Illinois Criminal Defense Blog
Monday, November 16, 2015
What Are Property Crimes in Illinois?
Property crimes are very serious offenses – and if a court finds you guilty of committing a property crime, you’ll face serious consequences that can include incarceration, probation and hefty fines and fees.
But what are property crimes, and how serious are they in Chicago and the rest of Illinois?
What Are Property Crimes in Illinois?
The term property crime refers to a crime that involves the theft or destruction of someone else’s property. This term is used as a sort of “catch-all,” and it covers both misdemeanors and felonies.
Some examples of property crimes in Illinois include:
- Burglary, shoplifting and theft
- Defacing or destroying property
- Possession of stolen property
- Some kinds of fraud and identity theft
What Determines Whether a Property Crime is a Misdemeanor or Felony?
As with any other type of crime, there are several factors that determine whether a property crime is considered a misdemeanor or a felony. The value of the property involved, whether the crime involved violence and whether anyone was hurt can all affected whether a property crime is considered a misdemeanor or a felony.
Possible Penalties for Property Crimes
The penalties for property crimes vary greatly in the state of Illinois. Depending on the severity of the offense, as well as the specific charge, being convicted can result in probation, prison time, and expensive fines. In some cases, people who are found guilty of property crimes must also pay to replace or repair property that was damaged during the commission of the crime.
What to Do if You’re Accused of Any Property Crime in Illinois
You have the right to have an attorney present when the police are questioning you, and in most cases, it’s a good idea to exercise that right. Your criminal defense lawyer can help you get the best possible outcome and preserve your rights throughout the entire process.
Monday, November 02, 2015
Illinois Gun Laws: What You Need to Know
The state of Illinois is serious about its weapons laws – and if you’ve ever been hit with a gun or weapon charge in Chicago, you understand how serious the consequences of a conviction can be.
But what are Illinois’ weapons laws, and how could they affect you?
Illinois Gun Laws
The gun laws in Illinois are some of the strictest in the nation, and in order to even possess a firearm, you must have a firearm owner’s identification card. (There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, you must have a FOID card to own or purchase a firearm, ammunition, Tasers or stun guns.)
You can be charged with a crime if you:
- Possess or use a weapon without a FOID card
- Discharge a firearm into a building, in another person’s direction or toward a vehicle
- Discharge a firearm recklessly
- Use a weapon during the commission of a crime
You also can’t have or use metal-piercing or explosive bullets, sell a firearm without a permit or carry a gun if you’ve been convicted of a felony. Further, if you’ve been a patient in a mental health facility or you are a drug addict – or if you are under the influence of drugs – you aren’t legally allowed to have a gun.
If you are transporting any firearm, it must be unloaded and enclosed in a case, and you must have a valid FOID card.
What to Do if You Are Arrested for an Alleged Gun Crime
If police arrest you for an alleged gun crime in the state of Illinois, it may be a good idea to get in touch with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who understands our gun laws and how they apply in your case.
Remember that you have the right to remain silent and that you have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. Your lawyer can help ensure that your rights are preserved and answer any questions you may have.
Monday, October 19, 2015
What is a Bond Violation?
If you’ve been accused of a bond violation, you may feel that you’ll be better off working with a Chicago criminal defense attorney who can represent you in court while preserving your rights. Many people feel this way, particularly in light of the fact that a bond violation can result in extremely harsh punishments.
What is a Bond Violation?
After an arrest, many people are allowed to give the state money to get out of jail. The money is held as a sort of “insurance” to guarantee that the person will return to go to court. In many cases, bond comes with certain conditions, which can include:
- Checking in with a probation officer
- Staying away from certain locations
- Staying away from certain people
- Steering clear of further legal trouble
The consequences of violating bond conditions can include being arrested and taken back to jail.
Sometimes the judge will allow the person to bond out of jail again; in other cases, though, the judge won’t grant any more chances.
What Should You Do if You Are Arrested for a Bond Violation?
Remember that you don’t have to talk to police. You have the right to remain silent, and even if you are innocent, it’s often a good idea to use that right.
You also have the right to speak with an attorney. Because bond violations can carry serious penalties, including incarceration, it may be a good idea for you to get in touch with a lawyer who can preserve your rights.
If you have been accused of a bond violation, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. We may be able to help you after investigating the circumstances of your case. If there is an innocent explanation for your bond violation, or if you did not commit a bond violation, we can help ensure that your side of the story comes out.
Monday, October 05, 2015
What's the Difference Between Assault and Battery?
