Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

Monday, March 14, 2016

Is Stop-and-Frisk Legal in Chicago?

Many people call their Chicago criminal defense attorneys after they’ve been stopped and frisked by the Chicago PD – and if that’s happened to you, here’s what you need to know.

By law, Chicago police must have "reasonable suspicion" to stop somebody on the street and search them. But who defines what "reasonable suspicion" is, and how do cops decide who looks suspicious and who doesn't? Allowing for such discretionary interpretation of the phrase "reasonable suspicion" makes the legality of stopping and frisking anyone who is not visibly engaged in criminal activity a point of contention for many native Chicagoans.

It is legal for Chicago PD to stop you on the street and ask you where you're going, what you're doing and whether you have identification. If a police officer stops you on a Chicago street but doesn't make an arrest, he or she is supposed fill out a "contact" card that contains information about you and why you were stopped.

A 2000 Supreme Court ruling gave police even more latitude by stating that they’re are justified in stopping and frisking anyone walking in these neighborhoods who appears to be "evasive" or "nervous.”

Recent Lawsuit Over Stop and Frisk Laws in Chicago

In April, 2015, six men filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago and 14 police officers alleging that stop and frisk procedures are unconstitutional. Seeking class action status on behalf of anyone subjected to stop and frisk tactics in Chicago, the lawsuit claims that these men were stopped without probable cause and asked for an injunction prohibiting police officers from stopping and frisking innocent individuals.

As it turns out, the racial breakdown of stop-and-frisk stops in Chicago includes:

  • 72 percent black
  • 17 percent Hispanic
  • 9 percent white
  • 1 percent Asian or Pacific Islander

What Should You Do If You are Stopped and Frisked?

If you are stopped and frisked by a Chicago police officer, the best thing to do is answer the officer’s questions and cooperate. Because it is legal in Chicago for officers to stop and risk you if they have "reasonable suspicion,” resisting can cause more trouble than it’s worth.

As with any encounter with police, remember:

  • Everything you say can (and will) be used against you
  • You don’t have to speak; you can simply say “I would like to remain silent”
  • You can ask if you are under arrest or if you’re free to leave
  • Stay calm and remain in control of your words and your body language
  • Do not argue with police
  • Don’t touch a police officer
  • Don’t resist, even if you are innocent
  • If you are arrested, ask for your lawyer immediately

If you need help, we are always here. Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online.

Image courtesy of VictorGrigas

Monday, February 29, 2016

Does Illinois Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws?

In 2005, Florida became the first state to pass what would become known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, which effectively eliminated the “duty to retreat” component from the laws governing self-defense and the use of deadly force. Shortly thereafter, 22 additional states followed suit.

Does Illinois Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws?

Although Illinois did not specifically adopt the “Stand Your Ground” model in conjunction with the standard set by Florida state law, Article 7 of the Illinois Criminal Code includes a self-defense statute. Under Article 7, you may use “justifiable force” to defend yourself or another human being; it is not required that a person who believes themselves or others to be under physical threat first attempt to retreat from the situation before acting.

You can also use justifiable force to defend your dwelling or other property—a legal precedent commonly referred to as “Castle Doctrine.” The use of justifiable force can defeat both criminal and civil liability in the event of bodily harm or death.

But what exactly constitutes “justifiable force” under Illinois state law?

According to Article 7, two levels of force are recognized: regular, which is defined as force that incapacitates, and deadly, which implies any force that causes bodily harm or death.

In order for either type to be considered legally justified, your attorney must be able to demonstrate that you reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary to:

  • Defend yourself or another person from unlawful force
  • Prevent bodily harm or death of yourself or another person
  • Prevent a forcible felony from being committed such as sexual assault, battery, murder, robbery or arson
  • Prevent a break-in or attack on a dwelling
  • Protect property in your own or a family member’s property or household 

However, if the state can demonstrate that you were the aggressor, or that you acted unreasonably and in a manner disproportionate to the threat, the use of force would not be considered justifiable.

The key element is that any use of force, deadly or otherwise, must be deemed proportionate to the degree of threat present at the time. 

Do You Need Help in a Self-Defense Case in Chicago?

