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stop and frisk, search and seizure, Illinois criminal defense lawyerIn March, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released the results of a study they had conducted regarding the Chicago Police Department’s activity when it came to stop and frisk practices.  The report was critical of the department, accusing the department of “misuse” of the law, alleging a disproportionate amount of stop and frisk searches for black people. According to the statistics cited by the report, 72 percent of all stop and frisk searches the Chicago PD conducted between May and August of 2014 were on black individuals. That report is now being cited in a lawsuit filed by six black men who say they were subjected to “suspicionless” street stops, which were in violation of the constitutional rights.

Chicago police officers are required to fill out contact cards for anyone they stop but do not arrest. Information collected for the card includes the age, address, race, and distinguishable marks or tattoos the person stopped may have. They must also fill out the reason for the stop, as well as the time and location of the stop.

During the fourth months the ACLU conducted their study, Chicago Police conducted 250,000 stop and frisks which did not result in an arrest. The report found that in it at least 50 percent of those stops, the officer gave inadequate legal basis for reasonable suspicion to make the stop.


license plate reader, camera, Chicago criminal defense attorneyOver the past several years, license plate readers have become a popular surveillance tool for law enforcement across the country. It is a tool most people are not even aware exists.  The readers use small, high-speed cameras to photograph license plates, documenting the date, time, and location of each one. The information is then added to a computer which is linked to other law enforcement data bases, such as those which include arrest warrants or missing persons.

License plate readers can be mounted onto police vehicles or other objects, such as bridges or street signs, making them virtually unnoticeable by passing motorists. Although the readers have proven useful in apprehending offenders, the readers also capture information on people who have no criminal history at all. Many civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have come out against the use of readers. Lawmakers have also voiced their opposition to the use of readers, and one Illinois lawmaker has introduced a bill that would limit their use by law enforcement.

The current procedure used by law enforcement allows all the metadata collected from the scan to be kept indefinitely. The concern is that instead of the tool only being used as legitimate way to alert police to vehicles involved in specific criminal investigations, it allows for mass location tracking.


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


Posted on in Criminal Defense

shoplifting accusationThe signs are everywhere in retail establishments: “Shoplifters will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” What many do not realize, however, is that engaging in the act of shoplifting could result in serious criminal consequences, as well as a felony conviction.

Illinois Shoplifting Laws

Under Illinois law, stealing goods worth less than $300 will usually result in a misdemeanor. Anything greater than that is a felony. Stealing certain goods, such as gasoline, may be a felony even on a first offense. Second offenses lead to felony charges, regardless of the value of the items stolen.


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.


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:


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


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


how to pick an attorneyIf you have ever searched for an Illinois criminal defense attorney online, whether for a simple traffic violation or a more serious charge, you know there are a lot of lawyers out there who claim they are able to do the job. If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you also may already be aware that selecting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can have a significant effect on your case’s outcome. Many of the lawyers you find will have professional-looking websites and helpful office staff and will otherwise seem competent to handle your case; but how can you really know you are in good hands? Helpful Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

  • Have you ever handled a case like mine before?  How much of your case load is dedicated to helping people in circumstances similar to mine?
  • What range of outcomes can you expect in a case like mine? (i.e. what is the best and worst case scenario?)
  • Can you explain what I can expect from each phase of the criminal justice process (such as during arraignment, pretrial and trial phases)? How long does it usually take to obtain a final verdict?
  • What is your office’s policy about keeping contact with clients?  When do you call clients and how frequently should I expect to meet with you?
  • How should I best reach out to your office if I need to contact you?
  • Do you have a good relationship with the criminal prosecutor’s office that is prosecuting my case? How often do you negotiate deals with this particular town’s prosecutor’s office?
  • How much do you charge and how do you calculate your fees?  When are payments for legal services due?
  • Which attorney from the firm will be representing me in court and what is his or her experience and background in relation to matters like mine?

Preparation for Your Criminal Defense Meeting Getting the most out of your experience with a new criminal defense attorney can be a two-way street. Many clients are pleased to know they can play a role in maximizing the efficiency of their meeting with a criminal defense attorney. One of the best ways to do this is to come prepared for the meeting ahead of time, with appropriate documents in hand, such as:

  • Any charging documents you received at the police station;
  • Any documents you received from the court that state your charges and the date of your next court appearance(s);
  • A police report (if you can obtain one);
  • Any paperwork the police gave you if your property or car was searched or if your personal items were retained by law enforcement officers;
  • Copies of any documents you signed while in custody; and
  • Photo identification, personal contact information, and emergency contact information.
  • If you possess additional information or documents that you believe can help in your defense, it may be helpful to bring these as well.

