ASSAULTING A POLICE OFFICER WHILE INTOXICATED IN ILLINOIS

The officer stopped you for DUI near your home.  You tried to reason with him to let you go.  When he didn’t, you drunkenly tried to hit him.  You missed. But now you are charged with aggravated assault on top of your DUI.

Can they do that?  What can you do?

In Illinois, you commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Normally, this is a relatively minor offense—a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1. However, when you swiped at that officer, your offense became a Class 4 felony based on assaulting a peace officer or  emergency personnel, either while performing their official duties or because you wanted to stop them or retaliate against them for performing those duties.  See 720 ILCS 5/12-2. 

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did you act knowingly?  Note that drunkenness is not a defense here.  But what if you swung your arms without realizing the officer was behind you?  Was the officer’s fear of battery reasonable?  Was the officer performing official duties?  What if the officer was not on duty and just came over to watch your arrest?  An experienced attorney can raise doubts about the state’s case.  If, however, the evidence is overwhelming against you, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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ACTING QUICKLY IS IMPORTANT IN OVERTURNING THE DUI SUMMARY SUSPENSION OF YOUR ILLINOIS DRIVER’S LICENSE

In Illinois, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license on the 46th day after your arrest for DUI.  To have any chance of beating that suspension, you must act quickly, because there are certain deadlines.

Illinois law allows you to petition the court to overturn or rescind that suspension within 90 days of receiving notice. (See 625 ILCS 5/2-118.1(b))    But don’t wait until day 89 or even day 29. You have a much greater chance of winning your petition if you file as early as possible.  This is because state law requires a hearing on your petition within 30 days of its filing.  The earlier your attorney files your petition, the less likely the state will be ready to proceed at hearing.  In that case, your petition will likely be granted.

Ideally, your attorney should file your petition so that you are ready to proceed on the first court date. Note that any delay attributable to you extends the time in which the hearing may be held.

If you have been charged with a DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can take the steps necessary to file the petition on your behalf as well as reviewing your case for your best possible defense.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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HOW YOUR BAR FIGHT CAN BECOME A FELONY IN ILLINOIS

You were out with friends at a bar.  Some guy overheard something you said that he didn’t like. He came over and insulted you. You were not about to let that stand, so you punched him.  You knew you lost control, but you were not expecting to be charged with a felony on a first offense.

Why is it a felony?  What can you do?

Under Illinois law, you commit battery, if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.  While battery is a misdemeanor, it can be upgraded to aggravated battery, a felony, for a variety of reasons including the location of your fight.

Under Illinois law, such locations include “a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, a sports venue, or a domestic violence shelter, or in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place used for religious worship.”  A court looks at whether the offense occurred in an area that was accessible to the public.  If so, your offense becomes a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison.   Some bars, however, are exclusive and private.  If the bar was exclusive and private, your charges would not be upgraded on that basis.

If you have been charged with a battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the states’ evidence. As with most crimes, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the bar public or private?  Did you have legal justification such as by acting in self defense?  Was the physical contact really insulting or provoking?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea bargain than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See Illinois Battery Law and Illinois Aggravated Battery Law.  See also People v. Crawford.

 

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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HOW TO CLEAR UP YOUR OLD ILLINOIS ARREST WARRANT WHEN YOU LIVE OUT OF STATE

Years ago, you were arrested in Illinois.  You ignored your court date, although you believe there is an outstanding warrant against you.  This did not trouble you for some years, because you live out of state and did not intend to return.  But now you are taking charge of your life, and you want to clear up the past.  You also worry that a routine traffic stop in your state could end up with you in jail.

Can your Illinois arrest cause problems in your new state? Or will the warrant expire automatically?  If not, what can you do?

First, be aware that arrest warrants generally do not expire. Therefore, if the new state finds the old warrant, you risk spending up to 30 days in jail before you are turned over to Illinois.

But there are steps you can take to clear up your problem.  First, you should hire an Illinois attorney who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors in your former case’s jurisdiction. The attorney can then petition the court to vacate the old warrant and explain the circumstances surrounding your failure to appear in the original case.  Knowing the players will help the attorney assess the best time to file the motion and best arguments to use on your behalf. You will likely need to appear in person for this hearing and will probably not be allowed to appear on zoom.