Many people in situations similar to yours choose to work with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer - and if you need help, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. We'll give you a free case evaluation and begin creating a strategy to help you get the best possible outcome right away.

Monday, February 15, 2016

White Collar Criminal Defense

If you’re like many people, you’ve heard of “white collar crime,” but you’re not exactly sure what it means – or you may be facing charges that fall under the umbrella of white collar crime.

What is White Collar Crime?

White collar crime refers to a number of criminal acts that are committed for financial gain and typically in a business or professional setting.

Some examples of white collar crime include:

  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Embezzlement
  • Tax evasion
  • Money laundering
  • Financial exploitation of the elderly
  • Identity theft

That’s not a complete list. In fact, there are many crimes that could be considered white collar crimes.

What Should You Do if You’re Accused of a White Collar Crime?

If you’re accused of committing any type of white collar crime, your best bet is to get in touch with a lawyer. An experienced white collar crime lawyer in Chicago can give you the guidance you need to get the best possible outcome in your case.

Should You Talk to Investigators?

You should never discuss any aspects of your case with investigators, law enforcement officers or detectives without consulting with your lawyer first. Even if you’re completely innocent of the charges being levied against you, it’s still a good idea to keep quiet until you’ve gotten guidance from your attorney.

What Are the Penalties for White Collar Crime?

Every crime is different, so it’s tough to nail down the penalties for white collar crime in general. However, if you are convicted, you’ll have a permanent criminal record – and in many cases, having a criminal record can make it difficult to find employment or a place to live.

Often, these types of crimes are classified according to their severity. Some white collar crimes can be very serious felonies that result in prison time if you’re convicted (which is another reason it’s so important to talk to a white collar crime attorney before you answer any questions).

Have You Been Accused of White Collar Crime?

If you’re facing criminal charges that have to do with fraud, tax evasion or any number of other crimes that fall under the “white collar” umbrella, you’ll probably want to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. We’ll evaluate your case and begin coming up with a strategy to defend you right away.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Relationship Between Assault and Battery

It’s common for people to use the terms assault and battery interchangeably, but the truth is, they’re very different crimes. In fact, they can exist separately from each other.

What is Assault Under Illinois Law?

Under Illinois law, assault is defined as when a person without lawful authority “knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”

The crime of assault is typically a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine in court. If you’re convicted of assault, you’ll have a permanent criminal record (although you may be able to petition the court for an expungement later).

What is Battery Under Illinois Law?

Battery is when a person knowingly – and without legal justification – either causes bodily harm to another person or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.

Aggravated battery occurs when a person, while committing a battery, causes great bodily harm, disfigurement or permanent disability through a number of means. Aggravated battery could also be applied in instances where the victim is a child, a person with an intellectual disability, or a senior over the age of 60. Any battery committed with a firearm or other weapon could be considered aggravated battery, as well.

Illinois law considers battery a Class A misdemeanor. However, aggravated battery is typically a Class 3 felony – but in some cases, it can be a Class 2 or Class 3 felony.

Do You Need a Chicago Assault and Battery Lawyer?

Every case is different, so if you’ve been accused of assault or battery – or both – you should talk to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can evaluate your case and build a solid strategy to get you the best possible outcome.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online for a free consultation. You deserve skilled legal representation when you’re facing assault and battery charges in Chicago.



Monday, January 18, 2016

What Happens if You Drive on a Suspended License in Chicago?

There are a number of reasons your driver’s license may be suspended, but one thing is certain: you can’t legally drive if the state has taken away your privileges.

If you do, you’ll end up facing criminal charges.

Is Driving on a Suspended License a Crime in Illinois?

Driving on a suspended license is typically a Class A misdemeanor under Illinois law.

625 ILCS 5/6-303 says that “Driving while driver's license, permit or privilege to operate a motor vehicle is suspended or revoked” is illegal.

Sometimes you can get your driving privileges reinstated in Chicago and the surrounding communities, which can be helpful if you need to drive to get to school or work. However, that’s not always the case – and it’s usually a good idea to talk to a criminal defense attorney about your situation to find out whether you can get your license reinstated.

Why Does Illinois Suspend Driver’s Licenses?

