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criminal jury in Illinois, DuPage criminal defense lawyer“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy trial and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution affords this fundamental right that is binding on all 50 states. Note that the specific language applies to criminal offenses, and not civil offenses.

Despite this clear language, most jurisdictions also offer protections in civil cases as well. A hot topic in both state and federal courts attempts to fill in what the Constitution does not say about the jury—how many members must be on each jury. In Illinois, a criminal defendant is afforded the right to a jury trial in both misdemeanor and felony criminal matters, but the number of jurors the defendant is entitled to is in no way set in stone.

Criminal Jury Trial Rights in Illinois

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If you have ever been convicted of a crime, you know how it feels to have to "check the box" on each of your job applications. Not only do you have to disclose this information to complete strangers, but you have to worry about whether they will take your past criminal actions into consideration when ultimately making hiring decisions. Even if you have a clean record, you may have always wondered how checking this box would affect you, should it ever become an issue.

As of January 1, 2015, most employers will no longer be able to inquire about an applicant's criminal history until after the employer extends an offer to the candidate or if an initial determination had been made that the applicant is qualified for an interview. This law essentially will prevent employers from screening applicants based on their criminal histories, allowing qualified applicants a better opportunity to be selected for an interview and, in turn, employment.

Banning the Box on Job Applications

The proper name for "banning the box" is the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act. This Act, approved by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, is a long-awaited victory for those with criminal histories. Ban the Box legislation followed a long history of decisions from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which encouraged employers to hire the most qualified applicants, regardless of a possible criminal history. Regardless of whether employers were lawfully permitted to consider things such as an applicant's criminal history, applicants with criminal records always risked having this negative information come up thereby hurting their chances of consideration for the position.

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Illinois DUI offenders who have lost their driver's licenses could get back on the road if a current proposal passes through the Illinois Legislature. In May, an Illinois House committee voted 15-0 to approve legislation which would allow four-time DUI offenders to obtain a restricted driver's license permit which would limit the time and place an individual can drive. This permit would be designed for DUI offenders to be able to drive to and from work.

The Illinois Secretary of State records show that 380 Illinois residents lost their driver's licenses in 2013. Many of these revocations resulted from a fourth DUI conviction. Other revocations involved fleeing the scene of a crash involving serious injuries or reckless driving, which resulted in a death.

Illinois Restricted Driving Permit

Many who support Illinois SB1996 say the measure could improve road safety because many DUI offenders drive illegally without insurance. The application process to obtain a driver's permit under the new law would be very stringent. Four-time Illinois DUI offenders could only acquire a restricted driver's permit five years after losing their license or being released from prison. They would also need to prove three years of sobriety, complete alcohol treatment programs and install an alcohol detection device, called a BAIID, in their car that would disable the vehicle if they attempted to drive while intoxicated.

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Diane'sBeing accused of a domestic violence crime is a severe allegation that can have a lasting impact on your personal, family, and professional life. Domestic violence has been at the forefront of media attention recently due to the fact that October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that the Illinois State Legislature passed a new domestic violence law that will be effective January 1, 2015. The law is intended to protect victims of domestic violence and to emphasize enforcement of probation conditions after bail is set and a criminal defendant is released.

Named Diane’s Law after a controversial murder-suicide that occurred after a series of physical abuse, this new Illinois law seeks to ensure Orders of Protections are enforced by courts and aim to protecting victims from future abuse. Orders of Protection are often entered against an accused defendant to prevent him or her from contacting the victim when there is a reasonable fear of physical, emotional, or mental abuse. If you have domestic violence charges pending against you, it is critical to understand what your rights and responsibilities are under this and other relevant domestic violence laws.

What You Need to Understand About Domestic Violence Allegations

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drugged drivingMost people know that it is unlawful to drive under the influence of drugs in Illinois. What is less clear is how Illinois measures how much of a substance a person can have in their system while driving in order to be considered legally intoxicated.

When a person is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, the person is automatically considered intoxicated if the driver’s blood alcohol is measured at .08 percent or more. By contrast, Illinois’s drugged driving law does not set a minimum amount of drugs that can be found in a person’s system before they can be convicted of a DUI for drugged driving. Instead, Illinois’s drugged driving statute states that a person may be convicted of drug driving if:

1. The driver was found to have been under the influence of a drug or combination of drugs that made them incapable of driving safely; or

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accused-rights-crimeBeing taken into police custody for the alleged commission of a crime can be a harrowing experience. An individual may be isolated by themselves in a questioning room and forced to stay alone for long periods of time, and some of these accused individuals may not even know why they have been taken into custody in the first place. When it comes time for the actual police questioning, people may already feel vulnerable or intimidated due to the feeling of being trapped that sitting in police custody sometimes brings about.

