Archive for the ‘Criminal defense’ Category

Woman Driving Home from Funeral Arrested for DUI

January 27th, 2013 at 11:02 am

  Four women were on their way home from a funeral early on Wednesday night.  The driver, Cindy Giron, claimed that they were being ‘chased’ by a vehicle which caused her to hit a concrete planter box that divided the road.  They were driving east on Madison Street and just passing Bishop at 12:50 am when the single car accident occurred.

The damage done to Giron’s car made it not drivable.  The police who responded to the scene noticed all the girls were out of the car, including Giron’s sister who was lying flat on the pavement, which had Giron visibly shaken.  She continually asked the officers what she “did to her sister” and questioned if her sister was going to die while crying uncontrollably.  Luckily, no one involved was seriously hurt although they were transported to local hospitals.

As the authorities were cleaning up the accident and assessing the damage done, they came across a gallon jug of Carlo Rossi wine which was three quarters empty.  The women had also had been drinking wine earlier in the night at the funeral.  When Giron was tested, her blood alcohol level was 0.246, which is over three times the legal limit of .08.

She was charged with felony aggravated DUI and two counts misdemeanor DUI.  Giron was also ticketed for negligent driving, driving without a license, illegal transportation of alcohol and failure to produce proof of insurance.  Charges for driving under the influence can receive very harsh sentencing.  To ensure that your rights are protected, contact a supportive criminal defense attorney in Cook County today.

Five Indiana Men Sentenced in Tinley Park Attack

January 21st, 2013 at 8:00 am

Ashford House BrawlBrothers Dylan, Cody and Jason Sutherlin along with two other members of the Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement decided to drive together to Tinley Park to confront a group of alleged white supremacists.  The brothers along with Alex Struck and John S. Tucker wanted to go to a local restaurant to peacefully protect the meeting yet the scene erupted in violence.  Surveillance footage showed at least 18 men enter the Ashford House brandishing weapons and wearing masks.  After the attack, these five men were arrested as part of the mob in the May 19th melee.

Altogether, each of the men were charged with 37 separate felony counts including aggravated battery, property damage and mob action.  The prosecution was pushing for maximum sentencing on the most serious charge of armed violence.   All five decided to enter guilty pleas to reduce the counts from 37 down to 3.

“We were ready to go to trial,” said Brian Barrido, the pro-bono lawyer for Dylan Sutherlin. “I was very surprised when they said they wanted to take the plea … but I think they did the math, and if the trial didn’t start for a year or six months, they might be out just as soon.”  Jason Sutherlin was sentenced to 6 years, Dylan and Cody received 5 years each, while Stuck and Tucker received 3-1/2 years.

It is typical for those accused of battery charges to seek plea deals in order to reduce their sentences or other alternatives which don’t involve criminal convictions.  The sentencing can be reduced to court supervision, paying fines, community service or counseling.  Whether you want to plead guilty to a crime or go to court, you shouldn’t have to do it by yourself.  Contact an effective criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows who can work for the result you want.

One of the news criminal laws for Illinois

January 18th, 2013 at 1:24 pm

 With a new year comes new laws, and this year there are a number of laws working in different parts of the legal field. Since this is a criminal defense blog, we will introduce a new criminal law, which, in this case, is an amendment to an older statute. The law in question sets new rules on eavesdropping when investigating a felony drug violation case.

For those who want to read through a bureaucratic summary of the bill, here is a link to Illinois General Assembly’s information about the new law.

The core idea in the bill is that law enforcement officers can eavesdrop with an eavesdropping device when they are investigating a felony drug violation case if they get permission from the state’s attorney. However, one of the participants in the recorded conversation has to be an officer or acting under instructions from a law enforcement officer. The officer or instructed person also has to have consented to the recording taking place.

More specifically, the bill allows eavesdropping in felony violations of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, the Cannabis Control Act or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act. If these eavesdropping recordings have evidence that has to do with something other than these violations, it is not usable evidence in court.

Very short summaries of new laws can be found, for example in this examiner.com story.

If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. Our Rolling Meadows offices can help you with your Cook County, Illinois criminal defense needs.

New Child Sexual Harassment Law Active in 2013

January 15th, 2013 at 1:20 pm

  Since there is more than one or two new criminal offense statutes or amendments to old ones in action since January 2013, this post will again introduce a new criminal law. This statute amendment has to do with child sex offenses and sexual harassment of children. A list including this statute can be found, for example, at the news section of wrul.com or the Illinois General Assembly documents.

