Monday, February 29, 2016

Does Illinois Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws?

In 2005, Florida became the first state to pass what would become known as the “Stand Your Ground” law, which effectively eliminated the “duty to retreat” component from the laws governing self-defense and the use of deadly force. Shortly thereafter, 22 additional states followed suit.

Does Illinois Have "Stand Your Ground" Laws?

Although Illinois did not specifically adopt the “Stand Your Ground” model in conjunction with the standard set by Florida state law, Article 7 of the Illinois Criminal Code includes a self-defense statute. Under Article 7, you may use “justifiable force” to defend yourself or another human being; it is not required that a person who believes themselves or others to be under physical threat first attempt to retreat from the situation before acting.

You can also use justifiable force to defend your dwelling or other property—a legal precedent commonly referred to as “Castle Doctrine.” The use of justifiable force can defeat both criminal and civil liability in the event of bodily harm or death.

But what exactly constitutes “justifiable force” under Illinois state law?

According to Article 7, two levels of force are recognized: regular, which is defined as force that incapacitates, and deadly, which implies any force that causes bodily harm or death.

In order for either type to be considered legally justified, your attorney must be able to demonstrate that you reasonably believed that the use of force was necessary to:

  • Defend yourself or another person from unlawful force
  • Prevent bodily harm or death of yourself or another person
  • Prevent a forcible felony from being committed such as sexual assault, battery, murder, robbery or arson
  • Prevent a break-in or attack on a dwelling
  • Protect property in your own or a family member’s property or household 

However, if the state can demonstrate that you were the aggressor, or that you acted unreasonably and in a manner disproportionate to the threat, the use of force would not be considered justifiable.

The key element is that any use of force, deadly or otherwise, must be deemed proportionate to the degree of threat present at the time. 

Do You Need Help in a Self-Defense Case in Chicago?

Many people in situations similar to yours choose to work with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer - and if you need help, call us at 847-920-4540 or get in touch with us online. We'll give you a free case evaluation and begin creating a strategy to help you get the best possible outcome right away.

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.


Friday, October 3, 2014

5 Things You Need to Ask Your Criminal Defense Lawyer

 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, June 13, 2014

3 Reasons You Need a Lawyer if You're Charged with a Traffic Crime in Chicago

Last week, a Walmart truck rammed into comedian Tracy Morgan’s vehicle on the New Jersey Turnpike. The crash severely injured Morgan and killed one of his companions, James McNair. The driver pleaded “not guilty” at his arraignment, where prosecutors charged him with vehicular homicide and assault by auto.

While we don’t have access to all of the facts in the case, what we do know is that car accidents happen every day – and in Chicago, there are about 300,000 every year. Of those, the Illinois Department of Transportation estimates that a fatality occurs every 21.5 hours.

If you’re involved in a car accident and charged with DUI, reckless driving, or any other traffic crime, you need to call an Illinois criminal defense lawyer right away. Your future might depend on it.

Here’s why.

Your Side of the Story Needs to Be Heard

Being charged with a traffic crime can be life-shattering. Whether you’re accused of reckless driving, hit-and-run or DUI, though, there are two sides to every story. It’s important that you work with a Chicago traffic crime lawyer who can ensure that your side comes out before anyone makes a judgment.

Some People are Bullies

Unfortunately, many people accused of traffic crimes in Chicago and the surrounding areas are bullied on the stand. You deserve better than that – and an experienced lawyer can help ensure that you are treated with dignity, fairness and respect. You’re innocent until proven guilty, and your attorney will make sure that everyone treats you that way.

Your Lawyer Can Dig into the Details

It’s your lawyer’s job to play detective. He’ll get into the details of your case, including the events that led up to your accident, to find out what really happened and why.

Then he’ll take that information and make sure the court is aware of everything that happened, building your defense. While nobody can guarantee what a judge or jury will decide, it’s nice to have someone in your corner when you have to appear in court to defend yourself against criminal allegations.



Friday, May 30, 2014

Disorderly Conduct Charges in Chicago: Now What?

Disorderly conduct. Usually when it comes up in conversation, it’s all a big joke – but it’s pretty serious to people who are actually charged with disorderly conduct in Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Skokie or Schaumberg.

Disorderly Conduct: What is it, Really?

The law says that somebody commits disorderly conduct in Chicago when he or she provokes, breaches the peace, or does something unreasonable or offensive that could cause a breach of peace. That includes being obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol in public, failing to listen when someone tells you to leave, or making a false request for an ambulance.

There’s a lot more to the law than that, but essentially what it means is that if police think you’re stirring up trouble, or even that you could stir up trouble, you could be charged with disorderly conduct.

What to Do if You’re Arrested for Disorderly Conduct

First, stop doing what you were doing. You don’t want to get into more hot water for resisting arrest, and you certainly don’t want to make the situation more difficult than it needs to be.

You don’t have to answer any questions, but you should call a criminal defense lawyer in Chicago as soon as you’re allowed to use the telephone.

Penalties for Disorderly Conduct in Chicago

Illinois law says that if you’re convicted of disorderly conduct in Chicago, you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or, in more serious cases, a felony. You could also face serious financial penalties: the fine can go as high as $10,000, and that’s just for the disorderly conduct charge. If you’ve been charged with other crimes, you can be fined separately.

While it would seem like you could just stay out of trouble, that’s not always the case. A couple of years ago, in one of our notorious snowstorms, a Chicago dad offered two girls a ride home and got slapped with disorderly conduct charges.

No matter what you did – or didn’t do – it’s important that you call a lawyer right away if you’re being charged with disorderly conduct in Chicago, Rolling Meadows, Skokie or Schaumberg. Any conviction can follow you for life, so it’s important to talk to somebody who knows the laws and understands how our legal system works before things take a turn for the worse.