If you’re like many people, you’ve heard the terms assault and battery used interchangeably. They’re often used together, too (especially on crime shows), so it can be confusing to determine which term means what.
The Difference Between Assault and Battery Under Illinois Law
Assault and battery are two separate offenses, and they’re classified according to severity just like other offenses are.
Assault Under Illinois Law
Assault is defined as “conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”
Battery Under Illinois Law
Battery is defined as conduct that causes bodily harm to another person or insulting, provocative or unwanted physical contact with another person.
Assault and Battery: Related, but Not the Same
Although assault and battery can go hand-in-hand, a person can be guilty of one and not the other.
For example, you can commit assault without following through and committing battery; likewise, you can commit battery without ever having committed assault.
Common Defenses to Battery Charges
Sometimes battery is permitted under Illinois law, such as when:
- It occurs during self-defense or defense of someone else
- It happens because you’re defending property
- The victim consented to the contact
In order for a prosecutor to prove a battery charge, the defendant must have engaged in conduct that caused bodily harm to another person or physically contacted someone in an insulting, provocative, or unwanted way.
Consequences of Assault and Battery
If a judge convicts you of assault or battery, you could spend time in jail, pay large fines, or both. A judge could also order you to perform community service.
Some types of assault are misdemeanors, while others are felonies. The same goes for battery. Naturally, felony consequences are more severe than misdemeanor consequences are. In fact, if you’re convicted of a felony, you could spend between 1 and 3 years in prison, receive a fine of up to $25,000, or both. Further, if you have prior convictions for the same crime, the state may be able to increase the term of your imprisonment.
Were You Charged With Assault, Battery, or Both?
If you’ve been charged with assault, battery, or both, it might be a good idea to call a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can help.
You can call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online if you need to discuss your case with an attorney. We may be able to defend you against assault and battery charges in Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Schaumburg.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Should You Pay a Traffic Ticket in Chicago?
Whether you were pulled over for speeding, disobeying a traffic control device or any other type of moving violation, it could be a mistake to pay the ticket.
In the state of Illinois, a simple traffic violation can result in suspension of your driver’s license. This is particularly important for people who have a commercial driver’s license, because your first moving violation could result in loss of your job.
Should You Pay a Traffic Ticket in Chicago?
If you pay the fine for traffic ticket in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, you are admitting guilt.
It’s important that you know the admission of guilt can result in points assigned to your driver’s license. The more points assigned to your license, the closer the state is to taking away from you and revoking your driving privileges.
Police ticket drivers for several things on Chicago streets, including:
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving without insurance
- Reckless driving
- Disobeying a traffic control device
Each of these violations can result in large fines, points in a suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
In many cases, it’s best to talk to a Chicago traffic violation lawyer who can help you understand your options and determine whether the ticket you received was even legal.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Chicago
The sooner you call an attorney, the better. Fighting a traffic ticket in Chicago can involve court appearances, complicated forms and other nuances that can be difficult to deal with on your own.
Most people choose to call a traffic ticket lawyer in Chicago who is familiar with the laws and is prepared to put together an aggressive defense. This is particularly important if you are in danger of losing your driver’s license.
Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online for a free case evaluation. We may be able to help you avoid points, fines and the loss of your driver’s license.
Monday, September 07, 2015
What You Need to Know About DUI in Chicago
If a police officer suspects you of driving while you're under the influence of alcohol in Chicago or the surrounding communities, you could be in danger of spending time behind bars.
What Happens First in the DUI Process?
In Chicago, a police officer can pull you over if he or she suspects that you've been drinking and driving. The officer may ask you to perform a field sobriety test, which could include walking in a straight line or performing a number of tasks that may be difficult for someone who is under the influence to do.
The police officer can also ask you to take a breath test to measure the concentration of alcohol in your blood.
As a driver, you have the right to refuse both the field sobriety test and the breath test.
If the breath test reveals that your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, is 0.08 or greater, the state can officially charge you with a DUI offense.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
You'll most likely be arrested and taken to jail if a police officer has reason to believe that you were drinking and driving. In most cases, people suspected of DUI are released on bond and given a court date. You'll also be notified that your license will be suspended (if it's your first offense, your license will be suspended for at least 6 months; however, if you refused the breath test at the scene, it could be suspended for a year).
Going to Court for DUI Charges
You'll have to appear in court on the date you're scheduled to be there. You'll have a chance to enter your plea at your arraignment, which will be "guilty" or "not guilty."
Your lawyer will be able to argue your case based on the evidence he has. In order to determine the best strategy for you, your attorney will probably examine police records, listen to your side of the story, and possibly even talk to witnesses who were with you before or during the alleged incident.