Often, a judge will vacate your old warrant and allow the case to proceed.  You will then need the attorney to defend you at trial or work out a plea agreement.  At times, the underlying charges may even be dismissed, although this result varies tremendously from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and depends on the severity of your original charges.   With an ordinary DUI, clearing the old case may help undo any driver’s license suspension.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN I BE ARRESTED IF DRUGS ARE FOUND IN A CAR AND I AM A PASSENGER?

You were riding around late one night with a friend who was driving.  An officer pulled you the car over.  Smelling alcohol on your friend, the officer had you both leave the car before spotting narcotics under the driver seat.

Can you be arrested for the drugs? The answer is generally no as long as you did not know about or possess the drugs and you did not exercise exclusive control over the place where the drugs were found. Your mere presence in the car may not be enough. The same is true for other types of contraband such as guns.

To convict you, the state must show you had knowledge and either actual or constructive possession of the drugs or weapons, by yourself or jointly with another. Actual possession exists when you exercise immediate and exclusive control over the contraband. Constructive possession exists when you have the intent and capacity to maintain control over the contraband. Your control over the area where it is found gives rise to an inference that you knew about and possessed the contraband.

The judge or jury may infer knowledge from several factors, including whether you could see the contraband and how you long you had to observe it from where you were sitting in the car, any gestures or movements you made suggesting you were trying to retrieve or conceal it, and the size of the contraband. Your regular, ongoing control of a car or your connection to its contents also indicate your knowledge of other items present.

For example, in People v. Horn, the defendant was riding as a passenger on the highway with his cousin. The officer stopped the car for a minor traffic offense.  A K-9 dog found drugs in the trunk in an urn containing a bag of ashes and a bag of cocaine. Defendant was then charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to deliver.

The appellate court held there was no evidence that defendant could see the contents of the trunk which was not visible from the passenger compartment. Defendant was calm during the stop and made no gestures indicating he knew about the contraband.  Defendant had no property in the car, the car was not registered to him, and he was not driving when the car was stopped. Therefore, the court reversed his conviction.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause to arrest you?  If not, an attorney can try to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from an illegal stop or search.

 

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email <a href=”mailto:matt@mattkeenanlaw.com”> matt@mattkeenanlaw.com</a>.

<p><i>(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)</i>

 

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CAN I BE CONVICTED FOR DUI BASED ON MY FLASK?

You were stopped for failing to signal a turn.  When you opened the window, the officer spotted a flask on your passenger seat, smelled alcohol and asked you to take field sobriety tests, which you refused.  Can you be convicted because of the flask?

The answer depends on many factors.  If the flask was empty, you may have a defendable case as long as there is little other evidence of DUI.  But how empty is empty enough?  If the flask is completely dry, you may not have a problem provided your driving and demeanor were steady.  But what if the flask had a little alcohol at the bottom?  A not guilty verdict may depend on how your particular judge sees the whole picture.

If you have been charged with DUI or related offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your situation for your best possible defense.  How strong is the evidence against you?  Does the entire case depend on the flask?  If there is some alcohol remaining, can the state prove your driving was impaired?  Did you pass any field sobriety tests? Did the police have probable cause to stop you in the first place? If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence from the stop.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN I GET A PERMIT TO DRIVE IF I HAVE A DUI IN ILLINOIS?

The answer is generally yes, if it is your first DUI or a second DUI that occurs more than five years after the first.

In the past, a driver could petition the court for a special driving permit that allowed you to drive to particular locations at particular times.  Today, drivers can ask for a Breath Activated Interlock Ignition Device (BAIID).  This operates like a breathalyzer which enables you to start your car.  A BAIID enables you to drive anywhere at any time provided you are sober.  However, only the Secretary of State can issue these devices and they do entail monthly fees and considerable discipline.  For example, the device reports any failures to the Secretary of State and even use facial recognition technology to prevent others from blowing into the BAIID for you.

While most drivers do not enjoy the device, they are so glad to have the freedom to drive that they quickly become used to having one.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced DUI attorney immediately. An attorney may be able to petition the court to overturn the suspension of your driver’s license in which case a BAIID might not be necessary.  If you do not qualify for a BAIID, an attorney can help you petition for a hardship permit, although these are extremely hard to obtain.  An attorney may also review your case for its best possible defense.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN POLICE ARREST ME WITHOUT A WARRANT FOR EVIDENCE FOUND IN MY CAR?

