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Wheaton cyberbullying defense lawyerFor young people in the 21st century, growing up under the influence of the internet and social media has resulted in different forms of bullying than in the past. Though cyberbullying is not new, it has continued to evolve as social media formats change. Internet usage among young adults has changed from IMing to DMing, from texting to tweeting, and from posting on Tumblr to selecting the best filter for an Instagram photo. Because the social media realm is ever-changing, new bullying tactics emerge as online trends change. 

Cyberbullying can occur through messaging, social media sites, and gaming programs. The United States at large has recognized the problem of cyberbullying; however, laws and regulations change state-by-state. Illinois has taken actions to reduce cyberbullying and improve youths’ experiences in junior high and high school, and those accused of cyberbullying should work with a criminal defense attorney to understand their rights and legal options.

Illinois Law: On Paper and In Practice 

Illinois has laws and policies against cyberbullying, in keeping with the majority of the country. Illinois has passed legislation highlighting the terms bullying, harassment, and intimidation when discussing cyberbullying. Anti-bullying laws are meant to protect individuals from harassment due to their race, religion, sex, age, marital status, etc. Using digital means to attack any person based on these distinguishing characteristics is considered cyberbullying, and it can result in criminal charges, as well as consequences for students such as suspension or expulsion from school. 

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Downers Grove weapons charges defense lawyerFirearm safety and gun laws are hot-button topics in America due to the high number of shootings that have occurred over the last couple of decades. Though many are advocating for the tightening of gun regulations across the nation, it is difficult to accomplish this when gun laws differ so significantly from state to state and situation to situation. Firearm owners should be sure to understand their gun rights as an Illinois resident or non-resident in order to avoid the possibility of facing weapons charges

Resident Rights

Obtaining the ability to legally carry and use a gun in Illinois is a fairly lengthy process. Residents planning to own firearms must acquire a valid Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. This is issued by the Illinois State Police after completing the application process and a required course. After receiving a FOID card and purchasing a gun, there is a 72-hour waiting period in order to earn possession of the firearm. 

Having a FOID card does not allow Illinois residents to walk around public areas while carrying guns. A concealed carry license is necessary in the state of Illinois. This is another process that requires the completion of a 16-hour training course. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. After obtaining a concealed carry license, Illinois residents must abide by the following regulations:

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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.

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traffic violations, DUI, speeding, Illinois Defense LawyerMost drivers understand that violating traffic laws can result in citations from law enforcement, the consequences of which typically include monetary penalties and potential suspension of driving privileges. More serious offenses, such as driving under the influence, may even result in probation or prison sentences. What many may not consider, however, is that the conviction of a single traffic violation can be enough to significantly increase auto insurance rates, which can cost a driver thousands of dollars in additional premiums.

Online auto insurance marketplace insuranceQuotes.com recently released the results of study that looked at the impact moving violations can have on insurance rates across the country. The research calculated both national and state average increases for 17 of the most common traffic violations and in doing so, demonstrated the differences in auto insurance regulations among various states.

National Trends

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Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, supplying to a minor, alcohol legislation,Underage drinking has always - and may always be - a problem. Some parents advocate for “controlled environment” drinking, where they may allow their minor children and friends to drink alcohol so long as the parents are home and no one drives. While there are arguments to be made that this policy may decrease alcohol abuse later in life, Illinois has made it clear that these practices are against the law. A new law that went into effect January 1, 2015 will punish parents for providing alcohol to minors on their property, even on their boats, trailers, or other personal property. This law seeks to curb the epidemic of drinking and driving offenses on our roads and limit the amount of juvenile offenders susceptible to criminal involvement.

Supplying to a Minor in Illinois

The first wave of this parent-minor oriented legislation came back in 2013 when Illinois first specified that it is a crime to provide alcohol to minors at the parents’ home. This includes mere knowledge that minors are drinking in their household, whether they supplied it to the minors or not. According to the law, a violation of this sort may result in a Class A misdemeanor, the highest and most severe classification of misdemeanors.

