Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be arrested for DUI in Illinois even though my breathalyzer was under .08?

Yes. In Illinois, the state’s blood alcohol limit of .08 only represents a presumption that you have been driving while intoxicated. While a breathalyzer reading below .08 can help disprove a presumption of drunk driving, it does not prevent the State from relying on other evidence such as slurred speech, inability to walk a line, glassy eyes and erratic driving.

The State, however, has the burden to prove a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can help probe the weaknesses in the state’s case and improve your chances of obtaining a not guilty verdict.

 

Can I be charged with a crime for visiting an inappropriate website? What about my job?

In Illinois, anyone who knowingly possesses any film, videotape, photograph or computer depiction of any child engaged in a sexual act, or in a “lewd exhibition of the unclothed or transparently clothed” private regions or partially or fully clothed female breast, is guilty of a Class 3 felony with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $100,000.

What can you do? You should consult an attorney immediately. Swift action on your attorney’s part may prevent you from losing your job and may even lessen the risk of criminal charges being brought. An attorney can help you evaluate your defenses. Was the site truly indecent? The definition of obscenity can be somewhat vague. Maybe you were unaware that you were in possession of these materials. Perhaps someone with access to your computer had visited these locations. Even if you knowingly visited the site and it does look bad, however, you might really have a legitimate and believable reason for visiting there.

 

Can I be charged with sexting? What can I do?

In Illinois, you may have committed a Class 1 felony if you 1) filmed, videotaped or photographed any one that you should have known was under the age of 18 in lewd exhibitions of nudity or 2) knowing the contents of those pictures, you distributed them, i.e., via texting or the transfer of a physical print.

If found guilty, you may face a prison term ranging from 15 to 30 years along with fines between $1,000 and $100,000 dollars for each offense. You may also land on the sex offender registry. As a student, you may be expelled. Today, more schools are disciplining students for offenses, even if the activity took place off school grounds. In this case, sexting technology can cause something that took place outside the school to enter the school’s domain.

Even if the victim is over the age of 18, you could still be charged for harassment or for an obscenity offense.

If you think you might be charged because of sexting, contact an attorney immediately. Sometimes an attorney can even help prevent charges from being brought. Even if you are charged, your case may not be hopeless. You might reasonably have believed the victim was over the age of 18. You may not have been the one who sent the text. Maybe you forwarded something without knowing the contents. An attorney can help evaluate your defense.

 

Do I need a criminal defense attorney?

If the possibility exists that you could lose your license, serve a term in jail, or pay substantial fines, you should consult an experienced criminal law attorney. An attorney can evaluate your case to help you present the best possible defense. Even if you have not yet been charged with a crime, you should consult an attorney immediately. At times, an experienced attorney can help you avoid criminal charges entirely. If you are charged and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected at the courthouse can often obtain a better plea agreement than you could on your own.
The first consultation is free.

 

Do I need a DUI defense attorney?

The crime of DUI involves both the criminal court and the Illinois Secretary of State. The entire process can be confusing and difficult. If you are charged with DUI, the Secretary of State automatically suspends your driver’s license for a period of time. Retaining a dedicated attorney early may help overturn that suspension. In addition, an attorney can evaluate whether the state has the evidence required to find you guilty. On some occasions, even DUI offenders over the legal limit can win a dismissal.

I am accused of shoplifting. What can I do?

When you are first brought in before security, you are best advised to request an attorney and not answer questions. Any attempts to explain yourself may be used against you and might undermine any defense you might later wish to present.

Once at court, an experienced attorney can help you weigh your options. Maybe you were extremely stressed and really did forget you had the DVDs in your cart. Maybe the evidence against you is weak. An attorney can help determine whether you should take the case to trial.

But what if you really meant to take the DVDs? If the evidence against you is too strong to risk a trial, you may still have options. There may be alternatives to a conviction such as attending a special school. Your attorney might help work out a plea agreement. For example in Illinois, you might be able to take “supervision,” which is technically not a conviction. Then, if you meet certain requirements, you might be able to expunge your arrest five years after a successfully discharged supervision.

 

 

I am under age 21 and have been charged with an alcohol-related offense. What will happen to my license?

Under the Zero Tolerance policy, the Illinois Secretary of State will automatically suspend the license of any driver under age 21, who has been caught drinking or even carrying open alcohol in the passenger compartment of their car. You need not be anywhere close to the .08 breathalyzer limit to lose your license. Any trace of alcohol in your system is enough, even a .01 reading.

