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Category Archives: Criminal Law

Wheaton criminal defense lawyerIn our last blog post, we discussed some of the highlights of the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity – Today (SAFE-T) Act, recently passed by the Illinois legislature, as it applies to policing, arrests, and detention. The act also made changes to how the courts should address certain issues in sentencing if a person has been convicted of a crime, as well as changes to incarceration and decarceration programs. The following is a brief overview of these changes.

Changes in Sentencing

One of the criteria that judges look at when determining the sentence a convicted defendant will receive is whether or not they are a “habitual criminal.” This standard can negatively impact those who have criminal convictions during young adulthood, at a time when research shows that the brain is still developing and a person may be prone to poor decision-making and impulse control. Under the newly passed laws in Illinois, any convictions that a person had when they were between the ages of 18 to 21 will no longer be included in defining whether a defendant should be classified as a habitual criminal.

Judges will also now have discretion in issuing mandatory minimum sentences if one of the following applies:

  • The judge deems the defendant does not pose a public safety risk.

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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerEarlier this year, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity – Today, or SAFE-T Act, into law. The SAFE-T act makes extensive changes to the Illinois criminal justice system, many of which went into effect on July 1. The act aims to ensure that every citizen’s constitutional rights are protected in their interactions with law enforcement, the court system, and the corrections system. If you are facing criminal charges, you may find that it affects your case. Here, we look at some of the changes that the SAFE-T Act brings to policing, arrests, and detention in Illinois.

Changes in Policing

One important measure in the SAFE-T Act requires the creation of a statewide use of force standard to be used by all law enforcement agencies. This also includes tightening the legal standards for use of force, including by requiring the officer to consider the “totality of the circumstances” of not only the individual, but the surrounding environment as well.

Officers are no longer allowed to use deadly force with a suspect who is fleeing unless that person is a significant risk to someone else. Non-lethal projectiles, like rubber bullets, can no longer be fired randomly into a crowd or discharged while aiming at an individual’s head, back, or pelvis. Above-the-shoulder restraints, including chokeholds, are also no longer allowed. The law now requires all officers to intervene if they see another law enforcement officer using unauthorized force.

The SAFE-T Act also puts a deadline of 2025 for every law enforcement agency to provide body cameras to all their officers. Body cameras are also now required for all no-knock search warrants, and a department must have plans in place to protect children and any other vulnerable individuals who may be inside the premises during the search.

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wheaton criminal defense lawyerIn order to secure a conviction on charges of drug possession, the State of Illinois generally needs evidence of the drugs in question. In most cases, this evidence is obtained through a search of the offender’s person or property. However, these searches are not permitted under just any circumstances. If you are facing drug possession charges, you should understand when Illinois law enforcement is—or is not—justified in executing a search.

When Can Law Enforcement Get a Search Warrant?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides protection from unreasonable search and seizure. In effect, this means that law enforcement cannot legally search you or your property on a whim. They must have a reason to do so, and in most cases, they must also have a warrant issued by a judge. A judge will only grant a warrant if law enforcement can produce a written statement given under oath that shows probable cause of finding evidence of a crime. In order to obtain a warrant, law enforcement also must be specific as to the person or property to be searched, as well the types of evidence that may be seized.

There are also rules for how Illinois law enforcement must execute a search warrant. For example, the warrant must be executed within 96 hours of its issuance, with the officers making note of the specific time of execution. Usually, officers must make an attempt to announce themselves to any occupants of a property before carrying out the warrant, but the issuing judge may waive this requirement under certain circumstances. In any case, law enforcement is authorized to use force to execute a warrant if necessary.

Searches Without a Warrant

There are certain situations in which an officer can execute a search and seizure of property without a warrant, including:

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wheaton criminal defense lawyerAllegations of domestic violence can have serious consequences for the accused, especially if they result in a conviction for a criminal offense like assault or battery. However, in some cases the consequences can start to take effect much sooner. If you are accused of domestic violence, you could be immediately arrested and detained, and it is important that you understand your rights.

Are Domestic Violence Arrests Mandatory in Illinois? 

Many states have mandatory arrest laws for cases involving allegations of domestic violence, requiring a responding law enforcement officer to take the accused into custody if there is probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred. Illinois law is not as strict in this regard, but officers still have the discretion to make an arrest, with or without a warrant, if there is cause to believe that a person has committed an act of domestic violence.

Law enforcement officers are also required to take all reasonable actions to protect an apparent victim from further abuse. Depending on the circumstances, this could include the arrest of the alleged aggressor, as well as the seizure of any weapons that were likely used. Even if an officer does not make an arrest, they are required to file a police report of the allegation and advise the apparent victim of their right to press charges.

If you have no prior history of domestic violence and the incident that the officer is responding to appears to be relatively minor, you may be able to avoid arrest. However, if the incident occurs while you are subject to an order of protection, you will almost certainly be arrested for violating the order, and you could face additional misdemeanor or felony charges.

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DuPage County criminal defense attorney juvenile offense

If you are a minor who has been arrested and charged with a crime or you are the parent of a juvenile offender, you may be unsure of what to expect. You may have heard that children can sometimes be treated the same as adults in an Illinois criminal case but do not know the circumstances under which this can occur. Anyone under the age of 18 is a minor in Illinois; however, there are situations in which a minor may be tried and sentenced as if he or she was an adult. The alleged offense, the offender’s age and background, and other factors can influence where a juvenile case is heard.

Factors Considered by Illinois Judges in Juvenile Criminal Cases

Illinois judges have discretion when it comes to juvenile criminal cases. When determining whether to send a minor to juvenile court or adult court, the judge will consider:

  • The alleged offender’s age – The older the juvenile offender is, the more likely he or she is to be tried as an adult.

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