If the court finds you guilty, you'll be sentenced at a separate hearing. If the court finds you not guilty, you'll be released and your case will end at that point. (However, the DUI arrest may remain on your record, so it's best to talk to your attorney about getting it cleared.)
The Consequences of DUI Convictions in Illinois
If you're convicted of DUI in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois, you could be sentenced to jail time, required to use an ignition interlock device or serve time doing community service.
Because no two cases are the same, it's usually best to talk to a DUI lawyer in Chicago who understands the system and who can explain the penalties you may be facing if the state convicts you.
Friday, August 21, 2015
When is the "Right" Time to Get a Lawyer?
If you’re like most people who have been accused of committing a crime, you probably aren’t sure when you should get an attorney.
The short answer is right now.
Whether police have detained you, you have received a summons or someone wants to question you about something, it’s usually a good idea to have an attorney you can call on to preserve your rights.
When Should You Call a Lawyer?
If police arrest you, you have every right to call an attorney. You’ll still have to follow police procedures, which may mean that they won’t allow you to use the phone the moment you step into the police station, but you certainly have the right to have your attorney present when police are questioning you.
In fact, you don’t have to answer any questions until your lawyer arrives and gives you guidance. It doesn’t matter how many crimes police are accusing you of committing; you have the constitutional right to an attorney.
You may need to call an attorney before you’re arrested, though. Although you don’t have to answer questions when police aren’t detaining you, the fact that police want to talk to you may mean that you’ll need an attorney.
This can be true even if you’re completely innocent.
Can a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Help My Loved One?
If the police have detained someone you care about, you can call an attorney on his or her behalf. You’ll need to provide whatever details you have, such as where your loved one is, and tell the lawyer what you know about the case.
Does Everyone Being Accused of a Crime Need a Lawyer?
Calling a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago is different from hiring an attorney for other reasons. Typically, criminal cases require you to act quickly; you don’t have the luxury of waiting, because you’ll be processed through the court system whether or not you have hired an attorney.
That said, it’s tough to say that everyone the state accuses of a crime needs a lawyer. Every case is different, so it can’t hurt to call a Chicago criminal defense lawyer if you’re not sure.
Friday, August 07, 2015
What to Ask Your Criminal Attorney in Chicago
If you’re in trouble and you’re looking for a criminal attorney in Chicago, you don’t have to pick the first lawyer you find. In fact, you owe it to yourself to do a little research to make sure you’re working with a lawyer that understands your case… and one who has the experience and knowledge to get the best possible outcome.
What to Ask Your Criminal Attorney in Chicago
If you’re like most people, you’ll want to make sure that your attorney belongs to the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association before you start asking questions.
You’ll need to learn about the potential outcomes of your case, so ask questions such as:
- What will happen if I plead guilty?
- Is there a possible plea bargain for me?
- Which of the facts in my case will work in my favor, and which work against me?
- What strategy do you feel would work best in my case?
Before you hire a criminal attorney in Chicago, you’ll also need to make sure that you can afford his services. Remember that cheaper isn’t always better, but at the same time, the most expensive lawyer isn’t necessarily the best fit for you.
What to Look for in a Criminal Attorney
Choosing the right criminal attorney for your case isn’t just about finding one who tells you what you want to hear. What you really need is someone who’s tough enough to represent your best interests in court and who will tell you the truth about your case and what you can expect.
The ideal lawyer for you will be confident about your case and will be willing to give you answers to your questions. He’ll be able to put together a strategy that sounds reasonable, and he’ll be willing to dig deeper to get all the facts.
Monday, July 27, 2015
Charged with Credit Card Fraud in Illinois? Here's What You Need to Know
The state of Illinois is serious when it comes to credit card fraud, and you could find yourself facing a lengthy jail sentence if a jury finds you guilty of committing it.
What is Credit Card Fraud in Illinois?
Several crimes fall under the term “credit card fraud.” Under Illinois law, those crimes include:
- Making a false statement to get a credit or debit card
- Possession of someone else’s credit or debit card without the person’s consent and with the intent to use, sell or transfer it
- Possession of a lost credit or debit card if you know it’s lost and you intend to use, sell or transfer it
- Selling or buying a credit or debit card without the issuer’s consent
- Using someone’s credit card as “collateral” for a debt
- Using a counterfeit, forged, expired, revoked or unissued card
- Using a credit card or debit card to defraud someone
What are the Punishments for Credit Card Convictions in Illinois?
If the prosecution successfully proves you guilty of some type of credit card fraud or debit card fraud, you could be sentenced to time in prison.
