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Archive for March, 2019

Understanding Your Rights and Responsibilities During a Traffic Stop

March 28th, 2019 at 3:56 pm

Illinois traffic offenses, Illinois traffic stops, police search, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, searches and seizuresMany people do not have much interaction with the police. If they do, the chances are good that it is going to happen during a traffic stop. Even then, many people will only get pulled over two or three times while they are behind the wheel. When it happens, it is often very stressful. People imagine the worst as they sit in their car and watch the officer approaching.

In these cases, people are sometimes prepared to cooperate with the officer and do whatever they ask. These individuals do not understand that they have rights, and are not required to comply with everything an officer may request. Still, others may think they do not have to follow anything an officer instructs them to do at a traffic stop. These individuals may become belligerent or aggressive at a traffic stop.

So, what rights and responsibilities do people have when they are pulled over for a traffic stop?

Drivers Are Required to Pull Over

Any time a driver sees the flashing lights of a law enforcement vehicle, they must pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. In a few cases, a police officer may ask a driver to pull over, such as if the two vehicles are at a stop light, or if an officer walks up to the driver’s window while the vehicle is stopped. In either case, it is important that the driver complies with the officer’s request.

Under Section 11-204 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, failing to pull over for a police officer is considered fleeing the police, and it is illegal. Even if a driver simply takes too long to pull over, the officer may believe they are trying to evade the police. When this is the case, the driver will face penalties that are likely much more serious than the penalties they would face for the initial traffic violation.

Drivers Must Remain Calm

This is not written into Illinois law, but it can prevent the situation from escalating. When a driver can remain calm and speak politely to a police officer, it is less likely that the situation will develop into anything more. When drivers are aggressive and rude to police officers though, it could lead to further charges than they would have faced from the traffic stop alone. Police can misinterpret even small gestures such as the driver reaching for something in the vehicle. Due to this, it is always best if the driver keeps their hands visible and only gets out of the vehicle if the officer asks them to.

Drivers Are Not Required to Answer Questions

Drivers are required to provide a police officer with their driver’s license and registration if they are asked. However, they do not have to answer any questions the officer asks. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows individuals to refrain from answering questions that may incriminate them in a crime. This includes traffic stops.

Officers often ask a lot of questions during a traffic stop. They may ask a driver if they knew how fast they were going, or if the driver knows why they were pulled over. It is often advised that even when a driver feels as though they have done nothing wrong that they refrain from answering these questions. Anything a driver says can be held against them later on.

Drivers Do Not Have to Consent to a Search

Just because a driver has been pulled over does not give police officers the right to search the vehicle. Drivers can refuse this search, although officers are also given quite a bit of leniency during traffic stops. If they have reason to believe there is evidence of a crime in the vehicle, they can perform their search without the driver’s consent. For example, if an officer noticed drug paraphernalia in the vehicle, they might search the vehicle.

In order to search a vehicle, police officers must have probable cause. Due to this, drivers can ask police what they are searching for, or what probable cause they have.

Did You Get Into Trouble at a Traffic Stop? Contact a Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Lawyer that can Help

Traffic stops may seem minor, but they can quickly become a much more serious situation. When this is the case, drivers should contact a dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer for help. If you were pulled over and it led to serious charges or you feel as though you were treated unfairly, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at 847-394-3200 today. We understand you have rights that may have been violated, and we will help make to correct that situation, ensuring those rights are upheld. Do not try to handle your case on your own. Call now for your free consultation.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-204

Harsher Penalties Now in Effect for Wrong-Way DUI Crashes

March 21st, 2019 at 5:53 am

duiOften with a new year comes new laws, and 2019 was no different. In fact this year, over 250 new laws went into effect on January 1, 2019. One, in particular, affects those charged with a DUI while traveling on the wrong side of the road. Now, wrong-way travel is an aggravating factor in sentencing for DUIs.

What exactly does the new law entail, though? And what does it mean for drivers in Rolling Meadows?

The New DUI Law

House Bill 4554 was debated throughout most of 2018. In August of that year, Governor Bruce Rauner signed the bill that would become law in January of the new year.

The new law amends a section of the Illinois Criminal Code. It does not, however, actually change the drunk driving laws in Illinois. Those found driving with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher will still likely be charged with driving under the influence. This will apply regardless of the side of the street they were driving on at the time, or whether or not the DUI driver caused an accident.

The new law will only change a wrong-way DUI case during the sentencing phase of trial. When aggravating factors are present, the courts can impose harsher sentences, which means longer jail times and higher fines.

The new law was prompted by the number of wrong-way DUIs seen throughout Illinois. One in particular, however, occurred in 2015 near Oak Brook. That incident resulted in the death of a young police officer. Three other people were injured. At the time, judges wished to consider the wrong-way travel as an aggravating factor but were not permitted to. If that same circumstance happened today, they could consider wrong-way travel as an aggravating factor.

Penalties for Wrong-Way DUIs

The penalties for driving under the influence in Illinois are already severe. DUIs are already considered a Class 2 felony within the state. If convicted, individuals face between three and seven years in prison.

When individuals are charged with a DUI while traveling the wrong way on a road though, those penalties could potentially double. With the new law in effect, judges will have the authority to hand down an extended term prison sentence of seven to fourteen years.

Beat DUI Charges with the Help of a Rolling Meadows DUI Attorney

Even without aggravating factors present, the penalties for a DUI conviction are extremely harsh. Those charged need the help of a skilled Rolling Meadows DUI lawyer. If you have been charged with a DUI, with or without aggravating factors, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at 847-394-3200. These are serious charges, and no one should try to beat them on their own. We will investigate the circumstances of your arrest, and analyze all the evidence to build the strong defense you need. There is no time to waste. We want to get started on your case today, so call now for your free consultation.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=4554&GAID=14&DocTypeID=HB&SessionID=91&GA=100

Are Porch Pirates Burglars?