The law, passed as House Bill 5265, amends the Criminal Code of 1961 regarding child abduction by luring. This amendment provides two main points. Firstly, the age limit for a luring offense to a minor has been changed to seventeen from sixteen. Secondly, it provides protection for children under 17 when they are traveling to or back from school. The amendment makes luring or attempting to lure a person under 17 who is traveling to or a from school into a vehicle without the consent of a parent or lawful custodian for unlawful purpose a criminal offense. The law is effective after January 1.

This amendment was seen as necessary after a DuPage County case where a 17-year-old student was on her way to school and being followed by a sex offender driving a van. When the police stopped the driver, they could only charge him with disorderly conduct, because the old statute only applied to minors 16 or younger.

When you need legal help with criminal charges, contact a criminal defense attorney in your area. Our Rolling Meadows, Illinois criminal attorneys are ready to help you with your case, so do not hesitate to contact our offices.

Students Charged With Hazing

January 12th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Young athletes at Maine West High School are facing misdemeanor charges for allegations of hazing that some are calling child abuse, according to the Chicago Tribune. Tony Romanucci told NBC Chicago, as reported in the Huffington Post, that allegations of sexual abuse go as far back as 2006, and “that coaches at the school knew about what was happening.” The complaint alleges that older players on the soccer teams shoved younger boys down to the ground, beat them, and then sodomized them with their fingers and other objects.

The two soccer coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, have been put on paid leave from the school until the dust settles surrounding the incident. Six players have been charged with misdemeanor battery and hazing, but as of mid-December there was no evidence to support felony charges for any student involved in the charges. The Huffington Post reports that an additional four students are facing disciplinary actions. There have been other allegations of hazing abuse among the swimming and baseball teams as well, and the mother of one boy—a baseball player—told NBC that when she reported the incident to the principal it was “swept under the rug.”

Lawsuits over hazing gone wrong are nothing new. According to StopHazing.org, hazing in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor, unless it results in death or great bodily harm. If it does, hazing in Illinois is a Class 4 felony. Hazing is defined in Illinois law as: “the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State for the purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society.”

If you or someone you know is facing hazing charges, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Teen Arrested at Gang Funeral

January 9th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

A 17-year-old boy was arrested for possession of a gun at a gang funeral in mid-December, according to the Chicago Tribune. Roosevelt J. Yarber’s arrest comes as part of a new police crackdown on possession of weapons and possible conflicts at gang funerals. According to the Tribune, “Yarber was carrying a .44-caliber Magnum handgun with six live rounds when he was arrested,” and has been charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon. Area North Deputy Chief John Escalante told the Tribune that “it just highlights the need for us to be out, monitoring these wakes and funerals.” 

The crackdown comes after one man was killed and another wounded at the funeral of a gang member on the South Side in early December, and was initiated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help curb the explosion of gang violence that has rocked Chicago in 2012. The Gangster Disciples, according to a different article in the Chicago Tribune, were responsible for “more than a quarter of the city’s nearly 400 slaying victims through September 25” of this year. The funeral at which Yarber was arrested was for a member of the Gangster Disciples, but Yarber is not believed to be a member. He was, however, with six other men—“five of them members of the Four Corner Hustlers and one a member of the New Breed gang, which is in a gang conflict with the Gangster Disciples.” Police stopped Yarber and the men he was with because they were not believed to be Gangster Disciples.

Escalante said that at least four people have been arrested at gang funerals since implementation of the new strategy. “Everyone has a right to attend a funeral or a wake, especially one at a church,” he told the Tribune, “and not expect to be the victim of gun violence.”

If you or someone you know has been accused of gang violence or are facing weapons charges, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Indiana Teen Arrested for Selling Marijuana

January 5th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Indiana Teen Arrested for Selling Marijuana IMAGE“Authorities in northwestern Indiana have charged a 16-year-old boy with dealing marijuana on school property, saying he sold marijuana-laced brownies to fellow students,” according to the Chicago Tribune. When confronted with a plastic container and metal baking pan with brownie crumbs in his locker that smelled of marijuana, the boy admitted to either selling or giving away the brownies to fellow students, and “police reported finding two $20 bills in his pocket that the boy admitted came from selling the brownies.” More lockers were searched and several students were questioned, but no more evidence or confessions were found in the 2,100-student school.

The boy’s arrest comes on the heels of some major legislation elsewhere in the country that would make his crime a moot point. In November of this year, both Colorado and Washington voted to fully legalize the drug, and according to Rolling Stone magazine there are several more states throughout the union poised to do so in 2013. “As many as 58 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal,” the magazine reports, including former president Jimmy Carter. According to Rolling Stone, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California, and New Jersey are expected to join Colorado and Washington in the legalization of recreational pot in the next few years.

