Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

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.

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 5, 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:

  • Speeding
  • 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 7, 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.

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