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Articles Posted in Criminal Cases

Juvenile-Criminal-Charges-300x200Children are not considered adults until they reach 18 years of age. But what happens if a child, under the age of 18, commits a crime? Can they be charged and prosecuted as if they were an adult, or will the criminal justice system treat them as a juvenile who will be prosecuted in Juvenile Court?

Why Does It Matter?

Juveniles, that are prosecuted in Juvenile Court, are treated much less harshly than adults who are charged with the same crime in Adult Court. For one thing, it is much less likely that the juvenile will be confined in jail. Incarceration for juveniles is reserved for the most serious cases and the most violent and most chronic juvenile offenders. The main focus of Juvenile Court is to rehabilitate the juveniles. Rehabilitation, is just part of the focus in Adult Criminal Court. Adults are prosecuted and punished in Criminal Court so that the public can be protected, a message can be sent to the public, the defendant can be punished, and the defendant can be rehabilitated. Since rehabilitation is just part of the focus in Adult Criminal Court, it is much more likely that a juvenile will be incarcerated if they are prosecuted in Adult Criminal Court. Since the main focus of Juvenile Court is to rehabilitate juveniles, judges have greater flexibility to craft sentences that are less harsh than the sentences that you usually see in an adult criminal case.

Expungemet-300x200The consequences of being arrested and facing criminal charges can last long after your case is finished. If you are found guilty, the case can follow you around for the rest of your life. If you win your case, and are found not guilty, or if the charges are dismissed, a routine background search may reveal the criminal charges. Even though the case was dismissed, or you want, a prospective employer will see that you were accused of a crime and may use that against you in deciding whether to hire you.

But you may be able to remove the case from your record so that you can pass a background search. Illinois allows certain criminal cases to be removed from your record. This is called an Expungement.

What is Expungement?

Criminal-Trial-300x201DuPage County government officials have announced that DuPage County will be closing down the Downers Grove Field Court and moving all of the cases at that Branch Court to the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton. The change is expected to take place by the end of the year. The Downers Grove Field Court is located at 4000 Saratoga Avenue in Downers Grove. It is located inside American Legion Post 80. The Downers Grove Field hears Traffic Cases, Municipal Ordinance Violations, and minor Misdemeanor violations from The following municipalities in DuPage County: Bolingbrook, Burr Ridge, Clarendon Hills, Darien, Downers Grove, Hinsdale, Lemont, Lisle, Oakbrook Terrace, Westmont, Willowbrook, Woodridge, and the Illinois State Police.

According to the DuPage County Board, the move was made because the Chief Judge of DuPage County wants the Downers Grove Field Court closed and move to the main Courthouse on County Farm Road in Wheaton. DuPage County Board members claim that security concerns were the main reason for making the move. Late last year, metal detectors were installed at the entrance to the Downers Grove Field Court. At least two DuPage County Sheriffs were assigned to the entrance to screen the people entering the building. Prior to that happening, there was no security at the entrance to the facility in Downers Grove.

The overwhelming majority of criminal cases are at the DuPage County Courthouse on County Farm Road in Wheaton. DuPage County has 4 Branch Courts that handle mostly Municipal Ordinance Violations and traffic ticket cases from specific municipalities in a limited geographic area in DuPage County. The Branch Courts also handle some minor Misdemeanor cases from those municipalities. This is a little like the Municipal District Courts in Cook County. Cases arising out of certain suburbs are sent to one of 6 Municipal District Courts in Cook County. For instance, a traffic ticket in Schaumburg will be at the Third Municipal District Courthouse in Rolling Meadows. The 4 Branch Courts in DuPage County are the Wheaton Branch Court, Downers Grove Branch Court, Glendale Heights Branch Court, and Addison Field Court. All 4 Branch Courts used to be in separate locations. A few years ago, the Field Courts in Glendale Heights and Wheaton, were moved to Rooms 1001 and 1003 of the DuPage County Courthouse. That left the Downers Grove Field Court and the Addison Field Court as the only Branch Courts that were not at the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton. Now that the Downers Grove Field Court is being moved to the DuPage County Courthouse, the only remaining Branch Court that is not located in Wheaton will be the Addison Field Court.

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

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.

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.

Earlier this week, the Elgin Police Chief appeared before the City Council for her 2020 budget and informed the Elgin City Council that serious crime dropped approximately 17% from last year. The Chief of Police is requesting that she be allowed to hire 2 more 911 operators and 4 new part-time Auxiliary Police Officers for next year. Currently, the Elgin Police Department employees 184 sworn officers along with 85 civilian employees.

Last year, serious crime in Elgin increased by 5%. Last year’s increase was the first increase in serious crime in Elgin in 4 years. This year, there were 24 reports of shots fired in Elgin. 7 people were shot and there was 1 murder. This time last year, there were 31 reports of shots fired, 12 victims of gunshots, and 3 murders. 26 rapes were reported in Elgin this year. This time last year, 40 rapes had been reported. This represents a 35% drop in the number of rapes reported in Elgin this year. 41 batteries were reported in Elgin so far this year. This time last year, 95 batteries were reported. This represents a 57% drop in the number of batteries in Elgin. 34 assaults we reported in Elgin so far this year. This time last year, 52 batteries were reported. This represents a 35% drop in the number of assaults. 184 Burglaries to Autos were reported in Elgin so far this year. This time last year, 299 Burglaries to Autos were reported. This represents a 35% drop in the number Burglary to Autos. Last year, Burglaries to Autos increased by 18% over the previous year. The number of Thefts, Arsons, and Motor Vehicle Thefts, also decreased from last year. The number of Robberies in 2019 is at 54, which is the same as this time last year. The only serious crime that increased from last year was Burglaries which increased from 137 to 144. This represents a 5% increase in the number of Burglaries in Elgin so far this year.

