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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The answer is no. Diminished capacity is not recognized as a defense in Illinois. However, you might instead consider whether you were not guilty by reason of insanity or guilty but mentally ill. In the that recognize diminished capacity, a legally sane defendant may present evidence of mental illness to negate the specific intent required to commit a particular crime. Diminished capacity may be caused by intoxication, trauma or disease. For example in People v. Frazier, the defendant, an Iraq military veteran, claimed his PTSD prevented him from forming the intent necessary to commit aggravated discharge of a firearm.…
You were driving around town with your friend. You stepped a little too heavy on the gas, so the police stopped you for speeding. At first, you weren’t too concerned, but then the officer pulled a plastic baggie out from under your friend’s seat. Can you be arrested for that? The answer depends on whether the state can prove the contraband was yours. Possession can be actual or constructive. Actual possession means you basically had the item on your person. Constructive possession means you knew the drugs or weapons were present, and you exercised immediate and exclusive control over the…
Under Illinois law, you may be legally insane if, at the time you committed a crime, you suffered from a mental disease or defect such that you lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct. (See 720 ILCS 5/6-2(a)). Generally that means you didn’t understand you were doing something wrong. As such, efforts to cover up your crime may undermine an insanity defense. “ If you raise the defense, you have the burden of proving insanity by clear and convincing evidence. The state need not put on expert testimony to prove you are sane, but may…
With some exceptions, the answer is generally no. Illinois law grants limited immunity from prosecution for drugs found where the evidence against you was discovered because you sought emergency help in good faith, and the amount of the substance was within certain limits (See 720 ILCS 570/414 for limits.) Police may not arrest you based on evidence obtained as a direct result of getting help. Therefore, if someone is having an overdose, you generally need not fear calling 911. In People v. Markham, the defendant’s companion called 911 when defendant was having an overdose. Before leaving for the hospital,…
You have just been charged with domestic violence based on interfering with your ex’s personal liberty. What does that mean? What can you do about it? Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, “‘interference with personal liberty’ means committing or threatening physical abuse, harassment, intimidation or willful deprivation so as to compel another to engage in conduct from which she or he has a right to abstain or to refrain from conduct in which she or he has a right to engage.” In a 1994 Illinois case, In re Marriage of Healy, the court declined to find interference with personal…
You have been indicated for child abuse from the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). You want to appeal but you recall from TV that criminal defendants usually don’t take the stand. You are afraid you could say the wrong thing out of sheer anxiety and confusion. Do you have to testify before the DCFS? Under certain circumstances, the hearing officer could compel you. Under DCFS rules, the agency has the burden of showing by a preponderance of evidence that you are guilty of the offense charged by a preponderance of the evidence. (This is a dramatically lighter burden…
According to Illinois law, the answer is probably not–especially if the police used force. In People v. Augusta, defendant was stopped for failure to signal when turning. The officer asked defendant if he had something in his mouth, which defendant denied. The officer ordered defendant to open his mouth, but then began to choke him. Defendant had in fact been concealing bags of drugs. The trial judge denied defendant’s motion to suppress the drug evidence, stating that the officer had probable cause to believe the contraband was in defendant’s mouth. The appellate court disagreed. The court found that the…
As of August 7, 2020, Illinois has made it a Class 3 felony to attack any merchant who attempts to enforce COVID-related safety guidelines. The new law amends the aggravated battery statute. Section (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(d)(12)) applies when you commit battery (other than with a firearm) against a merchant who is performing his or her duties, including relaying government or employer-related health/safety guidelines, during and for six months after a government-declared state of disaster due to a public health emergency. If you are charged with aggravated battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately.…
If you are arrested for a criminal offense, you may be released from the police station on personal recognizance, that is, without paying bail. If not, however, you may appear before a judge who will set bail and/or determine any other conditions of your release that are necessary to reasonably assure 1) your appearance, 2) the safety of the community, and 3) the likelihood of compliance with all conditions of bail. Based on available information, the court looks at The nature and circumstances of the offense charged, Whether the offense involved the use or threats of violence, The likelihood the…
The answer is that you may have a diminished capacity defense if you were involuntarily intoxicated because you were not warned about the side effects of a prescription drug. Beyond that, diminished capacity and/or voluntary intoxication is not recognized as a defense in Illinois. To prove diminished capacity, you must show: 1) that your conduct was involuntary because of the unwarned side effects of prescription medication; and 2) these side effects made you so intoxicated that you lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate that you were committing a crime or to conform your behavior to the requirements of the law.…
Under Illinois law, you may not photograph, film or depict any minor child in a pose involving a lewd exhibition of the child’s unclothed or transparently clothed private parts. You also may not possess such depictions of a child you know is under age 18. But how do you know if the photo you have is pornography? A recent Illinois case reviewed that topic. In People v. Van Syckle, the court used an objective standard in weighing the following six factors: 1) whether the focal point of the visual depiction is on the child’s genitals; (2) whether the setting…
The answer is yes. Given the right circumstances, you can petition the governor to reduce a life sentence, and such petitions have been granted. The governor of Illinois has full power to commute any sentence or issue a pardon for any petitioner he or she deems is worthy. Current governor J.B. Pritzker has already commuted sentences of convicted felons in a number of cases, including some that were very serious. During the COVID-19 crisis, some requests have even been expedited. After filing a petition with the Prisoner Review Board, you will have an opportunity to present witnesses at a hearing,…
It’s been many years since your loved one was sent to prison. You believe that he or she has more than paid any debt to society. Is there anything you can do to help your loved get out early? The answer is yes, depending on the circumstances. In Illinois, your loved one can petition the governor for executive clemency and request a commutation (or shortening) of their sentence. You can assist this process in many ways. For starters, you can help select a qualified attorney, who you trust and feel you can work with. The attorney will likely meet with…
You commit the offense of resisting arrest if you knowingly resist or obstruct someone you know is a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee in performing any authorized act within their official capacity. See 720 ILCS 5/31-1. Resisting arrest is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. To convict you, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knew (1) the person obstructed or resisted was a peace officer, firefighter or correctional institution employee, and that (2) you were obstructing or resisting that officer’s authorized act. Further, the officer must be…
Events in the news have justifiably sparked public outrage, which has resulted in protests and civil unrest. Sometimes these protests get out of hand, and participants may find themselves arrested for an offense such as reckless conduct. Under Illinois law, you commit reckless conduct when you, by any means lawful or unlawful, recklessly perform an act that (1) causes bodily harm or endangers the safety of another; or (2) causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-5). The first type of reckless conduct is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to…
Under Illinois law, a neglected child is defined as: Children who are not receiving care necessary for their well-being, such as medical treatment, food, clothing or shelter; Children who have been abandoned; Children who have received crisis intervention services and cannot return home; and Infants born with controlled substances in their systems. Before indicating you for neglect, the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) considers the child’s age; medical condition; behavioral, mental, or emotional problems; any developmental or physical disability; your physical, mental, and emotional abilities; and any history of your being indicated for abuse or neglect. If you…