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Common Questions About Illinois’ Sex Offender RegistryA sex crime conviction in Illinois has severe punishments, such as a possible prison sentence and sizeable fines. However, the longest-lasting consequence is when you are required to register as a sex offender. While you are registered, you may be limited in where you can live, work and visit. Many people base their conceptions of sex offender registries on references in popular culture. Being a registered sex offender affects people in ways that you might not expect. Here are the answers to five common questions about the sex offender registry system:

  1. Which Offenses Require You to Register as a Sex Offender?: Violent sexual crimes and the sexual exploitation of minors are the offenses most often associated with registered sex offenders. Examples include rape, solicitation of a minor, and the possession of child pornography. You can also be required to register if you have been convicted of kidnapping a minor, allowing the abuse of a minor, or repeated indecent exposure offenses.
  2. Are There Different Classes of Sex Offenders?: You may face different restrictions depending on the type of offense for which you were convicted. People convicted of offenses involving victims younger than 18 are child sex offenders. People convicted of the most serious sexual offenses are classified as sexual predators. A sexually dangerous person is someone who has committed a sexual offense and has a mental disorder that makes them more likely to repeat that offense.
  3. What Are the Rules for Registered Sex Offenders: A sex offender must register with local law enforcement once a year and whenever they move. Sexually dangerous persons must register every 90 days. If visiting another state, they may need to register with law enforcement there. A child sex offender or sexual predator is prohibited from being within 500 feet of a school or in a public park. They are not allowed to access social media during probation, parole, or supervised release. They can face criminal charges if they violate these rules.
  4. How Long Do You Stay on the Registry?: Sex offenders are eligible to be removed from the registry after 10 years, which starts when they are released from prison or when they receive probation after their conviction. Sexual predators and sexually dangerous persons must register for the rest of their lives.
  5. Who Knows That You Are on the Registry?: Law enforcement agencies have records of all of the registered sex offender in the state and their last known addresses. They share this information with local schools whenever a sex offender moves into their area. They also maintain a public online database of offenders that anyone can search.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Lawyer

A sex crime conviction will follow you for life, whether you are on a registry or have the conviction on your criminal record. It is important to try to prevent a conviction to avoid this consequence. A Chicago criminal defense attorney at Hartsfield Law can identify the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and formulate an effective defense strategy. Schedule a free consultation by calling 312-345-1700.

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Posted on in Theft

Different Levels of Theft ChargesTheft is a criminal charge that varies in punishment depending on the details of the offense. A conviction for theft can range from a misdemeanor to the highest level of a felony. Illinois law classifies its theft charges based on how much was stolen, how it was stolen, and where the theft took place. Facing a misdemeanor or felony charge could change how you contest the charge against you and whether you may be willing to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

Value of Theft

The lowest-level theft charge is a class A misdemeanor and is defined as theft of $500 or less and not from the owner’s person. A conviction could result in less than a year in prison and fines of no more than $2,500. Retail theft often falls in this category. A second theft conviction is a class 4 felony, punishable by one-to-three years in prison. Thefts that are greater than $500 are also felony offenses in Illinois:

  • Theft greater than $500 and no more than $10,000 is a class 3 felony, punishable by two-to-five years in prison;
  • Theft greater than $10,000 and no more than $100,000 is a class 2 felony, punishable by three-to-seven years in prison;
  • Theft greater than $100,000 and no more than $500,000 is a class 1 felony, punishable by four-to-17 years in prison;
  • Theft greater than $500,000 and no more than $1 million is also a class 1 felony but is non-probational; and
  • Theft of more than $1 million is a class X felony, punishable by six-to-30 years in prison.

All felony theft convictions can also include fines of as much as $25,000.

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How to Contest a Criminal Assault ChargeA criminal assault charge is often accompanied by a battery charge. Assault is the non-physical act of threatening someone to the point that they fear for their safety, while battery is actually using violence against that person. You can be charged with assault alone if the alleged victim accuses you of threatening harm without the incident resulting in physical contact. If you have been charged with assault, you should remember that the prosecution bears the burden of proving that a crime occurred. By examining details of your case, a criminal defense attorney can identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s argument against you.

