Illinois Criminal Defense Blog
Friday, January 9, 2015
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
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
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.Matt Fakhoury
Friday, November 28, 2014
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 Matt Fakhoury
, Chicago, Skokie, Rolling Meadows and Schaumburg
Friday, November 14, 2014
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.Matt Fakhoury
, Chicago criminal defense attorney
Friday, October 31, 2014
Officers from the Chicago PD are frisking you, and you’re panicking. It’s only going to be moments until they find what you’re carrying – and a million things are running through your mind. Many people who are caught with drugs in Chicago and its suburbs, from Rolling Meadows to Skokie, feel the exact same way.
What are you supposed to do?
What Happens after You’re Caught with Drugs
If you’re caught with drugs in Chicago or anywhere near it, you’ll most likely be taken into police custody. Once you arrive at the jail, police will fingerprint you and enter you into the system. You’re allowed to make a phone call, which should be to a Chicago drug defense lawyer; you can ask your attorney to get in touch with your family members if you’d like.
Your lawyer will probably have many questions for you. He’ll likely ask:
- Whether you’ve been charged
- If you’ve been charged with other crimes at the same time
- Whether you’ve ever been charged with a crime or convicted of a crime prior to this incident
- How you were treated by police and everything that happened during your arrest
He has to ask you these questions, because he’s using all of the information you give him to build you the best defense. In many cases, drugs are found during an illegal search – and if your attorney is able to prove that your search was illegal, that
Drug Possession: Penalties in Cook County and Beyond
Chicago and the surrounding areas are all pretty tough on controlled substance charges. Pot possession is a misdemeanor, but having cocaine or heroin is a felony. If police claim that you intended to deliver those drugs to someone else, the penalties are generally far worse than they would be if you only had the drugs for personal use.
You could end up paying fines, spending time in jail, or being sentenced to prison. That's why it's a good idea to talk to an attorney who can fight for your rights and get you the best possible outcome in your case.
Matt Fakhoury, Chicago criminal defense attorney
Friday, October 17, 2014
Illinois law can be pretty confusing when it comes to police searches. When are they allowed to search your home, your car or your other property? When can police search you? Can you refuse?
People often ask their criminal defense lawyers these questions, but usually they ask after it’s already happened. It’s a good idea to know when and what police are allowed to search before it happens.
When it’s Legal for Chicago Police to Search
There are times when police are legally allowed to search you or your property, including:
- After you’re arrested. Police have to search you when they arrest you for their own safety. They’re making sure that you’re not carrying any weapons. If they find drugs or other things you shouldn’t have, those things can be used against you in court.
- When they see something illegal in plain sight. If you’re pulled over and you have a marijuana roach in your cup holder, stolen property spilling out of your trunk or an illegal weapon sitting on your back seat, the police have the law on their side when it comes to searching your vehicle.
- When they’re reasonably certain that you’re involved in the commission of a crime. If you speed away from a bank that’s just been robbed by someone matching your description, police may legally be able to search your vehicle.
- When they have a warrant. If a judge feels that it’s necessary to search you or your property, he or she will issue a warrant. With that warrant, police have the legal right to search.
- When you consent. If police say, “Do you mind if I have a look around?” they’re asking for your consent to search. When you say yes, you’ve given it. It’s the same if they say, “Would you mind popping your trunk for me?”
- When it’s absolutely necessary. Police can search people or property if they feel it’s necessary to prevent immediate danger to life or to stop the destruction of evidence.
Keep in mind, though, that each of these types of searches has to follow the letter of the law. If you think you were illegally searched, or that your property was, talk to your Chicago criminal defense lawyer so he can examine your case.
When it’s Illegal for Chicago Police to Search
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees that you’re safe from illegal searches. For that reason, police can’t just stop you and frisk you when you’re walking out of Starbucks. They can’t kick down your door and dump your underwear drawer searching for something that you may or may not have.
If a police officer asks if you’ll consent to a search, whether it’s of your person, your vehicle or your property, you don’t have to say yes. You have the right to demand that he or she produce a warrant. That is your constitutional right.
If you believe you’ve been searched illegally, make sure you call a Chicago criminal defense lawyer immediately. There may be a way your attorney can protect your rights if police have violated them.
Friday, October 3, 2014
When you’ve been accused of committing a crime, it’s usually a scramble to find the best criminal defense lawyer in Chicago. Many people feel pressured into retaining the first lawyer who picks up the phone – but that can be a mistake.
Before you choose a criminal defense lawyer, you need to ask five important questions.
How long have you been practicing criminal law in Chicago and the surrounding areas?
Whether you’re in Schaumburg, Skokie, Rolling Meadows or Chicago, you need to know how long your potential attorney has been working in the area. You’ll probably encounter lawyers who work all over Cook County, and that’s normal (lawyers often cover wide territories to help their clients) – but you’ll probably want someone who’s familiar with the courthouse and the local professionals you’ll have to deal with.
How long have you been a lawyer?
You don’t have to pick the oldest lawyer in the book, but you should choose one with substantial experience. Many people find it beneficial to choose a former prosecutor, because attorneys who used to prosecute people are extremely familiar with the ins and outs of Illinois’ justice system.
What percentage of your cases cover criminal law?
