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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

crime victims& rightsThis year’s November election brought favorable news for crime victims’ rights. Among other important topics, such as voters’ rights, minimum wage reform, and education spending, came the proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution to strengthen the preexisting Illinois Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights.

This new legislation is aimed to increase transparency and to provide access to information to crime victims about court proceedings, hearings, and sentencing. Among the rights granted by Section 8.1 of Article I of the Illinois Constitution include:

  • The right to be free from harassment, intimidation, or abuse throughout the criminal justice process;
  • The right to notice and a hearing before access to certain personal information can be given to attorneys about a victim of a crime;
  • The right to communicate with the prosecutor handling the case;
  • The right to speak at any time a decision regarding the victim is involved, or during post-arraignment release, plea, or sentencing decisions;
  • The right to be protected from the accused during the criminal process;
  • The right to be present at all court proceedings permitted by law; and
  • The right to timely notification of all such proceedings.

Notably, the new amendment adds an enforcement provision, stating that the victim has standing to assert these rights. Standing essentially means someone has a personal stake in the outcome and should be able to participate in the legal process.

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Posted on in Arrest

juvenile justice rightsRegardless of the severity of the crime at issue, youth offenders enjoy the same protections of the criminal justice system as their more seasoned counterparts. They must be read their Miranda rights, must be told they have the right to remain silent, and must be given the right to a fair and impartial trial. In fact, juvenile offenders also enjoy additional protections to ensure fairness in treatment. For example, youth offenders are required to be represented by counsel, and this cannot be waived like it can in most circumstances pertaining to adults. The juvenile offender’s parents are also required to be in court and juvenile offenders enjoy special protections regarding confidentiality of their identity, both during court proceedings and in maintaining court records. These protections are set in stone by law. Other areas of the law are not as clear and raise questions about a youth’s rights and what he or she is capable of consenting to at an age of minority.

Rights of Juveniles

The most fundamental rights during an arrest are the rights read to us before a police interrogation. These include the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning. Well-established law tells us that these rights must be read to a suspect before he or she can be questioned and possibly incriminate him or herself.

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check fraud illinoisAlthough the ancient paper check transaction is a thing of the past for most, writing bad checks is still a crime. Fraudulently making, signing, depositing, or giving a check to another with fictitious account information or inadequate funds is more than just a fee deducted from your bank for the bounced check—it can carry both civil and criminal punishments.

The Civil Component

While many “bad check” fraud schemes result in jail time, others may carry civil penalties in addition to, or in place of, criminal charges. According to the Illinois Court of Appeals, for a person to recover monetary damages from a person who wrote a bad check, the person in receipt of the bad check must prove four things:

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sealed record expungementWe all make mistakes, some of which involve the criminal justice system. Whether you were arrested, cited, charged, or ultimately convicted, your actions left a record somewhere. This record may make it difficult for you to obtain employment or housing, or may negatively impact your relationships. Regardless of how “minor” or how long ago a conviction may have been, that record will follow you forever.

The good news is that depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible under Illinois law to have this record removed from the criminal database in a process called expungement. Sealing a court record is also possible in some situations. Both offer different results, but each are important to understand if you have a criminal record you wish to have removed.

Differences Between Expunging and Sealing

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

drug paraphernalia IllinoisMany of us know of someone who has been convicted of some drug-related crime in their lifetime. Some of us may try to minimize the severity of the crime by suggesting that it was “just marijuana” or “just a little bit.” The truth of the matter is, it does not matter whether it is your first or fifth drug offense, whether it is marijuana or methamphetamine, or whether it is a bong or a needle. While each of these crimes vary in punishment under the eyes of the law, they each can have a significant impact on your future. Even if you are caught “just” possessing drug paraphernalia, without any drugs at all, you still may be subject to steep criminal penalties.

What is Drug Paraphernalia?

Drug paraphernalia, according to Illinois law, is all equipment, products and materials that are intended to be unlawfully utilized to plant, cultivate, prepare, inject, ingest, inhale, or use any synthetic drug or controlled substance. The full definition of drug paraphernalia is part of the Illinois Drug Paraphernalia Control Act. The drug methamphetamine has an entirely separate section and associated punishments under the act.

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