Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224Chicago domestic violence cases are some of the most stressful and frightening for everyone involved. Not only is the defendant facing years in prison for the alleged crime, but the victim has to face his or her attacker once again. What many people do not realize is that when someone calls 911 to report domestic violence the police, have to arrest the accused even if the caller does not want to press charges. The state is the entity that winds up pressing charges against someone accused of domestic violence. Let us take a look at what to expect in a domestic violence case in Illinois.

First Court Appearance

If you have been charged with domestic violence in Chicago you will notice that the first court appearance will be a bond hearing in front of a judge. Many charged with domestic violence for the first time will be surprised that they can not post bond at the police station, which is how it is done for almost all other types of misdemeanor crimes. Instead, the defendant will need to wait until a bond hearing can be scheduled with a judge.

ben-white-194220-copy-300x200Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects thousands of people each year in the Chicago area. It is a crime that comes with hefty fines and lengthy probation or jail time. When you are involved in a relationship that could wind up ending in a domestic violence incident and charges, you need to know what the common causes might be. The following will outline the causes of domestic violence so you are aware of your actions and prepared for what is to come if ever charged with this crime.

Control

One of the most common causes of domestic violence is that of control. When one person in a relationship needs to have control of the other, it can wind up leading to domestic violence. Control can include needing to know the whereabouts of the other person, whom they talk to, whom they are allowed to hang out with, where they can go after work, and so much more. Abusers often feel a need to control the other person due to low self-esteem, issues with jealousy, feelings of inferiority, problems with anger, and many other emotional issues.

ben-white-194220-copy-300x200The state will always interfere in domestic relationships if there is a threat of harm or actual harm to one of the parties. The most common trigger for a prosecution is physical violence. However, lately there has been some consideration of what other forms of abuse might mean for legislation in Chicago. Currently there are some civic domestic violence laws that are focused on both physical and non-physical forms of abuse. Sexual abuse between domestic partners is normally handled under the legislation covering sexual assault and rape.

Most members of the public will first hear about a domestic violence case by way of an order of protection, which is sometimes accompanied by relevant restraining orders. It is important to note that these orders can be issued by the criminal courts as well as the civil courts. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act is the leading piece of legislation covering this area. The act is known for covering many relationship types beyond marriage including but not restricted to:

  • Former spouses

ran-berkovich-59513-copy-300x200Stalking is a complex crime that can take many guises. The summary of relevant laws shows that no single law has been comprehensive enough to capture all criminality. That is why the law relating to it is constantly changing in Chicago. Efforts have focused on public protection and privacy laws. However, the stalkers are so complex in their behavior that it remains virtually impossible to come up with a catch-all set of laws that are applicable in each case. Recently the state introduced bills that made it much easier to charge suspects. This was in the wake of complex prosecutions during which it seemed as if the victim was on trial. The downside to the new legislative arrangements is that they sometimes infringe on the rights of the defendants. That is where the defending attorney must be particularly vigilant.

Typically, stalking is a crime that is tied up with domestic violence or even spousal abuse according to the provisions of 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3. In the past the social service agencies were unable to pinpoint the culprits because they were essentially protected by privacy laws as well as a routine dismissal of minor domestic disputes. Eventually the victim would learn that the law enforcement agencies were powerless to capture the suspect unless there was clear evidence of violence or threats of violence. The stalkers themselves exploited this loophole in order to stay ahead of the law enforcement agencies at all times. Meanwhile the victim was left to his or her own devices, essentially existing in a surveillance state until the stalker either gave up or was apprehended on another charge.

The New Legislative Regime and Practice Notes

The laws and rules relating to orders of protection in Chicago normally stem from domestic disputes. Typically, spouses seeking orders of protection are estranged or facing domestic violence. However, that does not mean that the law does not touch on other domesticated arrangements including the relationships between roommates and family members. This is a serious legal process that has significant financial implications for the party that is found to be at fault. It can even lead to a criminal record which filters down to job security, visitation rights, and custody disputes. That is why defendants in such cases will fight tooth and nail to ensure that an order of protection is not listed against them. Needless to say that the faults in writing the legislation, the police procedures as well as its wide implications has meant that it is open for abuse. This abuse is primarily associated with the application for protective orders based on false or incomplete information.

The Role of the Attorney in Getting Justice

Fact finding is an essential aspect of the protective order and will ultimately determine whether it is allowed or not. Therefore it is the responsibility of the defendant’s attorney to ensure that all relevant facts are considered. Some might be aggravating whilst others might be mitigating. The classic defense position is to maximize the mitigating issues whilst simultaneously minimizing the aggravating aspects. So far the courts have not been too vigilant in punishing those who cause them to issue unwarranted orders of protection. For example, there is sparse use of the perjury provisions of the law in these cases; partly due to the inherent belief within the criminal justice system that orders of protection lie more within the ambit of family law than criminal law.