Reasonable Belief

To establish that an assault occurred, the prosecution must show that you intentionally acted in a manner that caused the victim to reasonably believe that he or she was at risk of immediate physical violence. The prosecution will need to describe how your language or physical gestures established a threat of violence. There are several ways that you can dispute that an assault actually occurred, such as claiming:

  • Your allegedly threatening behavior was unintentional or misinterpreted;
  • The alleged victim was unreasonable in believing that your actions constituted a threat; or
  • The alleged threats should not have caused the victim to fear imminent danger.

People may show irrational fear towards you based on your appearance and their own anxieties. Providing a clear and reasonable explanation of the incident can show that you never intended to threaten or harm the alleged victim. Witness testimony can support your account of the incident.

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Should You Refuse a DUI Breath or Blood Test?Drivers who are stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence often face a difficult decision when a police officer asks them to submit to chemical testing. Providing a breath or blood sample could give evidence that your blood alcohol concentration is above the legal limit or that you have an illegal drug in your body. However, refusing the test will result in the suspension of your driver’s license and will not prevent prosecutors from charging you with DUI. Though there are consequences for refusal, preventing chemical testing could make it more difficult to prove that you are guilty of DUI.

Implied Consent

According to the implied consent law, Illinois drivers have already consented to chemical testing for DUI when they are driving or have actual physical control of a vehicle. If you refuse chemical testing, the police will notify the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, which will suspend your driver’s license for a year. In contrast, failing a DUI test results in a six-month license suspension, though a DUI conviction would come with worse consequences. A summary suspension is an administrative action that is separate from criminal charges. Your license can be suspended even if you are never charged with or convicted for DUI.

Rules for Chemical Testing

A court may dismiss the evidence from a chemical test if the officer did not follow the legal procedures:

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Illinois Changing Limits of Concealed Carry Gun LawIllinois’ concealed carry weapons law allows licensed gun owners to carry a gun for the purpose of self-protection. However, there is also a long list of places where guns are prohibited, even if you have a license to carry one. It is a criminal offense to knowingly possess a weapon when entering public properties such as schools, parks, and courthouses. In some cases, possessing a weapon within 1,000 feet of specified properties can be against the law. In the past year, Illinois courts have dismantled some of the concealed carry restrictions that were deemed to have violated people’s Second Amendment rights.

Recent Rulings

The Illinois Supreme Court made the first significant ruling when hearing the case of People v. Chairez in February 2018. In the case, the defendant petitioned to throw out his conviction for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a public park on the grounds that the law was unconstitutional. Both an Illinois circuit court and the Supreme Court agreed that the law put an undue burden on the defendant.

The February ruling was limited to public parks but set a precedent for cases involving other properties that banned weapons possession within 1,000 feet. In June 2018, an appellate court overturned a defendant’s conviction for possessing a gun within 1,000 feet of a public school, citing the earlier Supreme Court ruling.

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Protecting Your Rights During a Traffic StopWhen a police officer pulls you over for a traffic stop, a million thoughts may be racing through your head – and none of them are good. The best thing you can do for yourself in this situation is to remain calm. The officer needed to have reasonable suspicion that you violated a law in order to stop you, but that suspicion is likely limited to a traffic violation. The officer will need more evidence in order to have probable cause to arrest you. Your job during a traffic stop is to behave reasonably and not provide information that may be used against you if you are charged with a crime.

Answering Questions

Allow the police officer to do most of the talking during the stop. It is his or her responsibility to explain the reason for your stop and bring up any suspicions that he or she may have. During your interaction with the officer, you should:

  • Treat the officer with respect;
  • Talk only when the officer has asked you a direct question; and
  • Politely decline to answer any questions that may incriminate you.

Lying to a police officer could lead to additional criminal charges against you if the truth is discovered. You may raise greater suspicion by declining a question, and the officer may arrest you if he or she believes you committed a crime. However, refusing to answer a question is not an admission of guilt.

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