Archive for April, 2016
April 25th, 2016 at 9:23 am
Illinois has one of the lowest felony theft monetary thresholds in the country. Stealing an item that is valued at $500 or more can land you a felony theft charge under 720 ILCS 5/16-1. While it makes sense that Illinois and law enforcement would want to take a firm stance on theft crimes, it makes less sense how seriously they take low-level theft offenses compared to other crimes and compared to how other states handle the same crime.
Stealing something small but valuable, such as a smartphone, watch, or piece of jewelry, could result in a felony theft charge in Illinois. However, only a misdemeanor charge would result in other states. While each state has the authority to define its criminal statutes the way that state legislatures see fit, felony charges for the theft of an item worth $501 is overkill, in the view of many individuals. When you are facing criminal charges for theft or retail theft, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
A recent article published by the Insider Online compared how different states handle felony theft, and analyzed what measures states, particularly Illinois, could take that could help state’s save on correction costs. The article called for reform to Illinois’s felony theft laws, largely because of how Illinois’ felony theft law seems to be lagging when compared to other states, and because Illinois does not regularly adjust the felony theft monetary thresholds to reflect inflation.
How Do Illinois’ Felony Theft Laws Stack Up to Other States?
This is not to say that the Illinois legislature had completely ignored felony theft. In 2010, the felony theft threshold was raised from $300 to $500. However, a $500 threshold is still remarkably low compared to some other states that have a felony theft threshold of $1,000, or even $2,500. Not only that, but by not taking inflation into account periodically, Illinois’ felony theft laws gradually become increasingly punitive over time as the value of the item increases due to inflation.
Addressing Victims’ Concerns With Theft Law Reforms
The article acknowledges citizens’ and victims’ concerns that raising the felony theft monetary amount would encourage criminals to steal more expensive items, and more frequently. But according to a study conducted by the Pew Charitable Trusts, there is no notable correlation between increasing felony theft monetary limits and an increase in property-related theft crimes. In fact, theft crime activity overall has been on the decline over the past few decades, largely due to improvements in technology, such as security monitoring technology which discourages theft in the first place, that help law enforcement to identify and apprehend offenders quickly and efficiently.
Let Us Assist You Today
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony theft charges, or retail theft charges, you need the help of an experienced theft lawyer. Please contact a dedicated Rolling Meadows shoplifting attorney for assistance with your case. We can begin helping you immediately.
April 20th, 2016 at 8:07 am
If your license has been revoked or suspended, a great burden is placed on you to get around without driving yourself. In order to be in compliance with your sentence, you have to not drive, and may have to take a bus, walk, or hitch a ride with friends. However, many individuals who are serving a driver’s license revocation or suspension sentence choose to drive themselves without a license, and hope that they do not get caught.
While it is never advisable, people who have a suspended or revoked license get behind the wheel and may ultimately be caught when they commit some other traffic violation and cannot produce a driver’s license for the law enforcement officer that pulled them over.
Driving With a Revoked or Suspended License a Persistent Problem
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune highlighted the persistent nature of this issue. Noting statistics from the AAA Foundation, the article notes how this problem has been on the rise for more than two decades. Despite numerous attempts to discourage drivers who have suspended or revoked licenses from driving, many still do. More than 30,000 people in Illinois are are convicted for driving with a suspended or revoked license each year.
The article theorizes that the problem stems from police officers having too few resources to charge these drivers with felony charges. Writing up a driver with a misdemeanor charge who is driving on a revoked or suspended license can cost the officer up to 45 minutes of his or her time. However, writing up the driver with a felony can take up to two hours, and requires the officer to take the driver into custody.
By taking a driver into custody, it takes an officer away from patrolling for gang violence and other public safety issues. Booking people for driving offenses seems like a lower priority when compared to intervening in a domestic violence situation, responding to an emergency call, or responding to serious car accidents or reported crimes.
Repeat Offenders Prompt Police, State Reps to Propose a Solution
While the problem of drivers driving on suspended or revoked licenses seems unsolvable, that does not stop law enforcement and state representatives from discussing ways to potentially prevent this from happening. Some proposed ideas include automatically making driving with a suspended or revoked license a felony for drivers who have a history of committing driving offenses once their license has been revoked or suspended. Another idea is to increase the length of time that a person’s driver’s license is suspended or revoked in the first place. These possible solutions are merely in the brainstorming phase of development and no proposed legislation to that effect has been made yet.
Our Attorneys Can Help You Today
If you have been charged with driving without a license, a suspended license, or a revoked license, you need to hire an experienced traffic offenses lawyer immediately. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows traffic offense attorney for professional assistance. We are eager to help you throughout each step of your case.
