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brandi-ibrao-1140359-unsplash-copy-300x225Chicago marked a memorable day on the calendar this month — January 14, 2019.

That was the first day in 2019 when there were no reports of gun violence in the city. The day before, three people were wounded after being shot, but no one was killed. According to police, most of the violent crime and killing in Chicago is related to gang activity. Members commonly fight over territory they feel is theirs or retaliate against perceived offenses by rival gangs.

The level of crime in the city has remained steady in recent years for the most part. Last year, the number of homicides decreased in many areas of Chicago but increased in other areas of the West and South sides. Neighborhoods such as West Garfield Park and Englewood are still seeing much violence that is gang or gun related.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240A police search without a warrant is illegal without consent. It is unlawful for a police officer to enter a person’s home or vehicle without a warrant, without consent, or without an exigent circumstance, such as seeing through a window or hearing domestic violence within the house. Additionally, it is unlawful for a law enforcement agent to coerce a person into consenting to a search, whether that coercion is expressed or implied. Furthermore, according to the Criminal Law Digest, “A defendant’s initial refusal to consent is an important factor in determining whether later consent is voluntary. The fact that defendant signed a written consent form is not dispositive in deciding whether consent was voluntary where circumstances show the consent was obtained through coercion.” This very scenario happened to a Chicago resident.

Fake Call of a Break-in Leads to Illegal Search and Seizure

Chicago police responded to an anonymous tip about a man growing marijuana in his residence. When the officers arrived at the residence, they found no one at home. They called the man with a fake story of a home break in, at which point the then suspect drove home and was confronted by the police officer. The defendant asked if the officer had a search warrant, which he did not. However the officer said that if the defendant did not sign a consent form right then and there, that he would be taken to jail, which would not have been lawful. And, if the defendant signed the form, he would not be arrested on that day. The defendant signed the consent search form, the officer found contraband, and he was arrested. The court  found that the police officer had tricked, intimidated, and threatened the defendant, and that the voluntary consent form was not actually signed voluntarily. The court remanded for a new trial, reversed the conviction, and threw out all evidence from the illegal search.

joris-v-541657-unsplash-copy-300x200“Drunk driving” does not always mean operating a car on the open road while intoxicated. Under Illinois law, a person may be found guilty of driving under the influence if he or she is in “actual physical control” of a vehicle, even if the car is parked and not moving. To illustrate, an Illinois appeals court recently upheld the conviction and eight-year prison sentence of a man who was found passed out behind the wheel of his parked car.

The Driver was Not Driving

The case arose from an April 2012 arrest in Chicago. A police officer, responding to an unrelated call, came across a parked car with the driver’s-side door open. The officer saw a man passed out behind the wheel. The officer observed the man had bloodshot eyes and his breath smelled of alcohol. The man subsequently failed a field sobriety test and declined a Breathalyzer test. The man had two prior convictions for driving under the influence.

jordan-andrews-401745-copy-300x200The Chicago Tribune recently published a report on the new Illinois laws that went into effect starting January 1, 2019. In all, more than 250 pieces of legislation are now on the books, ranging from gun control to sexual harassment to synthetic marijuana. One particular law will affect anyone with a driver’s license and a smartphone: There are now stricter penalties for anyone caught texting while driving, though many of the same prohibitions remain the same. An Illinois criminal defense attorney can explain how the new sanctions may affect your rights if you are cited for texting while driving, but an overview of the law may help you avoid a ticket.

Illinois Current Prohibition on Cell Phone Use While Driving

Before getting to how the new law changes the penalties for texting while driving, it is important to understand what types of conduct are unlawful. Currently, any driver under the age of 18 years is barred from any cell phone use while behind the wheel. Drivers 19 and older can use a phone while driving, but only via voice-activated and hands-free functions.

3scbuulajgg-matthew-hamilton-300x200Though more than 250 laws went into effect on January 1, 2019, one in particular will affect all Illinois drivers. The Secretary of State’s Office announced in its “Illinois DUI Fact Book 2019” that driving the wrong way on any roadway is now an aggravated factor in sentencing for a DUI conviction.

