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

juvenile sentencingMaking bad decisions as a child can have real, life altering, adult consequences. There are nearly 3,000 incarcerated persons serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for crimes they committed as youth. When we hear “life without parole,” this means that no matter how good the behavior of the incarcerated person, and regardless of whether he or she becomes rehabilitated or educated, that person will stay in prison for the duration of his or her life without exception.

This controversial practice was addressed by the United States Supreme Court in 2012, in a landmark case titled Miller v. Alabama. This case held that mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional. Read that carefully: the court decision does not mean that juveniles cannot be given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. It simply means that this cannot be a mandatory sentence, i.e., the court must consider the unique characteristics of the offender and any special circumstances before handing out such a sentence.

Juvenile Criminals in Illinois

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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.

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IllinoisLong after the 16 year old thrill of having a driver’s license for the first time wears off, people often forget the amount of responsibility we hold behind the wheel. We have obligations to other drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and our own passengers. We must always be alert, and we must discontinue phone use when driving, stop playing with the GPS, and certainly stop fiddling with the iPod. Our thrill turns from fun into responsibility, from exciting adventures with friends to a monotonous commute to work.

It is easy to take this seemingly simple thing, our driver’s license, for granted because we rely on it every day. What if you had one too many speeding tickets and suddenly could no longer drive to work or drive your children to school? Did you know that your license could be suspended if you have three traffic ticket violation convictions within a 12-month period?

This is a reminder that driving is a privilege, and your license can be revoked or suspended by the state of Illinois for any number of things. This is also a reminder that there are legal measures you can take before your small mistakes become big problems.

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

sexual abuseThe crime of child sexual abuse carries an enormous stigma. This is particularly true where the allegations arise between a child and a person of influence in the child’s life, such as a parent, coach, counselor, or teacher. In criminal prosecutions, the child’s word is often taken over the educator’s. Regardless of the circumstances behind the situation, even being accused of child sexual abuse can severely negatively affect one’s life. Convictions could lead to sex offender registries, restrictions on living arrangements, and loss of employment. In other cases, convictions will lead to hefty prison sentences.

Criminal Sexual Abuse Versus Criminal Sexual Assault

In Illinois, there are two primary crimes often associated with child-educator sexual abuse allegations: sexual abuse and sexual assault. In short, sexual abuse involves touching, but not penetration. The more serious offense of criminal sexual assault must involve penetration to be convicted. Sexual assault may include touching through clothing or fondling the victim’s sexual organs. If the victim was someone subject to the accused’s authority (i.e. a teacher), the penalties can be more severe than other types of sexual abuse.

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Illinois sentencing guidelinesOne of the obvious first questions criminals have after being arrested is “how long will I be in jail?” The answer to that depends on a host of factors, including the crime, the circumstances, the accused’s criminal history, whether the accused is a juvenile, and where the crime was committed. Most cases are tried against criminals in municipal, city, or state level courts. Federal crimes are more serious and carry much stiffer penalties associated with them than state crimes. Federal crimes usually involve more than one state, or illegal items such as weapons being transported from one state to another.

A Brief History of Sentencing

Congress formed an agency entitled the United States Sentencing Commission in 1984. The Commission was tasked with implementing a new sentencing scheme to improve uniformity and fairness in sentencing practices. Before the creation of this Commission, judges nationwide enjoyed vast discretion in sentencing, a sentencing scheme known as indeterminate sentencing. Judges ultimately got to consider the circumstances, the criminal’s history, and anything else they deemed relevant in making sentencing decisions.

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