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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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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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Illinois gun law, Illinois concealed carry, gun laws, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn July 2013, the Illinois state legislature passed the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, which came into effect in early 2014. This law created a system by which the Illinois State Police may issue concealed carry gun permits to individuals who are at least 21 years old; have a valid FOID card; have not been convicted or found guilty in Illinois or any other state of:(A) a misdemeanor involving the use or threat of physical force or violence to any person within the 5 years preceding the date of the license application; or(B) 2 or more violations related to driving while under the influence within the 5 years preceding the date of the license application; who do not have an outstanding arrest warrant or pending a criminal case; and who have not been in residential or court-ordered treatment for alcoholism, alcohol detoxification, or drug treatment within the 5 years immediately preceding the license application.    Those wishing to obtain permits must attend 16 hours of class to train and be prepared for the responsibility of carrying a concealed weapon.

Prior to the enactment of this law, if you were found with a concealed weapon on your person or in your glove compartment of your car, you could be charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon, even though you were not actually using the weapon.

As of January 5, 2014, the state police began accepting concealed carry permit applications, and on February 28, 2014, the police started to issue these permits. The conceal carry license specifically allows you to carry a loaded or unloaded firearm, fully concealed or partially concealed, on or about your person; and to keep a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm on or about your person within your vehicle.

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By now we have all heard the story and the apology of the Oscar-winning actress, Reese Witherspoon, about her embarrassing behavior during the recent DUI arrest of her movie-agent husband, James Toth.

According to CNN, Witherspoon was in Atlanta working on a movie entitled "The Good Lie".  While there, she was charged with disorderly conduct for interfering with the arrest of her husband on a drunk driving charge.

According to the arresting officer’s account, Witherspoon began to hang out the window of the car and say that she did not believe that he was a real police officer.  In response, the officer asked her to sit down and be quiet.  As the squad car video showed, Witherspoon did not follow the officer’s instructions.  Instead, she exited the passenger side of the vehicle that was being driven by her husband and continued to engage the officer.  She even attempted to avoid being handcuffed by the officer.

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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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LaraThe Quad City Times recently published an article stating that a juvenile justice advisory group recommended Illinois should stop automatically treating 17 year-olds who are charged with felonies as adults.

The 24-member advisory group issued its report after examining the impact of a 2010 change in state law.  Until the change of the law, anyone older than 16 was treated as an adult, and had to go through the adult court system when charged with any type of crime.

In 2010, the General Assembly came to the conclusion that 17 year-olds who were charged with misdemeanors would go through the juvenile court system, whereas 17 year-old charged with felonies would be prosecuted as adults.

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LaraAccording to an article published by www.bnd.com, two more cases of drug-induced homicide have arisen in Madison County.

Tony Sellers was found dead outside the home of Robert J. Kirchner back in June.  According to autopsy results, his death was due to a heroin overdose.

Kirchner, 40, is allegedly accused of buying heroin down in St. Louis and proceeding to deliver it to Sellers.  According to Madison County police, Kirchner and three others then took Sellers’ body out of the house and left it in the back yard so as to disguise the cause of his death.

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KerryValentine’s Day didn’t quite have a happy ending for one Skokie couple. Elaine Cook, 51, and her boyfriend of 10 months had gone out to dinner to celebrate the holiday, but got into an argument later in the evening back at the woman’s apartment.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Cook told her boyfriend to leave the apartment. He put his shoes on and began to leave, but in an effort to end the fight and make-up, he went back over to her and tried to kiss her and she bit off a large portion of his tongue.

He ran over to the sink, bleeding and Cook allegedly threw the tongue on the counter. The 47 year-old man put the tongue in a bag of ice and Cook’s roommate called 911.  Paramedics rushed the man to Evanston Hospital. Doctors were not able to reattach the tongue because of an inadequate blood supply.

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KerryA 42 year-old Westmount woman has been charged with first-degree murder for stabbing her husband to death. Lisa Davis is currently being held on $2 million bail, accused of killing 49 year-old David Davis.

