Illinois Criminal Defense Blog
Friday, July 10, 2015
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
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.
Friday, June 12, 2015
It’s not uncommon for a single arrest to lead to multiple charges in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. For example, an arrest for burglary or driving on a revoked license could also lead to a weapons charge; even a simple traffic stop can lead to arrests and result in more than one charge. Other examples include drug-related arrests, which can lead to charges for manufacturing, distribution or possession.
What to Do if You’re Arrested in Chicago
Police can ask you questions without arresting you, but in some cases, it’s best to avoid answering – even if you’re completely innocent or had nothing to do with the incident they’re asking you about.
You can always ask police if they are arresting you; if they’re not, you are free to leave.
If police do arrest you, don’t answer their questions. You have the right to bring in an attorney when police want to question you, and you should use it. Remember that police are trained to get the answers they want, and without your lawyer in your corner, you could end up saying something that you’ll regret later.
Does it Matter How Many Charges Police Level Against You?
The number of crimes the state charges you with can have a direct impact on the amount of bail – if any – a judge will set for your release.
You’ll be formally charged at your arraignment, and it’s a good idea to have your attorney meet you there. He’ll be able to explain the charges, the potential consequences you’re facing and help you enter the appropriate plea.
Of course, it’s best if you can meet with your lawyer before your arraignment so he can begin building a strategy for your defense as soon as possible.
If police have arrested you or someone you care about, call me at 847-920-4540. I can help.
Friday, May 29, 2015
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
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
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 1, 2015
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
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, 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
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
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.