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Attorney James G. Dimeas
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Violation-of-ProbationIf you are charged with a felony criminal offense in Illinois, you need to know what you are being charged with and what class felony that criminal charge is classified as. Generally, felonies in Illinois are categorized into one of the four classes of felonies in Illinois. Depending on which class your felony is classified as being, the potential penalty will will vary depend on what class felony your crime falls into. Murder is not considered to be part of the four classes of felonies in Illinois. Murder is considered its own special class.

Generally speaking, felonies are placed into one of four classes. The different classes of felonies in Illinois are set forth as follows:

Class 4 Felonies

Criminal-Defense-Lawyer-300x201If you are charged with a Misdemeanor crime in Illinois, you need to understand what a Misdemeanor is and what the implications could be for your future.  A Felony criminal charge is much more severe than a Misdemeanor criminal charge. But that doesn’t mean that a Misdemeanor is not a big deal. While whether you are charged with a Misdemeanor or a Felony may make all the difference in the world  you need to understand what a Misdemeanor is and what you are looking at when you go to Court.

Generally, a Misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail. If you are sentenced to jail for a Misdemeanor, the jail sentence will be served in County Jail while a Felony carries a potential jail sentence of more than one year in State Prison.

Within Misdemeanor crimes, there are three separate classes of Misdemeanors. The three different classes of Misdemeanors are set forth below:

DUII frequently receive phone calls from clients who are facing their second DUI. Many times, they do not understand how serious their case is and what they are facing. If you have been arrested and are charged with a DUI, and it’s your second DUI, you need to understand how serious this case could be and what the long-term implications to you could be. Not only could it cost you lots of money, but you could be labeled a convicted criminal for the rest of your life, end up in jail, sentenced to Probation, and lose your license for a very long time. Let me explain to you what makes a second DUI so serious.

A second DUI is a class A Misdemeanor which carries a possible jail sentence of up to one year in jail. A DUI will be considered a second DUI in Illinois as long as this is your second DUI ever. Unlike many other states, Illinois does not have a cut-off for how long ago your first DUI was for it to be considered your second DUI. Many states do not consider a DUI if it’s more than 10 years old. Illinois has no such limitation on how old your first DUI has to be in order for them to consider this is your second DUI. Most people that I talk to do not understand that it does not matter that their first DUI was 20 or 25 years ago. As long as they had a prior DUI, Illinois will consider your new DUI to be a second DUI.

You cannot receive Court Supervision for a second DUI. Court Supervision is a sentence that is not considered a criminal conviction on your criminal record. Court Supervision is simply not available for a second DUI. This means that a second DUI will result in a criminal conviction. Since you will be convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor, you will now have a criminal conviction on your criminal record that will appear on a routine background search. This may affect your ability to keep your job, get a job, obtain financial aid to go to school, or obtain and receive certain government benefits.

cannabis-buds-in-hand-300x287In recent years, laws regarding the Possession and Use of Marijuana have been changing throughout the country. This is true in the State of Illinois. In 1931, The Illinois Legislature made the recreational use of marijuana illegal. This legislation was part of a national trend which made the use of marijuana illegal nationally. In recent years, a new national trend has swept throughout the country which is having the opposite effect on the use of Marijuana. This trend clearly appears to be more accepting of the medical and recreational use of Marijuana. This national trend has swept into Illinois as well. In 2016, the Illinois Legislature decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in Illinois. If you are caught with 10 grams or less of Marijuana, you will no longer be placed under arrest and subject to criminal prosecution and criminal penalties. In 2016 the State of Illinois made the possession of 10 grams or less of Marijuana a Municipal Ordinance Violation which only carries a civil penalty. The City of Chicago decriminalized the possession of small amounts of Marijuana in 2012.

In 2013, the Illinois Legislature enacted the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act. This Act legalized the use of Marijuana for medical purposes under certain tight regulations. When the Medical Marijuana Act was enacted in 2013, it was considered one of the most restrictive and prohibitive Medical Marijuana programs in the United States. Recently, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law numerous changes to the Medical Marijuana program which have loosened many of the restrictions and made it possible for more people to be able to use Medical Marijuana legally in the State of Illinois.

