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Rolling Meadows assault defense attorney

The words “assault” and “battery” are often used together when discussing criminal charges – so much so that it is understandable if you do not know the difference between the two. You may think that both of them involve causing physical harm to another person, but you can assault a person without ever touching them. There can also be a difference between assault and battery when it comes to the level of charge. A battery charge is potentially more serious than if you are charged with assault.

Understanding Assault

Illinois defines assault as causing someone to reasonably believe that you may physically harm them. A conviction is a Class C misdemeanor, which can result in a fine of as much as $1,500 and either as long as 30 days in jail or 30 to 120 hours of community service. You can be charged with aggravated assault if you:

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What Does Unlawful Use of Weapons Mean in Illinois?The term “unlawful use of weapons” is somewhat misleading. In Illinois, you do not have to be actively using the weapon in order to be charged with unlawful use. More often, people are arrested for possessing the weapon after a police officer has stopped them due to allegedly criminal or suspicious behavior. Actively using a weapon is a different criminal charge in Illinois, such as aggravated discharge of a firearm or armed violence. A charge of unlawful use of weapons can be a felony depending on the type of weapon you have, where you were found with it, and whether you have previous weapons charges.

Unlawful Use and Aggravated Unlawful Use

Illinois residents are allowed to carry certain weapons, such as a handgun, as long as they have a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) card and a Concealed Carry License (CCL). However, there are some weapons that are illegal to possess, such as switchblades, machine guns, and explosives. It is also illegal to bring a weapon into many public places, including schools, government buildings, and places of worship. These violations are classified as unlawful use of weapons because there is often an assumption that the suspect intended to use the weapon.

A charge of aggravated unlawful use of weapons occurs when there are other elements to the offense, such as:

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What Are DUI Checkpoints and How Does Illinois Use Them?Like most other states in the U.S., Illinois allows law enforcement agencies to set up DUI checkpoints, where officers can stop passing vehicles to look for signs that the driver may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Twelve states prohibit checkpoints, saying that they violate the drivers’ constitutional rights by stopping them without having to establish reasonable suspicion. Absent a change in Illinois’ law, you need to understand what a DUI checkpoint is and what your rights are when approaching one.

How Do DUI Checkpoints Work?

Normally, a police officer can stop a vehicle only if they have reasonable suspicion that the driver is violating the law or the driver shows signs of being a danger to him or herself or others. If an officer stopped a vehicle without a valid reason, any criminal evidence that they found would be inadmissible in the case. With a DUI checkpoint – sometimes called a sobriety checkpoint – officers set up a roadblock at a predetermined location and are allowed to stop any driver who passes through. DUI checkpoints are most common during times of the year such as holiday weekends when people are more likely to be drinking and traveling. Law enforcement departments will often publicize when they will have DUI checkpoints in order to discourage people from drunk driving.

What Are Your Rights?

If you are approaching a DUI checkpoint, it is important to remain calm. You have several rights you can exercise before you reach the point when police may arrest you for driving under the influence:

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Potential Defenses When Accused of Retail TheftDecember is the busiest time of the year for retail stores when many holiday shoppers are purchasing gifts. Store owners know that there is also an increase in retail theft during the holiday season. Stores will be on high alert for potential shoplifters, who may be enticed by the volume of merchandise on display. In their attempts to prevent shoplifting, store employees will sometimes falsely accuse a customer of retail theft. Depending on the seriousness of the alleged theft, the store may contact the police, who will decide whether to arrest you and charge you with retail theft. There are several ways to refute a retail theft charge, one of which may apply to your case:

  1. You Did Not Intend to Steal the Item: Shoppers will sometimes have mental lapses and walk out of a store carrying an item before they pay for it. This explanation is particularly believable during the holidays, when you may be in a rush and preoccupied with thinking about other errands. To be guilty of retail theft, you must have intended to steal the item from the store. The court will consider details of your case, such as whether you were attempting to conceal the item and your immediate reaction to being stopped.
  2. The Cashier Made a Mistake: Cashiers will sometimes overlook items at check out, putting the item in your bag but forgetting to ring it up. If you are caught leaving the store with the unpaid item, you need to explain that you did not know that the item was unpaid for. It may end up being your word against the cashier’s word. If store security determines that the cashier was at fault, they will still want to confirm that the cashier was not working with you to commit retail theft.
  3. The Store Mislabeled the Item: Retail theft in Illinois includes when a customer changes the price tag on an item in an attempt to lower the price. However, the prosecution must prove that you altered the price tag. It is possible that the store put the wrong tag on the item or forgot to remove an old tag.

Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

Retail stores will rush to judgment when they believe they have caught someone trying to steal from them. Fortunately, it is the justice system, and not store owners, that will decide whether the incident is worthy of a criminal charge. If you are charged, an Oakbrook Terrance, Illinois, criminal defense lawyer at Hartsfield Law can contest the allegations brought against you. Schedule a free consultation by calling 312-345-1700.

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How Illinois’ Points System Factors into Driver’s License SuspensionsYou may have heard about the points system that Illinois uses for people who commit moving traffic violations. Each violation counts for a certain number of points that will go on your driving record. You could receive as few as five points for traveling 10 miles per hour or less over the speed limit. You could also receive as many as 55 points for a reckless driving conviction. There is a common misconception that Illinois will suspend your driver’s license once your points surpass a limit. The number of traffic tickets you receive in a 12-month period triggers a driver’s license suspension. The points system, along with your previous record of suspensions, is used to determine how long your suspension will last.

How It Works

Illinois will suspend the driver’s license of any driver 21 or older who committed three moving traffic violations in the past 12 months. For drivers younger than 21, the suspension triggers after two moving violations within 24 months. When your license is suspended, the state will add up the points from your previous traffic violations to determine the length of the suspension. For drivers 21 and older:

  • 15 to 44 points is a two-month suspension.
  • 45 to 89 points is a six-month suspension.
  • 90 to 99 points is a nine-month suspension.
  • 100 to 109 points is a 12-month suspension.
  • 110 points or more is a revocation.

Drivers younger than 21 will see their license revoked for having 80 or more points but are adding up points from only two violations. Some traffic violations result in an automatic suspension after the first offense, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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What You Need to Know About Recreational Marijuana in IllinoisOn the first day of 2020, recreational marijuana will officially become legal in Illinois. While this is exciting news for some residents, it is important to know that the possession and use of marijuana will be heavily regulated. You cannot simply possess as much cannabis as you want or smoke it anywhere, though some of these violations will result in merely a fine. As with alcohol, it will still be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or to provide marijuana to someone under the age of 21. Here are the important facts you need to know before recreational marijuana becomes legal.

Possession

The amount of marijuana that you can possess will depend on its form, including:

  • No more than 30 grams in flower form
  • No more than 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • No more than 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products

The possession limit for nonresidents of Illinois is half of these amounts. It is illegal for you to grow your own marijuana unless you are a medical marijuana user or a licensed grower. It will be illegal to possess marijuana in a school or any facility meant for childcare. Possessing marijuana in a vehicle, whether you are the driver or a passenger, will be a Class A misdemeanor unless it is sealed in a container. Finally, marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law, meaning you could be charged for possession if you are caught transporting marijuana across state lines or onto federal property.

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The Differences Between Burglary, Residential Burglary, and Home InvasionBurglary is a criminal charge that involves unauthorized access to a private property with the intent to commit a crime. People often associate burglary with theft, but the offender could also attempt to commit an assault or destroy property. Unauthorized access without criminal intent could be a lesser charge of criminal trespassing. It is also illegal to possess or sell burglary tools, even if you are not caught using them. There are three types of burglary charges in Illinois, all of which are felonies.

Burglary

The standard burglary charge is when someone knowingly enters private property without authority and with the intention of committing theft or a felony. The suspect may have broken into the property or remained inside without the owner’s permission. The criminal code states that properties may include:

  • Buildings;
  • Trailers;
  • Motor vehicles;
  • Railroad cars;
  • Watercraft; and
  • Aircraft.

A burglary conviction is a Class 3 felony if the offender did not damage the property in the entry process. Burglary with property damage is a Class 2 felony. Burglary committed at a school, daycare center, or place of worship is a Class 1 felony.

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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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