Recent Blog Posts

Illinois Has Second Highest Number of Criminal Exonerations in 2013

 Posted on February 28,2014 in Criminal Law

criminal exoneration, Arlington Heights criminal defense, criminal lawyer, Chicago attorneyAccording to a report from the National Registry of Exonerations, last year, Illinois was the number two state in the nation which exonerated people who were wrongfully convicted of crimes. In 2013, the state exonerated 9 people, officially vindicated of the crimes for which they were convicted. Some of those who had been convicted had been in prison for decades for crimes they had never committed. The number one state with the most exonerations in 2013 was Texas, with 13 people absolved of their criminal convictions. New York followed with 8, California with 6, Michigan and Missouri were tied with 5. According to the registry, there have been 1,304 exonerations nationally since 1989. One third of the total number of exonerated cases was for crimes that didn’t actually happen. Almost half of these were for non-violent crimes. The racial/ethical breakdown was as follows: 47 percent of those exonerated were black, 40 percent were white, 11 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Native American or Asian. Ninety-two percent were men and eight percent were women. Eleven percent of those exonerated had pled guilty before trial. Eighty-one percent were convicted by a jury and seven percent convicted by a judge. One percent was unknown.

The total number for 2013 was 87, which was the highest year ever. However, the percentage of those exonerations based on DNA evidence dropped. A spokesperson from the registry said this decrease is a good indicator of the increasing number of convictions that are being granted that are for crimes other than murder and sexual assault.

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Can Police Search Your Cell Phone Without a Warrant?

 Posted on February 20,2014 in Criminal Law

cell phone search warrant IMAGEThe Supreme Court recently announced that it will be deciding whether or not law enforcement are required to get a warrant to search a cell phone that is seized during an arrest.

Police and prosecutors argue that cell phones fall into the same category as other items found on someone being taken into custody that the judicial system has agreed can be searched.

But those against allowing the searches say that information that people store in their cell phones is information that in the past would be kept in a person’s home and would otherwise require a warrant. Items such as photographs, written messages (emails and text messages), videos, voicemail, contacts, web history (including search and browsing), calendar appointments, personal records (medical and financial) and purchases, can all now be found on a person’s cell phone.

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NHTSA and MADD Push for Ignition Interlocks for First DUI Offense

 Posted on February 13,2014 in First DUI Offense

BAIID IMAGEThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have joined forces to push for the requirement of first time drunk driving offenders to use ignition interlocks that would stop the offenders from being able to start the vehicle if they had been drinking. Both organizations are urging all states to adopt that requirement.

Currently, twenty states and four counties in California have adopted the requirement of ignition interlocks for drivers who have been convicted of driving under the influence. In Illinois, an ignition interlock is only required for drivers who have requested permission for a restricted license, while still under suspension. It is also required for individuals who have multiple DUI convictions.

When an ignition interlock has been installed in a car, a driver has to blow into the device in order to give a breath sample. If the device reads a blood alcohol content of .05 or higher, the vehicle will not start. If the reading is negative for alcohol, the vehicle will start up. While the vehicle is in operation, the driver is required to provide random readings to ensure the driver’s blood alcohol level is still negative.

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Ban on Social Network Sites Upheld by Court

 Posted on February 10,2014 in Criminal Law

Ban on Social Network Sites An appeals court in New Jersey recently upheld the ban that prohibits paroled sex offenders from being able to utilize social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  The decision was made by three judges in response to a challenge of the ban by two paroled offenders. The offenders argued to the court the ban, which was passed last year, was too broad and also claimed it was a violation of their free speech.

The three judges agreed that social network sites have become an integral part of society, however, they ruled that the courts had legitimate reasons for keeping these offenders off the sites. The panel cited a 1995 New Jersey Supreme Court case which found that sex offenders are more likely to repeat a crime than other types of offenders.

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Wrong-Way Driver Charged With DUI

 Posted on January 31,2014 in DUI

Gilberto Vanegas, 62, of Chicago was "charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, traveling in the wrong direction and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident," according to a police press release and as reported by the Chicago Tribune. Vanegas was apprehended in a 2007 Chrysler minivan on I-90 after his van stopped just short of an Illinois Department of Transportation snowplow. If the snowplow hadn’t been out on the road it’s likely that Vanegas wouldn’t have slowed or stopped at all. His minivan did strike a retaining wall several times before coming to a stop, however, according to the Chicago Tribune.

 wrong-way collision IMAGEAccording to a publication issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), "wrong-way collisions," such as one Vanegas could have caused if he hadn’t been stopped by the snow plow, "account for only about 3 percent of accidents on high-speed divided highways, but they are much more likely to result in fatal and serious injuries than are other types of highway accidents." One study conducted by the Virginia Department of Transportation found that the fatality rate for wrong-way collisions is up to 27 times higher than other types of accidents.

