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Rolling Meadows, IL criminal defense attorney plea bargain

If you have ever seen any kind of crime drama movie or TV show, you have probably seen some sort of heated scene take place in a courtroom where the main character’s attorney fights for his or her client’s freedom by attempting to prove his or her innocence. In reality, more than 97 percent of criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). Plea bargains were created in response to a number of issues faced during criminal trials, such as the length of time it takes to go through a trial and the expenses associated with that legal process. However, some argue that plea bargains take away the right to a fair trial.

Understanding Plea Bargains

A plea bargain is an agreement made between the defendant (the person who is accused of the crime) and the prosecutor (the attorney representing the local, state, or federal government entity) as a replacement to a jury trial in a criminal case. The agreement usually involves the defendant pleading guilty or nolo contendere, “no contest” to some or all of the charges that were brought against him or her. Typically, plea bargains involve a reduction in the number of charges brought against the defendant, the severity of the charges, a reduction of the severity of the sentence, or a combination of any of the three.

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Rolling Meadows criminal law attorney

Not all crimes are created equally. Some crimes, like assault or murder, are much more serious than lesser crimes, such as theft or traffic violations. Illinois, like all states, has a system for classifying crimes. Crimes are placed into categories of felonies and misdemeanors, of which there are varying “classes” of severity. What many people do not know is that there are also certain factors that can increase or mitigate the severity of the punishment that is imposed on someone who is convicted of a criminal offense. It is important to understand the factors that are commonly used by the prosecution to enhance the charges to “aggravated” in Illinois.

Aggravating Factors in Illinois

Even if someone is convicted of a crime, that does not automatically determine the sentence that he or she will receive. Under Illinois law, a sentencing hearing will occur after the conviction in which a judge will review the case and make a decision as to what the appropriate sentence would be for the specific situation. In some cases, this is when the prosecution has the chance to present any aggravating factors that may be present, which could influence the judge to impose a more serious sentence. Illinois lists 32 unique aggravating factors that could affect a defendant's sentence. Some of the most common factors include:

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Rolling Meadows criminal charges defense attorney

Being arrested for a crime can be a very traumatic experience. When you are arrested, you are handcuffed by the police officer and taken to be processed and held in jail. Your first thought when you land in jail might be, “How can I get out?” Usually, the quickest way to do that is to have a friend or family member post bail for you. Typically, weeks or even months can pass between your initial arrest and the disposition of your sentence. Posting bail allows you to be released from custody and go about your normal life until you are requested to appear back in court. It is important to understand how the bail process works in case you or your loved one is ever facing criminal charges in Illinois. 

How Is Bail Set?

Depending on the type of crime, you might be allowed to post bail the same night you are arrested. For offenses that are more serious, such as violent crimes, you may be required to remain in custody until you attend a bail hearing before a judge. During this hearing, the judge will determine whether or not you are eligible for bail and at what amount your bail should be set. Judges use a variety of factors to determine whether you should be eligible for bail, including the seriousness of the alleged offense, the risk that you may attempt to flee before your case can be heard in court, and the safety risks that you may pose to other individuals or the community.

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Rolling Meadows, IL DUI defense attorney

Alcohol is a common source of trouble for teens. Underage drinking is fairly typical in the United States, but it can result in significant criminal charges and even life-threatening problems. For young adults, unintentional injuries are the most common cause of death, with the majority of those injuries related to car accidents. When you add alcohol use into the mix, the likelihood of a vehicle crash is even higher. This is why the laws pertaining to underage drinking and alcohol possession are so strict and carry such serious consequences. Teens and underage young adults can face severe punishments for violating certain alcohol-related offenses, including driving under the influence (DUI). 

Underage Drinking

You must be 21 or older to legally purchase or consume alcohol in the United States. If you are under the age of 21, you are not permitted to consume alcohol, or you could be charged with underage drinking. If you are convicted of underage drinking, you face a six-month driver's license suspension, unless you were sentenced to court supervision, in which case you face a three-month driver’s license suspension. A second conviction may result in a one-year suspension, and further convictions can result in a revocation.

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Rolling Meadows, IL criminal defense attorney

If you have ever experienced a brush with the law or been arrested, it is likely you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney in your lifetime. These lawyers are arguably one of the most important people involved in any case. The right to a defense is so important to the American way of life that it was even included in the United States Constitution. The law states that any person accused of a crime will be assigned an attorney if he or she cannot afford one. Although you are not technically required to have legal representation when you face criminal charges, having an attorney by your side can dramatically increase the chances that your case will result in a favorable ending.

Why Seeking Legal Representation Is Important

The legal principle that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty is an inherent right to every U.S. citizen. However, it is essential to have legal counsel to protect your rights in a courtroom for the following reasons:

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