In some cases, police officers use overly harsh questioning tactics during an interrogation. An interrogation occurs when a law enforcement officer questions a person about a crime. In extreme examples, these harsh tactics might include subjecting the individual being questioned to physical violence or the threat of violence, inaccurately threatening the individual’s or a loved one’s freedom or excessively withholding food or essential comforts during the questioning process.

These harsh tactics may violate accused rights, and may force people to confess to actions they didn’t do in order to get the abusive behavior to stop. An excessively coercive environment may confuse innocent or guilty people, causing them to misspeak or say things they wouldn’t otherwise have said with a clear head. In addition, police may unfairly elicit a confession from people who aren’t thinking clearly because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the interrogation.

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illinois criminal defense lawyerTo some residents of the state, one of the more nerve-wracking parts of Illinois law is the doctrine of accomplice liability. Under this doctrine, it appears that sometimes being merely present at the scene of a crime may make someone just as liable as if that individual had actually committed the crime.

For example, people may worry about being convicted of shoplifting if a companion shoplifts or they may worry about charges of assault and battery for merely “having a friend’s back” during a bar fight. Though under Illinois law it is not necessary for one to physically commit a crime to be convicted of that crime, the law does not impose a straightforward “guilt by association” rule either. Certain conditions must be satisfied before a companion may be charged as an accomplice to a crime.

Accomplice Liability in Illinois

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illinois entrapment defense lawyerAccording to Illinois Statutes (720 ILCS 5/7-12), entrapment occurs when an individual commits criminal conduct that “is incited or induced by a public officer or employee, or agent of either, for the purpose of obtaining evidence for the prosecution of that person.” The law is careful to state that entrapment does not occur when “the person was predisposed to commit the offense and the public officer or employee, or agent of either, merely affords to that person the opportunity or facility for committing an offense.” Individuals accused of certain crimes often have questions about what type of officer conduct rises to the level of legal entrapment.

Illinois Entrapment Law

In plain language, entrapment occurs when a public official encourages an individual to commit a crime that the individual would likely not have decided to commit on her own. The public official’s behavior must have been such that it implanted an idea to commit a crime into the alleged offender’s mind. Moreover, if an officer suggests that an individual commit a crime but that individual had already planned to commit that crime anyway, entrapment has not occurred.

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juvenile crime expungement in illinoisAn expungement is the process of sealing criminal and arrest records to make them unavailable to the public. The Illinois legislature has enacted more forgiving laws concerning the expungement of one’s juvenile record as opposed to the expungement of one’s adult criminal record. In June 2014, Illinois governor Pat Quinn signed a law enabling adults to expunge a wider list of criminal activity and criminal charges that they incurred before they reached the age of 18. The purpose of the legislation is to prevent adults interested in living a law-abiding life from being haunted by the legal mistakes they made as juveniles.

Illinois Juvenile Record Expungement Law

Illinois law allows for expungement if the following circumstances are present:

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illinois sex offender lawyerUnder Illinois law if you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense concerning unlawful sexual conduct, you may be required to register as a sex offender.  Some examples for convictions of sex crimes that require registration are as follows:

  • Indecent solicitation or sexual exploitation of a child;
  • Offenses concerning unlawful conduct with juvenile prostitute;
  • Child Pornography;
  • Criminal Sexual Abuse;
  • Criminal Sexual Assault;
  • Forcible detention of a victim under age 18; and
  • Public Indecency for a third subsequent conviction.

A more complete list of the offenses for which a defendant must register as a sexual offender can be found on the Illinois Sex Offender Information website.

Registration Process and Requirements

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illinois shoplifting lawyerApproximately one tenth of adults in the United States admit to shoplifting something in their lives. Only a small fraction of these individuals get caught, but when they do the consequences are often severe enough to set an example. For those charged with shoplifting, the ordeal can be a humiliating and potentially reputation-tarnishing experience.

Illinois legislators define shoplifting in a way that is broader than some may realize. According to the statute, shoplifting means not only intentionally concealing and carrying merchandise out of the store, but also intentionally:

  • Switching price tags on merchandise to make the desired item ring up cheaper at check out;
  • Switching packaging of merchandise to put the desired item in a package that would ring up    cheaper at the register;
  • For a retail employee, ringing up an item at a price cheaper than the retail price;
  • Removing a shopping cart from the premises;
  • Attempting to exchange merchandise that you haven’t bought from the store for a refund store credit or other benefit; and
  • Failing to return certain rental property to the owner.