The statistics for less serious crimes like Drug Offenses, Kidnappings, Simple Batteries, Assaults, Threatening the Use of Force, Disorderly Conduct, and liquor offenses, also show an overall decrease of approximately 5% from last year.

Aggravated-or-Excessive-Speeding-300x127Lately, many of the phone calls I receive start off with clients telling me that they received a “speeding ticket” and asking whether they can really go to jail for their “speeding ticket.” I ask them how fast they were going, and if they were going 26 miles per hour, or more, over the posted speed limit, I have to explain what they are facing. I start off by explaining that what they received is not a speeding ticket. At least it’s not what most people commonly considered to be a speeding ticket. Speeding 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit is a crime in Illinois. If you did not know this, don’t feel bad. Most people do not realize that speeding 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit is a crime in Illinois until it happens to them. Sometimes, lawyers don’t even know that driving 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit is a crime in Illinois (more on that later.) Illinois has made speeding 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit a crime that carries potential serious consequences. Just like any other crime in Illinois, driving 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit carries a potential jail sentence that all Illinois driver’s should be aware of. Let me explain.

Cases involving drivers caught driving 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit are commonly called Aggravated or Excessive Speeding cases. Under 625 ILCS 5/11-601.5(a), if you are caught driving between 26 to 34 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, you can be charged with a Class B Misdemeanor. A Class B Misdemeanor carries up to 180 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $1,500. Under 625 ILCS 5/601.5(b), if you are caught driving 35-miles per hour, or more, over the posted speed limit, you can be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor. A Class A Misdemeanor carries up to 1 year in county jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.

Just like any other criminal offense, you will need to have a lawyer represent you if you receive an Aggravated or Excessive Speeding charge. Believe it or not, there’s lawyers out there that do not realize that driving 26-miles per hour over the posted speed limit is a crime until they go to Court and find out that what their client is facing is not a simple speeding ticket. Unless the lawyer commonly handles Aggravated or Excessive speeding cases, they will not know what to do when they get to Court. A few weeks ago I was at a local courthouse waiting to talk to the prosecutor about my client’s Aggravated Speeding charge when I started talking to the lawyer who was in front of me in line. I had never seen this lawyer before in Court. The lawyer told me that she was taking care of the speeding ticket for a family friend and as I was talking to her about the case, she told me that her client was going 42-miles per hour over the posted speed limit and asked me if she could just get Court Supervision for her client for the speeding ticket. I realized that the attorney did not understand that her client was being charged with a Class A Misdemeanor that carried a possible criminal conviction and a potential jail sentence of up to 1-year and a maximum fine of $2,500. I had explain all of this to the lawyer and she got a continuance for her client and sent the client to me to represent her for the Class A Excessive Speeding Charge. I was able to get the prosecutor to drop the charge down to a petty offense after the client performed some community service hours. The client had to pay a small fine and the court costs, and take a Driver Improvement Course.

UUW-300x221Earlier this week, I met with a client who was pulled over by the State Police for driving 38 miles an hour over the speed limit on the Tollway. The client did not realize that driving 38 miles an hour over the posted speed limit in Illinois is a crime. He did not realize that he could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for driving at such an excessive speed. He did not know that he was facing the possibility of being sentenced to one-year in County Jail and fined up to $2,500.

When the State Trooper spoke to my client, he smelled an odor of burnt cannabis and observed a bowl, which the client had used to smoke marijuana, in the center console of my client’s vehicle. The State Trooper pulled the client out of the vehicle and placed him under arrest. When the State Trooper asked my client if there was anything in the vehicle that he wanted the Trooper to be aware of, the client told him that he had a pair of brass knuckles in the center armrest of his vehicle. The State Trooper found the brass knuckles and charged my client with Unlawful Use of a Weapon (720 ILCS 5/24-1) because of the brass knuckles. My client told me that he’s had the brass knuckles since he was a teenager and had no idea that he could be charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon by simply possessing a pair of brass knuckles.

When it comes to the possession of brass knuckles, Illinois has very strict laws and rules that make the mere possession of brass, or metal knuckles, a crime. Not only is it against the law to possess brass knuckles in Illinois, it is against the law to possess jewelry, or items that look similar to brass knuckles. Brass knuckles are considered a deadly weapon in Illinois, just like a knife or a gun. If you are caught with brass knuckles, you will be charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon, a Class A Misdemeanor. If you are caught with a pair of brass knuckles, you could be facing up to a year in county jail and a fine up to $2,500. Illinois Law places brass knuckles in the same category as a gun or a knife. From experience, even though the criminal charges for the possession of brass knuckles is the same as the possession of a firearm, criminal defendants charged with possessing brass knuckles are generally not treated as harshly in Court as criminal defendants who are charged with a possession of a firearm. You are more likely to get Probation or Court Supervision for the possession of brass knuckles as opposed to the possession of a firearm. Of course, every case is different so you should consult with an experienced Unlawful Use of Weapon criminal defense attorney about your specific case.

Distracted-Driving-300x200

As of July 1, 2019, Illinois has become a “Hands-Free Zone”. In 2010, texting and driving was outlawed in Illinois.  In 2014, using your cell phone without a hands-free device was outlawed. But apparently, that was not enough. In 2018 the Illinois Legislature enacted a new Distracted Driving law that substantially increases the penalties for using a cell phone while operating a vehicle on Illinois roads which could lead to the suspension of your Illinois driver’s license.

Distracted Driving is a broad definition which covers more than just the use of a cell phone or an electronic device in your vehicle. You can be cited for Distracted Driving for applying makeup while driving, or looking at a printed map while driving your vehicle. However, the overwhelming majority of Distracted Driving tickets involve the use of a cell phone while driving.

The Old Law

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