Attorney James G. Dimeas
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Criminal-Defense-Lawyer-300x226As the Coronavirus spreads and the resulting crisis deepens, the impact to our Courts and criminal justice system are deepening. The Covid-19 virus has lead to the unprecedented closure of Courts throughout the State of Illinois. Every County Court system, as well as the Federal Courts, have been substantially impacted by this growing National crisis.

Courts that are regularly bustling with Defendants, Police Officers and Courthouse employees, have seen traffic come to a complete stop. Some Branch Courthouses in the area have been completely closed, while most of the main County Courthouses are open and operating with skeleton crews that are handling emergency matters and Bond Hearings for recently arrested Defendants. Courthouses that had numerous courtrooms open only have one courtroom open to deal with essential matters. Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.

Cook County

Demand-for-Trial-300x201Clients frequently tell me if they want to get their criminal case done quickly. I am frequently told by clients that I should demand a trial immediately so that the case can be finished as soon as possible. It is important to understand what it means to make a demand for trial in a criminal case and why it may not always be the wisest decision to make. I want to take this opportunity to discuss what it means to demand a trial and explain to my readers what the implications of a demand for trial could be so they can make the best decision about how their criminal case should proceed.

According to the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, every criminal defendant has the constitutional right to a Speedy Trial. The Sixth Amendment protects defendants from waiting too long for a trial. We don’t want Defendants to be held in custody, or to be fighting criminal charges, to wait too long before being found innocent. The remedy for the violation of your Sixth Amendment right to a Speedy Trial is dismissal of your criminal case, with prejudice. This means that your case will be dismissed forever and you can never be charged again for that crime.

The right to a Speedy Trial is also set forth in the Illinois Constitution. However, the United States Constitution, and the Illinois Constitution, do not provide details about how much time you have to be tried in a criminal case. The time limits are set forth in a specific Statute in Illinois which provides the details of how much time the state has to bring you to trial once you make a Speedy Trial Demand. If you have been released from jail, the state has 160-days to bring you to trial from the date that you make a formal written Demand for Trial. If you are in custody, the state has 120-days from the date that you made a formal written Demand for Trial to bring you to trial.

Coronavirus-Court-Closings-300x200The Coronavirus outbreak has had a major impact on our daily lives. The pandemic has had a substantial impact on our Court system and on the multitude of criminal cases that are pending in the area-Courthouses. Each County has taken substantial steps to stem the outbreak of this pandemic by limiting Court operations and taking affirmative steps to limit human contact in the Courthouses in the hopes of slowing down the progression of the virus which is at the heart of this problem. While most of the steps taken by all the Courts are similar, there are minor differences between the various counties in the area. I want to take this opportunity to point out what is happening from County to County, and how this may impact you, and your criminal case.

Circuit Court of Cook County

On March 13, 2020, the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Timothy Evans, issued a Court Order that became effective on March 17, 2020. Judge Evans’s Order provides that all matters pending in the Circuit Court of Cook County are rescheduled at continued for at least 30 days from the original Court date. All the judges will be available to hear emergency matters. Preliminary Hearings, Bond Hearings, and Arraignments, will proceed as originally scheduled. If the parties reach a plea agreement, Judges will be available to accept the Plea Agreements and resolve cases. Traffic and Misdemeanor cases will be continued to the next key date as long as the next key date is at least 30 days from the original Court date. The Order from Judge Evans provides that the Clerk of the Circuit Court will provide postcard notice of the new Court date to the defendant.

DUI-1-200x300As one of the busiest and most experienced DUI attorney in Illinois, this may be one of the most common question I get whenever I speak to a client about their DUI case. The short answer to this question is no. But you should understand the consequences of refusing to submit to a breathalyzer, or chemical test, when you are placed under arrest for a DUI. Illinois is an implied consent state. This means that you give consent to a chemical test to determine the blood alcohol contact in your blood by merely driving a motor vehicle on a public highway or roadway in Illinois. So let’s discuss what happens if you are pulled over by a police officer and the police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer test, or provide a blood sample, to determine what the blood alcohol content (BAC) of your blood is and you refuse the request.

The Breathalyzer Test is the most common test used in Court to prove that your BAC was over the legal limit. In Illinois, if the BAC of your blood, was a .08 or above, you could be found guilty of a DUI. Another way of determining the BAC of your blood is a blood test. In Illinois, if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that you were operating a motor vehicle on the roadway while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, that police officer can request that you take a Breathalyzer or Blood test to determine what the BAC of your blood is. If you submit to a Breathalyzer Test, or a Blood Test, and the BAC was a .08 or above, in addition to facing a DUI criminal charge, the Illinois Secretary of State will suspend your license for 6 months because of the BAC reading of .08 or above. This is called the Statutory Summary Suspension. This is an automatic suspension of your license that happens once the arresting police officer notifies the Secretary of State of the Breathalyzer Test results or the Blood Test results. If you refuse to take a Breathalyzer Test or provide a blood sample, the Secretary of State will suspend your license for 1 year. The 6 month and 12 month Statutory Summary Suspensions will kick in 46 days after the date of your DUI arrest.