You may also lose your license for having open alcohol in the passenger section of your car, even if the bottle wasn’t yours. If it is your bottle, you face a charge of illegal possession. But if it is not, you can still be charged with illegal transportation, causing the loss of your license for 12 months on a first offense.

If you are under the age of 21 and have been charged with an alcohol-related crime, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney. You may be able to contest the charges against you. Maybe the officer lacked the probable cause to pull you over. Maybe you can negotiate a plea to a lesser offense.

Even if you are convicted of an alcohol-related offense, you may be able to obtain a restricted driving permit. The Secretary of State allows you to request a hearing to determine if you have a sufficient hardship to grant the permit. Primarily, permits are granted to allow you to go to work or to obtain medical care.

 

I bounced a check due to insufficient funds. Can I be charged with a crime and what can I do?

In Illinois, you may be guilty of a deceptive practice if you issue a check exceeding $150.00 in payment for credit, property, labor or services, knowing that you have insufficient funds, and if you failed to make the check good within seven days of receiving actual notice that your check has bounced. You are presumed to have the necessary intent to defraud if your check bounces two times at least seven days apart, or if you didn’t have enough funds to cover your check when the check was delivered. When you are hit with a Class A Misdemeanor, you face a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. A Class 4 Felony is punishable by 1 to 3 years in state prison and a larger fine. Plus, the person who received the check can still sue you in civil court.

What can you do? Once at court, an experienced attorney can help you weigh your options. Under some circumstances, you may be able to prove that you lacked the intent required under the statute. Maybe someone bounced a check to you putting your own account in the hole.

But what if you really knew your checks would bounce? An attorney can still help you negotiate a plea agreement. In some cases, a number of individual counts may be dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to one of the charges. In any event, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and an attorney can help assess whether the state has enough evidence to do so.

 

I fled the scene of an accident. What can I do?

In Illinois, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in personal injury or death, you must immediately stop at the scene of the accident and remain there until you have provided your name, address and registration to the person you struck.  Furthermore, you must provide reasonable assistance to the injured, including, if necessary, carrying them to a doctor. You also must file a police report within one half hour of the accident or of being released from a hospital.

If you have only damaged the other person’s car, you must still immediately stop and provide your information to the other driver.

In accidents involving injury or death, a failure to stop can result in a Class 4 felony, punishable by one to three years in prison. If you fail to file a police report, you may be charged with a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years. If the other party died, you are now subject to a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to 15 years. When the accident only involves property damage, you may still be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail plus a fine.

If you are charged with such a crime, contact an attorney immediately and do not speak to anyone, especially the police, about your situation. What you think of as a reasonable explanation may be the evidence the state needs to convict you. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can look for holes in the state’s case. Even if the evidence is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse can often negotiate a better plea agreement then you might on your own.

 

I have a felony. What can I expect?

After your arrest, you will have a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, the court will set the amount of bail necessary to permit your release from jail. In all likelihood, the State will argue for the Court to set the highest bond possible, or in some cases, to deny bond altogether. An experienced attorney can help present those factors most likely to persuade a particular judge to set a reasonable bail.

About a month after the bond hearing, your case will be set for a preliminary hearing, that is a hearing to establish whether the police had probable cause to charge you with a felony. An experienced attorney can help by asking the right questions to create doubt about whether the police had a valid reason to stop you. A successful preliminary hearing can result in the charges being dismissed.

At the next court date, you will be brought for arraignment, where you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  If you plead guilty, you will automatically give up many of your rights, such as the right to test the evidence against you. Your case may then be over, but you may end up with a stiffer penalty than if you fight the charges. If you enter a not guilty plea, the process of discovery begins. Your attorney will ask to see any evidence against you. After assessing this evidence, the attorney may negotiate a plea agreement or take your case to trial.

In Illinois, a felony can range from a Class 1 to a Class 4. In addition, Class X felonies are reserved for particularly severe offenses such as murder and sexual assault on a child. Penalties for a first offense in many cases may still result in probation, but some felonies carry mandatory minimum prison terms. If convicted, a Class X felony calls for a mandatory minimum term of 6 years.

 

I have been arrested for possession of narcotics that are not mine. What can I do?

To prove possession of a controlled substance, the state must show: 1) you knew about the presence of the drugs, and 2) the drugs were in your immediate and exclusive control. The police do not have to show you had the drugs on your person. Constructive possession is enough. For example, the drugs are in your closet and no one else has the keys to your home.

Since actual knowledge is difficult to prove, the state can infer that you knew about the narcotics from your acts, declarations or conduct.

While the state must show the drugs were in your immediate and exclusive control, the fact that others had access to your drugs may not be enough to get an acquittal. Possession may be held jointly. The police may charge you even if you really didn’t know about the drugs.

