Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

Friday, March 20, 2015

What to Do When You're Arrested for DUI in Chicago

When you're convicted of driving under the influence in a Cook County court, the after-effects can be very traumatic. You could lose your driver's license, pay massive fines and face social consequences. You could even end up spending time behind bars.

While it sounds dramatic, the outcome of your case can depend on the type of legal representation you choose--and how quickly you get a lawyer on your team. 

What to Do When You're Arrested for DUI in Chicago

Generally police will take you straight to jail when you're arrested for DUI. You'll be booked and put into a cell, and from there, you will likely be given the opportunity to get in touch with an attorney. 

Take the first chance you get.

You don't want to wait for a public defender. While the court will appoint a public defender for you, which seems like the easy choice, you need to know that public defenders are often very overworked. They're burdened with dozens of cases ranging from murder charges to petty theft, and they will probably not have time to meet with you until just before you see the judge.

That's why it is so important to find a Chicago DUI attorney who can be there to help protect your rights immediately. Your lawyer will explain your charges before you're even arraigned, and he will give you case-specific advice so that you can enter the right plea for your situation. 

Remember, you don't have to talk to the police when they ask you questions. You have the right to remain silent, so exercise it! Let your lawyer do the talking for you (or make sure that he advises you before you talk).

These things can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case, and dealing with DUI charges on your own puts you at a significant disadvantage. Is that a risk you're willing to take? 

Friday, March 6, 2015

The 3 Most Common Criminal Charges in Chicago

Hundreds of people are arraigned for crimes in and around Chicago each day. Some charges are more common than others, according to the FBI, although overall crime in the city is on a decline.

But what are the most common criminal charges in Chicago?

Chicago’s 3 Most Common Criminal Charges

The FBI breaks crime down into several broad categories, such as violent crimes and property crimes. From there, they break things down further into more specific categories. The FBI tracks crime statistics for decades, and far and away, there are three crimes that are routinely the most common in Chicago.

1. Larceny and theft. Theft includes crimes such as shoplifting, and the penalties for a conviction vary widely depending on the value of the property and your criminal record prior to this charge. Larceny and theft can be considered misdemeanor or felony charges that can result in high fines, community service and even jail time.

2. Burglary. Burglary is different from larceny and theft in that it involves entering a building, motor vehicle or other place without the owner’s consent and with the intent of committing a theft or a felony while inside. Offenses such as entering a vehicle to steal something inside often result in burglary charges, as do breaking into homes to steal another person’s possessions. (Just as a side note, residential burglary is a Class 1 felony that can put you behind bars for anywhere between 4 and 15 years).

3. Aggravated assault. Aggravated assault, under Illinois law, involves threatening someone with physical violence. For example, a person can be charged with aggravated assault for physically intimidating another person or for throwing a punch but missing the target. You can be charged with assault even if you didn’t cause the other party any physical harm.

What to Do if You’re Charged with These Common Crimes

Whether or not you’re guilty, it’s important that you use your right to remain silent. Don’t say anything to investigators if you’re accused of these—or any other—crimes. When they tell you that anything you say can and will be used against you, they mean it.

It’s best if you talk to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can speak on your behalf. He’ll make sure that investigators and law enforcement personnel don’t violate your constitutional rights and ensure that you get the best possible outcome for your case.

Friday, February 20, 2015

All About the Illinois Sex Offender Registry

In the state of Illinois, a conviction for any sex offense carries serious penalties. While each case is different, you’ll end up on the Illinois sex offender registry if a jury finds you guilty.

What Convictions will Put You on the Illinois Sex Offender Registry?

Even what you may consider the most minor sex crime could require a judge to order you to register as a sex offender. Many sex crimes certainly require it—there is no room for dispute under Illinois law.

 If a jury convicts you of any of the following sex crimes, you will be required to register as a sex offender:

  • Criminal sexual assault
  • Aggravated criminal sexual assault
  • Predatory criminal sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual abuse
  • Aggravated criminal sexual abuse

So what does registering as a sex offender really mean, and how strict is the state of Illinois when it comes to sex offender registration policies?

Illinois Sex Offender Registration Policies

People who are considered sexual predators must register with the state of Illinois every year, while sexually dangerous and sexually violent people have to register every 90 days; both of these classifications require registration for the rest of the person’s natural life.