According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, Davis called 911 at 7:29 p.m. and reported that her husband had been stabbed. She allegedly told dispatchers that she was the one who stabbed him. When police arrived at the scene, they found David Davis bleeding from a knife wound to the right side of his stomach.  He was still conscious when they got there and told he told police that it was his wife who stabbed him. Paramedics transferred to him Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove but died from his injuries at 11:36 p.m.

Police say that the couple had been involved in a verbal altercation and at some point during the argument, Davis grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her husband with it. Lisa Davis told police she "stuck" her husband with a kitchen knife during the argument.

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TheresaAccording to a recent report in the Chicago Tribune, 15 of 19 cases that were due to be brought before the court will now be dropped. The common thread in these cases is that they are all felony drug related cases that were all handled by the same three Schaumburg police officers.

These cases came under scrutiny after the three police officers were arrested for allegedly beginning their very own criminal enterprise utilizing money and drugs that they had previously stolen from other drug dealers. It is unclear at this point in time what exactly happened for the officers to be arrested. The main concern of the Cook County prosecutor's office is that not only are there charges that are now going to be dropped but that there may be several convictions that may be overturned as a result of these events. One prosecutor stated that now that it is in the open that these officers were running heir own drug dealing business, their testimony in court is not longer credible. This breach of credibility not only affects the cases that they were directly linked to, but it will also affect cases in neighboring cities and counties. The officers were arrested by federal drug agents near the Woodfield mall. Ironically, this is the same area that they had made several arrests themselves. In a criminal case where a breach of trust or an authoritative position is used in the commission of a crime, the charges as well as penalties can be multiplied. If you find yourself in a position where you have been charged with a felony of any kind, you need to have an aggressive and knowledgeable Illinois criminal defense attorney there to make sure that your rights are preserved. You also want to make sure that your best defense is presented before the court.

ChristineIn the wake of the school shootings in Connecticut, people are in debate about gun issues on both sides. It seems more and more gun news appears by the week. The Second Amendment, where all citizens have the right to bear arms, seems to be in question over and over. Is it truly a right? Guns are not the problem, people who do not know how to handle their emotional and physical actions are to be blamed.

According to Yahoo! News, on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, 65 year old suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes, a loner Vietnam veteran, boarded a school bus with children. He proceeded to shoot the driver four times with a 9mm gun. After that he took a 5 year old kindergarten boy hostage for almost a week in a bunker. FBI and law enforcement tried their best to negotiate with the suspect to get the boy out of harm ways and back home. Monday, February 04, 2013, after 24 hours of trying with the looks of the situation not going the way they wanted, the FBI invaded the bunker. Officials said stun or flash grenades were used in the operation. After the situations, Dykes was dead and the little boy, unharmed, was released and freed.

Everyone can feel the pain for the bus driver’s family, the other students on the bus, and the little boy and his family in Midland City, Alabama. Such horrific events occurring to our most innocent citizens will cause a lifetime of damage and repair.  Even in the community it will take time to heal. If you are in a situation where you need legal advice about a threat in your life, contact a criminal lawyer in Illinois who is a knowledgeable attorney.

KHarryCrim2ChargedA teen-aged boy was shot on January 16 outside a high school basketball game at Chicago State University. Two men face charges and no bail for the shooting. The Chicago Tribune reported a story on the shooting.

According to authorities, Michael McNabb, 32, and 29-year-old Stephen Gilbert were both charged with murder in the killing of the 17-year-old victim, Tyrone Lawson.

Lawson was shot around 9:20 p.m. on Wednesday night after Morgan Park had lost to Simeon High School. The shooting took place just outside the CSU gymnasium near 95th Street and King Drive.  Lawson was pronounced dead at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

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 An Elgin woman pleaded guilty to a murder her lawyer says was a result of impaired judgment caused by the influence of drugs. The 29-year-old woman pleaded guilty to the murder of a man who described as her friend. The Chicago Tribune reported a story on the woman's case.

