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Archive for October, 2013

Accused of Shoplifting in Chicago? You Have Rights

October 30th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Being accused of shoplifting can be a very embarrassing experience, and there’s a tendency to want to work with store managers or security personnel to clear the air. As an accused shoplifter, however, you have rights, too. If you have been accused of or charged with shoplifting, you could face penalties or fines, so contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney immediately.

 shoplifting, Chicago criminal defense attorneyStores across Illinois, like Jewel-Osco, are serious about shoplifting and are taking measures to reduce occurrences. This chain has taken self-checkout stations away with a growing concern that people were not paying for their items. Sometimes, however, customers are accused of shoplifting when they did nothing wrong, being pressured to admit to a crime they never committed. Being accused of shoplifting is both stressful and humiliating, especially if you’re a regular shopper at the store.

A merchant must have probable cause to accuse you of shoplifting. They also must witness you select the item yourself, so if an employee spotted you holding something after you picked it up, this could be an important detail for your trial. An employee or witness must have constant visual view of you to establish probable cause. Finally, you have to actually leave the store premises before you can be approached about not paying for the items.

The use of excessive force by store merchants, employees, or security personnel could violate your rights. Many times, merchants will demand that you sit in a back room and sign a statement admitting to theft, but you need to speak with an attorney who understands the importance of details in your case. It’s important to know that some merchants in Illinois may even seek financial damages from you after the fact, yet another potential consequence of being accused.  Working directly with an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney could be critical for your case and for your future.

Cook County Juvenile Probation Basics

October 26th, 2013 at 2:49 pm

According to the state of Illinois, probation is one of the most common forms of punishment for juvenile crimes in the state. Understanding the limitations linked to probation is helpful for understanding what a juvenile’s life might look like after court. If you or your juvenile child is facing charges, contact an experienced Illinois criminal attorney today.

 Cook County Juvenile Probation lawyerProbation means that those individuals are able to return to the community so long as they comply with court-ordered requirements. A probation officer is appointed to review their compliance with these court conditions. Generally, Illinois probation sentences last from 12 to 24 months, although this period can be extended to five years or until the youth’s 21st birthday, whichever comes first. This extended probation period is mandatory for those with first degree murder cases, class X felony cases, or forcible felony charges.

The conditions for juvenile probation may be different for each case, but generally, some of the same guidelines will apply in most situations. Individuals will generally have to refrain from the following:

  • possessing or discharging a firearm,
  • violating any laws (at the local, state, or federal level),
  • leaving the state without probation officer permission,
  • and skipping scheduled probation officer meetings.

Where school or employment apply, those individuals will be expected to report as otherwise required. Paying a probation fee, completion of community service hours and home confinement are other penalties that may be associated with juvenile crimes. If found guilty of a felony, a DNA sample will also be required.

Depending on the crime, probation can be linked to the consequences of being charged. Continuing to report for probation and remaining in the home of his or her parents is the responsibility of the convicted juvenile. Since the ramifications for juvenile crimes can impact your life significantly, you need to take juvenile matters seriously and contact a licensed Illinois criminal attorney as soon as you have been charged.

Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Drug Charges: What You Need To Know

October 22nd, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Illinois has a new medical marijuana law that will go into effect January 1, 2014, providing individuals across the state with certain medical conditions the opportunity to obtain the drug to manage their medical concerns. There are still penalties in the state for growing, selling, or possessing the drug outside of particular circumstances linked to the medical marijuana law. If you’re facing charges for marijuana possession or sale, reach out to an Illinois criminal attorney for guidance.

Elgin Medical Marijuana LawyerThe Department of Public Health is responsible for determining the medical conditions that are eligible for medical marijuana. Dozens of conditions such as MS and HIV/AIDS are currently approved. There are 22 cultivation sites across the state, one for each state police district. Approved patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces twice per month (once every two weeks).

Outside of the approved scenarios for medical marijuana, there are still penalties in place for those found with marijuana or those selling it. For possession of 2.5 grams or less, you will face a misdemeanor with a possibility of 30 days in jail. Increasing amounts are linked to longer jail times and hefty fines.

