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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
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Reasonable Mistakes, Unreasonable Consequences

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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.


first time drug offenderAll of us make mistakes at some point, especially during our youth. Illinois courts have developed programs in order to provide those that are truly regretful for their unlawful actions a second chance. Such programs allow remorseful first-time drug offenders an opportunity to avoid being plagued with convictions that would otherwise ultimately taint their record and affect their future, education, and possible work opportunities.

The Illinois Controlled Substances Act

The Illinois Controlled Substances Act provides opportunities for those who have not previously been convicted of a crime, placed on probation, or monitored for any other offense. The Act permits a court to sentence a guilty criminal defendant a period of probation, to which the defendant must strictly adhere in order to reap the benefits of the offer. If the offender can make it through the probationary term in accordance with the terms of his probation, the conviction will not appear as a criminal conviction on the offender’s record. The terms of the probation may require the individual to:


Internet Sex Crimes: Predators and Punishments

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Internet sex crimeBeing labeled as a sex offender is a punishment with wide-ranging implications that can have a detrimental impact on your life. Internet sex offenses may range anywhere from sexual harassment to producing obscene materials to a minor. Regardless of the cause of action, sexual crimes are viewed among the most severe and unforgiving under the law, and all allegations should be taken very seriously.

Sex Offender Registry

Probation, fines, and jail time aside, one of the most damaging aspects of a sex crime conviction is that you will have to register as a sex offender. Being labeled a sex offender can greatly compromise your ability to find housing, make a living, visit with your children, or maintain custody of your child. You will have restrictions placed on your ability to travel, and be present around children, schools, or parks. These limitations can greatly affect your freedom, future, and emotional well-being. You must register as a sex offender for life, and failure to timely register as a sex offender in Illinois can carry its own significant criminal penalties.


Credit Card Fraud in Illinois

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credit card fraudTheft. Fraud. Misappropriation. Possession. Receipt. All of these terms have legal significance under the Credit and Debit Card Fraud Act of the Illinois Criminal Code. While the broad term of credit card fraud encompasses an array of specific crimes, credit card fraud is generally defined as a person using, obtaining, possessing, selling, or buying a credit card bearing a false number or a number that does not belong to him or her. Misusing a credit card that has not been lawfully issued to you is a serious crime that may lead to federal penalties.

What Constitutes Credit Card Fraud?

Credit card fraud comes in many forms. Some of the most common, as laid out in the Illinois Credit and Debit Card Fraud Act, include:


Child Abuse: Mandatory Reporting Laws in Illinois

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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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