The 29-year-old, Jessica S. Leach, received a prison sentence of 20 years for her role in the murder of 61-year-old James Granger. Granger was also an Elgin resident.

The body of Granger was found on December 17 2011. Granger's apartment in Elgin had been damaged by fire.

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 The Chicago Tribune is reporting that three Schaumburg police officers, all tactical members of the department’s special investigations unit, were the subject of a recent sting operation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that resulted in their arrests. The trio now faces a barrage of felony charges related to a drug ring that they were allegedly operating with the help of a former police informant.

According to the informant, the police officers began to steal drugs and cash from drug dealers in 2012. Sometimes, the police officers would use the informant to illegally buy and sell drugs. Other times, the officers turned over drugs seized in legal operations over to the informant to sell, dividing the profits with him. After the informant was caught with drugs, he advised the authorities of the cops’ scheme, which had been going on for approximately six to nine months. This led to the DEA operation that brought the alleged drug ring down. The police officers were told that an out-of-state associate had stashed $20,000 in a storage facility. The officers allegedly broke into the facility and stole the money, an event that was recorded on audio and video equipment. Law enforcement officials then took the three men into custody and executed about 20 search warrants for the men’s homes, vehicles, and the police station.

Not only do the three police officers face multiple serious criminal charges, but their alleged actions may have invalidated prior arrests and pending criminal charges against others. For instance, despite the outcome of the officers’ criminal charges, their credibility has been compromised by the allegations, and they are likely to be unavailable to testify in other criminal cases, if they remain incarcerated. In fact, a later report states that Cook County prosecutors already have dropped felony charges in three cases in which an undercover drug bust involving the three police officers occurred. It is expected, based on statements from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office that charges in at least 12 other cases will be dismissed, as well.

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Cars in TrafficOn January 8th, Illinois joined New Mexico and Washington as a state which allows illegal immigrants to receive valid driver’s licenses.  The bill originally failed in 2007 by two votes, but passed the house last year 65-46.  The hope is that by making licenses available to everyone on the road will make the roads safer for all by avoiding traffic violations.

The supporters of this bill used statistics to prove the necessity of this new law.  There are an estimated 250,000 illegal immigrants who are old enough to drive yet cannot receive licenses to operate vehicles.  The Illinois Coalition for Immigrants and Refugee Rights has said that these illegal drivers cause around $64 million in damages per year, a cost that is carried by people who pay for insurance.

Past requirements for licensing were a valid social security number or other documentation proving a right to be in the country.  Now, this new bill will allow illegal immigrants who have lived in Illinois for a year and can show a lease agreement, utility bills or other documents showing the residency requirement and a $30 application fee to receive a driver’s license.  The license is temporary and needs to be renewed every three years but cannot be used to board airplanes, buy guns, or vote in general elections.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

 One of the things that Chicago police have complained about is that there is just not enough community involvement when it comes to fighting crime. Residents are afraid to report criminal activity for fear of retaliation. According to CBS Chicago, there is a new tool coming soon that can alleviate these worries.

Cook County residents will soon have access to a new phone app called iWatch. This is an app that will be downloaded right the user’s smart phone that will connect them directly to the police. With this app, local residents will be able to send in tips about crime happening in the area. They will also be able to attach and send photos of the crime or the perpetrator.

The great thing for residents is that this tool will allow them to be 100 percent anonymous in their reports. Residents do not want to talk to the police because they are afraid of what will happen if someone finds out that they have given information to the police. They often complain that police will not be there to protect them. This convenient app will alleviate those fears. iWatch supports 40 different languages so non English speaking residents do not have to worry about the language barrier that can sometimes cause an issue. The app also appeals to the younger crowd that is accustomed to communicating via text messages and other electronic means.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

One of the things that Chicago police have complained about is that there is just not enough community involvement when it comes to fighting crime. Residents are afraid to report criminal activity for fear of retaliation. According to CBS Chicago, there is a new tool coming soon that can alleviate these worries.