The state of Illinois suspends driver’s licenses for a number of reasons, including:

  • Driving under the influence, or DUI (if this is your case, it’s a good idea to talk to a Chicago DUI lawyer who may be able to help you)
  • Failure to appear in court or failure to pay traffic violation fines
  • Parking suspensions, which are typically entered against the license of someone who has been issued 10 or more parking violations and has failed to satisfy them
  • Automated traffic violations, which are often used for drivers who have received five automated traffic violations without satisfying them
  • Failure to pay fines (any court-imposed fines, not just traffic violation fines)
  • Failure to pay court-ordered child support
  • Tollway violations or running tolls (these are typically only issued after five or more toll violations or evasions)

Do You Need Help With a Suspended License?

If you need help getting your suspended license reinstated, call us at 847-920-4540 or contact us online. We’ll be happy to evaluate your case and begin creating a strategy to get the best possible outcome.

Monday, January 4, 2016

DUIs in Chicago

Hundreds of people are arrested across Chicago each year for suspected drunk driving.

Are they all guilty?

Of course not.

The truth is that police can give you a sobriety test if they think you appear to be intoxicated while behind the wheel. Unfortunately, not all sobriety tests are created equal – and even chemical breath tests, such as the Breathalyzer, are sometimes improperly calibrated or not working correctly.

What Are DUIs in Chicago?

In Chicago, as well as in the rest of the state, you can be found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol if your blood contains 0.08 percent alcohol concentration. It’s measured by blood-alcohol content, which is the ratio of alcohol in your system to blood or breath.

However, it’s important to note that according to the Secretary of State, you can even be convicted of DUI if your blood-alcohol content is as low as 0.05 percent if there is additional evidence that you were impaired at the time.

Zero Tolerance on DUIs for Minors

In the state of Illinois, if you’re under the age of 21, any amount of alcohol in your bloodstream can be grounds for conviction of DUI. There’s a “zero tolerance” policy here for minors.

Can You Refuse a Chemical Test?

In Illinois, we have what’s known as an implied consent law. That means when you drive, you’re giving law enforcement officers your consent to test you for alcohol if they feel it’s necessary.

You can refuse to take a chemical test in the state of Illinois, but you need to know that the first time you do so, you’ll face a 1-year license suspension. If you refuse a second time (during a separate offense), you’re facing 3 years without your license; each subsequent time is another three years. You’ll also be ordered to pay mandatory fines for your refusal.

Were You Pulled Over for DUI?

If you were pulled over for DUI, even if you weren’t drinking or you were under the legal limit, it may be in your best interest to talk to a Chicago DUI attorney who understands Illinois law.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online for a free case evaluation. The consequences of DUI are extremely serious, and we may be able to help you.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Will You Have to Register as a Sex Offender in Illinois?

If you’re convicted of a sex crime, you may be required to register as a sex offender in the state of Illinois. One of the most important things you can do if you’re accused of a sex offense – even if you’re innocent – is to get in touch with an attorney who understands the ins and outs of the Illinois laws that define sex offenders.

What Crimes Require People to Register as Sex Offenders?

In the state of Illinois, there are a number of sex offenses that, if convicted, will require a person to register as a sex offender. When you register, you’ll appear on the Illinois sex offender registry, which includes:

  • Date of birth
  • Weight
  • Hair
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Race
  • Eye color
  • Marks, scars and tattoos
  • Admission, release and discharge information
  • Sentencing information, including the name of the offense, the date of arrest and the sentence

Typically, any felony or misdemeanor conviction of a number of sex crimes will require you to register as a sex offender. Those crimes include:

  • Aggravated child pornography
  • Aggravated criminal sexual abuse
  • Aggravated criminal sexual assault
  • Child pornography
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Criminal sexual assault
  • Custodial sexual misconduct
  • Exploitation of a child
  • Forcible detention (if the victim is under 18)
  • Indecent solicitation of an adult
  • Indecent solicitation of a child
  • Juvenile pimping
  • Keeping a place of juvenile prostitution
  • Kidnapping (not parental kidnapping; if the offense was sexually motivated and the victim was under the age of 18)
  • Permitting sexual abuse of a child
  • Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child
  • Public indecency for a third or subsequent conviction
  • Ritualized abuse of a child
  • Sexual exploitation of a child
  • Soliciting for a juvenile prostitute

Further, attempts to commit any of these offenses can be grounds for requiring you to file as a sex offender in Chicago and the rest of Illinois.

