Skokie Criminal Lawyer

Practicing Attorney Matt Keenan explains Illinois law on misdemeanors, felonies, retail theft, drug offenses, battery, cybercrime, sexting and other criminal offenses.

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After getting in trouble at school, your minor child was questioned by police. You were not present, and your child was scared and started talking. What are your child’s rights? Under 705 ILCS 405/5-401.5, your child’s statement is presumed inadmissible as evidence if an officer or other public official takes your child’s statement during a custodial interrogation without first reading your child his or Miranda rights. The officer must then ask: (A) “Do you want to have a lawyer?” and (B) “Do you want to talk to me?” Further, any statement your minor child makes as a result of…
You must be fit to stand trial before you can be prosecuted. You must also be fit before sentencing or entering a plea agreement. Under Illinois law, you are not considered fit if you cannot assist in your defense or understand the nature and purposes of the proceedings against you because of your mental or physical condition. If your fitness is in question, your attorney must raise the issue before a plea is entered or before, during or after trial. In other words, you cannot claim you are unfit after you have entered a plea agreement or been sentenced. If…
You were just curious, so you called a government office and started asking questions. You wanted to know how they handle threats involving guns or bombs. Something in the nature of your questions spooked the office manager, and now you have been charged with disorderly conduct. Were your questions enough to get you convicted? What about freedom of speech? What can you do now? In Illinois, depending on what you said and how you said it, you could be convicted of disorderly conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1)). To do so, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that…
The answer, in most cases, is no. A change in Illinois law permits you to expunge or seal your criminal record notwithstanding any fines or fees you may owe. Before you can clear your criminal record, your case must have been terminated. As of August 10, 2018, the definition of termination does not include any outstanding financial obligations. Therefore, the court cannot deny your petition because you owe a court or government imposed debt. Once your record is sealed, the court may still permit access to any records necessary to collect the debt from you. The court may still deny…
Chicago police regulations allow officers to arrest people on the basis of an investigative alert where there is probable cause to believe a suspect has committed a crime. But a recent Illinois court has now ruled this practice unconstitutional. In People v. Bass, the defendant allegedly molested a minor. Chicago police issued an investigative alert but did not apply for an arrest warrant. Three weeks later, police pulled defendant over, ran a name check then arrested him based on the alert. The court held the arrest illegal because an investigative alert allows a police supervisor—rather than a judge–to determine…
The Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens the right to be free from unlawful searches. Therefore, an officer cannot enter your home without a warrant unless some exception to the warrant requirement—such as consent—exists. Court have also recognized that a certain area around your home, known as the curtilage, is protected from police intrusion. Your front porch would be one example but what about the hallway of an unlocked apartment building? An Illinois court says yes. In People v Bonilla, an officer used a narcotics dog to sniff the hallway outside defendant’s apartment. The court held that the police officer’s actions…
For the deaf, imprisonment can be especially isolating and punitive. Inmates may literally have no one to talk to. As a result of a federal class action law suit, Illinois agreed to accommodate prisoners with hearing disabilities. Among its terms, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will begin screen for hearing loss, create a centralized database on inmates with hearing disabilities and provide a specialist to assess an inmate’s need for services. IDOC must keep a ready supply of hearing aid batteries. IDOC must also make certain technologies available, such as amplified telephones and a teletypewriter. IDOC audio-visual media such…
You were visiting family when things got crazy. One drunken relative started beating their spouse so you grabbed the family gun to put a stop to it. But since you didn’t have a gun license, the police arrested you on a weapons charge. Can they do that if you were just trying to protect yourself? Depending on the facts, a recent Illinois court said no. You may be charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon if you (1) knowingly carried or concealed on your person an uncased and loaded pistol, (2) at a time when you were not on…
Let’s say you have been arrested based on an eye witness’s identification. The witness, however, is mistaken, and you can prove it by showing that you have physical characteristics missing from the witness’s description. For a number of reasons, your lawyer does not want you to testify on your own behalf. Can you show your physical characteristics without taking the stand? A recent Illinois court decision says that you can—provided you can lay the foundation necessary to admit the characteristic into evidence. In People v. Gonzalez, the defendant was linked to a murder based solely on eyewitness identification. The…
When the police came after you, you said some foolish things that you wish you could take back. Is there a way? The answer may turn on the exact moment you were legally under arrest. Generally, you are under arrest if a reasonable person in your shoes would feel they were not free to leave. If you could have walked away but didn’t, your statements may be used against you. If a reasonable person would not feel free to leave and no Miranda warnings were given, an attorney may be able to ask the court to suppress your statements. To…
You’ve seen the movie. The leading man’s girl knows too much about the crime. The solution: Get married! Then, she can’t be forced to testify. But is that how it works in real life? For the most part, the answer is yes. But there are exceptions. Under 725 ILCS 5/115-16, spouses may testify against each other but not as to any communications made between them during their marriage. For the marital privilege to apply, the communicating spouse must intend to convey a confidential message made in reliance on the confidence of the marital relationship. The marital privilege does have…
During a break-up, your now ex-girlfriend refused to give you your I-phone. She taunted you by threatening to drop it into a sink full of water, so you grabbed her and yanked it out of her hand. Now you are charged with domestic battery. You were just trying to save your phone. Is that a defense? To convict you of domestic battery in Illinois, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly, without legal justification, made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a family or household member. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(2). However, you may…
At what point does a parent’s right to discipline his or her child turn into a felony? Under Illinois law, parents who believe in corporal punishment may use it to discipline their children as long as such punishment is necessary and reasonable. Beyond that, you could be charged with domestic or aggravated battery. So how do you know if you’ve crossed that line? In Illinois, courts look at the following: (1) the degree of physical injury inflicted upon the child, (2) the likelihood of future punishment that may be more injurious, (3) the fact that any injury resulted from the…
You altered a check made payable to your girlfriend, or you used her digital signature to get at her funds. Or maybe you used counterfeit money to pay for an expensive TV. Now you are charged with forgery. What is forgery? What can you do? In Illinois, you commit forgery when, you knowingly with intent to defraud: (1) make a false document or alter any document to make it false and that document is apparently capable of defrauding another; or (2) issue or deliver the knowingly false document; or (3) possess, with intent to issue or deliver the false document;…
In Illinois, some types of disorderly conduct are more serious than others. Disorderly conduct can mean creating a public disturbance or peeping in windows, but it can also mean filing a false police report as was charged in the recent Jussie Smolett case. The most familiar definition of disorderly conduct is also the least serious. If you acted unreasonably so as to alarm or disturb others, you can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor. Your conduct must have provoked a breach of the peace. For example, you yelled threats to beat someone up in an alley. If you peep…
As you may imagine, domestic violence laws were intended to apply to the domestic front—people close to your home such as a family member or significant other. Parties eligible for an Illinois order of protection from domestic abuse include: 1) any person abused by a family or household member; 2) any minor child or dependent adult in the care of such person; and 3) any person residing or employed at a private home or public shelter which is housing an abused family or household member. As of January, 2019, the Illinois legislature expanded the list of parties eligible for an…