The new law may have been inspired by multiple wrong way DUI crashes along Chicago area roads in recent years, including on I-57, Lake Shore Drive, I-80, and even in the Loop. One in September 2018 was especially disturbing: A woman was over three times the legal limit of .08% blood alcohol when she caused an accident by driving west in the eastbound lanes of I-90. Three people were killed and three children were critically injured. All were from the same family. The drunk driver also died from her injuries.

If you are charged with DUI while driving the wrong way of traffic, it is essential to retain an experienced Illinois DUI defense lawyer to represent you. An overview of the law and its harsh penalties may also be helpful.

hajran-pambudi-403848-copy-300x199If you have been arrested after being charged with a sex crime, your life may never be the same. In society, the opinion of sex crimes, particularly those committed against children, is very strong and very negative. Law enforcement has a similar attitude when in pursuit of or apprehending someone accused of a sex crime. The majority of sex crime convictions result in the mandatory registration as a sex offender. Needless to say, the impact of that is serious and permanent.

An aggressive defense is needed if you hope to protect any semblance of your freedom, future, or reputation after being charged with a sex crime. A sex crime defense lawyer in Chicago will be able to help you construct a sound defense, which may include:

  • Demonstrating you were wrongfully accused: Is the accused making false allegations? Did they lie to protect their own reputation? Are you and the accused involved in a child custody case or going through a divorce?

get-budding-72791-copy-300x200Though the number of drug arrests in Chicago is down, drug crimes in Chicago are still a serious problem. The fight against drug possession charges is a difficult one if police find enough evidence to support their claim. But an additional charge of intent to distribute is typically attached when the individual charged has a sizable amount of a single drug or multiple drugs. The amount is what warrants the impression that the drugs are meant to be sold.

With the addition of intent to distribute, the initial charge is amplified with more severe penalties that are life changing. With the right legal representation, it is possible to defend yourself against the charges.

If charges of drug possession and intent to distribute are leveled against you, it is essential you hire legal counsel immediately. Whether you are facing drug charges that involve marijuana, prescription drugs or cocaine, a drug crime defense lawyer in Chicago will work with you to achieve the best outcome for your situation by pursuing possible defenses such as:

toa-heftiba-578093-unsplash-copy-200x300A Chicago woman was arrested at a Plainfield massage parlor, where she was an employee, for offering to perform sex acts on undercover police officers for money.

47-year-old Yinyan Gao was employed by Plainfield Massage. The Will County Cooperative Police Assistance Team investigated the business after being informed of several customer complaints stating Gao allegedly propositioned them inappropriately when the customers came in for massages.

Numerous undercover police officers visited the business to receive a massage from Gao. During the sessions, Gao allegedly propositioned the officers and gave them the impression she would perform sex acts for money.

thomas-dils-678849-unsplash-copy-200x300A Chicago resident was charged with killing his mother on Christmas Eve.

A representative from the Chicago Police Department stated 25-year-old Robert Wallace allegedly left the body 67-year-old Betty Wallace in a garbage can a short distance from her home on the far south side of the city.

Employees of Streets and Sanitation found the mother’s body on December 24th when removing trash in Morgan Park at the 108000 block of South Prospect Avenue. According to police, she had sustained blunt trauma injuries to the head and her legs showed signs of stab wounds.

matt-popovich-60437-copy-300x162The 2017 Annual Report released by the Illinois Courts showed 2,790 new domestic related cases in the state. Contrary to popular misconceptions about domestic violence, the laws in Illinois that govern this crime reach much further than abusive spouses.

Illinois statute 750 ILCS 60 addresses domestic violence and defines it as a crime against another member of the same household. It also explicitly defines household members as former spouses, blood relatives, children, parents, and stepchildren, in addition to current spouses.

Domestic violence law in Illinois is differentiated from the same law in other states in that it encompasses harassment, intimidation, and other actions that do not involve physical harm. The determining factor is whether the assailant harasses, threatens, or inhibits the personal liberty of the victim. Regularly, verbal abuse or threats meet this criteria.