Bride_and_groomAlthough domestic violence remains one of the more grisly aspects of criminal law, it is busy enough to keep the average attorney in work for a long time. Sadly, there are far too many people in Illinois who feel that it is acceptable for them to continue battering their intimate partners despite the fact that the law is clearly against them. However, in the quest to legislate and litigate issues of domestic violence; there is a danger of failing to account for the modern complexities surrounding the issue. For example, the notion that men are perpetrators while women are victims is beginning to fail the empirical test. All that happens is that many men who are victims feel that they will be stigmatized if they admit in open court that they have effectively been battered by their partners. The law is also not yet up to date when it comes to managing the incidents that occur amongst unconventional family structures including blended families and same sex couples.

A New Reading of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act

To its credit, Illinois has been one of the states to significantly legislate in this area and there are plenty of test cases to show that the courts are treating prosecutions with the seriousness they deserve. Nevertheless there are still victims of domestic violence, many of them who are too afraid to file a complaint. Currently the law states that it is a criminal act to choke, hit, kick, harass, threaten or hold against their will; any member of a household or family. The definition of household members is specific and includes blood relatives, married/divorced couples, those who share dwellings; people linked by a child or other blood bond, those who are dating/engaged, people with disabilities, and personal assistants. Some would argue that the law is too prescriptive and limits the applicability of prosecution depending on the relationship that exists between the two people. For example it is not clear that the law would capture “friends with benefits” or “one night stands” even though those might be prosecuted under common assault laws.

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Did you know that drug dealers can be held criminally responsible if their clients die from an overdose after purchasing their drugs? In Illinois, a drug dealer in this situation can be charged with reckless homicide. This is exactly what recently happened to an alleged drug dealer in Chicago known as “Big D.”

The Journal Times reports that the Burlington police discovered an unresponsive 28-year-old man passed out in his car at a gas station back in May. Officers tried to revive the man but unfortunately he passed away and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner indicated that the man’s cause of death was a fentanyl overdose, according to the Times. Fentanyl is an opioid-based painkiller that can be legally prescribed by a physician, but which is also sold illegally on the street.

As part of the investigation, police officers interviewed a witness who told the police that a person known as “Big D” had supplied heroin and other illegal drugs to the deceased victim shortly before his death. The dealer was identified and law enforcement officials arranged a sting operation under which the cooperating witness arranged to purchase drugs from Big D. Afterwards the dealer was arrested, charged with first-degree reckless homicide, delivery of narcotics, and conspiracy to manufacture or deliver heroin, and is being held on $100,000 bail.

27554520141_9b38f83133According to the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, approximately 77% of women who are currently incarcerated are victims of abuse. This figure is staggering and is part of the reason why this nonprofit helped to pass Illinois’ new domestic violence law, SB0209. SB0209 is important because it allows being a victim of domestic violence to be a mitigating factor at sentencing. A mitigating factor is any information presented to the court, generally about the defendant or the circumstances surrounding the crime, that has the potential to reduce the defendant’s sentence or the crime charged. Therefore, SB0209 was passed in order to enable courts in our state to reduce a defendant’s sentence if he or she was a victim of domestic violence.

Bill SB0209: History of Domestic Violence as a Mitigating Factor

According to  SB0209, if a defendant is or was a victim of domestic violence, and the domestic violence tended to excuse or justify his or her criminal conduct, then evidence of the abuse can be a mitigating factor at sentencing. In order to claim being a victim of domestic violence as a mitigating factor, the defendant must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

Illinois has some of the strictest domestic violence laws in the country – enacted to recognize the serious negative impact of domestic violence on thousands of Illinois families and children. Unfortunately, with increased awareness and enforcement surrounding  these important domestic violence issues comes a greater chance of wrongful convictions.27554520141_9b38f83133

Our firm takes domestic violence allegations very seriously, while at the same time understanding that false accusations do occur, especially in emotionally charged situations like child custody disputes. If you find yourself facing domestic violence charges in Chicago, our criminal defense attorneys with experience fighting false claims of family abuse can help you seek to clear your name.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Illinois?

file0001612641889Harassment and stalking allegations are emotionally laden, complex charges to be facing at what is probably already an extremely difficult time in your life. In addition to whatever stressful situation led to the alleged criminal behavior in the first instance, you are now facing serious criminal charges. The Illinois legislature has passed extremely broad laws to curb harassment and stalking – sometimes overbroad. If you find yourself tangled up in this confusing and intricate web of laws, you need to talk to an experienced Chicago stalking defense attorney about how to defend against these charges.

Harassment in Illinois

Harassment in Illinois is defined as making an obscene or indecent comment or request to another with the intention to offend, threaten, or annoy them. It need not be face to face. You can be charged with harassment for telephone, email, text, and other communications. You can even be charged with harassment without speaking to the other person. For example, if someone repeatedly calls and hangs up on another without ever saying a word, that could rise to the level of harassment.