Sex offenders have to register with the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction where they live. It costs $100 to register, and if an offender moves, he or she has to notify law enforcement within three days.

The Consequences of Sex Offender Registration

If you must register as a sex offender, you will not be allowed in any school or allowed to loiter within 500 feet of school property unless you have written permission of the superintendent or the school board. The only exception exists if you are a parent of a child attending that school and you are going to confer with a teacher.

Sex offenders are not allowed in public parks, including conservation areas and forest preserves that are controlled by the government.

If your crime took place after January 1, 2010, and if you were convicted on or after that same date, you cannot use social networking websites while you’re on probation, parole or mandatory supervised release.

What to Do if You Are Accused of a Sex Crime in Illinois

If someone accuses you of a sex crime, the first thing you need to do is call a Chicago sex crime lawyer. It’s best not to answer investigators’ questions, even if you’re innocent, because investigators could misunderstand your responses or take them out of context. Don’t say anything to anyone until you have talked to your attorney.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Being Sentenced to the Cook County Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center

Some people who are convicted in Cook County end up serving sentences at the Cook County Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center. Whether your loved one has been charged with DUI, is facing weapons charges in Chicago, or just about anything else, he may be one of the thousands sentenced to serve a year at the VRIC.

Until 2012, the VRIC program was known as Boot Camp. It includes a strict 180-day residential program that’s based on discipline, counseling, educational skills and, when necessary, alcohol and substance abuse treatment. The remaining 240 days of the yearlong sentence is a non-resident program that requires daily interaction with a case manager.

So what does it mean if your loved one has been sentenced to the VRIC “boot camp” program for one year?

A Day at the Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center

Cook County’s Vocational Rehabilitation Impact Center, or VRIC, follows an extremely rigid, military-style schedule.

Inmates wake up at 5:30 a.m. and are ushered out to physical training, where they’ll exercise until 7 a.m. At 7:30, it’s time for breakfast, and then work starts.

Drill instructors are in charge of the inmates throughout the day, and at 3:30 p.m., the inmates return to their dormitories. Religious programs and community meetings take place before dinner, and then evening programs, including substance abuse counseling and treatment are handled before bed.

Other Parts of VRIC Programs

As soon as a new inmate arrives at the VRIC, he takes a basic achievement test that measures his abilities in math and reading. From there, he’s assigned to an educational track, where he can take literacy courses, English as a second language and basic computer skills classes.

Release from the VRIC: The Remaining 240 Days

During the second phase of a VRIC sentence, which is 240 days long, the former inmate must keep in daily contact with a case manager. Everyone in the post-release phase is subject to random drug testing, and if a positive drug test comes back, they’ll be referred to inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Talking to a Lawyer about the VRIC

In some cases, a Chicago criminal defense lawyer can ask the judge to sentence a guilty party to the “boot camp.” If your loved one is sentenced to the VRIC, know that thousands of inmates have completed the 1-year program, and many have been completely successful with their rehabilitation efforts.





Friday, January 23, 2015

Want to Make a Bad Situation Worse? Run from the Cops.

Whether police suspect you of DUI, robbery or anything else, there’s one sure-fire way to make the situation worse: run from the cops.

They don’t look too kindly upon people that they have to chase, and neither do judges. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you contact a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can help you deal with the situation.

Caught Fleeing: What Next?

People run from the police for a variety of reasons, and in many cases, it’s completely understandable. Maybe there was a warrant out for your arrest, or perhaps you had something illegal (such as drugs) on your person.

You’re likely to be charged with resisting arrest or obstructing a peace officer when you’re caught—and that’s in addition to the original offense.

What You Need to Know about Resisting Arrest

Resisting can include something as simple as pulling your hands away from the police officer who’s trying to detain you; refusal to put your hands behind your head or behind your back; or running and attempting to hide.

Resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a year in jail and fines of up to $2,500.

Illinois law says that you can be found guilty of a Class 4 felony if your resistance was “the proximate cause of an injury to a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee.” If that’s the case, you could spend up to 3 years behind bars and end up paying fines of up to $25,000.

What to Do if You’re Charged with Resisting Arrest in Cook, Lake or DuPage Counties

Remember, when you’re charged with resisting arrest, you still have to contend with why police wanted to arrest you in the first place.