Cook County residents will soon have access to a new phone app called iWatch. This is an app that will be downloaded right the user’s smart phone that will connect them directly to the police. With this app, local residents will be able to send in tips about crime happening in the area. They will also be able to attach and send photos of the crime or the perpetrator.

The great thing for residents is that this tool will allow them to be 100 percent anonymous in their reports. Residents do not want to talk to the police because they are afraid of what will happen if someone finds out that they have given information to the police. They often complain that police will not be there to protect them. This convenient app will alleviate those fears. iWatch supports 40 different languages so non English speaking residents do not have to worry about the language barrier that can sometimes cause an issue. The app also appeals to the younger crowd that is accustomed to communicating via text messages and other electronic means.

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A 45 year old Bartlett man has received a two year prison sentence after pleading guilty to one count of possession of a firearm without a valid firearm owner’s identification card. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, police arrested Tony Johnson last May when his girlfriend contacted police following an argument between the two of them. She told police that Johnson was hiding a supply of weapons and explosives at a Roselle storefront.

When Bartlett police went to Johnson’s condominium, they found four styles of machine guns, all of which could be converted into fully automatic weapons. One of them, a Colt AR-15, was the same style as rifles used in last year's mass shootings in Aurora, Colo., and Newtown, Conn. They also found large containers of chemicals used to make explosives. Roselle police had assistance with the search and investigation from Bartlett police, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents, the Department of Homeland Security and the DuPage County Bomb Squad.

When Johnson was arrested, he was originally charged with four counts of unlawful use of weapons and four counts of failing to possess the FOID card.  He has been held on $750,000 bail since his arrest. According to the law, Johnson must serve at least a year of his sentence before he could be eligible for parole. With credit for time, he could be released in about four months.

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A Chicago Ridge deputy fire chief has been charged with attempted murder, home invasion, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated attempted criminal sexual assault and residential burglary after he allegedly broke into a neighbor's home wearing a ski mask and carrying a knife.

Gary Swiercz, 49, who has been with the department for over twenty years, was placed on paid leave right after his arrest, but retired the following day.

According to reports in the Chicago Tribune, prosecutors say Swiercz broke into the home of a woman in his condo building while wearing a ski mask and carrying a folding knife. He also had duct tape, rope, a sex toy and lubricant. He put his hand on the woman's mouth while she was sleeping, then put a 3-inch blade to her throat and threatened to slash it. He held her hands together and forced her into the kitchen, where he pushed her against a cabinet, and then he threw her to the ground, grabbed her by the hair and slammed her to the ground multiple times. The victim suffered a swollen lip and a knot to the back on her head.

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According to a recent WGEM.com article, a new law has taken effect in the state of Illinois as of January 1, 2013, which will provide severe penalties for parents who allow their underage children to consume alcohol at their homes or other properties under their control. This new law makes it a criminal offense for parents to allow minors, or anyone under the age of twenty-one, to drink at any property they own, including their homes, cabins, boats, lakes, or campgrounds. Supporters of the law say that it will put added pressure on parents to ensure that their children and their friends are not using their property for the purposes of consuming alcohol. For those parents who have knowingly allowed their underage children and their friends to use their property for the purposes of alcohol consumption under their supervision in the past, the new law may be a deterrent to permitting such activities in the future.

Any parent who is found guilty of allowing a minor to consume alcohol on his or her property will be convicted of a Class A misdemeanor under Illinois law, which carries a minimum $500 fine. Furthermore, if the incident results in great bodily harm or death to any person, then the offense becomes a Class 4 felony under Illinois law, which is punishable by jail time.

In some cases, it may be difficult to prove whether an adult knew that underage drinking was occurring on his or her property. A lack of knowledge, then, might serve as a potential defense in charges brought under this new law.

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