Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

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.



Friday, June 13, 2014

3 Reasons You Need a Lawyer if You're Charged with a Traffic Crime in Chicago

Last week, a Walmart truck rammed into comedian Tracy Morgan’s vehicle on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash severely injured Morgan and killed one of his companions, James McNair. The driver pleaded “not guilty” at his arraignment, where prosecutors charged him with vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

While we don’t have access to all of the facts in the case, what we do know is that car accidents happen every day – and in Chicago, there are about 300,000 every year. Of those, the Illinois Department of Transportation estimates that a fatality occurs every 21.5 hours.

If you’re involved in a car accident and charged with DUI, reckless driving, or any other traffic crime, you need to call an Illinois criminal defense lawyer right away. Your future might depend on it.

Here’s why.

Your Side of the Story Needs to Be Heard

Being charged with a traffic crime can be life-shattering. Whether you’re accused of reckless driving, hit-and-run or DUI, though, there are two sides to every story. It’s important that you work with a Chicago traffic crime lawyer who can ensure that your side comes out before anyone makes a judgment.

Some People are Bullies

Unfortunately, many people accused of traffic crimes in Chicago and the surrounding areas are bullied on the stand. You deserve better than that – and an experienced lawyer can help ensure that you are treated with dignity, fairness and respect. You’re innocent until proven guilty, and your attorney will make sure that everyone treats you that way.

Your Lawyer Can Dig into the Details

It’s your lawyer’s job to play detective. He’ll get into the details of your case, including the events that led up to your accident, to find out what really happened and why.

Then he’ll take that information and make sure the court is aware of everything that happened, building your defense. While nobody can guarantee what a judge or jury will decide, it’s nice to have someone in your corner when you have to appear in court to defend yourself against criminal allegations.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Disorderly Conduct Charges in Chicago: Now What?

Disorderly conduct. Usually when it comes up in conversation, it’s all a big joke – but it’s pretty serious to people who are actually charged with disorderly conduct in Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Skokie or Schaumberg.

Disorderly Conduct: What is it, Really?

The law says that somebody commits disorderly conduct in Chicago when he or she provokes, breaches the peace, or does something unreasonable or offensive that could cause a breach of peace. That includes being obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public, failing to listen when someone tells you to leave, or making a false request for an ambulance.

There’s a lot more to the law than that, but essentially what it means is that if police think you’re stirring up trouble, or even that you could stir up trouble, you could be charged with disorderly conduct.

What to Do if You’re Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

First, stop doing what you were doing. You don’t want to get into more hot water for resisting arrest, and you certainly don’t want to make the situation more difficult than it needs to be.

You don’t have to answer any questions, but you should call a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago as soon as you’re allowed to use the telephone.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Chicago

Illinois law says that if you’re convicted of disorderly conduct in Chicago, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or, in more serious cases, a felony. You could also face serious financial penalties: the fine can go as high as $10,000, and that’s just for the disorderly conduct charge. If you’ve been charged with other crimes, you can be fined separately.

While it would seem like you could just stay out of trouble, that’s not always the case. A couple of years ago, in one of our notorious snowstorms, a Chicago dad offered two girls a ride home and got slapped with disorderly conduct charges.

No matter what you did – or didn’t do – it’s important that you call a lawyer right away if you’re being charged with disorderly conduct in Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Skokie or Schaumberg. Any conviction can follow you for life, so it’s important to talk to somebody who knows the laws and understands how our legal system works before things take a turn for the worse.

Attorney can help you if you're being charged with disorderly conduct in Chicago or the surrounding areas. Call (847)920-4540 for a confidential consultation.

Friday, May 16, 2014

False Confessions and Your Rights

We’ve all heard the horror stories about police interrogations; we’ve seen them play “Good Cop, Bad Cop” on television, too. But police interrogators often really do use harsh tactics… sometimes harsh enough to draw out a false confession. If this has happened to you, the first thing you need to do is call a Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. Don’t say anything to investigators other than, “I’d like to speak to my attorney.”

False Confessions Defined

When interrogators put you under extreme pressure, threaten you or coerce you, you may be tempted to say something that isn’t true just to get the questioning to stop. Additionally, if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may not realize what you’re saying until it’s too late. Simply put, a false confession is an innocent person taking responsibility for a crime.

Sometimes people who make false confessions are afraid that police will become violent; others are terrified by threats like “You’ll go to prison for life if you don’t admit it!” Unfortunately, people who are confused about the situation they’re in or who are unable to understand the language often give false confessions as well.