If your license is suspended due to a Statutory Summary Suspension, you may be allowed to have a Blood Alcohol Interlock Ignition Device (BAIID) installed on your vehicle which will allow you to drive during the 6 or 12 months of your Statutory Summary Suspension. However, in order to be eligible for a BAIID, you must not have had a DUI in the past five (5) years. In addition, a BAIID may be too expensive and too intrusive for some motorists. I recently represented a client who is an executive for a major corporation. He was concerned that if his employer found out about the DUI, he would lose his job. Since he would regularly go to lunch and dinner with his coworkers, he was concerned that they would find out about his DUI if he ever had to drive any of them to lunch or dinner. At the same time, he was required to drive his vehicle almost everyday as part of his job. For this client, the Statutory Summary Suspension was a major source of concern. I was able to solve this problem by getting the state to agree to Rescind the Statutory Summary Suspension as part of the ultimate resolution of his DUI case. However, if your license is suspended due to a Statutory Summary Suspension, the only way to legally operate a motor vehicle in Illinois is to have the BAIID installed in your vehicle. If you are caught driving without a BAIID during a Statutory Summary Suspension, you could be facing serious criminal consequences. Plus, if you are charged with driving you Statutory Summary Suspension without a BAIID, this could make it much more difficult for your lawyer to fight the underlined DUI case in Court.

DUIKane County Prosecutors and law enforcement officials have announced that Kane County will be conducting their 25th “No Refusal” DUI patrol over the St. Patrick’s Day Holiday.

The Kane County No Refusal DUI patrols started in 2008. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials will identify specific days of the year to send out patrols of police officers to pull over suspected intoxicated motorists and send a signal that drinking and driving will not be tolerated in Kane County. The specific days selected for the “No Refusal” DUI patrols are days which are associated with a high number of DUI arrests such as New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July. St Patrick’s Day historically results in some of the largest number of DUI arrests every year. Kane County officials will point to statistics which show that there has been a steady decline in the number of DUI arrests in Kane County since the “No Refusal” program started in 2008. What is not known is whether the drop in DUI arrests in Kane County is due to the “No Refusal” DUI patrols, or whether the drop in the number of DUI’s in Kane County has something to do with the increase in the use of ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft. Since the “No Refusal” patrols started in 2008, there have been over 150 arrests resulting from the “No Refusal” DUI patrols.

This year, Kane County Prosecutors and Police, have signaled that they will get tougher on punishing defendants arrested for a DUI during the upcoming “No Refusal” DUI patrols. In Illinois, if you submit to a breathalyzer test, and your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, your driver’s license in Illinois will be suspended for 6 months starting 46 days after your DUI arrest. If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, your driver’s license in Illinois will be suspended for 12 months starting 46 days after your DUI arrest. This is called the Statutory Summary Suspension. The Statutory Summary Suspension kicks in as soon as you are arrested for a DUI and the Illinois Secretary of State is notified by the Police that you refused to take a breathalyzer test or that you took a breathalyzer and your B.A.C. was a .08 or more. If you are pulled over during a “No Refusal” DUI patrol in Kane County and you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, the Police will obtain a warrant allowing the Police to take your blood, without your consent, and use the results of the blood test to prosecute you for a DUI in Kane County. During the “No Refusal” patrols, additional Prosecutors, Police, and Judges, will be on duty and on call to process the warrant requests and to issue the warrants that will allow them to take your blood. A phlebotomist will also be on duty during the “No Refusal” DUI patrols to draw your blood.

Special-Conditions-of-Bond-300x200I often receive phone calls from clients asking me if they can go back home after they are released from jail or whether they can contact their boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse after being released from jail. I usually tell those clients to come to my office and bring all of the papers that were given to them when they were released from jail. It is very important to keep all of your papers with you if you are arrested and released by the Police so that you may appear for court. You should bring all of your paperwork with you when you are meeting with your lawyer.

Typical Conditions of Bond

If you are arrested and released on Bond, you will be required to comply with certain requirements. In Illinois, the typical conditions that will apply to you if you are released on Bond are as follows:

DUII’ve been handling DUI cases throughout Illinois for over 27 years. I have probably handled thousands of DUIs in my 27 years of being a criminal defense attorney. Looking back at all of the years and all of the cases that I have handled, I can tell you that most people charged with a DUI do not realize that they are probably looking at a mandatory suspension of their license in Illinois. For many people, this mandatory suspension of their license will have the greatest impact on their lives. It will affect their ability to get to and from work, and may even cause them to lose their job. This mandatory suspension, is called the Statutory Summary Suspension. Let’s talk about what the Statutory Summary Suspension is, at what it means for your DUI case.