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concealed-carry-illinoisIllinois is well-known for some of the strictest gun-control regimes in the country. Being the last state in the U.S. to enact concealed carry laws created a fear of widespread weapon proliferation and increased street violence. Officials issued nearly 100,000 permits in 2014, after a thorough investigation of applicants’ histories and fingerprint scans. Though critics question the correlation between concealed carry rights and decreasing violent crime rates in Illinois, the latter has been proven true in 2014. Whether coincidence or not, crime rates are dropping throughout Illinois.

Concealed Carry Permits

One reason to question the connection between concealed carry rights and lower crime rates is due to the fact that many criminals do not lawfully possess their weapons in the first place. One Illinois police sergeant pointed out that “[w]hen you’re talking concealed-carry, it’s mostly your law-abiding citizens, who don’t cause problems anyway.” Thus, many of the weapons involved in investigated crimes are either borrowed, stolen, or from a black market, making tracking the ownership of the weapon difficult if not impossible.

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cyberbullying in Illinois, DuPage criminal defense lawyerTraditional bullying seems to have taken on a new meaning in the digital age. What used to consist of hitting, punching, teasing, or taunting, has in recent years led to digital abuse over online platforms that has led to the suicides of many troubled adolescents. The federal government has had significant difficulty in prosecuting and investigating claims of cyberbullying, that is, to harass, stalk, embarrass, manipulate, or taunt others via electronic means such as through computers, cellphones, or other devices. Such communication may be sexual in nature, may involve explicit photographs, or may eventually lead to blackmail.

This difficulty in prosecuting cyberbullying cases is due to a variety of factors. It can be difficult to determine a single cause that led to a suicide. With third-party parents, other youth, and online predators playing a role, it can be very difficult to pinpoint who is using a specific computer at a specific time, especially if multiple members of a household share a computer. Some think children are being too sensitive; others blame the parents for failing to supervise their children’s online activity. Regardless of where we wish to place the blame, everyone seems to agree that someone should be responsible when a child’s life ends after being endlessly harassed.

Illinois Makes an Effort to Combat Cyberbullying Regardless of the difficulty of enforcing such laws at the federal level, many states have taken on measures to prevent, what many consider, to be a cyberbullying epidemic. Illinois has now joined the ranks of the vast majority of states implementing anti-cyberbullying laws, though as many states, this law will only target one area of cyberbullying. Revenge Porn One particularly vicious form of cyberbullying involves disseminating personal or sexual photographs to unapproved third parties. This is an all-too-common occurrence among youth, and such proliferation of private images has been attributed to several adolescent suicides. Recipients of personal photographs may blackmail or threaten victims to give additional, more revealing pictures. The psychological pressures an adolescent may face with the fear of photo distribution can lead to tragic consequences. The New Laws The new Illinois law specifically targets this type of “revenge porn,” making distribution of sexual images without the photographed individual’s consent a Class 4 felony. Other related measures include allowing educators more freedoms in punishing children caught cyberbullying at school, whether on their personal or school-owned electronic devices. Many cyberbullying cases are simply charged as basic harassment claims, which are pre-existing laws at both the federal and state level. Illinois Cybercrime Criminal Defense Attorneys Cybercrimes of any nature are particularly serious, given that they are often charged federally. Even at the state level, a cybercrime of a sexual nature may lead to permanent consequences that may affect your ability your family, your work, your finances, and your social status. Prosecutors throughout the country have been creative with finding ways to punish cyberbullies; hiring an experienced DuPage County Internet sex crime lawyer is the best way to combat these tactics. At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we understand the sensitive nature of these cases and what is on the line for your future. If you have stepped over boundaries on the Internet, you may be in trouble. Contact our DuPage, Cook, Kane, or Will County criminal defense law offices at 630-472-9700 to learn more about your legal rights today.

illegal search and seizure, illinois criminal law attorney“A mistake of law is no excuse.” This proverbial saying suggests us that we cannot avoid responsibility for an action with the sole defense of “I didn’t know it was illegal.” Often, our common sense can tell us things that we should not be doing, whether it be stealing something or hurting someone. Lawyers are tasked with the responsibility of knowing the law and enforcing it in the criminal courts. Police officers enforce the law on the streets, and often require extensive knowledge of the law to conduct lawful arrests and searches as a result of traffic infractions. However, the United States Supreme Court spoke out regarding the fact that police officers are not lawyers, and granted North Carolina police officers leeway in conducting a search of a vehicle based on a mistake of law.