Being linked to sale or trafficking of marijuana carries a different set of consequences. These crimes are categorized as misdemeanors for 10 grams or less, but beyond that you could face jail times of one year or more in addition to fines stretching between $25,000 and $200,000.

Likewise, cultivation and paraphernalia have their own set of rules. Less than five plants will lead to a misdemeanor cultivation charge with up to 1 year in jail, but longer jail times and high fines are connected with numerous plants or sale of paraphernalia. If you have been caught and accused of any of these crimes, don’t leave your future up to chance. Hire an Illinois criminal law attorney to assist you.

Do I Have To Submit To Chemical Testing For a DUI?

October 19th, 2013 at 2:26 pm

If you’re pulled over in Illinois and the officer has reason to believe that you may be under the influence of alcohol, he or she can ask you to complete a field sobriety test. Depending on the results of that test, the officer may request that you complete a chemical test to verify your blood alcohol content (BAC).  Knowing what you are required to do in these circumstances can make a big difference in whether you lose driving privileges or not. If you have been arrested for DUI, your first step should be to contact your Illinois criminal law attorney for advice.

Chemical Testing For a DUIIn Illinois, failing a chemical test or refusing to submit to chemical testing might lead to statutory summary suspension or revocation. It’s important to note that these rules apply to Illinois drivers pulled over for DUI in other states, too. If you refuse to submit to chemical testing, immediate penalties will apply. However, if you contact a DUI attorney immediately, you can fight a license suspension.

For the first occasion in which you refuse to submit to chemical testing, your driving privileges will be suspended for 12 months. On the 31st day of that suspension, you might become eligible for driving relief, which involves a monitoring device driving permit and the installation of a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device. For a second offense, driving privileges can be suspended for three years with no opportunity for driving relief.

In the heat of the moment as you’re pulled over for suspected DUI, it can be frustrating for an officer to demand that you submit to a test. If you are arrested for DUI following the incident, you should hire a Chicago DUI lawyer to manage your case. Don’t risk statutory summary suspension by refusing to submit to the chemical tests.

Chicago Police Create Social Media Tool to Stop Crime

October 16th, 2013 at 7:00 am

chicago-gang-social-media-toolAccording to Reuters, Chicago continues to boast the highest murder rate in the country, in spite of a 22 percent drop earlier this year. Most of this Illinois criminal violence is attributed to gang wars. It is currently estimated that there are as many as 630 different gang factions fighting for territory within the city of Chicago. In an effort to reduce the number of gang-related crimes within the city, Chicago police are now turning to a new social media tool.

Chicago police worked closely with local sociologists in order to develop the tool, which is known as “network analysis,” according to Governing magazine. It works similarly to Facebook’s graphic search tool, and allows members of the Chicago Police Department to map the relationships between the city’s most active gang members and predict their behavior based on a number of factors. This prediction tool allows them to not only see which gang members are most likely to become violent; it allows them to see which ones are likely to become victims as well.

Based on information gained from the new analysis tool, Chicago police have begun visiting with not only potentially violent gang members, but people determined to be influential to them such as close family members and friends as well. In addition to having conversations with these people, they leave a letter that serves as a reminder of what could happen should they be arrested again. Additionally, the police department has changed the way they respond to crimes; instead of flocking to the scene of a recent murder, they deploy officers around the locations and individuals where the tool suggests the next violence will occur.

Though this tool is meant to prevent crime, no tool is perfect. Crime can still occur, and mistakes can be made. If you or someone you know has been accused of a violent crime, don’t try to deal with it on your own. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney right away.

City to Seek Tougher Gun Possession Punishments

October 10th, 2013 at 11:54 am

arrested man hands close upOn September 19, a three-year-old boy was shot in a crowded park in the Windy City alongside 12 other people, according to the Chicago Tribune. The shooting “once again drew national attention to the problem of persistent violent crime in Chicago neighborhoods where guns and drugs have seeped into daily life,” reports the Tribune. “Locally, it reignited a call from law enforcement for tougher sentences on offenders who illegally carry guns in Chicago.” The call for tougher penalties came as news agencies reported that the man responsible for the late-summer tragedy, Bryon Champ, had a history of illegal gun possession and yet had never served any time in prison for his offenses. According to the Tribune, Champ was “caught in June 2012 with a loaded semi-automatic pistol,” and though he faced up to seven years in prison, got off with a four-month boot camp program instead.

