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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
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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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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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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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Talking on the phone is such a natural process – some of our best conversations happen there. However, there are people out there who use the phone to scheme ways to get your hard earned money through telemarketing fraud – when you send money to people you do not know, give personal information or financial information to unknown callers.

Illinois Criminal Lawyer

There are many warning signs that, when you hear them, you know to say no and hang up the phone. From offers that need immediate attention to be valid, to winning a free gift, vacation or some other prize to which you need to pay only postage and handling. When they ask for payment right away, giving your credit card number, bank account number or waiting for someone to come over and pick your money up are all dangerous options. Recognize the immediate need for money as a sign! By agreeing to have someone come and pick up your money you will have no way to trace the company. Always make sure you get the salesperson’s name, business identity, phone number, street/mailing address and business license to make sure it is a legitimate business.

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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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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.

ChristineA family member passes away unexpectedly in a murder. Justice was thought to have prevailed, except you hear that the killer was released. You&re furious. Do you trust the law enforcement to rectify this situation? The first question to come to mind is “Why?” only to find out it is totally the fault of the people you are supposed to trust to enforce justice.

According to Yahoo! News, on January 30, 2013, convicted killer Steven L. Robbins, 44, was released after being accidentally brought to Cook County on a dismissed drug charges from 2007 that was still recorded as an active arrest warrant. His time in Indiana State Prison hardly over, serving a 60 year sentence for murder, he should have never left Indiana. The reason for this mix-up is a system of easy failure using paper as the means to record and report all information. This antiquated system is to blame because the shuffle of information was not easy to cross reference and check for updates. Unlike most other government agencies and businesses that use computers to keep track of everything, the Indiana State Prison relies on paper alone to disseminate information.

Luckily, the law enforcement caught on to this and searched him out. On February 1, 2013, Robbins was caught in a town home in Kankakee about 60 miles from Chicago. No resistance to the arrest and recapture, Robbins went back to Indiana State Prison that Saturday continuing his 60 year murder sentence.

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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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 According to the Chicago Tribune, a 35-year-old Warrenville man, who formerly served as a counselor and track coach at Naperville North High School, pled guilty in DuPage County to one count of criminal sex abuse involving a student. Although the case was set for trial, the man decided to plead guilty at the last minute to the criminal charge.

Law enforcement officials arrested the man in February 2011 and he was charged with a sex crime after school officials discovered that he had been involved with a student who was under the age of 18. The school also suspended the man from his employment; he had worked at Naperville North since 2006. As part of his guilty plea, the man admitted that he had touched the girl inappropriately at his residence during the summer of 2010.

The man will face a sentencing hearing on February 19. He could receive a prison sentence ranging from one to three years, although he also could be placed on probation.

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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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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 the Chicago Tribune, 17-year-old rap star Keith Cozart, a.k.a Chief Keef, recently appeared in Cook County Juvenile Court on allegations that he had violated the terms of his probation by moving from his home in Dolton with his grandmother to another home in Northbrook. After hearing testimony, however, the judge ruled that there was no credible evidence that Cozart had actually moved, and denied the prosecution’s request to incarceration Cozart pending a more comprehensive hearing later this month. Prosecutors also alleged that several attempts to reach Cozart by telephone and at his Dolton address had been unsuccessful, and that his probation officer had not heard from him since December 18, when his first album went on sale. Although the judge declined to incarcerate Cozart, a formal hearing on the probation violation charges has been set for January 28, 2013.

Cozart is currently on probation after being convicted in juvenile court for pointing a gun at a police officer. This alleged probation violation is only the latest allegation in a recent string of legal troubles facing Cozart. Last year, Cozart was accused of violating his probation by holding a rifle at a gun range in New York during a video interview. Police also are currently investigating whether Cozart was involved in the September 2012 murder of 18-year-old rapper Joseph Coleman a/k/a Lil Jojo. Cozart reportedly sent out a taunting tweet about the rapper only hours after the murder, which made national headlines.

As illustrated by the Cozart case, the terms and conditions of probation can include prohibitions against possessing firearms, committing other crimes, and simply failing to notify probation officers of a change of address. A finding of a probation violation, even as a juvenile offender, can result in very serious consequences, including incarceration. As a result, it is essential to have the advice of an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney to assist you throughout probation revocation proceedings.

There was a robbery, a car chase, a car crash and then a riot. It looked like a scene from a great action movie. Sadly, this was the scene leading to the death of a young Englewood man. WND reports that it began when 23 year-old Jamaal Moore and some other men with him robbed a truck driver at gunpoint in the South Chicago neighborhood.

A police chase ensued in hopes of apprehending the suspects. The chase ended with Moore crashing his vehicle near the intersection of Ashland and Garfield Boulevard. The four men that were with Moore ran away. Reports state that a police vehicle hit Moore but he continued to fight the police. At one point he allegedly picked up a police officer and body slammed him twice. His partner then drew her weapon and shot him. She stated that she thought that he was reaching for a firearm. There was no gun found in Moore’s possession.

Moore’s family arrived on the scene as the situation was escalating and accused the police of murder. Angry onlookers began throwing bricks, rocks and bottles at the police officers. There were hundreds of angry people there some of which were yelling “C-C-K! C-C-K!” C-C-K is a popular Chicago street term that stands for Chicago Cop Killer. Five people were arrested for different riotous charges. One of the people made verbal threats to shoot a police officer.

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