The recent changes to the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois allows doctors to prescribe Medical Marijuana in place of opioids, for a short period of time, for patients in need of relief from pain. This change to the Medical Marijuana program is an attempt to stop the opioid epidemic from spreading. Another change to the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois removes the requirement that an applicant has to submit to a background search which required that a sample of their fingerprints be submitted with the application. This will have the effect of speeding up the process for being approved to use Medical Marijuana in Illinois. Prior to the recent changes to the Medical Marijuana program, it could take three to four months for an application to be approved. This will also make it possible for patients with a criminal record to be able to legally obtain and use Medical Marijuana. With the recent changes, once your application is accepted and payment is received, you can legally purchase Medical Marijuana at a state approved Medical Marijuana Dispensary by simply showing them your receipt from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the agency that is charged with administering the Medical Marijuana program in Illinois.

Excessive-Speeding-300x199I frequently receive phone calls from clients who have received a speeding ticket for driving at a high rate of speed. While speaking with these clients, it is not uncommon for me to find out that they were driving at such a high rate of speed that I need to explain to them that what they are charged with is not your typical, run-of-the-mill, speeding ticket. I end up having to explain to them that what they are facing is a criminal charge known as Aggravated or Excessive Speeding that carries a possible jail sentence in County Jail. Let me explain how an Aggravated or Excessive Speeding ticket in Illinois can land you in jail and lead to a criminal conviction that will appear on your record in a routine background search.

Most speeding tickets are considered a petty offense. The typical speeding ticket carries a fine only. This means that you cannot go to jail for your typical speeding ticket. Basically, Illinois Law provides that you cannot drive at a speed that is “greater than is reasonable and proper with regards to traffic conditions and the use of the highway, or endangers the safety of any person or property.” This basically means that you must drive at a safe speed. What is considered a safe speed depends on the conditions at the time. In other words, what is considered a safe speed may vary depending on the time of day and the weather conditions. However, if you are caught driving above the absolute speed limit, you may receive a ticket for speeding regardless of the time of day and conditions. If the speed limit is 55 and you are driving faster than the speed limit, you may receive a ticket regardless of the weather conditions or the time of day. The defense that you were driving with “the flow of traffic” will not work in Court. If the speed limit is 55 and you are driving 55 miles an hour in a blizzard while all the other cars on the roadway are driving at 30 miles an hour, you may receive a ticket for speeding even though you did not exceed the posted speed limit. As you can tell, being found guilty of speeding above the posted speed limit is much easier for the prosecutor to prove in court than it is for them to prove that you were driving greater than what was reasonable and proper with regard to traffic conditions and the use of the highway.

The absolute speed limit is posted on signs.  In general, the absolute speed limits on Illinois roads are as follows, unless posted otherwise:

Possession-of-Marijuana-300x200On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, signed into law a measure that drastically expands the Illinois Medical Marijuana Program. The main focus of the expanded Medical Marijuana legislation is to attack the massive opioid epidemic which led to the loss of almost 2,000 lives in Illinois in 2016, and roughly 72,000 people throughout the country.

Under current state law, in order to qualify for Medical Marijuana, you must be suffering from certain illnesses that are set forth in the Medical Marijuana statute. This new law will allow doctors to prescribe Medical Marijuana for any patient that would qualify for a prescription opioid drug such as OxyContin, Vicodin, or Percocet. This new law takes into consideration the addictive qualities of prescription opioids and the medicinal value and benefits of Medical Marijuana. It recognizes that Medical Marijuana is a viable and beneficial alternative to prescription opioid drugs.

The new law is based on solid scientific evidence which has shown that states that have legalized Medical Marijuana have experienced a sharp decrease in the number of opioid-related deaths. At the same time, numerous medical studies have shown that Medical Marijuana can be effective in treating pain that would otherwise be treated by highly addictive prescription opioid drugs. Now, patients who suffer from chronic pain have a choice between using Medical Marijuana or taking opioid-related prescription drugs. Studies have shown that no deaths have resulted from the use of Medical Marijuana to treat chronic pain.

UUW-300x240In response to the dramatic rise in the number of mass shootings around the country, earlier this year the Illinois Legislature began working on legislation aimed at trying to stop mass shootings from happening in Illinois. As a result, on July 16h, 2018, Illinois governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the Firearms Restraining Order Act which allows for petitions to be filed in court to have a no contact order issued against someone deemed to be a threat to themselves or to others. The new law is commonly called the “Red Flag” bill. It would allow family members, police and others to seek an Order Protection in Court to take away the guns from someone found to pose “an immediate and present danger” to themselves or to others.