What to Do if You Have Given a False Confession

Once you’ve said something incriminating, you can’t take it back – even if it’s not true. That’s why it’s so important to call your attorney and tell him the entire story, from start to finish. He can tell you what’s going to happen next and how you two will handle it together. He may even be able to prove that you were incapable of telling the truth during your interrogation. Either way, he’ll be there to protect your rights and ensure that police know they can’t take advantage of you when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Take care, and remember: don’t say anything to police (true or not) without consulting your attorney first.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Stiff Penalties for Drinking and Boating in Illinois

The unofficial start of boating season is right around the corner, and whether you’re tearing up the waves on Lake Michigan’s shoreline or you’re cruising around Chain O’Lakes, there’s something you need to know: legislation passed last year that says drinking and boating are as serious as drinking and driving a car. If you are charged with drinking and boating, your first call needs to be to an Illinois BUI lawyer.

The Legal Limit for BUI

Boating under the influence, or BUI, is just like a DUI in Chicago. The legal blood alcohol concentration limit is 0.08 – and it doesn’t take much to get to that level. A 130-pound woman who’s done three shots in an hour is over the limit; a 180-pound man who’s had four beers is also over it. (Find out how much you can legally drink if you’re behind the wheel of a boat.)

What to Do if You’re Arrested on Chicago’s Waterways

If police arrest you (and make no mistake, they are out patrolling… especially on weekends, when most accidents occur) and you’ve been drinking, the first thing you need to do is call a BUI lawyer in the Chicago, Rolling Meadows or Skokie areas.

Like with all other arrests, don’t say anything. Don’t answer any questions, no matter what police promise you (or threaten you with). Talking without your lawyer present is almost always a recipe for trouble, even if you’re innocent. When police tell you that anything you say can and will be used against you, remember that they really will use it against you.

How Can a BUI Lawyer Help?

If you’re convicted of a BUI in Illinois, you could lose your driver’s license, spend time in jail and pay hefty fines. That’s why you need a talented attorney to fight for your rights – and the sooner you have one in your corner, the better. A BUI lawyer will help prevent you from incriminating yourself, walk you through the entire legal process, and be watching out for you every step of the way.



Friday, April 18, 2014

I Was Offered a Plea Bargain - What Do I Do?

If you’re not working with a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, chances are pretty slim that you’ll be offered a plea bargain. Either way, you need to know what it is – and what it could mean for your case.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is basically a deal offered by the prosecutor in your case. In exchange for an admission of guilt, the prosecutor might agree to ask for a lighter sentence or to charge you with lesser crimes. It’s a negotiation process, and your lawyer won’t agree to anything without making sure you’re on board first. It can happen with virtually any type of crime in the state of Illinois.

Why Would a Prosecutor Offer a Plea Bargain?

Sometimes prosecutors view plea bargains as a slam-dunk. They get a conviction out of it, so they may not be too concerned with whether you spend an extra year behind bars or whether you plead guilty to a lesser charge; they “win” either way.

In other cases, prosecutors might not be entirely sure that they can win the case – even if they know you’re guilty. They might view a plea bargain as the only way to prove it in court.

Should You Accept an Offer for a Plea Bargain?

Every case is different, so it’s important that you talk to your lawyer about the pros and cons of agreeing to anything with a prosecutor. Your attorney will be able to tell you what the exchange is, and together, you should decide whether it’s worth it.

Well-meaning family and friends might chime in with their thoughts, but it’s important to remember that the decision is ultimately yours. Your lawyer, who has extensive experience in the Cook County court system, will be able to tell you how a plea bargain can change the dynamics of your case.

Need help? Call (847)920-4540 or send us a message. We’ll be happy to give you a free consultation and evaluate your options.


Friday, April 4, 2014

3 Criminal Justice Myths Busted

While “true crime” shows like Law & Order, CSI and others are entertaining, they’re not exactly accurate. In fact, they create a lot of myths about the criminal justice system – and if you fall prey to them, they could cause serious damage to your case. Any experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer can tell you that, but it’s important to arm yourself with facts before you even call an attorney.

Criminal Justice Myth #1

Myth: Police have to tell you that they’re police.

Fact: They don’t.