April 18th, 2016 at 9:11 am
Traditionally when a driver is stopped in Illinois for a traffic offense, the police officer approaches the driver’s vehicle, asks for the driver’s license and registration, and then asks a handful of other questions. If the officer is going to issue a ticket, the officer must complete the citation form by hand. Filling out the ticket form by hand can present a lot of problems, such as transcribing down information about the driver, vehicle, or offense incorrectly on the form, or the officer’s handwriting could be illegible.
Such problems with handwritten tickets are typically a boon to Illinois drivers. While minor mistakes on a traffic citation generally will not cause your ticket to be thrown out in court (such as an incorrectly cited make of vehicle or vehicle color), a material error (for example, a ticket issued to the wrong name), or a ticket that is completely illegible could get your charges dismissed.
However, police are starting to adopt new technology that will help make the information that is inputted on traffic citations more clear, easier to read, and easier to transmit electronically. In the southwest of Illinois, counties are beginning to adopt new technology for issuing traffic tickets. The new process is called e-ticketing, and has been adopted in both Madison County and Bond County, with much satisfaction for law enforcement officers, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
How Does the Electronic System Work?
The process allows for police officers to scan a driver’s license and store a copy of the license digitally along with the completed ticket in the officer’s car computer. The ticket is a blank digital form into which the officer can type the necessary information. Once the form is completed, the officer can print the form on a small printer located in his or her squad car, and can deliver the printed ticket to the offending driver.
The system allows for police officers to stay in the safety of their vehicles while writing up the ticket, and is considerably quicker than filling out a traditional hand-written ticket. This translates into shorter traffic stops.
Will This System be Adopted in the Northeast of the State?
There is no word yet on whether this technology will be brought to the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area any time soon. But like with all new technology, something that works well and is well liked in one population will soon be adopted by nearby neighbors.
Let Us Assist You Today
Getting a traffic ticket is unfortunate; however, it should be treated seriously. If you have received a speeding or traffic ticket, you should contact a Rolling Meadows traffic offenses lawyer immediately. Our attorneys can help you with your case.
Illinois May Have a Good Samaritan Law for Reporting Overdoses, Yet You Could Still be Charged with Drug Crimes
April 14th, 2016 at 7:00 am
In an effort to help combat the heroin epidemic that has been plaguing the United States in the past few years, in 2012 the Illinois Controlled Substances Act and the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act was amended to include a provision that provides limited immunity from prosecution for those who witness an overdose and call for help. In other words, those who report an overdose can avoid at least some drug charges. The provision is codified in 720 ILCS 570/414, and is sometimes referred to as the Illinois Good Samaritan Overdose Law.
Good Samaritan Overdose Law Limited to Possession of Drugs That Can Cause Overdoses
The overdose law offers protection to those who report an overdose. However, the protection offered by the law is strictly limited to possession and is limited to small quantities of drugs that are capable of causing an overdose. Those who seek medical attention for someone who is overdosing will not be charged with a Class 4 felony for possession of a controlled, counterfeit, or look-alike substance or a controlled substance analog if evidence for a Class 4 charge was acquired as a result of seeking help for the person who is overdosing.
The law is only applicable if a small quantity of drugs are found at the scene of the overdose, such as:
- Less than three grams of heroin, cocaine, morphine or LSD;
- Less than six grams of pentazocine (an opioid), quaaludes, PCP or ketamine; or
- Less than 40 grams of peyote, barbiturates, amphetamines, or any Schedule I or II narcotics.
But the Law Does Not Protect Against a Lot of Other Potential Charges
The law does not protect against drug charges for other drugs, such as cannabis, methamphetamines or other controlled substances. Nor does the law protect those who report overdose victims from other drug charges, such as possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of cannabis, possession of methamphetamines, and drug delivery.
Those who report the overdose could also face other criminal charges if the circumstances warrant such charges, such as driving with a revoked or suspended license, DUI, or aggravated battery (if the person who reported the overdose is suspected of assisting the victim in injecting him or herself with the drug that caused the overdose).
So while you might be doing the “right thing” by calling for medical assistance if you witness someone overdosing on drugs, you should be aware that the overdose law only offers you limited protection from criminal prosecution. It is very easy in an overdose situation to find evidence of other crimes that you would not be immune to under the overdose law.
Contact Us for Help with Your Case
Just because there is a good samaritan overdose reporting law, it does not mean that you are protected against all criminal charges you might face if the cops show up. There are a number of other drug charges you could face. Please contact a Rolling Meadows drug crimes attorney immediately if you have been arrested after reporting an overdose. Our attorneys are prepared to assist you today.