If you are charged with a narcotics offense, you should contact an attorney immediately. If you are placed under arrest, do not talk to the police and instead ask to speak with an attorney. An experienced attorney can determine whether the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights when they arrested you. An attorney can also guide you toward the best defense if your case should go to trial.

 

I violated my probation or supervision. What can I do?

Often on first offenses, a court will sentence defendants to a term of supervision or probation for a set length of time. This term may have certain conditions such as random drug testing. Probation or supervision, however, always require that you stay out of trouble with the law. Therefore, even if you are suspected of committing a crime or if you have committed a relatively minor offense such as a retail theft, the court can now re-sentence you on the first offense, which can mean significantly stiffer fines or even a jail term. And that still doesn’t take care of your new arrest.

What can you do? An experienced attorney can help you navigate between your violated case and new cases. Sometimes, an attorney will attempt to delay completing the violation case until the new charges can be resolved. If the attorney can get the new charges dismissed, you might receive a substantially reduced penalty in the prior case or the violation on the prior case might even be dropped. Even if the evidence on the new case is overwhelming, an experienced attorney may be able to help obtain a better deal for you in both cases.

 

If I haven’t been charged with a crime yet, do I need to speak to an attorney?

If believe you are being investigated for a crime, you should contact an attorney immediately. At times, the involvement of an attorney early on can reduce the chances of criminal charges being brought against you later.

My breathalyzer is just over the .08 limit? Can I still fight a charge of DUI?

In Illinois, even if your breathalyzer is at or just slightly over .08, you may still be able to fight a charge of drunk driving. The .08 limit is only a legal presumption that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An experienced attorney may be able to present other evidence to show your driving was not impaired. For example, if you took field sobriety tests, such as the walk and turn test, and you were able to complete the test competently, you may have a chance.

Should I consult an attorney about a problem with an academic institution?

If you are being charged with some form of academic dishonesty or other discipline code violation, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney. An attorney can help you through the disciplinary proceeding. Often clients are not aware of how they come across to others. An attorney can help you present yourself in the best possible light.

 

 

Should I make a statement to the police?

Law enforcement officers are trained to make suspects feel comfortable so that they will incriminate themselves. You have the absolute right NOT to talk to the police.

In many cases, people who have tried to talk their way out of a potential arrest incriminate themselves severely. If the police ask you to answer questions about your possible role in a criminal act, you should say “I wish to exercise my right to remain silent. I wish to speak to an attorney.” In all cases, you should treat the police with respect and courtesy, even if you feel that officers are not extending the same courtesies to you. Nevertheless, you should insist on speaking to an attorney before answering questions from law enforcement officials..

What can I do when my loved one has been arrested?

Contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can visit your loved one in the police station, advise them not to talk to police and notify the police that they are represented by an attorney and will not answer questions. Timely intervention can help prevent your loved one from caving into police pressure and providing the evidence needed for a conviction.

In Illinois, if your loved one has been picked up for a relatively minor offense and has a clean record, they may be eligible for an I-Bond. That means they can leave the police station on their personal promise that they will appear in Court.
br> If the situation is more serious, your loved one may be held over for a bond hearing until the earliest possible court business date. At the hearing, a judge will decide how much money a criminal defendant must post in order to be released from police custody. If your loved one had the bad fortune to be picked up on a Friday night, they may have to spend the weekend in jail.

An attorney can also play an important role at the bond hearing.  At the hearing, the State will likely argue that a high bond should be set. Your loved one will have to post 10% of any bond that the judge sets in order to be released. The bond may be set so high that your loved one has no hope of making it and must then remain in jail. An experienced attorney may be able to assess which arguments are most likely to sway a particular judge to lower the bond.

 

What should I do if the police are looking for me?

Contact an attorney immediately. A competent attorney may provide invaluable guidance that helps prevent you from incriminating yourself, while staying within the bounds of the law. In limited cases, this advice can help prevent charges from ever being brought.

If you are picked up and held for questioning or charged with a crime, tell the police that you wish to remain silent and you do not wish to answer any questions without an attorney present. It is even more imperative that you not discuss the circumstances of the crime with police before you have seen an attorney. This, at times, may be difficult. The police can legally leave you sitting for hours in a cold room after you have refused to talk. Or they might make promises of leniency if you will only open up. It is in your best interest, however, not to start talking. The state has to prove you guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Once you start talking, you may unwittingly remove any doubts about your guilt and severely limit the options your attorney has in defending you. And as to the promises of leniency, the police do not always have the final control over how you are charged or sentenced.