Attorney can help you if you're being charged with disorderly conduct in Chicago or the surrounding areas. Call (847)920-4540 for a confidential consultation.

Friday, May 16, 2014

False Confessions and Your Rights

We’ve all heard the horror stories about police interrogations; we’ve seen them play “Good Cop, Bad Cop” on television, too. But police interrogators often really do use harsh tactics… sometimes harsh enough to draw out a false confession. If this has happened to you, the first thing you need to do is call a Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. Don’t say anything to investigators other than, “I’d like to speak to my attorney.”

False Confessions Defined

When interrogators put you under extreme pressure, threaten you or coerce you, you may be tempted to say something that isn’t true just to get the questioning to stop. Additionally, if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you may not realize what you’re saying until it’s too late. Simply put, a false confession is an innocent person taking responsibility for a crime.

Sometimes people who make false confessions are afraid that police will become violent; others are terrified by threats like “You’ll go to prison for life if you don’t admit it!” Unfortunately, people who are confused about the situation they’re in or who are unable to understand the language often give false confessions as well.

What to Do if You Have Given a False Confession

Once you’ve said something incriminating, you can’t take it back – even if it’s not true. That’s why it’s so important to call your attorney and tell him the entire story, from start to finish. He can tell you what’s going to happen next and how you two will handle it together. He may even be able to prove that you were incapable of telling the truth during your interrogation. Either way, he’ll be there to protect your rights and ensure that police know they can’t take advantage of you when you’re at your most vulnerable.

Take care, and remember: don’t say anything to police (true or not) without consulting your attorney first.


Friday, April 18, 2014

I Was Offered a Plea Bargain - What Do I Do?

If you’re not working with a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, chances are pretty slim that you’ll be offered a plea bargain. Either way, you need to know what it is – and what it could mean for your case.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain is basically a deal offered by the prosecutor in your case. In exchange for an admission of guilt, the prosecutor might agree to ask for a lighter sentence or to charge you with lesser crimes. It’s a negotiation process, and your lawyer won’t agree to anything without making sure you’re on board first. It can happen with virtually any type of crime in the state of Illinois.

Why Would a Prosecutor Offer a Plea Bargain?

Sometimes prosecutors view plea bargains as a slam-dunk. They get a conviction out of it, so they may not be too concerned with whether you spend an extra year behind bars or whether you plead guilty to a lesser charge; they “win” either way.

In other cases, prosecutors might not be entirely sure that they can win the case – even if they know you’re guilty. They might view a plea bargain as the only way to prove it in court.

Should You Accept an Offer for a Plea Bargain?

Every case is different, so it’s important that you talk to your lawyer about the pros and cons of agreeing to anything with a prosecutor. Your attorney will be able to tell you what the exchange is, and together, you should decide whether it’s worth it.

Well-meaning family and friends might chime in with their thoughts, but it’s important to remember that the decision is ultimately yours. Your lawyer, who has extensive experience in the Cook County court system, will be able to tell you how a plea bargain can change the dynamics of your case.

Need help? Call (847)920-4540 or send us a message. We’ll be happy to give you a free consultation and evaluate your options.


Friday, April 4, 2014

3 Criminal Justice Myths Busted

While “true crime” shows like Law & Order, CSI and others are entertaining, they’re not exactly accurate. In fact, they create a lot of myths about the criminal justice system – and if you fall prey to them, they could cause serious damage to your case. Any experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer can tell you that, but it’s important to arm yourself with facts before you even call an attorney.

Criminal Justice Myth #1

Myth: Police have to tell you that they’re police.

Fact: They don’t.

Many people believe that if you ask a cop whether he’s a cop, he has to come clean. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. This myth causes a lot of problems for people, including those who are eventually charged with drug possession the Chicago area. No matter how you ask an undercover officer whether they’re a cop, they’re never required to tell you the truth.

Criminal Justice Myth #2

Myth: If police don’t read you your rights, your case will be dismissed.

Fact: That’s extremely rare.

In most cases, police’s failure to Mirandize you (read you your rights) is not grounds for dismissal. Your attorney can get into the specifics with you, but don’t get your hopes up if you never hear “You have the right to remain silent…”

Criminal Justice Myth #3

Myth: You have to talk to police.

Fact: You really do have the right to remain silent.

Whether or not you are guilty, police can tell you anything to get you to confess. They might tell you that a judge will go easier on you or that they don’t intend to press charges against you as long as you tell the truth. The police aren’t in a position promises; you should never confess to anything without consulting with your lawyer first.

These aren’t all of the criminal justice myths that popular culture perpetuates; there are dozens more. (Police aren’t required to show you their radar detectors if you ask. They can make mistakes on tickets. You can still be charged with possession if you throw your drugs out of the car window…) Don’t waste valuable time believing in the wrong things – check with an experienced attorney who’s willing to fight for your rights.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Self Defense: Justifiable Force - Blog

You see it on television all the time…shows like Law & Order or Suits commonly use the defense of self defense to exonerate someone charged with a violent crime like battery, attempt murder, or discharge of a firearm. But does it work in real life? 

The answer is YES!  We as a society consider self defense as the justifiable use of force.  As opposed to the “insanity” defense which is viewed as an excuse and not a justification for your actions, self defense is encouraged and protected under the law.  The law is a reflection of our norms and morals and thus recognizes the importance of defending oneself. Illinois law, 720 ILCS 5/7-1, explains that the use of force is justified when an individual reasonably believes it is necessary to defend against imminent and unlawful force.  
Contact the Law Offices of M. Fakhoury – A Chicago Criminal Defense Firm - for more information and for a free case review. or 847-920-4540

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