Some lawyers provide a range of services, but if you’re up against criminal charges, it’s probably best to work with an attorney who primarily focuses on criminal law. Illinois’ laws are complex and detailed, so an attorney who’s more familiar with divorce law than criminal law may not be the right choice for you.
How can you help me?
If an attorney tells you that he can guarantee the outcome of your case, look for another attorney. A good lawyer will tell you that he can’t guarantee anything, but he can provide you with a good overview of the possible outcomes of your case and will begin building a strategic defense immediately.
What are your rates?
Like with anything else, you often get what you pay for when you’re working with attorneys. That’s not to say that you need the most expensive lawyer – you just need to find a criminal defense attorney who has enough experience and a solid enough reputation to justify his fees.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Police can be intimidating, particularly to children – and many kids don’t know that they have the same right to remain silent that adults do. So what should you do if you find out that police interrogated your child without you?
Before you do anything else, call to a Chicago criminal defense attorney. He’ll start to do damage control and ensure that your child’s rights were not violated.
Do Juveniles Have Rights?
Like adults, kids have the right to have an attorney present when they speak to police after an arrest. Often, investigators take advantage of their youthful ignorance and press for answers and lead kids to believe that talking will help their case. (And just like with adults, it’s usually better not to say anything at all.)
Unfortunately, kids can accidentally say something that can be used against them in court—even if they’re completely innocent—and once they’ve said something, they can’t take it back.
The worst part is that children may feel like they’re being detained even when they’re not. They don’t know to ask, which can actually lead to an arrest if they stick around and answer questions.
As a parent, you have the right to be notified if your child is taken into custody.
What to Do if Police Interrogate Your Child
When you talk to your Chicago criminal defense lawyer, make sure that you provide him with all the details you have. Your lawyer will probably want to speak with your child, as well. If possible, get a copy of the police report so that your attorney can look it over and determine whether your child was illegally detained or whether his or her rights were violated.
Talking to Your Kids about Police Interrogations
The best time to talk to your children about how to deal with police is before it ever happens. Make sure that your kids know they can ask police if they’re being detained – and that if they’re not being detained, they’re free to leave the area. Tell them that they don’t have to say anything until you arrive with a lawyer.Matt Fakhoury
Friday, September 5, 2014
It’s no secret that ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends are snooping on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, but you might be surprised to discover that others are looking, too. From potential employers and landlords to law enforcement officers, anybody can see what you post on public profiles.
If you’re caught up in legal trouble and social media is somehow involved, call a Chicago criminal defense attorney right away. No matter what you’ve been accused of doing, working with a lawyer as soon as possible is usually your best bet.
When Social Media is Used for Spying
Public profiles are just that: public. Even if your profiles are not public and friends of friends can see the things that you post, they might as well be public. What it boils down to is that you voluntarily posted evidence that can (and probably will) be used against you in court.
It’s not uncommon for police, prosecutors and detectives to cruise social media sites to get the information they need. There have been numerous cases where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts have been used as evidence and the accused were convicted as a result. Check out these instances of social media becoming the enemy:
These aren’t the only cases, either. A convicted felon in Florida was busted with weapons and charged with 142 separate felonies when a deputy found his Instagram page packed with pictures that were used as evidence.
The point is that you should never post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want your grandma, your pastor or the police to see. If you have, and you’ve gotten into trouble, make sure you get in touch with a criminal defense lawyer who understands the impact those social media posts will have on your case.
By Matt Fakhoury
, Chicago criminal defense lawyer
Friday, August 22, 2014
Labor Day is right around the corner, and as summer starts winding down, we all want to have a great barbecue and spend one last weekend having fun. As a Schaumburg DUI lawyer, I’m curious: would you be surprised if police set up DUI checkpoints in Schaumberg over the long weekend? They’ve done it before. In other parts of the country, police set up “No-Refusal” DUI checkpoints over the 4th of July weekend, so it’s reasonable to believe that it could happen here.
The bottom line: if you’re drinking this Labor Day weekend, don’t get behind the wheel. It’s not just that you could be pulled over – you and I both know that there’s more to it than that.
That said, if you are pulled over for drunk driving in Schaumburg, on Labor Day or any other day, here’s what you need to do.
Pulled Over for DUI in Schaumburg
Police may pull you over and request that you participate in a sobriety test. You could also be arrested, taken to jail and formally charged with driving under the influence.
If any of this happens, remember that you have the right to remain silent. You don’t have to explain anything to police without your Schaumburg DUI lawyer present; all you need to do is politely request to call your attorney.
Schaumburg Police Checks: What They’re Looking For
When police pull you over, even if you don’t appear to be intoxicated or operating under the influence, they’re watching for signs that you may have had a few drinks. You could be pulled over for failing to use a turn signal, for having something dangling from your rearview mirror or for just about any other minor reason… and police officers are trained to look you in the eye while they ask you questions and evaluate whether you may have been drinking.
Your lawyer can help determine whether anything the police did was illegal or violated your rights and will build a solid defense for you. Naturally, the best way to avoid a DUI charge in Schaumburg is not to drink before you drive – but if you do get pulled over after having a few, it’s important that you talk to an experienced, talented lawyer right away.Matt Fakhoury