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Chicago Man Charged in Fatal DUI Crash

 Posted on January 22,2014 in DUI

Aaron I. Moore was charged with "two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death; two counts of aggravated driving under the influence of drugs resulting in death; and two counts of leaving the scene of a fatal crash," according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Moore, 26, was driving on a Sunday morning in mid-January on the Eisenhower Expressway, when his Durango slammed into the back of Windstar van that had stalled near the First Avenue exit. Both the van’s driver and backseat passenger died on impact, according to the Sun-Times. "Moore and a 25-year-old woman who was in the SUV with him were taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries," reports the Sun-Times. Man Arrested for DUI After Son Ejected From Window

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Court Cracks Down on DUI Offenders Failing to Meet Obligations

 Posted on January 14,2014 in DUI

government-force-you-to-testifyAt the beginning of January in Cook County, according to ABC Local News, the "sheriff’s office is conducting a sweep for people with DUI arrests who failed to appear in court or meet court-ordered obligations." Each year in Cook County, ABC Local reports, there are more than 600 criminal warrants in drunk driving. Due to budgetary constraints, time, and lack of available police resources, it’s difficult to continue to track DUI offenders after they’ve received their sentencing. "The mission [at the beginning of January] has been to whittle down that number and get repeat offenders off the street," reports ABC Local.

According to the 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, a publication from the office of the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, about 15 percent of all drivers arrested for DUI are repeat offenders. This is a scary statistic, when considering that "323 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes," a full 35 percent of total crash fatalities in the state. "Males ages 21–24 had the highest DUI arrest rate," the Fact Book reports, "about 17 per 1,000 licensed drivers."

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Driver Charged with Aggravated DUI in Crash that Killed Illinois Police Officer and K-9 Partner

 Posted on January 07,2014 in DUI

illinois dui defense lawyerA man who was allegedly involved in an accident that killed a police officer and his K-9 partner was charged with aggravated DUI in Illinois.

According to CBS Chicago, Jason C. Collins was driving on I-55 north of Route 23 when his pickup truck left the road and struck a marked police car in the center crossover around 9:30 p.m. on October 30,2013. The collision killed Pontiac Police Officer Casey Kohlmeier and his K-9 partner Draco. Collins was taken into custody after being released from the hospital and was charged with aggravated DUI.

Kohlmeier was a U.S. Air Force veteran and a well-respected member of the Pontiac police force and the community. According to the department, "Casey was a dedicated, honorable employee who was deeply committed to law enforcement and to the community he will be greatly missed." He joined the Pontiac police force in 2007 and was assigned to the Livingston County Pro-Active Unit.

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Driver’s License Reinstatements in Illinois

 Posted on December 31,2013 in Driver's License Reinstatement

driver's license reinstatement lawyerIf you have lost driving privileges as part of a criminal charge in Illinois, you need to speak with an attorney about the process of getting your license reinstated. Don’t attempt to drive when your license is suspended, because the consequences go beyond typical traffic violations.

At the bare minimum, being caught driving under a suspended license is a Class A misdemeanor with a possible fine of $2,500 and as many as 364 days spent in jail. Depending on your record, the penalties can get stiffer: you can spend up to seven years in prison with fines of up to $25,000.

You might be eligible to receive a restricted driving permit or reinstatement. You can only get your driving privileges reinstated on or after your eligibility date. If you haven’t reached your eligibility date yet, you could get a restricted driving permit. You would need to provide evidence of "undue hardship" as a result of lost driving privileges. Examples of undue hardship include medical care or daycare for children or elderly individuals, or court ordered community service or employment. You’d need to contact a hearing officer in order to start the ball rolling on this process.

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Average Cost of a DUI in Illinois

 Posted on December 24,2013 in DUI

illinois dui lawyerReceiving a DUI conviction in Illinois can wreak havoc on your personal finances. According to CyberDrive Illinois, drivers who are convicted of driving under the influence can expect to pay more than $16,000 on average, with additional costs possible if an accident occurs and people are injured, or if a jury trial is required.

When you are arrested on a DUI charge, your vehicle will be towed and stored at a law enforcement facility. This can cost drivers as much as $250. Furthermore, drivers who are convicted can be charged a fine of up to $2,500, court costs of up to $750, and a required contribution to the trauma center fund of $100. That’s up to $3,600 in court costs alone, not including legal fees. An uncontested plea in court and a hardship driving permit will cost drivers an additional $2,000. Drivers who are required to have a BAIID device installed will pay another $100 for installation and $120 per month in rental and monitoring charges.

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