Illinois law creates a separate charge with a heightened penalty for stealing merchandise and leaving through an emergency exit. Illinois’s anti-shoplifting law also imposes a harsher penalty for shoplifting by using a device that deactivates anti-theft sensors.

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dupage county criminal attorneyThe primary duties of a criminal defense attorney include protecting your rights and building a strong defense for your case that will allow for successful prosecutor negotiations or a dismissal in court. While the specific defenses that can be used against criminal charges vary depending on the specific allegations and details of each case, the following are some common defense strategies used by experienced Illinois criminal lawyers:

Learn the defendant's story. Sometimes, criminal defendants openly confess to the crime to their attorneys, while other times they completely deny involvement. In additional instances, a defendant may admit to only part of the offense, but provide an alternative explanation for their involvement. A qualified defense attorney will listen closely to what the defendant states and decipher the truth of what happened.

Compare the defendant’s truth with the prosecutor's "truth." Even if both the defense attorney and the prosecutor heard the same basic story regarding the events in question, they may each present the facts of what happened in two different ways. For example, a prosecutor may state a defendant punched their client because he or she was angry. However, a defense attorney may tell a different version, claiming that the defendant punched the accuser because he or she swung first and made them fear for their own safety. Explaining the facts and truth of a case in an alternate manner is an important skill for a defense lawyer.

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illinois domestic violence lawyerAssault, battery, or other acts of violence against any other person may be a criminal offense with serious penalties. Illinois law goes further and specifically criminalizes violence against certain members of your family, partners, or those in other types of close relationships.

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 sets out particular consequences for such acts, which are considered to be under the category of “domestic violence.” Domestic violence charges can be very serious and may include a wide array of potential consequences depending on your particular situation. If you have been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in Illinois, you should contact an experienced defense attorney for help as soon as possible.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence?

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search warrant, home search, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Chicago criminal defense lawyer, Chicagoland attorneyUnder the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of one’s property, as well as under Illinois law, law enforcement accordingly is not allowed to conduct a search of a home without a court-issued warrant to do so, except under very limited circumstances. A warrant is a formal order issued by a judge that permits and instructs a law enforcement officer to enter a premises and conduct a search for evidence or to arrest a suspect. It is issued on a showing of probable cause that the search is in furtherance of a criminal investigation.

Entering without a Warrant

Under Illinois law and U.S. constitutional law, law enforcement officers may enter a home in instances of an emergency. The following scenarios serve as exceptions to the need for a warrant to search a home:

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credit card fraud, Illinois crime, criminal defense, DuPage County criminal defense attorney, white collar crimeA major crime that is becoming more and more common is that of credit card fraud. Earlier this year, two individuals were arrested in the Chicago area by the United States Secret Service’s Chicago Electronic Crimes Task Force on charges of credit card fraud. The two men in this case did not do any fancy computer hacking, but were able to obtain credit card information, which they then used to purchase electronics. Once the purchases were made, they had the electronics shipped to empty homes, where they could easily go and pick up the packages.   This is an example of credit card fraud. During the 2013 holiday season, major identity and credit card thefts made headlines when it was discovered that millions and millions of customers at Target stores nationwide may have had their credit card information stolen through technological trickery. Such network intrusions occurred at Target, as well as other consumer locations, such as grocery stores and major retailers.  Those credit card numbers are sold to buyers, often times in other countries.  The reselling of those credit card numbers is another example of credit card fraud. Illinois Credit Card Law Under Illinois law, credit card fraud and identity theft are taken very seriously. It is a criminal offense in the state to knowingly make a false statement in order to procure a credit card. It is also an offense to possess a lost credit card with the knowledge that it is in fact lost, and with the intent to use or sell it; to possess another’s credit card without their consent and with the intent to use or sell it; as well as to knowingly sell or purchase a credit card without the issuer’s consent. Criminal credit card fraud also occurs through the knowing use of forged, counterfeited, expired, or revoked cards to make a purchase, or making a purchase by falsely representing one’s identity as the actual legitimate cardholder. Possible sentences for the crime of credit card fraud and identity theft will be handed out based upon the number of credit cards that were stolen, the amount of value of the property stolen by credit card, and the number of transactions that were made.  It also matters whether the case is being brought under federal laws or under Illinois statutes.  In Illinois, a Class A Misdemeanor for credit card fraud is punishable up to 364 days in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine. Potential Defenses Lack of intent to defraud the owner of the credit on the part of the accused is a possible defense. Perhaps, you were given permission to use the credit card and now the owner of the card claims that you were not authorized to use it.  It may also be a defense if you stole and used credit card information under duress by another person who forced you to use the card. You may be able to argue that you abandoned the transaction before completing it so it is not a crime, or that you were induced by law enforcement to commit the fraud, thus raising a possible defense of entrapment. There are many additional possible defenses that one may use to combat credit card fraud charges. Each case is very different and the defense created for each case must be designed based upon the facts and circumstances of the particular case.  All angles must be reviewed and all avenues pursued.