Illinois has an implied consent law. This means that by virtue of the fact that you are operating a motor vehicle on a public highway in the State of Illinois, you are deemed to have consented to having your breath, blood, or urine, tested whenever a police officer has a reasonable grounds to believe that you may be Under the Influence of Alcohol. Illinois law provides that you are deemed to have consented to such testing by driving on a public roadway in Illinois. If you have an out-of-state license, Illinois cannot suspend your out-of-state license, but they can suspend your driving privileges in Illinois. If a police officer requests that you take a breath, blood, or urine test, and you refuse, your Illinois drivers license will be suspended for 1-year if you are a first offender. If you take a breathalyzer test, and your blood alcohol level was .08 or above, your license will be suspended for 6-months if you are a first offender. This is what is known as the Statutory Summary Suspension. The Statutory Summary Suspension will start 46 days after your DUI arrest. If you are an out of state resident, your right to drive in Illinois will be suspended for 6-months, or 1-year, depending on whether you took a breathalyzer test or whether you refused.

The Statutory Summary Suspension penalty in a DUI case is separate and distinct from the DUI charges. The Statutory Summary Suspension process is a civil case that is between you and the Illinois Secretary of State. The actual DUI charges are criminal in nature and are between you and the People of the State of Illinois. The Statutory Summary Suspension process only involves your drivers license or your driving privileges in the State of Illinois. The DUI charges are criminal in nature and can result in criminal penalties and monetary fines and court costs.

Search-Warrant-300x200In criminal cases, it is common for the prosecution to seek to admit into evidence things that were seized by the police as a result of the search of a residence. One of the first things that a criminal defense attorney does in a criminal case involving the search of a house is to determine whether the evidence seized by the police can be admitted in court.

If the court is convinced that the search of your home was conducted without a Search Warrant, and that none of the recognized exceptions were present, then the search would be considered unreasonable and all of the evidence seized as a result of the search would not be admissible in Court.

As a general rule, the police are required to obtain a Search Warrant if they want to search your home. If the police obtained a Search Warrant, then the likelihood of convincing a Court that the evidence should not be admissible is very low. But if the police searched your home without a warrant, then your lawyer will have a basis to challenge the admission of the evidence in court.

Illinois-Marijuana-300x226On January 1, 2020, at 6 am, Possession of recreational Marijuana will become legal in Illinois. But, there will be limitations to the legalization of the Possession of Marijuana. Violating any of the restrictions in the new law can get you in trouble with the law for the Illegal Possession of Marijuana in Illinois. If you are an Illinois resident, or planning on visiting Illinois, and are thinking about taking advantage of the new law legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, you should be aware of what you can legally do, and what you cannot do under the new law. If you do not know what the rules are and what the limitations are, you could find yourself being arrested, receiving an expensive ticket, or even facing a criminal case for Possession of Marijuana.

What is the Current Marijuana Law in Illinois?

Under current state law, it is illegal to possess any amount of Marijuana in Illinois unless you have a Medical Marijuana Card issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health. A couple of years ago, Illinois decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana. If you are caught with less than 10 grams of Marijuana, instead of being charged with a crime, you can be charged with a Municipal Ordinance Violation which carries a fine.

Arrest-Warrant-300x226The other day I received a phone call from a client who is living in New York. The client told me that about 8 years ago, while they were living in Illinois, they were arrested for a felony drug case. They appeared in Court and eventually plead guilty and received probation. While the client was on probation, they moved to New York and never checked in with probation after leaving Illinois. They were just denied a job when a background search revealed an outstanding warrant for a Probation Violation out of Illinois. The client wanted to know what they could do to clear up the warrant and if they could hire me to take care of the warrant without the client having to come back to Illinois. I frequently receive phone calls from people who have outstanding warrants. As a matter of fact, while I was writing this article, I received a call from a client who found out that an arrest warrant was issued against him last night for a Domestic Battery. The client wanted to know if there was any way that I could make a call or do something to avoid him having to turn himself in and appear in Court. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to take care of an outstanding arrest warrant. Let me explain.

What Is An Arrest Warrant?

An Arrest Warrant is a Court order signed by a Judge authorizing the police to take you into custody and bring you to Court to answer to criminal charges. In order to obtain an Arrest Warrant, a police officer appears in front of a Judge with an affidavit laying out a sufficient factual basis to establish probable cause, more probably true than not true, that a crime was committed and that you are the one that committed the crime. If the Judge is convinced that there is enough probable cause to justify your arrest, the Judge will issue an Arrest Warrant that will usually have a Bond amount that you can post to be released after you are processed by the police and given a Court date to appear to answer to the charges. If you do not appear for a Court date, the Judge will issue a Bench Warrant ordering the police to bring you to Court if they come in contact with you. If you did not appear in Court for a misdemeanor, the Judge will set a Bond at the time the Bench Warrant is issued. If you fail to appear in Court for a felony, the warrant will usually be a “no-bail warrant,” which will Order the police to bring you to Court as soon as possible after you are taken into custody.