There are many ways the prosecutor can approach your case if you’ve resisted arrest. Most people find it incredibly helpful to work with a former prosecutor so they’re covered from all angles. The most important thing is that you use your right to remain silent until you’ve gotten case-specific advice from your attorney; you don’t have to say anything to police or investigators other than, “I want to talk to a lawyer.”


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pat Quinn and His Massive Pardon Record

Governor Pat Quinn made history last Friday, granting 232 requests for clemency in just one day. For the past several years, Quinn has been slogging through thousands of petitions--4,766, to be exact--in an effort to work through the mountain of requests left behind by former Governor Rod Blagojevich. 


Friday, January 9, 2015

Possession vs. Possession with Intent to Deliver

Being charged with drug possession in Illinois is very serious, and if it's happened to you, you know just how scary the whole experience can be. State law punishes drug possession offenses based on the type and amount of the substance that is possessed, manufactured, or delivered.

That said, what's the difference between ordinary possession and possession with the intent to deliver?

Drug Possession vs. Possession with the Intent to Deliver

Possession of a controlled substance is a charge that you're likely to get if you're caught with a bag of pot that's intended for personal use. That goes for any drug, for that matter, but know that the penalties vary based on what type of drug you possess.

In order to be convicted of possession, you have to knowingly have the substance in your immediate and exclusive control (either actual or constructive). That means it can be in your pocket, your car, or your home; if it's yours, you can be convicted.

Possession with the intent to distribute is a charge that you're likely to get if you're caught with a large amount of any controlled substance--more than is reasonable for personal use--or if you're caught with a small amount of a controlled substance that's packaged for sale. 

Possession with the intent to distribute carries a much stiffer punishment than mere possession. The more serious possession with intent to distribute offenses are categorized as Class X felonies that are punishable by a minimum of 6 to 30 years, and a max of 15 to 60 years, depending on the type and amount of the substance.

While both of these are serious offenses (and serious convictions) under Illinois law, your attorney can help ensure that the court hears your side of the story. Whether you're being charged with drug possession in DuPage County, Cook County or Lake County, make sure you're working with a lawyer who knows the procedures and who is familiar with your county's court system.

Friday, December 26, 2014

How to Explain Incarceration to Kids

Dealing with a child whose parent has to go to jail or to prison can be pretty tricky. You want to protect their innocence and shield them from the worst, but does doing that mean that you have to lie to them?

You’re Not Alone

As many as 2 million children in the U.S. had a parent in prison in 2007, according to the University of Madison-Wisconsin’s Center for Child and Family Well-Being, and the numbers are likely higher now.

It's tempting to make up a nicer, more pleasant story to explain where their missing parent is, any parent can tell you that kids are human lie-detector tests. They can see right through adults. 

For the most part, telling the truth is the best way to explain incarceration to kids. However, being honest doesn't mean that you have to drop everything on them at the same time; that can be extremely overwhelming for a child.

How to Explain Incarceration to Kids

Experts suggest answering your kids' questions honestly, and stick to the point -- don't go off on a tangent. Don't dive into the whole story, either. Just give out the bits of information they ask for, and make sure that you're considering the child's age and his or her level of development before you start talking. 

It's okay to explain that their loved one broke the law, but ensure that the kids know that he or she is not a bad person. Stress that their parent still loves them, and this separation is not going to change that. Even though the truth may not feel good in the moment, this is probably the best way to ensure that the children continue to trust you and suffer only minimal emotional damage.

Experts also suggest that you check in periodically to make sure they know you are always willing to talk.

Building Trust Through Honesty

Every parent knows how important it is to keep your word and back up your promises with actions. In addition to showing the children that they can trust you and rely on you, it builds stronger bonds... and that's exactly what kids need when one parent is incarcerated.   


Friday, December 12, 2014

Charged with Retail Theft in Chicago or its Suburbs: What to Do

Many people are charged with retail theft in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs during the holiday season, and in most cases, the people accused of stealing things don’t know where to turn for help. Do you?

What to Do if You’re Charged with Retail Theft in Chicago

Maybe it was an accident, or maybe you hoped you wouldn’t be caught. Either way, if you’re charged with retail theft in Chicago or any of the surrounding suburbs, you don’t have to answer the questions police are asking you.

