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Posted on in Criminal Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_66943093-min.jpgBeing falsely accused of a criminal offense is horrifying. You have done your best to lead a law-abiding life, but for some reason, that is not enough, and you are now under suspicion anyway. There are a number of reasons you may have been accused of something you did not do, ranging from mistaken identity to a malicious lie. False accusations of domestic violence and similar crimes are strikingly common, especially when a couple goes through a rough divorce or break-up. Immediately contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn that you are under suspicion may give you the best chance of proving your innocence. 

What Can I Do If I Am Wrongly Accused of a Crime? 

The exact steps you should take will depend on how far along in the criminal process you are. If you are merely a suspect and have not been arrested or charged, refusing to talk and asking for a lawyer is probably the right thing to do. If you are already facing charges or have been indicted, the time to contact an attorney is yesterday. Here are some other tips that may help: 

  • Be proactive - If you are merely a suspect, you should still take action. This is the best possible time to retain a lawyer. By getting on top of the situation, your lawyer may be able to work with the police or prosecutor to show that you are innocent and avoid you ever being charged in the first place. 

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arlington heights dui defense lawyerYou complied with a breathalyzer test after being pulled over, and it showed that you were over .08. Now you are facing DUI charges and it feels as if you have no hope of avoiding a conviction. This situation may feel insurmountable, but it is not. Even if you failed a breathalyzer, there are still ways an experienced attorney can defend you. Successfully challenging the results of a breath test is not only possible, it is one of the most common DUI defense strategies. Like other medical testing equipment, breathalyzers are sensitive devices that must be used correctly to produce accurate results. If you are facing a potential DUI conviction, securing strong legal representation should be your top priority. 

How Can Breathalyzer Results be Challenged? 

Breathalyzer results are not infallible, although prosecutors sometimes act as if they are. These devices must be maintained, used, and calibrated correctly according to the manufacturer’s instructions to produce accurate and reliable results. If the police department you were arrested by failed to do so, there is a strong possibility that your breath test results will be inadmissible. Common defects in breath test maintenance and procedures include: 

  • User error - Not all police officers are appropriately trained to administer breathalyzer tests. There are procedures that must be followed to avoid an inaccurate result, such as a mandatory observation period where the arrestee must be monitored to make sure they do not put anything in their mouth that could affect the test. The results could be invalid if any part of the tests device’s instructions for use were not followed. 

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Posted on in Expungement

arlington heights expungement lawyerHaving any criminal record at all can have a serious impact on your life. Even if your conviction was relatively minor and happened a long time ago, you may feel as if it is still following you. Every time you apply for a job, or a lease, or a school, you may have to answer uncomfortable questions or face outright rejection. You served your sentence and have stayed out of trouble sense - but it probably feels like you are still being punished. Fortunately, Illinois courts may allow what is called “expungement,” meaning they essentially erase the charge from your public record. If you are interested in getting your life back through expungement, you will want to speak to an experienced attorney who can help determine if you are eligible. 

Is My Conviction Eligible for Expungement?

Not every conviction can be expunged. The goal of expungement is to allow non-dangerous offenders who made a one-time mistake a second chance at a clean slate. Because courts must balance the goals of protecting the public by keeping records of individuals who may be dangerous open and helping minor offenders avoid lifelong punishment, only certain types of charges can be dismissed. Expungement may be an option in the following cases: 

  • Misdemeanor - If you were found guilty of a misdemeanor and given probation or another type of court-supervised release, you are probably eligible for expungement. Domestic violence and order of protection violations, DUI, and any sex offense are exceptions and cannot be expunged. 

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Posted on in DUI

waukegan defense lawyerMake no mistake - even a first DUI is serious business in Illinois. But a second, third, or subsequent DUI is even more so. On a first DUI, some defendants are able to take a plea deal and complete a period of court supervision to avoid a finding of guilt and harsh criminal penalties. This is no longer an option after the first DUI - this time, you would be facing a conviction, a criminal record, and potentially harsh penalties. If you have been charged with a DUI, and it is not the first time, it is critical that you be represented by a strong legal advocate. When your freedom, driving privileges, and future prospects are at stake, this is no time to take chances. 

What are the Penalties for a Second DUI? 

A second DUI is still a misdemeanor, but the penalties are harsher. You could face up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. But those are just the basics. Your license will be revoked for at least a year, possibly three years if your first DUI was within the last five years, and you will have to appear at a hearing before the Secretary of State’s office before you will be eligible for even a hardship permit. 

On a second DUI, the court is likely to impose additional requirements. You could be ordered to perform time-consuming community service or attend substance abuse treatment if the court feels that you need it. If you caused an accident or hurt someone, there will be additional penalties. While the court may be understanding of a first and only DUI, it will not be so understanding of a second. 

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arlington heights criminal defense lawyerIn Illinois, after you have plead guilty to a crime or been convicted at trial, what is known as the sentencing phase of your case begins. During sentencing, the court will look over the facts and circumstances surrounding your crime and decide what sentence is appropriate. “Mitigating factors” are circumstances that suggest a crime was not as serious as the charge implies or a harsh sentence is not warranted.  When successfully argued, these factors may lead to a lighter sentence. If you are facing felony or misdemeanor charges, it is important that you work with an experienced attorney who can present any mitigating factors that may help you avoid harsh sentencing. 

Examples of Mitigating Factors in Illinois

During sentencing, the prosecutor will present any aggravating factors - circumstances that make the crime more serious. Your attorney will then have the opportunity to present mitigating factors. When present, mitigating factors can influence the court to reduce your sentence. In some cases, substantial mitigating factors can lead to the court reducing jail time or ordering probation, treatment, or other sentences that do not include incarceration. Mitigating factors in Illinois include: 

  • No Criminal History - If the defendant has no other criminal charges on his or her record, this may help him or her avoid harsher criminal penalties. 

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