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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
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IL defense lawyerHearing your child is on the path to juvenile detention can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Juvenile detention may be the adolescent alternative to incarceration; however, it does not make the situation any less concerning. Research has found that many offenders in juvenile detention have minor offenses and mental health issues, thus complete separation from their families and community is often ineffective and unnecessary. In order to avoid placing all youths into juvenile detention, diversion programs have been created as an alternative.

What Are Diversion Programs?

The purpose of diversion programs is to redirect youthful offenders from the justice system through programming, supervision, and supports. This is a way to avoid taking children away from their family and school community which often offers more help to individuals than being removed from their comfort zone. Diversion programs are often utilized by those who committed minor offenses. The idea is that becoming involved in their community, along with guidance from others, can help them learn how to become a positive addition to society.


Illinois criminal lawyerA large proportion of the general public has shoplifted in their lifetimes, either as very young children, as teens, or even as adults. However, while it may seem like shoplifting is a relatively harmless crime, Illinois law is structured in such a way that the taking of a relatively small amount of property can spiral into felony territory. If you or a loved one has been charged with retail theft, it is imperative that you understand the potential consequences before proceeding to trial.

Statutes Are Specific

Retail theft in Illinois is defined as taking possession of, carrying away, or causing to be transferred or carried away any merchandise from a retail establishment, with the intention of retaining it without paying full retail value for it. While this definition includes shoplifting, it also includes other practices like changing price tags and returning shoplifted items for store credit or cash. It also encompasses rental items and failure to return them.


underage, underage drinking, Illinois Juvenile Crimes Defense AttorneyIn Illinois, it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21-years-old to consume, be in possession of, or deliver alcohol. Depending on the nature of the violation – as well as the charging agency – anyone found guilty violating the law faces punishment of receiving an ordinance violation, punishable by a fine, all the way to a Class 4 felony, which can be punishable by one to three years in prison. Under the state's’ Zero Tolerance policy, anyone under the age of 21 who is found guilty of consuming or possessing alcohol receives an automatic suspension of their driver’s license for three to six months – even if they were not drinking and driving.

If a young person is charged with underage drinking, it is important to consult with an attorney regarding defenses to the charge. For example, under the law, if the young person is drinking under the supervision and approval of at least one of their parents, then they cannot be charged with violating the law.

There have been several cases, however, where the court found that exception did not apply. In one case, People v. Finkenbinder, a 19-year-old who lived at home with his parents had his mother’s permission to consume alcohol at a family party his parents were hosting at their home. The mother and son were not in the same rooms of the house during the entire party, but the mother said she witnessed her son drink two to three beers. At approximately 3 a.m., the young man was arrested by a police officer who found him walking the streets. He admitted to the officer he had been drinking. The officer performed two breath tests; one test read .09 and the second .097. The young man then admitted to having shots of alcohol, in addition to three beers. The court ultimately ruled that the underage drinking law exception did not apply to this case since the mother was not only unaware her son had consumed the shots of alcohol, but was also unaware that he had left the house.


sex crime, new law, Illinois criminal defense attorneyThere has been much controversy regarding a sexual assault case brought against a former Northern Illinois University (NIU) campus police officer and how the campus police force handled the investigation. The allegations of impropriety led to a raid by the FBI of the NIU police headquarters, as well as the firing of the department’s police chief.  The case has also led to the filing of an Illinois bill which would turn over any investigations of sex crimes on a college campus to the local police department.

In the NIU case, the former campus police officer has been accused of sexually assaulting a college freshman, with whom he had a relationship, in 2011. The alleged victim has testified that she turned over an exchange of text messages she had with the defendant to the campus police. Those text messages have disappeared, along with two hours of recorded testimony made by the former NIU officer while he was being questioned by investigating campus police officers. The defendant’s attorney claims that all of this missing evidence would exonerate his client, and has accused the NIU police department of intentionally destroying the evidence.

In response to this case, as well as several other cases around the country where there has been questionable handling of sexual assault investigations by other campus police departments, one Illinois lawmaker has introduced House Bill 3520, the Investigations of Sexual Assault in Higher Education Act. Under the proposed legislation, any sex crime investigation, which takes place at a college or university – whether a public or private institution – would automatically be under the jurisdiction of either the municipal police department or county sheriff. Supporters of the bill say that one of the biggest problems with the current system is that college campus police lack the training to properly investigate these types of cases.


solitary confinement, Illinois policy, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyA federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has led to a settlement which will ban the practice of solitary confinement in juvenile correctional institutions in the state. This makes Illinois the twentieth state in the country to do so.

The ACLU filed its lawsuit, R.J. v. Jones, against the state in 2012 because of the serious conditions the organization says existed in Illinois juvenile correctional facilities. Instead of fighting the lawsuit, the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice agreed to negotiate with the ACLU in order to come up with proposals to improve those conditions. One of the issues the lawsuit addressed was the use of placing children in solitary confinement as punishment, a practice which Adam Schwartz, senior lawyer with the ACLU of Illinois, calls “one of the most abusive practices used in prisons in the United States.”

There are currently approximately 700 juveniles who are being held in the state’s six juvenile correctional facilities and the new policy will apply to all six of those institutions. The policy requires that juveniles at these locations spend a minimum of eight hours daily outside of their cell. The only time a juvenile is allowed to be placed into solitary confinement is if the child has become a threat to others around them, but even under those circumstances, they may only be separated for short time periods. If a juvenile is placed in solitary, he or she will now continue to receive any mental health and/or education services throughout his or her confinement in isolation.

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