Many people believe that if you ask a cop whether he’s a cop, he has to come clean. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. This myth causes a lot of problems for people, including those who are eventually charged with drug possession the Chicago area. No matter how you ask an undercover officer whether they’re a cop, they’re never required to tell you the truth.

Criminal Justice Myth #2

Myth: If police don’t read you your rights, your case will be dismissed.

Fact: That’s extremely rare.

In most cases, police’s failure to Mirandize you (read you your rights) is not grounds for dismissal. Your attorney can get into the specifics with you, but don’t get your hopes up if you never hear “You have the right to remain silent…”

Criminal Justice Myth #3

Myth: You have to talk to police.

Fact: You really do have the right to remain silent.

Whether or not you are guilty, police can tell you anything to get you to confess. They might tell you that a judge will go easier on you or that they don’t intend to press charges against you as long as you tell the truth. The police aren’t in a position promises; you should never confess to anything without consulting with your lawyer first.

These aren’t all of the criminal justice myths that popular culture perpetuates; there are dozens more. (Police aren’t required to show you their radar detectors if you ask. They can make mistakes on tickets. You can still be charged with possession if you throw your drugs out of the car window…) Don’t waste valuable time believing in the wrong things – check with an experienced attorney who’s willing to fight for your rights.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Rolling Meadows Drug Crimes: The Hard Facts - Blog

Rolling Meadows Drug Crimes: The Hard Facts

Being charged with a drug crime in Rolling Meadows will land you in the Cook County Courthouse, which can result in a conviction that never comes off your record. But what really happens when you’re charged with possession or tagged with the intent to distribute marijuana, cocaine or heroin?

Keep Your Priorities Straight

While it’s important to rely on your Rolling Meadows attorney to protect your rights, you need to know what those rights are – and the punishments you might be facing. Informing yourself is the best thing you can do right now, and your lawyer can answer all of your case-specific questions.

That said, even small drug possession charges can result in a judge from the Rolling Meadows Cook County Courthouse issuing a prison sentence.

Marijuana in Rolling Meadows

Generally, possession of cannabis in Rolling Meadows is a misdemeanor – unless you intend to deliver it or to sell it. It’s important to know that if you’re convicted of a marijuana-related misdemeanor in Cook County, you could spend a year in jail; if you’re convicted of a felony, you could spend between one and 50 years in prison.

Cocaine in Rolling Meadows

Possession of cocaine is considered a felony, and so is the intent to deliver or distribute it. If you’re convicted, the penalties can be harsh. You may end up spending the rest of your life in prison with a 50-year sentence.

Heroin in Rolling Meadows

Like cocaine, possession of heroin or the intent to distribute heroin is a very serious charge. Because both are felonies, you may face the same 50-year sentence.

If you’ve been charged with a drug crime in Rolling Meadows, you’re probably getting all kinds of advice from all kinds of people. While your family and friends are well-meaning, it’s important that you follow your lawyer’s advice – he’ll be able to give you case-specific guidance that protects you under Illinois law.



Monday, March 17, 2014

What to Do When Your Child is Charged with Retail Theft

What to Do When Your Child is Charged with Retail Theft

When you get the phone call, your mind starts racing. Your child has been charged with retail theft – and you aren’t quite sure what to do next.

Whether your child is a minor or an adult, the first thing you should do is get in touch with a Rolling Meadows lawyer who has experience in shoplifting cases. He’ll handle the legal aspects of your child’s case so that you can take care of your family.

Relax – It Will Work Out for the Best

Many parents begin to panic when they find out that their child is being charged with a crime, but that can be counterproductive. You may be shocked, angry and confused, but you can process those emotions without panic when you understand that your lawyer is in your child’s corner.

Gather Information about Shoplifting

Retail theft is commonly called shoplifting, and it can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony. The classification depends on the dollar value of the items taken. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor when the value of the items totals less than $300; when it totals more than $300, it’s a felony.

A few other factors can affect the way your child is charged, including whether he or she was caught in possession of (or actively using) a theft detection device remover or shielding device. Because no two cases are identical, it’s best to ask your lawyer any case-specific questions you have.

Support Your Child… and Yourself

While it’s difficult to rally in support of your child during a difficult time like this, it may be the best thing you can do. Psychologists suggest that sticking things out together can make a big difference in how likely your child is to learn from their mistakes – and the more they learn, the better.

You also need to make sure you get the support from friends and family that you deserve. You’re in a tough position, and sometimes talking about what you’re going through can lift a huge burden off your shoulders.



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