Law Offices of Matt Keenan

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In Illinois, endangering the life or health of a child is a Class A misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 3 felony for subsequent offenses. The offense includes knowingly allowing or causing the endangerment or permitting the child to be placed in an endangering situation. (See 720 ILCS 5/12C-5.) Under the law, if you leave a child age 6 or younger, unaccompanied by someone at least age 14 and out of your sight, the child may be considered unattended. Illinois courts have convicted parents for leaving a baby in a car for close to an hour and…
The officer stopped you for DUI near your home.  You tried to reason with him to let you go.  When he didn’t, you drunkenly tried to hit him.  You missed. But now you are charged with aggravated assault on top of your DUI. Can they do that?  What can you do? In Illinois, you commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Normally, this is a relatively minor offense—a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1. However, when…
A friend of a friend asked you to help them get some narcotics. You don’t do drugs yourself, but you don’t have a problem with other people using them. At first, you said you couldn’t help, but the person kept badgering you until finally you gave in. Turns out the person was a police officer and you are now charged with dealing. Is this entrapment? Quite possibly. To plead entrapment in your defense, you must present at least slight evidence that (1) the State induced you to commit the crime, and (2) you were not otherwise predisposed to do so.…
In Illinois, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license on the 46th day after your arrest for DUI.  To have any chance of beating that suspension, you must act quickly, because there are certain deadlines. Illinois law allows you to petition the court to overturn or rescind that suspension within 90 days of receiving notice. (See 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b))    But don’t wait until day 89 or even day 29. You have a much greater chance of winning your petition if you file as early as possible.  This is because state law requires a hearing on your…
You were out with friends at a bar.  Some guy overheard something you said that he didn’t like. He came over and insulted you. You were not about to let that stand, so you punched him.  You knew you lost control, but you were not expecting to be charged with a felony on a first offense. Why is it a felony?  What can you do? Under Illinois law, you commit battery, if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.  While battery is a misdemeanor,…
Under Illinois law, you act in self defense if: (1) there is a threat of unlawful force against you; (2) you are not the aggressor; (3) the danger of harm was imminent; (4) your use of force was necessary; (5) you actually and subjectively believed there was a danger that required you to use that force; and (6) your belief was objectively reasonable. See 720 ILCS 5/7-1. Self defense can include defense of another. To claim self defense, you cannot be the initial aggressor. Therefore, you cannot start a fight and then cry self defense because you were on…
Years ago, you were arrested in Illinois.  You ignored your court date, although you believe there is an outstanding warrant against you.  This did not trouble you for some years, because you live out of state and did not intend to return.  But now you are taking charge of your life, and you want to clear up the past.  You also worry that a routine traffic stop in your state could end up with you in jail. Can your Illinois arrest cause problems in your new state? Or will the warrant expire automatically?  If not, what can you do? First,…
You were riding around late one night with a friend who was driving.  An officer pulled you the car over.  Smelling alcohol on your friend, the officer had you both leave the car before spotting narcotics under the driver seat. Can you be arrested for the drugs? The answer is generally no as long as you did not know about or possess the drugs and you did not exercise exclusive control over the place where the drugs were found. Your mere presence in the car may not be enough. The same is true for other types of contraband such as…
Under one definition (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(f)), you commit aggravated criminal sexual abuse if 1) you have sexual conduct with a victim who is aged 13 to 17, 2) you are at least age 17, and 3) you hold a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to the victim. In Illinois, “trust,” means the victim has confidence in your integrity, ability, character, and truth. For example, in People v. Miki, the defendant was a soccer coach, and the victim had been on his team starting in sixth grade. The criminal conduct occurred about a month after…
You were stopped for failing to signal a turn.  When you opened the window, the officer spotted a flask on your passenger seat, smelled alcohol and asked you to take field sobriety tests, which you refused.  Can you be convicted because of the flask? The answer depends on many factors.  If the flask was empty, you may have a defendable case as long as there is little other evidence of DUI.  But how empty is empty enough?  If the flask is completely dry, you may not have a problem provided your driving and demeanor were steady.  But what if the…
The answer is yes, provided each offense contains at least one element that differs from your other offense(s). Under the one-act, one-crime rule, you may not be convicted of multiple offenses based on precisely the same single physical act. To determine if a one-act, one-crime violation has occurred, the court looks at 1) whether your conduct consisted of a single physical act or separate acts, and 2) whether any single act formed the basis for separate but lesser-included offenses. In People v. McCloud, the defendant abducted and sexually assaulted a woman off the street. The court found that within…
The answer is generally yes, if it is your first DUI or a second DUI that occurs more than five years after the first. In the past, a driver could petition the court for a special driving permit that allowed you to drive to particular locations at particular times.  Today, drivers can ask for a Breath Activated Interlock Ignition Device (BAIID).  This operates like a breathalyzer which enables you to start your car.  A BAIID enables you to drive anywhere at any time provided you are sober.  However, only the Secretary of State can issue these devices and they do…
On your way home from a friend’s, an officer stopped you for speeding.  While issuing your ticket, the officer noticed a baggie of pills on the passenger side floor.  Because of the pills, you were ordered out of the car and eventually arrested for possession of narcotics. Can they do that? Depending on the circumstances, the answer is yes. An officer may seize property in plain view if: (1) the officer is lawfully located in the place where he or she observed the object; (2) the object is in plain view; and (3) the object’s incriminating nature is immediately apparent.…
Police arrested you on charges that were pretty stiff, but you feel confident that the state can’t prove the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. That does not mean, however, that you are out of the woods. The court can convict you of a lesser-included offense even if you were not originally charged with that offense. Under Illinois law, you may be convicted of a lesser-included offense if it is within the offense for which you were charged and the evidence at trial supports conviction on the lesser offense and acquittal on the greater offense. For example, in People. v. VanHoose
You just received a letter from your child’s school claiming your child is not a district resident and threatening to disenroll him or her. The letter informs you of your right to a hearing. You want the hearing, but question whether you really need an attorney. It cannot be stressed enough that parents who go to hearing unprepared are overwhelmingly likely to lose and to undermine their chances on appeal. This is true even if you have an attorney, but that attorney does not understand the basics of school residency. To prove residency, you must have physical presence in the…
Being charged with DUI is nobody’s idea of a good time.  It can be scary, stressful, expensive and a full of hassle.  The temptation to enter a guilty plea and “just get it over with” is overwhelming.  But it’s a temptation you are wise to resist for a number of reasons. For one, you may have a fightable case.  An experienced attorney should review your case for all of your options. By experienced attorney, we mean one who has taken cases to trial rather than entering a “one size fits all” guilty plea. Avoid attorneys who also “just want to…