Many credit card fraud crimes are considered Class 4 felonies in Illinois, but the use of a credit or debit card with the intent to defraud is a Class A misdemeanor if less than $150 in property was obtained through the fraudulent use within a 6-month period. If more than $300 was obtained over a 6-month period, it’s a Class 3 felony.
Some sentences are longer than others, such as a recent case in Chicago of a man purchasing stolen credit card numbers from a website.
What to Do if You’re Charged with Credit Card Fraud
The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to speak to police or investigators without your lawyer present. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep quiet and ask to call a Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as you have the opportunity. This is extremely important – even if you’re innocent. You don’t want the police to misunderstand anything you say and later use your own words against you.
Your lawyer will be able to preserve your rights during questioning and he will be there for you when a judge formally reads your charges at your arraignment. He’ll also guide you along the way to make sure you understand what’s going on with your case and, at the same time, he’ll build your defense.
Possible Defenses Against Credit Card Fraud Charges
No two cases are alike. Your attorney will be able to build a defense strategy based on the individual circumstances surrounding your case. Possible defenses can include:
- Abandonment of criminal purpose
- Infancy (being under 13 years of age)
It’s important that you trust your lawyer. He knows the court system and he understands the possible penalties you’re facing.
If you’re being accused of credit card fraud, call the Law Offices of M. Fakhoury at 847-920-4540 or contact us online. We can help.
Friday, July 10, 2015
What is an Aggravated DUI in Chicago?
In Chicago, some cases of drunk driving or driving under the influence are considered aggravated – and when they are, they’re considered felonies.
What is an Aggravated DUI in Chicago?
There are several factors that can turn an ordinary DUI charge into an aggravated DUI charge in Chicago. It’s important to remember that like any other DUI charge, you may be able to fight it. However, you’ll need to call your lawyer immediately so he can take the appropriate action and preserve your rights as soon as possible.
The state of Illinois can charge you with an aggravated DUI if:
- It is your third DUI
- You allegedly caused an accident resulting in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement
- You were driving in a school zone and caused an accident that resulted in great bodily harm to someone else
- You caused someone else’s death
- You were driving with a suspended or revoked license that resulted from a prior DUI conviction
- You left the scene of an accident involving injury or death
- You were driving with a passenger under the age of 16 and caused an accident that resulted in bodily harm to that passenger
- You had an invalid or expired driver’s license
- You did not have a driver’s license at all
- You have an earlier conviction for an alcohol-related reckless homicide offense and this is your second DUI offense
- You were driving a school bus and had passengers aged 18 or younger on board
In any of these cases, the drunk driving charge automatically becomes a felony.
What Happens After an Aggravated DUI Charge in Chicago?
If the state charges you with an aggravated DUI, you’ll lose your driver’s license immediately. The sooner you get in touch with a Chicago DUI lawyer, the better; in the best-case scenario, you’ll call him before you submit to any chemical tests or speak to investigators.
Friday, June 26, 2015
4th of July DUI Checkpoints in Chicago
With 4th of July right around the corner, it’s important that you know Chicago is no stranger to setting up DUI roadblocks and checkpoints. Last year, many states set up no-refusal DUI checkpoints for Independence Day.
What Happens if Police Stop You at a 4th of July Checkpoint in Chicago?
If police stop you at a DUI checkpoint in Chicago or any of the surrounding suburbs, you could be facing serious consequences if you’ve been drinking.
You may be allowed to refuse a chemical breath test. However, you do so at your own risk; police will likely choose to take you to jail and have you submit to a blood test. It’s usually best to call a Chicago DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
The Consequences of a 4th of July DUI
While an arrest on the 4th of July won’t have different consequences than an arrest on any other day, here’s what you can expect from a conviction:
- Minimum of 1-year loss of driving privileges
- A maximum fine of $2,500
- Possible jail time of up to 1 year
Those are the consequences for your first conviction. If it’s your second or subsequent conviction, the penalties increase sharply, according to the Illinois State Police. You could be facing:
- Minimum of 5-year loss of full driving privileges (if this is your second conviction within a 20-year period)
- Mandatory 5 days in jail or 240 hours of community service
- Possible imprisonment of up to 1 year
- Maximum fine of $2,500
A third conviction is a Class 2 felony, and it carries at least 10 years of lost driving privileges. You could spend up to 7 years in jail and face up to $25,000 in fines. From there, it only gets worse. That’s why you should make every effort to call a lawyer as soon as police pull you over if they’re accusing you of drinking and driving. The choices you make at that time can have a serious impact on your future… and your freedom.