The aforementioned types of credit card fraud and possible defenses serve merely as a general overview. There are in fact many more unique acts that constitute credit card fraud, which is a very serious crime. If you have been charged with such fraud, you need a vigorous defense. Contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 for a free consultation. Serving defendants in the following courthouses:  Cook County, Chicago, Daley Center, Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Bridgeview, Maywood, DuPage County, Wheaton, Will County, Joliet, Plainfield, Bolingbrook, Kane County, St. Charles, Geneva, and others in the Chicagoland area.

expungement, criminal record, sealing your record, criminal history, Naperville criminal defense lawyerThere are several different types of misdemeanor crimes in Illinois. From the possession of small amounts of drugs to disorderly conduct, and many other crimes, local residents are routinely charged and convicted of misdemeanors. While not as serious as felony offenses, misdemeanors still come with big fines and the possibility of spending up to a year in jail.

Unfortunately, a criminal record of any kind--including those with misdemeanor charges--will have a lasting impact on one’s life. Even if the charges against you were dismissed, an arrest record remains and is public information,  impacting  your reputation years down the road.

Fortunately, there are legal tools available to wipe the slate clean or at least ensure information about past transgressions is out of the public eye. In certain situations, Illinois law allows residents to expunge or seal their criminal records.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

felony murder rule, Illinois criminal defense law, armed robbery, Illinois law, Oakbrook lawyerFifteen-year-old Emmanuel Johnson did not shoot and kill Deonte Mackey. But Johnson is being charged with murder anyway.

Here are the alleged facts: the trouble began when Johnson and Mackey, 16, along with another teenaged accomplice, attempted to rob an off-duty sheriff at gunpoint. It was the sheriff who killed Mackey during the course of the attempted robbery at a Cook County gas station. But, under Illinois law, it might as well have been Johnson who pulled the trigger.

Armed robbery is a felony, and when a person is killed during the commission or attempted commission of a felony, Illinois classifies that killing as felony murder. Intent is irrelevant. If a jury determines that the attempted robbery was the proximate cause of Mackey’s death, then Johnson – and potentially the other accomplice as well – is guilty by association. This is a controversial rule, but it is important to understand. Felony murder is treated like first-degree murder, and in Illinois, offenders may face the death penalty. (However, if convicted, this will not be Johnson’s fate since the U.S. Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles in 2005.)

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Posted on in Arrest

Being arrested can be quite overwhelming. You cannot control the circumstances surrounding your arrest, but you have the power to be smart about what you say and how you act. Equally important is your body language and tone of voice. Make the most of the situation by being cooperative and polite.

 Being cooperative does not mean offering damaging statements; simply comply with reasonable requests. For example, if the officer states that you are under arrest and requests for you to put your hands behind your back for handcuffing, do so calmly and quickly. Remember, dashboard cameras can be a silent witness to your arrest, in addition to witnesses in the form of onlookers and police officers at the scene.

1. Never admit guilt.

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On Monday, August 12, 2013, the Obama administration revealed its plan to eliminate long-term mandatory minimum sentences for many low-level, non-violent drug offenses.  With U.S. federal prisons nearly 40% above capacity, with almost half of the inmates serving time for drug-related offenses, the goal is to reduce the length of a non-violent offender’s sentence, while simultaneously reducing the prison population and saving billions of dollars for the U.S.

Rather than following the current mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is recommending sending people convicted of low-level offenses to drug treatment programs and community service programs.  The intent is changing from convicting and incarcerating to getting help and treatment for the significant number of inmates suffering from substance abuse disorders.

Other efforts are also being made to take into consideration early release for those inmates convicted of non-violent crimes who are elderly or suffer from serious medical conditions and have already served a significant portion of their sentence.

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On April 17, 2013, the United States Supreme Court held that any person who is suspected of driving under the influence cannot be automatically subjected to blood testing without a warrant and without consent.

It has been routine practice in the State of Illinois for an officer to transport a person suspected of driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol to a hospital to submit to a blood draw for purposes of procuring evidence.  This situation almost always arises when the incident is accident related, and frequently occurs after there has been a refusal to submit to a breath test.

With the United States Supreme Court ruling in Missouri v. McNeely, No. 11-1425, it is even more important now for an individual to exercise his 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure and refuse to submit to such requested blood testing.

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