March 14th, 2019 at 1:47 am

IL defense lawyerThe holidays are over, but that has not stopped porch pirates from scooping up items left on porches. In a recent case, a porch pirate was caught on a security camera stealing a unicorn from the porch of a Wicker Park home in the early morning hours. Unlike most porch pirates heard of in the news, the unicorn was not a package delivered by a postal service or courier. Instead, a two-year-old living in the home had simply left it on the porch.

This type of crime is clearly against the law. However, this is one area of law that is not as clear as others. Are porch pirates considered burglars in the eyes of the law? Or, are they charged with another crime, such as petty theft?

Definition of Burglary in Rolling Meadows

According to 720 ILCS 5/19-3, residential burglary in Illinois is defined as when a person enters a dwelling, or any part thereof, without permission with the intent to steal another person’s property. The statute also states that anyone convicted of residential burglary is guilty of a Class 1 felony. In Illinois, a conviction of residential burglary can carry sentences of four to fifteen years in prison.

That penalty may seem harsh for porch pirates, particularly those charged with stealing something as small as a stuffed animal, as in this most recent case. However, due to the language of the statute and that it includes the phrase, “or any part thereof,” it is possible that porch pirates could be charged with residential burglary.

Definition of Petty Theft in Rolling Meadows

Law enforcement and the state prosecution both understand that residential burglary is often a harsh sentence for those that did not really break into a home and steal property. It is for this reason that some, including those charged with smaller thefts, are sometimes charged with the lesser charge of petty theft.

Petty theft, according to 720 ILCS 5/16-0.1, is the theft of property with a value of $500 or less. This is considered a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, those charged could face up to one year in county jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Most often, those charged with smaller thefts will face this charge if they did not actually steal from the victim’s person, and the value of property stolen was less than $500.

This is also true in the case of porch pirates, including the latest story involving the man that stole the toy unicorn. While law enforcement has not caught or charged the person, a police report was filed for petty theft in the amount less than $500.

Get the Proper Defense with a Rolling Meadows Theft Lawyer

While petty theft is a much lesser charge than residential burglary, those convicted will still face jail time and high fines. Even more, they will have a criminal record that will follow them around for the rest of their lives and prevent them from gaining housing, employment, and other opportunities. It is for this reason that anyone charged with petty theft should contact a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer for help. If you have been charged with any type of theft in Rolling Meadows, call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at 847-394-3200. We understand Illinois law and will use it to prepare a defense that can get your charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. Contact us today for your free consultation so we can begin working on your case.

 

Sources:

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/porch-pirate-unicorn-wicker-park-video-my-little-pony/

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt.+16&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=36600000&SeqEnd=41200000

Posted in burglary

Challenging a Search Warrant

March 7th, 2019 at 3:44 pm

warrantDuring a criminal trial, the prosecution’s case often rests on evidence seized by law enforcement officers during a search. In order for that search to be lawful, the owner of the property must voluntarily agree to the search, or law enforcement officers must have a valid search warrant. When police officers have a search warrant, the owners of the property must never interfere with the search. However, this does not mean that the search cannot be contested in the future.

Challenging a search warrant during a trial is a very common defense for those accused of committing a crime. If the defense can prove a search was unlawful, any evidence obtained during that search is deemed inadmissible in court. This can lead to the entire case being dismissed.

So, how does one challenge the validity of a search warrant? In Rolling Meadows, there are three possible ways to do it.

Unlawful Items Seized

With a search warrant, law enforcement officials must indicate the exact property they plan to search, and the evidence they are looking for. When they conduct the search, they are only allowed to take the property specified in the warrant. If they find evidence of another crime, or evidence such as electronic data that was not listed on the search warrant, they cannot seize that property.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects digital devices from illegal search and seizures. In order to be seized, the search warrant must explicitly state officers are searching for these items.

False Sworn Affidavit

When law enforcement officials are trying to obtain a search warrant, they must sign a sworn affidavit. The Illinois Constitution and Criminal Code allows not only police officers, but also private citizens, to provide these sworn affidavits. An affidavit states a person’s case for the search of a certain area.

When this affidavit contains false information, this is sometimes grounds for challenging a search warrant. Defendants that believe the affidavit contains false information can petition the court for a Franks hearing. These hearings are named after a landmark case in 1978 in which Franks was the defendant.

During a Franks hearing, the defendant is required to prove the signer of the affidavit knowingly or intentionally provided false information, or that they had a reckless disregard for the truth. It is not enough to show an officer was simply negligent or made a mistake.

Warrant Staleness

When law enforcement obtains a search warrant, they are required to search a property within a reasonable time frame. This is due to the fact that in many cases, valuable evidence is likely to be lost, hidden, or destroyed before the search is conducted.

For example, if officers obtained a warrant to search a home looking for drugs, they should conduct the search shortly after receiving the warrant. If they wait too long the evidence could be consumed or destroyed.

Warrant staleness can often provide a strong defense when challenging a search warrant. However, there are times when it is not as effective. For example, digital files are designed for longevity and so, warrant staleness may not provide a valid defense for crimes such as child pornography.

Let a Qualified Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Attorney Handle Your Case

There are several ways to challenge a search warrant in court, but those accused of committing a crime should never attempt to argue those reasons on their own. A skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer will know the law surrounding searches and seizures and will apply it to any case that may involve an unlawful search. If you have been accused of a crime, or you believe law enforcement conducted an illegal search of your property, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at 847-394-3200. We will ensure you are treated fairly and will fight for your rights in court. Call today for your free consultation.

 

Source:

https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1278&context=casefiles

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