Fabio Valentini, head of criminal prosecutions for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, told the Tribune that the reason the state should seek tougher punishments for those convicted of gun possession is because the majority of people who eventually injure or kill someone with a gun have prior records. “They are people who have a history of arrests or indications they are in a gang or have done something that caused the police to respond,” he told the Tribune.

Yet just a few days after state legislators called for these stricter rules, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spoke out “against mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes,” according to a different article in the Chicago Tribune. She said that mandatory minimum sentences would result in more people who could have been rehabilitated behind bars, making it more and more difficult for them to later lead a productive life. A spokeswoman from Preckwinkle’s office later said that the board president does, however, support the “vigorous prosecution of people who are a danger to the public,” according to the Tribune.

If you or someone you know has been accused of gun possession or a gun crime, don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

What is Statutory Summary Suspension in Illinois?

October 7th, 2013 at 8:30 am

Illinois Statutory Summary SuspensionA term frequently used to discuss driving under the influence (DUI) charges in the state of Illinois is that of statutory summary suspension. According to the 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, if the you have received your first DUI or you’re not sure what the term means, educating yourself about the process can be helpful in moving forward in your DUI case. The best way to prepare for your DUI case in court is to hire the services of a talented criminal law attorney.

A statutory summary could apply in your situation if you refused to take or failed to complete chemical testing. Chemical testing is used to determine the level of alcohol in an individual’s blood, and failing refers to a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher at the time of testing.

The suspensions of driving privileges are automatic and they go into effect on the 46th day following the date of a suspension notice. It is important to remember that statutory summary suspensions doesn’t replace any criminal penalties that might be associated with the DUI. If you would like to challenge the arrest, you can request a judicial hearing to initiate that process, but this request doesn’t stop the suspension from going into effect on the appropriate day.

The terms of the suspension depend on your circumstances at the time. Failing chemical testing on your first offense leads to suspension of driving privileges for six months whereas your second or further offense within five years leads to suspension for a period of 1 year with no driving relief opportunities. If you refuse to submit to the chemical testing on your first offense, you can have your driving privileges suspended for 12 months. On your second or subsequent offense, you can have your driving privileges suspended for three years with no opportunity for driving relief. The circumstances of your situation and arrest are critical for understanding your consequences. Speak to an experienced Illinois DUI attorney today to discuss the details of your case.

Teenage Man Charged in Infant’s Homicide

October 4th, 2013 at 11:52 am

A 17-year-old man was ordered held on $500,000 bail after being charged in the death of a infant whose death was ruled a homicide, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Willie Brown is facing charges in the death of 4-month-old Demari Brown after Demari died while in the sole care of Brown in late September. Prosecutors allege that after Brown killed the infant he proceeded to play video games “after the severely battered baby… stopped crying and eventually died,” reports the Sun-Times. Assistant State’s Attorney Heather Kent told the Sun-Times that Demari was Brown’s girlfriend’s baby, though police reported that Brown was the child’s father. “When Demari’s mother asked Brown what he did to her baby at the hospital where the infant was transported he allegedly cried and said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” reports the Sun-Times.

Brown was the only one home with the child when the incident occurred, and police reported after the baby was found that Demari had suffered “blunt trauma to the head, a linear fracture to the skull, subdural hemorrhages, rib fractures and healing fractures to other ribs and a wrist,” according to the Sun-Times. This has led some prosecutors to allege that the baby had suffered abuse before the incident that took his life. The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services was “investigating the boy’s mother, Brown, and grandmother for allegations of abuse,” reports the Sun-Times, though the family has no other prior allegations of child abuse.

According to the MCH Center for Child Death Review, more than 2,000 kids die in the United States each year after allegations of abuse or neglect. The most common form of physical abuse manifests as head injuries, known as abusive head trauma. “These injuries occur when a child’s head is slammed against a surface, is severely struck, or when a child is violently shaken,” according to the MCH Center.

If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime such as this, the most important step is to seek legal counsel. Don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

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