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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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