lawyer who can thoroughly evaluate your case and get to the truth of the matter.


Monday, July 21, 2014

The Criminal History Box: Don't Check it Just Yet

A new law passed this spring that allows ex-offenders to skip over the "Criminal History" section of job applications until an employer has deemed them qualified for the job. Because so many candidates are rejected in the first round just because of criminal histories, this new law might help ex-offenders get back into the job market and get on the path to a new life. Read more.

 


Friday, July 11, 2014

The Irony (Almost) of 4th of July "No-Refusal" DUI Checkpoints

From California to Pennsylvania, thousands of 4th of July revelers were stopped at DUI checkpoints in an effort to prevent drunk driving injuries and fatalities.

We’ve come to expect things like this, particularly on big holidays such as the 4th of July – but some states took things a bit farther.

“No-Refusal” DUI Checkpoints on 4th of July

Ironically enough, on the day the country celebrated freedom from British rule and the oppression that went with it, some jurisdictions announced that they’d be setting up “no-refusal” DUI checkpoints.

That means if drivers refused a Breathalyzer test at a DUI checkpoint, the police would take a blood sample – even without consent and with force if necessary.

Fortunately, Chicago didn’t do that. But plenty of other places throughout Florida, Texas, Arizona and California did.

Are “No-Refusal” DUI Checkpoints a Violation of Your Rights?

Technically, these DUI checkpoints aren’t a violation of your rights… if the proper procedures are followed. All states, including Illinois, recognize your right to refuse a Breathalyzer test. If you refuse, the penalties vary; you might lose your driving privileges or spend the night in jail. Every state is different.

However, these DUI checkpoints give you the choice: take the Breathalyzer or police will perform an on-the-spot blood test. Sounds illegal, doesn’t it? At the very least, it sounds unconstitutional, right?

Here’s how they get away with it. Police have a judge on-scene who will sign a warrant that allows them to take your blood. With a warrant, it’s perfectly legal.

Why Some Jurisdictions Use “No-Refusal” DUI Checkpoints

The bottom line is that a conviction is far more likely when a blood sample is entered into a DUI case. While we don’t have to worry about these DUI checkpoints here (for now, at least), you might still need help from a Chicago DUI lawyer who knows how to fight for your Constitutional rights in court.

If your Breathalyzer or blood samples were taken illegally, you weren’t afforded the process you’re entitled to, or police somehow violated your rights, we’ll bring those issues to light to help prepare the best possible defense for you.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Felons and Firearms in Chicago

Many people in Chicago (and all over the country, for that matter) own firearms – they’re convenient to have for self-defense, property protection… the list goes on. However, a segment of our population is barred completely from owning any kind of firearm: felons. If you’re one of them, you need to know that there are intricacies in Illinois law that could land you in hot water (or at least in a Chicago criminal defense lawyer’s office).

Technically, it’s a crime to be in possession of a firearm after you’re convicted of a felony. But what counts as possession?

Felons and Firearms in Chicago

In Illinois, you have to have a FOID card to possess or acquire a firearm or ammunition. It’s simply an approval from the state saying that you’re authorized to have a weapon. If you’re a felon, though, you’re not eligible for one. (Anyone who has been convicted of domestic battery or domestic violence is ineligible for a FOID card; so are those who are subject to an order of protection.)

Basically, if you get caught with a gun, you’re going to face some serious consequences. You’re not allowed to legally purchase one with a felony conviction in your past. You can be convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm even if the gun you have isn’t yours.

Why You Need a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

Illinois’ laws regarding weapons are very strict. If you’re charged with having a firearm, you need an attorney who’s willing to go to bat for you – one who will get your side of the story and make sure it’s heard in court.

Your lawyer will completely evaluate your case to determine whether police conducted an illegal search or if there are other nuances that may help you in court. Chicago and the surrounding areas take felons and firearms very seriously, so if you head into court without a lawyer, you’re taking a huge gamble with your future.

 

 


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