Search and Seizure

The reasons an officer can give for lawfully pulling someone over on the roadway varies by jurisdiction. In Illinois and many states, traffic offenses are typically labeled as “primary offenses” or “secondary offenses.” An officer may conduct a traffic stop based solely on a primary offense, such as using a handheld cellular device while driving. In other states, cell phone use while driving may be considered a secondary offense, in which an officer can only cite you or hold you accountable for the infraction if they pulled you over for something considered a primary infraction in that jurisdiction. For example, in a jurisdiction that has a seatbelt requirement as a primary offense, an officer could pull you over for failing to wear a seatbelt, but also note that you were on your cell phone and cite that as a secondary offense.

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child abuse charges in Illinois, DuPage County sex crimes defense lawyerIn most instances, it is not a crime to fail to report a crime. However, the Illinois government finds that some crimes are so severe, that it has made it a crime to fail to report such crimes. Failing to report suspected child abuse is one such crime that the government has mandated “mandatory reporting” for certain individuals that share a unique relationship with children, particularly teachers.

The Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act is the codified law that requires that school teachers, among other groups of individuals, report child abuse when they have “reasonable cause to believe” that a child is being abused. The notable aspect of this law is that is has been sparsely used by prosecutors since its inception in 1975. One recent case has brought the law to the forefront, however, and serves as a reminder that some of us have obligations to file reports if we have suspicions of child abuse. This particular case actually involves allegations of sexual misconduct between a teacher and a student, but extends to all teachers that have authority over children.

Mandatory Reporting Laws in Illinois

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Illinois holiday burglaries, DuPage criminal lawyerProperty crimes are on the rise, especially around the holiday season. With car break-ins reportedly increasing this season, it follows that home break-ins and other acts of theft are more frequent than usual as well. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimates that approximately 400,000 burglaries occur in residences throughout the country in the months of November and December alone.

Types of Property and Theft Crimes in Illinois

Big trees fill the windows of our neighborhoods around this time, surrounded by the brightly colored and meticulously wrapped gifts waiting to be opened. These gifts can entice burglars, even if their contents are unknown. Burglary is a legal term that, in Illinois, means knowingly entering or without authority remaining in a building, intending to commit a felony or theft within the building. This is a class 2 felony property crimes that may lead to a maximum of three to seven years in jail. Other similar, and often as serious, crimes include possessing burglary tools, unlawful sale of burglary tools, or residential burglary.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

prescription drug laws in Illinois, DuPage County drug crimes lawyerMany people are under the false impression that because medications can be obtained from a pharmacy, the prescribed drugs cannot be harmful to their health. Some of these people also do not understand the physical dangers or legal repercussions of taking, buying, selling, or possessing prescription drugs that were not prescribed specifically to them. Even though certain medications may be safe for the people to whom they are prescribed, they can cause significant damage to the health of those that take them without a valid prescription.

According to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug overdoses have increased 400 percent for females and 265 percent among males over recent years. As such, the government has recognized prescription drug abuse, sale, and delivery a critical problem that must be criminalized. The Illinois government implemented the Illinois Prescription Monitoring Program to provide an outlet to record prescription disbursements among patients and provide resources for those who may need help, but prescription drug distribution and abuse is still a monumental issue in Illinois.

Prescription Drug Law in Illinois

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juvenile sentencingMaking bad decisions as a child can have real, life altering, adult consequences. There are nearly 3,000 incarcerated persons serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as youth. When we hear “life without parole,” this means that no matter how good the behavior of the incarcerated person, and regardless of whether he or she becomes rehabilitated or educated, that person will stay in prison for the duration of his or her life without exception.

This controversial practice was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 2012, in a landmark case titled Miller v. Alabama. This case held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional. Read that carefully: the court decision does not mean that juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It simply means that this cannot be a mandatory sentence, i.e., the court must consider the unique characteristics of the offender and any special circumstances before handing out such a sentence.

Juvenile Criminals in Illinois

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gun violenceRegardless of your opinion of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s recent gun control proposal, it cannot be denied that gun violence is still a problem in Chicago. Just recently, guns injured four people at three separate shooting sites around the city. Although all of the victims are still alive, no one is in custody for any of the incidents. These acts are among the many reasons the United States Attorney’s Office in Chicago announced this summer that a new Violent Crimes unit would be added to the department list. This is a step in the right direction, but there is still significant work to be done.