At the same time, Governor Rauner signed into law a bill that expands the 72-hour waiting period to the purchase of all guns. Prior to this measure being enacted, the 72-hour waiting period only applied to handguns. Now, the 72-hour waiting period applies to the purchase of all guns, including assault-style weapons.

The “Red Flag” bill is an attempt to take tools that are used in Domestic Battery and Domestic Violence cases and apply them to situations that might help prevent mass shootings from occurring. The new law allows for a representative of a school, a business, or a church, to petition the court for an order prohibiting that person from entering that building if they can show the court that that person has exhibited threatening behavior.

DUIIt’s that time of the year again. The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has released its annual study that keeps track of DUI arrests throughout Illinois. Once again, Rockford and Elgin top the list of towns in Illinois reporting the most DUI arrests in 2017. In 2017, Rockford reported 490 DUI arrests compared to 459 in 2016. The 2017 figures represent a 6.8% increase over the 2016 DUI arrest figures. Elgin came in second with a total of 418 DUI arrests in 2017. Elgin had 365 DUI arrest in 2016, a 14.5% increase over 2017.

Every year, Schaumburg based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists sends out surveys to roughly 700 police departments throughout the State of Illinois. Most of the police agencies respond to the surveys and the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists releases the figures for DUI arrests throughout all of the cities and towns in Illinois and gives us a picture of which towns are more aggressive when it comes to DUI arrests.

The lengthy list of DUI arrests compiled by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has the DUI arrest figures for virtually every town and village in the State of Illinois. I want to include the figures for local towns and villages that may be of interest to my readers. Chicago is not on this list because Chicago has far and away the most arrests and is included on a seperate list published by the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. The first number in the list below is what place the town or village is in and the second number is the total number of DUI arrests in 2017:

Search-WarrantIn a closely-watched decision regarding the privacy rights of cell phone users and the power of the police to obtain cell phone tracking information, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the police must obtain a warrant before obtaining the tracking information for the cell phones for most cellphone users.

Timothy Carpenter was suspected in a series of robberies of RadioShack and T-Mobile stores in several States throughout the country. The FBI had obtained a simple court order allowing them to obtain 27 days of Carpenter’s cell phone location data from Sprint and from MetroPCS. The court order that had been used by the FBI was a simple court order that did not require that the FBI show probable cause for a search warrant. In response to the court order, the FBI was given a 12,898 location point catalog of where Carpenter had been over a period of 27 days. The location data represented an average of 101 data point locations per day. Carpenter was eventually convicted of the robberies and sentenced to over a hundred years in prison. During closing arguments, the prosecutor made a major point of the location data to help bolster his argument that Carpenter had committed the robberies.

On appeal, Carpenter argued that the location data that had been obtained by the FBI should not be admitted in his case because they were obtained without a search warrant. Lower courts disagreed with Carpenter and ruled that the FBI was not required to obtain a search warrant in order to get the location data from the cell phone providers.

Criminal-Case-300x200I recently met with a client who had a jury trial for a Domestic Battery charge. After several days of a trial and deliberations, the jury could not agree on a verdict and the judge declared a mistrial. Shortly after the mistrial was declared, the prosecution decided that they would retry the client and he came to my office looking to hire me for the second trial. The client had several questions about what happens at a re-trial and whether Double Jeopardy applied to his case. I answered his questions and realized that people misunderstand what Double Jeopardy means.

In order for you to be convicted of a crime by a jury, all 12 members of the jury must agree that you are guilty. At the same time, in order to be found not guilty of a crime by a jury, all 12 members of the jury must agree that you are not guilty. Their verdict must be unanimous. If a jury is unable to come up with a unanimous verdict, the Court will declare a mistrial. A mistrial does not necessarily mean that the case is over. When a mistrial happens, the prosecution will decide whether they want to try you once again for the same crime. The decision about whether the state will try you again for the same crime is a decision that rests with the prosecution. From experience, prosecutors will take a variety of factors into consideration when deciding whether to have another trial. A major factor for prosecutors is how close did they come to winning the first jury trial? In other words, if a vast majority of the jurors were in favor of finding you guilty, it is much more likely that the state will try you again. If the vast majority of the jurors were in favor of finding you not guilty, it is much more likely that the state will drop the case and not seek another trial.

The legal grounds for you not to be subjected to another trial can be found in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 10 of the Illinois Constitution.

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