On your way home from a friend’s, an officer stopped you for speeding.  While issuing your ticket, the officer noticed a baggie of pills on the passenger side floor.  Because of the pills, you were ordered out of the car and eventually arrested for possession of narcotics.

Can they do that? Depending on the circumstances, the answer is yes.

An officer may seize property in plain view if: (1) the officer is lawfully located in the place where he or she observed the object; (2) the object is in plain view; and (3) the object’s incriminating nature is immediately apparent. “Immediately apparent” means there is sufficient evidence to justify the reasonable belief that the defendant has committed or is committing a crime.  While a mere hunch is insufficient, an officer may draw inferences based on his or her own experience in deciding whether probable cause exists. The officer need not know for certain that the item is contraband or evidence of a crime.

If instead your pills had been in a labelled prescription bottle, the bottle’s incriminating nature would likely not be immediately apparent.  In People v. Molnar, the court found that an unlabelled bottle containing Xanax along with a baggie was sufficiently incriminating as the Xanax was not in its original container.

If you have been charged with a DUI, traffic or criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. The legality of a police search can be a highly fact-specific question.  An attorney who is familiar with your judge can best try to argue your situation in its most favorable light.  You may even be able to suppress the evidence from your stop.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHY YOU SHOULDN’T “JUST GET IT OVER WITH” WHEN YOU ARE CHARGED WITH AN ILLINOIS DUI

Being charged with DUI is nobody’s idea of a good time.  It can be scary, stressful, expensive and a full of hassle.  The temptation to enter a guilty plea and “just get it over with” is overwhelming.  But it’s a temptation you are wise to resist for a number of reasons.

For one, you may have a fightable case.  An experienced attorney should review your case for all of your options. By experienced attorney, we mean one who has taken cases to trial rather than entering a “one size fits all” guilty plea. Avoid attorneys who also “just want to get it over with.”

An attorney should review all the evidence in your case before deciding whether a guilty plea is in your best interests.  Did the police have probable cause to stop you?  Did they follow correct procedures in administering any field sobriety tests or breathalyzer?  Did you perform well on those tests?  Do you seem cool and collected on the squad car video?  Did your driving show any signs of impairment?

“Well,” you say, “I just want to keep driving and go on with my life.”  Understandable. But recognize that the hassle factor does not end with a guilty plea.  You will have to take and pay for alcohol counseling classes and a victim impact panel.  You may also be fined up to $2,500.  In addition, you will pay monthly reporting fees for the term of your sentence.  And a DUI is not eligible for expungement or sealing, so it will stay on your police record.

Furthermore, although you swear you will never again get in a car after drinking, that is exactly what many of my clients do.  The penalties for a second DUI are stiffer than a first.  For one thing, you may lose your license for a longer time.  And while a first time DUI is eligible for supervision—which is technically not a conviction–supervision is not an option for any future DUI.

In some cases, an attorney may advise that your best option is a guilty plea.    Perhaps you were weaving all over the road, falling down on the walk-and-turn test or talking as though you just woke up from a coma.  If so, your attorney may help convince the state why you deserve a more favorable plea agreement than you would get otherwise.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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DO I NEED TO COME TO COURT FOR AN ILLINOIS TRAFFIC TICKET?

 

Zoom has made court appearances for your traffic ticket easier than ever. Even if you are out of state, you can join court on your phone or laptop, although it remains to be seen if zoom court will continue after the state has fully reopened.

But what if you still can’t make it to court, even via Zoom?  For most traffic tickets depending on the type of offense, an attorney can appear on your behalf.   An attorney may be able to get the ticket dismissed, or at least, enter a plea agreement on your behalf.   You will need to give the attorney written authorization to proceed in your absence.  (Note that these procedures apply to Cook County and may differ in your particular jurisdiction.)

If one of your tickets is for not having proof of insurance, and you had insurance or got late compliance insurance, you can provide the proof to your attorney along with the authorization.

If you have a DUI or particularly high speeding ticket, you will still need to appear yourself. For a high speeding ticket, an attorney can present mitigation in hopes of working out a more favorable outcome than you could on your own.

While you may be tempted to simply pay your ticket by mail and avoid the hassle of going to court, this is not a good idea.  A ticket resolved by mail is often generally reported as a “conditional discharge” or conviction, which can increase your car insurance premiums.  (This does not apply to red light or speed camera tickets, which are issued against the car and not the driver.)

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email  matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

 

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