Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

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 7, 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
  • Compulsion
  • Duress
  • Entrapment
  • Ignorance
  • 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.

Friday, June 12, 2015

One Arrest, Multiple Charges: Do You Need a Lawyer?

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

My Ex Accused Me of Domestic Violence. Now What?

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

BREAKING: Prison Psychologist Taking Over Cook County Jail


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

Failure to Register as a Sex Offender in Illinois

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

Criminal Sexual Abuse vs. Criminal Sexual Assault in Illinois

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

Marijuana Possession in Illinois: No Worse than a Speeding Ticket?

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.

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