Recent Blog Posts

How a "Structural Error" can Render a Criminal Trial Unconstitutional

 Posted on February 28,2022 in Uncategorized

If you are facing felony charges, it is important to make sure the court respects all of your constitutional rights. While even the best judges make honest mistakes, such errors can prove costly when you are facing the loss of your freedom and the permanent taint of a felony conviction. Therefore, a defendant should never hesitate to object - or in some cases appeal - when a judge fails to follow the law.

Murder Conviction Overturned After Judge Kicks Out Defendant's Grandmother

A recent Illinois case illustrates how a seemingly minor procedural error can be a big deal in a felony case. The defendant here was tried for murder. A jury convicted the defendant and the judge sentenced him to 100 years in prison.

The Illinois First District Appellate Court reversed the defendant's conviction and ordered a new trial. The reason is one that, on first glance, might seem odd. Before the start of any criminal trial a judge must select a jury. This is a process known as voir dire. Basically, lawyers for the state and the defendant get to ask prospective jurors questions and move to exclude any juror they feel may be biased.

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Appeals Court Ruling Allows Lawsuit Against Uber to Go Forward

 Posted on February 09,2022 in Uncategorized

A Chicago couple may continue their lawsuit against Uber after an appeals court in Illinois reversed the ruling of a Cook County judge. The couple was injured in 2014 in a chain of events that began when they were kicked out of an Uber vehicle near 44th Street and Homan Avenue in the Brighton Park neighborhood. The lawsuit seeks damages for the injuries the couple suffered as the result of being hit by a car while walking home from where the Uber driver left them.

A Quick Recap

In October 2014, the couple used the Uber app to request a ride home from the movies. They were picked up at the theater at around 2:00 a.m., but according to court documents, the Uber driver did not drive the proper route to the couple’s home. He allegedly made several wrong turns and ended up lost. When the couple tried to help by giving the driver directions, he reportedly got upset and kicked them out of the car prior to reaching their intended destination.

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Three Ways You can Help Prevent a Dangerous Winter Car Accident

 Posted on February 08,2022 in Uncategorized

As Old Man Winter stretches his legs across the United States, cold temperatures and snowfall begin to appear in the weather forecast. While snow makes for a pretty landscape, it can be deadly for drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 17 percent of all car accidents occur during times when winter weather conditions are present. Wintery roads bring about many dangers to drivers, such as slippery surfaces, snow, wind, black ice, and slush. Though weather conditions are out of drivers’ control, drivers are still responsible for their actions, especially when a traffic accident occurs. Here are a few ways you can be proactive this winter to help you avoid a car accident:

  1. Make Sure Your Vehicle is in Good Condition: The first thing you should do when the cold weather rolls around is to perform a maintenance check on your vehicle or take it to a mechanic who can perform a check. It is a good idea to make sure all of your headlights, taillights, and blinkers are working. It is also a good idea to make sure your car battery is in good condition and has a decent charge. Be sure to check the tread on your tires and their air pressure.

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How Police Excessive Force Can Lead to Criminal Charges Against the Victim

 Posted on February 04,2022 in Uncategorized

This past January, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) completed a formal investigation into the Chicago Police Department (CPD), specifically the misuse and overuse of force in ways that violate the civil rights of Illinois residents. The DOJ found there was "reasonable cause to believe" that CPD officers routinely took part in acts that "unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force." This was not the result of a few bad officers, the DOJ said, but rather a system-wide "failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force."

IL Judges Reverse Battery Conviction of Man Tased Repeatedly by Police

There are many cases where police not only use excessive force, they turn around and charge the victim with a crime, such as assault and battery. Sadly, many of these victims-turned-defendants suffer from mental illness. The DOJ report noted that many law enforcement officers are not properly trained to deal with "complex situations" involving people with mental health problems and, as a result, the situation quickly escalates.

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Five Common Factors That Could Affect the Severity of Your Criminal Charges

 Posted on February 04,2022 in Uncategorized

When you are charged with a crime, it can be an extremely scary experience. There is much uncertainty when you are involved with the criminal justice system, especially when it comes to how you are sentenced. Each crime is classified as to its seriousness, with the classification dictating what the sentencing guidelines are. However, there are certain circumstances in which those guidelines can be circumvented. This typically occurs when it is determined that there were aggravating factors present when the crime was committed.

Common Aggravating Factors

After you are convicted for a crime or you plead guilty, a hearing will then be scheduled for your sentencing. It is not until this hearing that you will know what your future holds as far as the consequences of the crime. The judge can impose the sentence that he or she sees fit for the crime that was committed. When certain aggravating factors are present, the judge has the option to impose stricter sentencing for the particular crime. There are a number of factors that could increase the severity of your punishment, but the most common factors include:

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Can I Own a Gun in Illinois if I Have Prior Felony Convictions?