You have the right to remain silent, and in a situation like this, you should absolutely use it. There’s no reason for you to talk to police without your theft attorney present… even if you’re completely innocent.

Why Shouldn’t You Talk to Police?

The police have one job once you’re in custody, and it’s to get you to admit that you’re guilty. In some cases, they’ll resort to underhanded tactics to get you to admit guilt (even if you’re not guilty at all).

They may tell you that things will go “better” for you if you’re honest. They might tell you that they’ll change your charges if you admit to stealing something. Maybe they’ll even tell you that you’ll sit in jail over the holidays unless you give them the information they want.

Even if you are innocent, you shouldn’t try to proclaim your innocence to the police (unless your attorney tells you to, because every case is different).

But who’s protecting your rights in this situation? The police aren’t looking out for you. They’re just trying to get you to take the rap for something that they believe you did.

That’s why you need a lawyer by your side. Your attorney will make sure that your rights haven’t been violated up to this point, and he’ll ensure that police don’t cross the line from here forward.

Whether you’ve been charged in Cook County or in DuPage County, you do not have to talk to police. All you have to do is request that your lawyer is present the next time they want to speak with you. In most cases, that’s the best choice.

If you have been charged with retail theft in DuPage County or in Cook County, we can help. Call 847-920-4540 right away to make sure that your rights are protected under Illinois and federal law.




Friday, November 28, 2014

What Happens When You're Arrested for DUI?

The lights are flashing in your rear-view mirror and your heart starts pounding. You're being pulled over, and you've definitely had a few drinks. What happens next?

Field Sobriety Testing and DUI Arrests

A police officer can ask you to complete a field sobriety test, which is helpful for police to weed out people who don't really need to submit to a breath test. Naturally, if you don't appear intoxicated or impaired during the field sobriety test, the officer may be comfortable letting you go.

However, failing a field sobriety test can lead to the officer asking you to take a Breathalyzer... and it can lead to arrest.

What Happens When the Cuffs Go On?

You'll be taken to your local police station and asked to submit to chemical testing. It's important that you talk to your Chicago DUI lawyer as soon as possible -- preferably before you even talk to police about your innocence or guilt -- because your attorney can give you valuable guidance on what to do next.

Make sure you follow your lawyer's advice; it can change the outcome of your case.

Your attorney will evaluate everything that's happened to you, including the circumstances surrounding your arrest, and he'll make sure that police haven't violated your rights. 

If you do have to go to trial, your lawyer will be there with you every step of the way. 

After a DUI Conviction

A DUI conviction is serious in the state of Illinois. If you are convicted, you'll likely lose your driver's license (your attorney may be able to work with the judge so that you can still drive to work, but every case is different). Depending on your past record and the judge's determination of your punishment, you could end up paying fines or spending time behind bars.

Attorney , Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg


Friday, November 14, 2014

How to Access Your Police Record in Cook County

There are many reasons you may need to get a copy of your criminal record, from a meeting with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer to discuss new charges to the expungement of old charges. While every county has a different procedure, it's relatively painless and straightforward in Cook County. 

How to Get Your Police Record in Cook County

It's generally simple to get your police record in Cook County. 

1. Call the police department that processed your arrest. Because some police departments have additional procedures, it's best to call and double-check when you'll be able to come in and get a copy of your record. You'll also need to find out what type of fee the department will charge you for a copy.

2. Bring your identification and the fee. Remember, fees are subject to change; that's why it's a good idea to call before you show up. The police department may not take personal checks or credit cards, so be prepared with the type of payment they require.

The police will send your Access and Review form, which you'll be required to fill out, to the Illinois State Police. Within 60 days, the Illinois State Police will send your record to the police department, who will then notify you that your record has arrived.

3. Pick up your criminal record. If you are reviewing your "State Rap Sheet," which comes from the Illinois State Police, you'll need to set up an appointment to see it; if you don't set up that appointment within a month, you'll have to start the whole process over again.

Local and State Rap Sheets: The Difference

You can pick up your criminal record from the Chicago Police and take it home with you. However, if you need your statewide record, it must stay at the police department -- you cannot make copies and you cannot take it with you.

If you're not sure about how this affects your case, talk to your Cook County criminal defense lawyer; he'll be able to give you the guidance you need.

, Chicago criminal defense attorney


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