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IL defense lawyerIf you have been arrested and charged with a crime, your highest priority is likely to avoid conviction altogether. However, if you are ultimately convicted, you still may have hopes of avoiding a prison sentence. Fortunately, it is sometimes possible for criminal defendants in Cook County to avoid prison time through an alternative sentencing program. An attorney can help you determine whether you may be eligible for alternative sentencing and negotiate on your behalf with the goal of achieving this outcome.

Cook County Alternative Sentencing Options

The availability of alternative sentencing largely depends on the county in which you are facing charges. Cook County offers several different programs that may be available to you, including:

  • Deferred prosecution - Certain non-violent misdemeanor and felony offenders may be eligible for a deferred prosecution program if they have no prior convictions and have not participated in the program before. The program typically requires the offender to complete requirements including education and community service within a specified time frame, after which their charges can be dismissed.
  • Drug or mental health treatment - High-risk non-violent offenders who have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder or psychiatric condition may be eligible for a probationary program that includes participation in a treatment program.
  • Veterans treatment - Similar to drug or mental health treatment, this option is available to non-violent offenders who have a record of military service without dishonorable discharge.
  • Second Chance Probation - This option is available statewide to offenders charged with low-level, non-violent felony crimes such as drug possession, theft, burglary, and criminal trespassing. Eligible participants must not have a prior felony conviction. In order to successfully complete probation, participants must meet several requirements, including refraining from committing further crimes or possessing firearms, submitting to drug tests, seeking education and employment, performing community service, and making restitution to victims of the crime.
  • Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program - The SWAP program allows non-violent misdemeanor, felony, and traffic offenders to perform supervised community service for public works projects instead of serving time in jail or prison.
  • Restorative Justice Community Court - The North Lawndale community of Chicago offers a unique option for non-violent offenders between the ages of 18 and 26, in which they agree to complete a course of action to repair the harm caused by their crime.

Contact a Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney

At Hartsfield Law, we are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients who are facing criminal charges. If you are concerned about a possible conviction and prison sentence, we will review your case and help you pursue any available alternative sentencing options. Contact us at 312-345-1700 for a free consultation with our Chicago criminal defense lawyer.

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chicago criminal defense lawyerIn Illinois, a conviction for a criminal offense can result in serious consequences including fines and imprisonment. However, many criminal defendants face hardship even before their trial due to policies like cash bail requirements for pretrial release. Cash bail policies are especially difficult for low-income defendants who may not have the resources to post bail, and who therefore must remain in custody while waiting for trial. Fortunately, Illinois has recently passed a bill that will end the use of cash bail in the coming years.

The Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act

In February 2021, the Illinois legislature passed House Bill 3653, ushering in large-scale changes to the state’s criminal justice system. Some components of the bill have already taken effect, while others will continue to be phased in over time. One major component of the bill is the Illinois Pretrial Fairness Act, which will eliminate cash bail statewide by January 1, 2023. Notably, Illinois is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation to end cash bail.

Once the law fully goes into effect, Illinois courts will no longer be able to set bail payments of any amount as a condition for a defendant’s release in advance of their trial. Rather, the courts will be required to implement new systems to determine when a defendant may safely be released. Under these new systems, most defendants will be released from custody under their own recognizance, with the expectation that they will return for their court dates. Pretrial detention will be reserved only for defendants who have been charged with certain serious offenses, or who are found to pose a significant threat to another person or to be likely to fail to appear in court.

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Rolling Meadows IL criminal defense attorneyIf you have picked up any newspaper or turned on cable news in the past few days, you have likely heard that actor/comedian Bill Cosby was released from prison this week after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 sexual assault conviction. In its decision, the court wrote that Cosby’s due process rights were violated. While many legal scholars have agreed that the court made the right decision, many people across the country, including Cosby’s accusers, are outraged by the decision and Cosby’s freedom.

The Case

In 2018, a Pennsylvania jury found Cosby guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting a victim in his home in 2004. In 2005, the victim went to the police about the assault, but no criminal charges were pressed. The following year, the victim and Cosby reached a $3.4 million settlement in a civil lawsuit.

Several years after the settlement agreement, the Associated Press (AP) sued and won to have Cosby's depositions in the civil case unsealed. There were also dozens of women who came forward, alleging that Cosby drugged and raped them, too. New prosecutors were interested in bringing criminal charges against the actor; however, the only case that fell within the statute of limitations was the victim from the 2004 incident.

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Chicago, IL criminal defense attorneyOver the last year, the use of no-knock search warrants in criminal cases has come under increased scrutiny due to the risk of harm to innocent and vulnerable people who may be on the property. In fact, many cities and police departments have started to ban the practice outright. However, the State of Illinois still allows no-knock warrants under some circumstances, and if your property is subject to a warrant, it is crucial that you understand your rights.

When Can a Search Warrant Be Issued in Illinois?

The Fourth Amendment in the U.S. Bill of Rights provides protection from unreasonable search and seizure, meaning that law enforcement cannot simply search a person’s property on a whim. In most cases, officers will first need to obtain a search warrant, and in order to do so, they must demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found on the property. Warrants are often used in cases involving drug possession and distribution, illegal weapons possession, stolen property, and kidnapping, among others.

Usually, before executing a warrant, police are required to attempt to make their presence known to occupants of the property by knocking and announcing themselves. However, a no-knock warrant is an exception to this rule. In order to obtain a no-knock search warrant in Illinois, officers must demonstrate that giving notice would make it likely that an occupant would either destroy evidence or use a weapon against an officer or someone else on the property.

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Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney marijuana DUI

Few substances have been the subject of as much confusion and controversy as cannabis. Some tout the drug as a useful medication while others see cannabis as a dangerous “gateway drug.” Adding to the general confusion about marijuana is the fact that, despite being fully legalized in 15 U.S. states, the drug is still classified as an illicit controlled substance under federal law. The recreational use of marijuana in Illinois became legal on January 1, 2020. However, the possession, sale, cultivation, and consumption of cannabis are still regulated by Illinois law. It is therefore possible to face serious criminal charges related to marijuana in Illinois.

Important Restrictions on Cannabis Use in Illinois

For a little over a year now, the recreational use of marijuana has been legal in Illinois. Individuals 21 years or older may purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis flower or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. However, it is unlawful to consume cannabis on school property or in government buildings, parks, public transportation, and where smoking is already banned under the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

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