April 11th, 2016 at 8:50 am
When Illinoisans receive a ticket for a traffic violation, they often consider it as an inconvenience. It means a ticket that they might have to dispute, and a fine. However, few people who get a ticket really understand the long-term impact that a ticket can have on their wallet.
There are hidden costs associated with getting a ticket in Illinois that cannot be overlooked and need to be considered when deciding whether to just pay the fine or to fight the ticket.
Illinois Tickets Are Some of the Most Costly in the Country
KMOV.com recently reported on a national study which revealed that traffic tickets have one of the biggest impacts on Illinois drivers, due to the long-term costs associated with getting a speeding ticket. While the initial cost of the traffic ticket might not be too high, after several years of auto insurance hikes, a ticket can be quite costly. There are a handful of Illinois communities—a majority of which are located in Cook County, including Harvey, Cicero and Park Ridge—where getting a ticket can cost individuals $1,000 more over a five-year period than a ticket would cost other Americans.
The study found that the average speeding ticket in Illinois runs about $120. However, a speeding ticket in Illinois often translates to an average increase in auto insurance rates of $124 per year. Increases in insurance rates due to speeding tickets last for five years. That results in a cost over five years that is approximately six times the initial ticket amount.
The point of the increased insurance rates after a driver receives a ticket is to discourage the driver from engaging in such behavior while behind the wheel in the future. The hike in rates is a deterrent. Extra insurance costs are not something that many drivers think about when they get a speeding ticket, but it is the reality of the situation. Therefore, it is important to fight your traffic ticket. An experienced traffic offense lawyer can help you fight for your rights.
Options After a Speeding Ticket
When a driver receives a ticket for a traffic offense, he or she has several options on how to proceed. The driver can decide upon the following:
- Pay the ticket, which is the same as pleading guilty to the charge. The driver will pay the fine and receive a conviction for the offense that was committed by the driver;
- In some cases, a driver can pay the ticket, receive the conviction, and attend traffic safety educational classes; or
- Dispute the ticket and fight the charges that are pending against the driver, often with the help of a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling traffic ticket cases.
Let Us Assist You Today
Speeding tickets happen, and when one happens to you, you need to fight the ticket since one can cost you a lot more than just the fine associated with your ticket. Your insurance rate is likely to go up if you do not try to beat your ticket. Please do not hesitate to contact a skilled Rolling Meadows traffic offenses lawyer immediately. Our attorneys are available to help you today.
April 6th, 2016 at 7:25 am
There are a number of individuals who face domestic violence charges in Illinois and do not know what to do about the charges that are pending against them. Criminal charges can be scary and serious, as a conviction can have a long-term impact on a person’s life.
A domestic violence conviction can impact a person’s ability to go near the alleged victim, stay in their own home, or could impact their child custody or visitation rights. An experienced domestic violence criminal defense lawyer can help with domestic assault and battery charges and any other domestic violence-related legal assistance you might need, such as dealing with charges concerning a violation of a protection order or charges of domestic battery. Criminal defense can be technical and confusing, but those who stand accused should have an understanding of their legal options.
Strategies for Fighting Domestic Violence Charges
Below is a general overview of a few typical legal options that defendants facing domestic violence criminal charges might have, depending on the specific facts of their case. Each domestic violence case is unique, and as such, not all of the below strategies might work in any given situation. Consult with a domestic violence lawyer about your case and what options are relevant to your situation.
- Dismissal of Charges. The first and foremost strategy is to try and get the charges against you dismissed. This can happen in a number of ways, and your lawyer will review your case carefully to see which options you have. There might be a procedural error in your case, or some other reason why the domestic violence charges against you should be dropped by the court (i.e., insufficient evidence, an error in the charging documents, etc.). Your lawyer can use a pretrial motion to get your case dismissed if there are circumstances that warrant dismissal.
- When Charges Are Based on False Allegations. When the domestic violence allegations pending against you are false, your case could be won by proving that the allegations are false. There might be evidence to support your position that the allegations were made up by the alleged victim, and if so, this evidence could get your charges dropped if presented to the court. Your lawyer will help you determine if there is strong evidence in your case, and whether the evidence will be useable in court, to support your case.
- When An Incident Was Not Domestic Violence. There may be facts or circumstances that support a defense that no domestic violence took place. The police might have been called to a “situation” at a domicile, but there may not ever have been allegations of domestic violence made by anyone in the domicile. Instead, the police might have jumped to conclusions and made an arrest when they should not have.