Contact Us Today At Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C., we understand that criminal defendants, especially first-time offenders, can feel overwhelmed and extremely anxious about the criminal process. We try our hardest to evaluate cases thoroughly and honestly and promptly keep our clients informed of all relevant case developments. If you would like to schedule a meeting with one of our criminal defense attorneys, call our DuPage criminal defense lawyers at 630-472-9700 to schedule a meeting.

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


drug charges financial aid student loansAccording to the United States Department of Education, there are several situations in which a student may lose financial aid eligibility based on a prior drug conviction.

Requirements for Renewing Financial Aid Eligibility

The U.S. Department of Education determines a student’s financial eligibility each year through use of the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Every year the student must complete an updated FAFSA form in order to remain eligible for financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education can determine whether a student was convicted of a drug-related offense in the last year by reviewing the FAFSA form, as one portion of the FAFSA form requires applicants to indicate whether they have been convicted of a drug-related offense. If the student answers affirmatively, he or she is then required to complete a supplemental worksheet concerning the nature of the offense for which she was convicted.


illinois drug court attorneyFor over a decade, the Illinois court systems have recognized the link between substance abuse problems and crime recidivism rates. In typical courts, a defendant found guilty of drug possession may face a steep fine or jail time ranging from three months to 15 years. Afterwards convicted individuals may face sparse employment prospects due to a blemished criminal record. Additionally, those struggling with substance abuse problems may be further influenced to commit property crimes such as credit card forgery or violent crimes such as armed robbery in order to sustain a drug habit.

For individuals who keep running into legal problems for offenses stemming from drug use, and who are motivated to overcome their addictions, Illinois has instituted drug courts as an alternative sentencing method. The purpose of these courts is to aid non-violent substance abuse offenders in their recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. In drug courts, state judges focus on sentencing selectees to a drug treatment plan in hopes of rehabilitating the selectee rather than sentencing the individual to jail or fines for the purpose of punishment. The overall policy goal of the program is to stop legal problems caused by drug addiction from the root.

Drug courts operate throughout the state of Illinois including in Cook and DuPage Counties. Drug courts differ by county in specific details of the programs but each share in the same fundamental characteristics.


illinois criminal defense representationSome local Illinois residents facing criminal charges attempt to handle their own case in court without the aid of a criminal law attorney. No matter what the rationale for trying to represent yourself may be, it is critical to understand the many pitfalls of this approach. The criminal justice system is quite complex, and every case requires a mix of legal expertise, procedural acumen, and familiarity with techniques of advocacy. As a result, it can be almost impossible for a defendant to navigate the system successfully without the guidance of an attorney.

In most cases, self-representation seems like the best option for financial reasons. When making these decisions though, it is critical to think long-term. What decision will best position you to get beyond the immediate challenges without loss of your freedom or permanent damage to your reputation? In many cases, protecting your future interests requires the experience, skill, and advocacy that only a criminal defense attorney can provide.

Common Reasons for Self-Representation


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.


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:


misdemeanor IMAGEIn Illinois, misdemeanors, like felonies, come in several classifications, depending on the type of crime committed. If you have committed several violations of the law, you may be charged with multiple misdemeanors. Regardless of the charges, you should seek experienced legal counsel capable of addressing the criminal charge or charges.

Misdemeanor Classifications

In order of most to least severe, the misdemeanor classifications in Illinois are: Class A, Class B, and Class C. Information relating to Class C misdemeanors can be found at 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-65, but generally the sentence for this charge is not more than 30 days. The resulting fines are up to $1500 for each offense, or the amount specified for the offense, depending on the larger amount. Class B misdemeanors are addressed at 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-60, and the sentence that a conviction carries is not more than six months. The resulting fine will not be greater than $1500 for each offense, or the amount specified for the offense, also depending on whichever is greater. Class A misdemeanors are the most severe. The provisions for Class A misdemeanors can be found at 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55. The sentence of imprisonment will be less than one year. The fines are up to $2500 for each offense or the amount specified for the offense, whichever is greater.


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.


The New York Times did a story about three former college students being acquitted of their hazing charges in the death of a Cornell University student last year. Max Haskin, Ben Mann, and Edward Williams were accused of making George Desdunes drink dangerous amounts of alcohol during an initiation ritual for a fraternity. They were charged with hazing in the first degree and unlawfully dealing with a child, since Desdunes was underage.

The ritual included taking Desdunes and another male student to a house, where they were tied down and blindfolded. They were questioned about the history of the fraternity, and a wrong answer lead to a shot of vodka. As a result of the events of that evening, Desdunes was found dead on a couch with blood-alcohol levels of 0.356.

The defense made their case around the facts that it was unknown to the defendants how much Desdunes had been drinking prior to the ”kidnapping”, and that he could have stopped the game at any point. Desdunes& mother is devastated by the court's decision, and she thinks the defendants should have been punished for killing her son.

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