If you’re considered a sexually dangerous person or a sexually violent person, you’ll also be required to register every 90 days for your entire life.

What to Do if You’re Accused of a Sex Crime in Chicago

If you’re accused of committing a sex crime in Chicago or the suburbs, even if you’re innocent, it may be in your best interest to get in touch with an Illinois sex crime lawyer who can help you.

Call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online for a case evaluation today. The potential consequences of a conviction may be too severe for you to try defending yourself without an experienced lawyer by your side.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Charged With a Sex Crime in Chicago? You Need Help.

Sex crimes are serious offenses in Illinois – and a conviction can have a huge impact on the rest of your life. You could end up behind bars, on probation, and even barred from some types of employment; most people convicted of sex crimes in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois are required to register as sex offenders.

What Counts as a Sex Crime in Illinois?

The state of Illinois clearly defines sex crimes in 720 ILCS 5/11.

Some of the offenses described in the statute include:

What Should You Do if You’re Accused of a Sex Crime in Chicago?

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime in Chicago or any of its suburbs – whether or not the state has pressed charges against you, it may be in your best interests to get in touch with a Chicago sex crime defense lawyer as soon as possible.

The law doesn’t look favorably on people who are accused of committing sex crimes, so in many cases, it’s wise to have an attorney representing you and protecting your rights.

You have the right to have a lawyer with you when police or investigators are interviewing you, and you have the right to bring your lawyer with you to court.

The sooner you get in touch with an attorney, the sooner he can begin formulating a strategy to help you. Your lawyer will ask you several questions so he can defend you aggressively, which is extremely important in such a high-stakes case.

Monday, November 30, 2015

What to Do if You're Charged With Robbery in Chicago

Robbery is considered a very serious crime in the state of Illinois, and if you’re accused of committing it, it’s probably a good idea to talk to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Robbery Charges

Prosecutors have to prove that you took property from another person by using force or by threatening to use force.

In addition to standard robbery charges, there are three other types: armed robbery, aggravated robbery and robbery of a motor vehicle.

What is Armed Robbery in Illinois?

Armed robbery, which differs from other robbery charges in the state of Illinois, often carries a harsher punishment. The state can charge you with armed robbery if, during the commission of a robbery, you:

  • Carried any type of weapon (a gun, a knife or any other type of weapon)
  • Discharged a firearm during the commission of the robbery
  • Discharged a firearm and caused someone else to suffer great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement or death

What is Aggravated Robbery in Illinois?

Aggravated robbery refers to a robbery in which you take someone’s property by force or under threat of force and:

  • You verbally indicate that you’re armed with a firearm or another weapon
  • You drug the victim against his or her consent

What is Robbery of a Motor Vehicle in Illinois?

If you take a motor vehicle (a car, motorcycle or other motorized vehicle) from someone else by using force or threatening to use force, the state can charge you with vehicular hijacking. (It’s what’s commonly called carjacking.)

The state can charge you with aggravated vehicular hijacking if you:

  • Stole the vehicle from someone over the age of 60 or someone who is disabled
  • Stole the vehicle when there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the car
  • Carried or discharged a firearm, with or without hurting someone else
  • Carried any type of weapon

Possible Defenses to Robbery Charges in Illinois

Because every case is different, it’s best to talk to your Chicago criminal defense lawyer about possible defenses to your robbery charges. He or she will develop a strategy to help get the best possible outcome in your case. Possible defenses to robbery charges in Illinois may include lack of:

  • Intent
  • Knowledge
  • Bodily injury
  • Force
  • Threat of force

Your attorney may also argue that intoxication was a factor, or that you didn’t actually take property from another person.




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:

  • Arson
  • Burglary, shoplifting and theft
  • Defacing or destroying property
  • Possession of stolen property
  • Vandalism
  • 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 2, 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.

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