Our lawmakers, communities, and politicians continue fighting the battle against gun violence in Chicago, but the crimes nonetheless go on. The Chicago Tribune has an informative infographic that displays crime patterns over the past decade and a half, showing the tremendous impact gun violence has in our communities. The west and south side areas of Chicago are disproportionately affected by gun violence, as demonstrated in a special report on Chicago shooting victims. Young people, even children and teenagers, are also disproportionately affected by gun violence in Chicago as well.

The swiftest proposals to lessen gun violence in our city came from the concealed carry ban. A tried and failed attempt at preventing concealed weapons in Chicago was the most notable of recent efforts. People who are eligible to obtain a concealed carry permit must apply, obtain a license, be fingerprinted, and go through a host of processes before they can bear arms in public. One of the most troubling effects of this legislation, though, is the amount of unregistered guns used in our streets. Some critics speculate that the stricter the gun laws get, the more gun violence there actually is. With the amount of unregistered weapons increasing, statistics become more difficult to keep up with, making reports inaccurate or incomplete.

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traffic violation speeding ticketSometimes a speeding ticket is “just” a speeding ticket. If drivers have a record of speeding tickets which include citations of  excessive speeds, infractions caught on camera, or in a construction zone, the effects on one’s license (and wallet) can be significant. This is an even greater concern when speeding is coupled with something such as drunk driving.

Many people incorrectly assume that because most traffic infractions are civil and not criminal, they cannot carry hefty penalties. However, most people also do not know that getting a speeding ticket in a construction zone the first time can cost a driver nearly $400, or that a second violation may lead to the state suspending the driver’s license.

Representation for Traffic Offenses

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Murder versus manslaughterMost states, including Illinois, differentiate the various types of homicide based on the context of the killing. “Homicide” is the blanket category that includes murder and manslaughter. It can be confusing to decipher the differences when these terms seem to be thrown around interchangeably in the media and in daily usage. In legal application, however, there are important distinctions between each of the terms. These seemingly small, nuanced dissimilarities have significant implications on the sentence a person will receive who is ultimately convicted.

First Degree Murder

Essentially, murder occurs when one intentionally kills another human being. In Illinois, murder is further divided into two categories: first degree murder and second degree murder. In order to commit first degree murder under Illinois law, one of three states of mind must be present for a successful conviction:

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law enforcementRecently, Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey paid a visit to Illinois law enforcement officers to discuss FBI priorities in the region. According to news coverage on the subject, he said that stopping violent crime and police corruption are priorities in the area. This statement was consistent with what FBI’s new local agent in charge, Sean Cox, declared at a conference about a month earlier. Mr. Comey also indicated that the FBI would soon be increasing its number of employees throughout the country.

What exactly is meant by these FBI enforcement priorities?

Public Corruption

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class X felonyYou may have noticed in some Illinois news stories that people are charged with Class X felonies. The term “Class X felony” may raise questions for some, as it does not seem to cleanly fit into the scheme of Illinois felony classifications. Other Illinois felonies, except for first degree murder, are be classified as Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4 felonies.

Class X Felony Defined

In short, a Class X felony is one of the most serious types of felonies that can be committed in Illinois. Some examples of Class X felonies include:

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Posted on in Bail

bail processSome people who have been arrested and charged with misdemeanors and minor felonies may be released on bail until the date of the trial for their crime. In most misdemeanor cases, the amount of bail is a standard amount that is set by state law, depending on the crime committed. If the defendant cannot afford to pay the bail, he or she will be taken for a bail hearing. The rule is different in domestic violence cases.

In cases in which a defendant is charged with domestic battery, the defendant may be released on bail that requires the defendant stay away from the alleged victim or their shared residence for at least 72 hours after the incident. If the defendant violates this condition of the bail, he or she not only forfeits the bail money but may also be charged with a separate crime by violating the no-contact bail condition.

In more serious cases, the accused individual will be taken for a bail hearing before a judge. Hearings to set bail are called “bail hearings,” and they usually occur in the Circuit Court in the county in which you were arrested. Visit the Cook County website or DuPage County website for more information.

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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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