Skokie Criminal Lawyer

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

Blog Authors

Latest from Skokie Criminal Lawyer

You commit the offense of traveling to meet a child (under age 17) when you travel any distance by any means, or attempt to do so, in order to engage in sexual conduct with that child after using an online service to seduce or solicit the child. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-26.) You can be convicted for engaging in such conduct with someone you believed to be a child, even if they turned out to be an adult. In that event, you might raise a defense of entrapment. However, it is not entrapment if you were predisposed to commit the…
Under Illinois law, you may be able to plead necessity as a defense if you did not cause the situation and you reasonably believed your actions were necessary to avoid a greater harm than the injury which might reasonably result from your own conduct. See 720 ILCS 5/7-13. To prove necessity, you must show a “specific and immediate threat.” For example in People v. Gullens, the defendant took a gun which a third party had stolen in order to return it. As a result, defendant, who was serving a term of conditional discharge, was violated for being a…
Under 720 ILCS 5/12C-10, you commit child abandonment when you leave a child under age 13 for 24 hours or more unsupervised by a responsible person over age 14, without regard for the child’s health or safety. The child must be someone under your custody or control. The law provides a laundry list of factors to determine whether you left the child without regard for his or her welfare: the child’s age; the number of children left at the location; the child’s special needs including physical or mental disability or medical needs; the length of time the child was…
The answer is yes. According to Illinois case law, fundamental due process requires that a defendant who does not fully understand English be permitted an interpreter. Otherwise, a defendant could be deprived of his or her right to a fair hearing. (See People v. Castellano). Whenever you shall be tried for a crime, Illinois law requires the court to determine whether you can understand English and can express yourself so as to be understood directly by counsel, court or jury. If the court finds that you cannot, the court must appoint an interpreter that you can understand and who…
You commit domestic battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means: (1) cause bodily harm to any family or household member; (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.) To be convicted of domestic battery, you must meet the definition of “family or household member.” Illinois courts have included dating relationships within the law. A dating relationship is a serious courtship, defined as a relationship with a significant romantic focus and a shared expectation of growth. This determination can be highly fact specific. In People
Under Illinois law, there are three kinds of first degree murder. Intentional murder where you intend to kill or do great bodily harm to another knowing that your actions will cause death; Strong probability murder: Where you know your acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm; Felony murder: Where you kill someone while you are committing a forcible felony such as armed burglary (but not second degree murder). See 720 ILCS 5/9-1. To convict you, all three types of first degree murder require that you were acting without lawful justification. Therefore, if you can prove…
In the 1944 comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, Cary Grant’s character, Mortimer, finds a body in the window seat. It turns out that Mortimer’s elderly aunts have been murdering lonely, old bachelors “to end their suffering” by serving them arsenic-spiked elderberry wine. Mortimer’s brother, Teddy, assists the aunts by burying the bodies in the basement. Teddy and the aunts eventually end up in an asylum. In real life, however, Teddy (and possibly Mortimer) could be charged with concealment of homicidal death, a Class 3 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. Furthermore, nothing in that law prevents Teddy…
If the police give you an order, are you obstructing a peace officer if you refuse? The answer may depend on whether your actions “materially” obstructed the officer in his or her official duties. Under 720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) you commit a Class A misdemeanor when you knowingly resist or obstruct the performance of a police officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee in any authorized act within their official capacity. To determine if your obstruction is material, a court looks at the length of the delay caused by your refusal, the nature of your obstruction and the nature of the officer’s…
You commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-1). In defining assault, Illinois courts have held that words alone are usually not enough without some action accompanying those words. Further, a victim must be in fear of immediate battery, not of undetermined future harm. (Note that certain factors such as the victim’s age can upgrade an assault charge into aggravated assault which can be a Class A misdemeanor…
The answer is yes–if the prosecution can prove you intended to help with the crime. Under one definition of Illinois accountability law: A person is legally accountable for the conduct of another when either before or during the offense, and with intent to facilitate the offense, you solicit, aid, abet, agree, or attempt to aid another person in the planning or commission of the offense. 720 ILCS 5/5-2. The State must prove your intent to facilitate by establishing either that (1) you shared the criminal intent of the principal offender; or (2) you and the principal offender had a…
In Illinois, you commit stalking when you knowingly engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and you knew, or should have known, that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or a third person’s safety or cause them to suffer other emotional distress. Stalking also means that you knowingly and without legal justification followed another person or placed that person under surveillance at least twice, and you threatened or caused the person to reasonably fear a threat of bodily harm, sexual assault, confinement or restraint. The threat must be directed…
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…