 Posted on January 21,2022 in Uncategorized

Gun ownership is not an absolute right in Illinois. A resident must obtain a Firearms Ownership Identification card (FOID) from the Illinois State Police in order to legally possess any firearms or ammunition. Anyone who owns or carries a gun without a FOID may face felony weapons charges.

Illinois' Armed Habitual Criminal Law

Certain classes of people are ineligible to receive a FOID. Notably, this includes individuals who have been previously convicted of a felony in Illinois or any other jurisdiction. In fact, if someone previously convicted of multiple felonies is found in possession of a firearm, he or she may face serious sanctions under Illinois law.

The crime of "armed habitual criminal" refers to the receipt, sale, possession, or transfer by anyone with two prior convictions for any of the following:

  • A "forcible felony," including but not limited to treason, murder, criminal sexual assault, robbery, burglary, aggravated arson, and kidnapping;

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Exploring Charges and Penalties For Crimes Involving Fake IDs in Illinois

 Posted on January 20,2022 in Uncategorized

For as long as government-issued identification cards have been around, fake IDs are sure to have also existed. Added security measures and other changes are constantly being made to ID cards in an effort to combat fraudulent or fake IDs, but that still does not stop some people from attempting to make them. Many times, crimes involving fake IDs are perpetrated by juveniles who are using the card for things such as purchasing alcohol. Some fake ID cards are nearly undetectable, but using one and getting caught can mean you will face quite a bit of trouble with the law.

Penalties for Crimes Involving Fake IDs

Illinois has strict laws and rather serious consequences when it comes to crimes involving fake IDs. Not only can you face criminal charges and penalties for the use, possession, manufacture and/or distribution of fake IDs, but you can also risk having your driving privileges taken away. The Secretary of State has the authority to suspend your driving privileges for up to one year or revoke your driving privileges for at least a year if you are caught violating laws concerning fake IDs.

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When Can a Juvenile Criminal Case Be Transferred to Adult Court?

 Posted on January 20,2022 in Uncategorized

The juvenile justice system was created with the understanding that children are different from adults, mainly because they have more of a chance of reforming their behavior before they reach adulthood. In 1899, Illinois was the first state to create a justice system for children that was separate than the one for adults. Though the juvenile justice systems of today are much different than they were 100 years ago, they retain the same idea - that the main goal is to educate the child and change their behavior, rather than punish them.

Even though there is a separate court for those who are under the age of 18, not all juvenile offenders are tried as minors. Many juvenile criminal cases are transferred to adult court, which works quite differently. If a prosecutor feels the need, they can request that a juvenile be tried as an adult, but the judge must consider a number of factors before this happens.

Age and Background of the Child

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How the "Presumption of Innocence" Helps You in a Criminal Trial

 Posted on December 27,2021 in Uncategorized

The most basic principle of the criminal justice system in Illinois is the presumption of innocence. Whether you are charged with a DUI, sexual assault, or murder, state law provides that "[e]very person is presumed innocent until proved guilty." In any criminal trial, the burden is therefore on the prosecution to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a "reasonable doubt."

Can You Be Punished for "Taking the Fifth"?

It is important to understand how the burden of proof works in a criminal trial. If you are accused of a crime, you are not obligated to present any evidence in your defense. Of course, it may benefit you to do so, depending on the circumstances of the case. But at no point can a judge or jury demand that you "prove" you did not commit a crime. Aside from the fact it is difficult to prove a negative, it violates the plain language of Illinois law, which presumes the defendant's innocence.

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Can a Nursing Home be Held Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident?

 Posted on December 20,2021 in Uncategorized

There are a number of reasons that a slip and fall accident could occur in a nursing home, and many of them are preventable. Surfaces that are damaged or uneven, floors that are wet or slippery or even just the age and physical ability of the nursing home resident can cause a person to lose their footing and fall. Many of the causes of slip and fall accidents are the result of a careless nursing home attendant, which means the nursing home could be held responsible for injuries caused by these accidents. Injuries can range in severity from bruising to broken bones, brain injuries or even death in some cases. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a slip and fall nursing home accident, an Illinois nursing home negligence lawyer can help you determine if the responsible party acted in a negligent manner.

Property Owners Have a Duty to Occupants

The Illinois Premises Liability Act states that a property owner must make sure that their property is reasonably safe for occupants and visitors, known as the "duty of reasonable care." According to the duty of reasonable care principle, all property owners are responsible for keeping their property safe and free of dangerous items or situations that a "reasonable person" would know to be dangerous.

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