One reason that pot is up for legalization is the cost to taxpayers to keep offenders, like the 16-year-old Indiana boy, in the legal system. According to Illinois Times, at the end of 2011 there were 777 people locked up in Illinois prisons for cannabis offenses. “At an average annual cost of $21,911 per inmate… the public is paying more than $17 million per year to keep pot peddlers and users behind bars,” according to Illinois Times. For a state with serious budget concerns, this is a nice chunk of change.

If you or someone you know is facing drug charges for marijuana, or any other drug, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chicago Man Charged in Wife’s Murder

January 2nd, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Margarito Valdivia, 44, a Chicago man “with a history of domestic violence arrests has been charged with the murder of his estranged wife in Munster, Indiana, early New’s Day,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Valdivia is being held without bail for the alleged slaying, in which he’s said to have driven to his estranged wife’s home and attacked her and her boyfriend. Valdivia is alleged to have hit his wife’s boyfriend in the head many times, driving him from her home, and then went back inside to beat his wife. According to the Tribune, police were called to the home at 5:45am only to find that “Valdivia had barricaded himself inside. After a SWAT team was called, police sent a remote-controlled robot into the home, and he surrendered.” Chicago Man Charged in Wife’s Murder IMAGE

Erica Valdivia was found in the bathroom with “major trauma” to her head including her face. She was declared dead at 10:04am that morning. Mr. Valdivio has been charged with murder and felony battery, and it’s not the first time that he’s facing assault charges. He has Cook County arrests dating back to 1990, according to the Tribune, “when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge and an order of protection was lodged against him.” He was also charged in 1994 with domestic battery, in 1997 for criminal damage and having a firearm, in 2000 for domestic battery, and in 2012 was found guilty of battery.

According to DomesticViolenceStatistics.org, Erica Valdivia is not alone. Every day in the U.S. “more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends,” and “every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.” Domestic violence, such as what Mrs. Valdivia suffered over the years, is the number one leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

If you or someone you know has a case against domestic violence, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal lawyer today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Felon Facing New Charges Due to DNA Testing

December 31st, 2012 at 6:32 am

Michael A. Escort, 52, a Joliet man currently serving time for a different crime has been convicted of a 1989 murder, according to the Chicago Tribune. Escort is currently in prison for an aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping conviction, but is now also facing charges of first-degree murder of an Englewood woman named Mary Smith. Police News Affairs told the Tribune that “DNA evidence linked Escort to the murder and he was in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections when he was arrested for the murder.” Bond has been set at $750,000, but—because he is already in prison—Escort cannot be released on bond.

Post-conviction DNA testing is controversial. The most active group in favor of DNA testing is the Innocence Project, a non-profit associated with the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. According to Innocence Project data, “301 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release.” Advocates of post-conviction DNA testing say it’s especially important for people convicted of crimes before DNA testing was available.

Yet opponents of DNA testing, like that that could sentence Escort to an even longer sentence than he’s already serving, say that DNA testing shouldn’t be treated as the end-all, be-all means of evidence. According to the New Scientist, “different forensic analysts can reach very different conclusions about whether or not DNA matches a profile from a crime scene.”

If you or someone you know has been wrongly accused of a crime—or is facing conviction due to faulty DNA testing—don’t go through it alone. The most important step to exoneration is contacting a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Man Embezzles Hundreds of Thousands from Children’s Adoption Agency

December 21st, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Robert G. Geniesse, 50, the former chief executive officer of a social service agency in Naperville, fled America a few days before being charged with embezzling over $200,000 from the agency, the Chicago Tribune reported on December 18.

The agency, Our Children’s Homestead, is a non-profit organization which tries to find homes for children with special needs. Geniesse was fired from Our Children’s Homestead 18 months ago, when the agency’s board of directors started to suspect him. “People here were devastated by what he did,” said the agency’s Chief Executive Officer Kurt Friedenauer. Despite everything, the adoption and foster care agency has been able to continue its operations.

A warrant was issued for Geniesse’s arrest on October 25 after a DuPage County grand jury found him guilty of 10 felonies, including stealing more than $100,000 from Our Children’s Homestead. Geniesse used the money, for example, to finance his own film production company. He fled to Germany before the charges. “Investigation determined that Geniesse fled to Frankfurt, Germany, five days before the warrant was issued,” FBI agent Mark Wallschlaeger said. Geniesse’s wife had already fled to Germany about a month before Geniesse. Authorities said they will seek to extradite him as soon as he is caught in Germany.

White collar crimes such as embezzlement can carry harsh penalties from prison time to heavy fines. If you have become the subject of a white collar crime investigation, you should act immediately. Fleeing the country will not make the charges go away. Instead, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Chicago.