Reach Out to Us for Help
Domestic violence charges are serious. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer will go a long way towards getting your charges dropped or reduced, and will help ensure that you receive fair treatment under the law as a criminal defendant. Please contact a dedicated Rolling Meadows domestic violence defense lawyer as soon as you are able. We can help you throughout each step of your case.
April 4th, 2016 at 8:21 am
Sometimes domestic situations get out of hand. One person in a relationship or family situation, often a male, might lose his temper or act out angrily at his partner, ex, or family member. The other party, often a woman, is the alleged victim, and she might feel threatened, fearful, or vindictive and could over-react to the situation. She might want to call the police and report the incident as an instance of domestic violence.
Calling the police for a domestic violence situation is a serious matter, since the cops are most likely leaving the scene with someone in custody, usually the alleged abuser. Many people know this and do not want to be arrested. Threats made by the alleged victim to call the police can prompt the alleged abuser to interfere with the victim making the call to the authorities. The alleged abuser might:
- Try to physically prevent the victim from placing a call to the police;
- Threaten the victim further;
- Break, destroy, or disable the phone;
- Attempt to make it difficult for the victim to speak to the police on the phone;
- Attempt to make it difficult for the police to hear the victim on the phone; and/or
- Try to prevent the victim from telling the police something if the police arrive at the scene.
Any of the above examples are attempts to interfere with the reporting of domestic violence, which is prohibited by law under 720 ILCS 5/12-3.5. If you are facing domestic violence allegations, and allegations that you interfered with the reporting of domestic violence, you need to speak with an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You face serious charges, and a lawyer can help you defend yourself and your rights.
Interfering with the Reporting of Domestic Violence
Specifically, the statute on interfering with the reporting of domestic violence prohibits a person from preventing, or attempting to prevent a victim or a witness from reporting an instance of domestic violence. It can also be considered interfering with the reporting of domestic violence if a person prevents a victim from getting the medical attention or care that he 0r she needs after an instance of domestic violence. The resulting criminal charges are a Class A misdemeanor.
Charges of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence are often accompanied by domestic violence charges, such as domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, and violation of a protection order. Defendants are often charged with both, but sometimes one or both of the charges can be dropped if the facts do not support a conviction.
Let Us Assist You Today
When you are facing domestic violence charges, or charges for interfering with the reporting of domestic violence, there is a lot at stake and you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows defense lawyer at our firm immediately. Our skilled advocates are prepared to help you today.
April 1st, 2016 at 7:23 am
A significant number of people in Illinois drive while distracted—a action which can lead drivers to be issued a traffic citation. Often, a ticket for distracted driving accompanies some other traffic violation, such as following too closely or speeding and causing an accident.
Even if a distracted driver involved in an accident does not admit that he or she was texting while driving when the accident occurred, law enforcement will typically check a driver’s cellphone records around the time of the accident to determine if the driver was interacting with his or her phone at the time of the accident.
Many drivers underestimate how seriously Illinois law enforcement takes the issue of distracted driving. However, do not doubt for one second that police are not looking for signs of distracted driving on the road. Texting while driving is illegal under 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2. If you receive a citation for distracted driving, you should contact an experienced traffic violation lawyer immediately.
Examples of Law Enforcement’s Efforts to Catch Distracted Drivers
Police do not specifically sit via roadside and watch for drivers to pass by who are suspiciously looking down at their phone in their laps. Indeed, law enforcement is taking a more careful and inconspicuous approach.
Law enforcement has been known to work in teams, where one officer is stationed up the road from other officers, equipped with no police vehicle to give away his or her position. This officer will observe oncoming drivers for signs that the drivers are driving while distracted. If a suspect is identified, the officer will then radio ahead to his or her team, provide the description of the suspect’s vehicle, and report on what the officer believes the driver was doing while behind the wheel. One of the officers in the team will identify the suspect vehicle and make a stop.
Another approach used by Illinois law enforcement to identify distracted drivers is to staff a van with officers equipped with cameras, and to deploy this vehicle in traffic, according to a recent article published by SaukValley.com. The officers who are passengers in the van will track drivers that are around the van in traffic for any sign of distracted driving. When a suspected distracted driver is identified by the officers in the van, the officers contact another police unit up ahead on the road and relay the important identifying information concerning the suspect vehicle.
An officer in one of the other units makes the traffic stop of the suspected distracted driver.
Let Us Fight for Your Rights
Many drivers get tickets for driving while distracted. Maybe you were expecting an important call, or your kids or a pet was behaving badly in the back seat and distracted you. Whatever the case may be, you need a criminal defense lawyer to help you fight your traffic citation. Please do not hesitate to contact a skilled Rolling Meadows traffic offenses lawyer immediately. We are eager to assist you throughout each step of the case.