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Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyerFor most Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders, the license is not just something they earn “for fun.” Although they may also find the position enjoyable, and many do, CDL holders go to great lengths to obtain their licensing, and it becomes a part of their finances as well as their way of living. The validity of their license directly impacts their ability to obtain and maintain employment. Drivers are held to a higher standard, and many traffic violations that may result in a lighter punishment under other circumstances can disqualify a CDL holder, such as leaving the scene of an accident, for example. A license disqualification interrupts the earning capacity of the driver, leaving many seeking other forms of gainful employment.

Why Do People Leave The Scene?

It is never a good idea to abandon the site of an accident, for any number of reasons. First off, regardless of driver’s license class, it is against the law, potentially resulting in jail time, hefty penalties, and loss of licensure. However, you must also consider the impact of the other driver and their medical condition, your insurance rate hikes, and you open yourself up for a personal injury lawsuit. A general rule of thumb, it is a good idea to stay where you are. However, many do choose to flee, citing the following reasons:

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Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyerIn Illinois, a conviction of driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a misdemeanor. This fact is not saying that Illinois does not take DUI seriously, as there are approximately 35,000 people arrested annually for DUI-related charges. A misdemeanor conviction is also not getting away easy, as the state estimates that the total cost of a first-time DUI totals approximately $16,000.00 after the loss of licensure resulting in loss of income, insurance rate increase, fines, and other court costs. However, not all cases are created equal, and occasionally, clients are surprised to discover their charges are more severe than anticipated, that they face felony DUI charges instead. How does that happen and what does that mean for the future, if convicted?

First-Time DUI?

Even if this is your first experience with a DUI, it is possible to be facing felony charges. The prosecution must prove that the driver had a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or was impaired to have any leverage in court. These factors alone may result in the initial misdemeanor charge. However, if your situation involves another more severe factor, your case may jump to aggravated DUI, which is a felony charge. Factors that can make the difference include:

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Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyerCameras accompany many red lights all throughout Chicago and the surrounding area. These cameras are not there simply as a deterrent for breaking traffic laws, they take a picture of the license plate of the vehicle. If the motion-activated camera detects a vehicle operating illegally, it takes a quick snapshot. The photograph is reviewed, and a citation is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. To avoid taking time out of a busy schedule to go to court, many individuals just pay the fine via mail and get on with their lives. However, as with any traffic violation, there may be a defensive strategy for you.

How the Camera Works

Each camera is equipped with a radar detector which senses oncoming vehicles. Once the attached light turns red, the camera takes a photo as well as a video of the back end of the car. A central agency is supposed to review the image for clarity and then pass it along to City’s Department of Revenue for processing. Throughout Chicago, there are cameras for:

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Illinois felony lawyer, Illinois defense attorneyWhen a crime is severe enough to constitute a felony conviction, it means that the penalty is punishable by at least one year in prison. Alternatively, a misdemeanor is less than one year in prison. Felonies break down into several different classes, ranging from one to four, Class X, and first-degree murder depending on the severity of the accused crime. Previously, punishments came based solely on the crime at hand and did not take into consideration other factors, including a previously spotless record. The Unified Code of Corrections changed at the end of 2016 with the passing of SB 3164, effectively altering the prison terms of those convicted of Class 3 or 4 felony.

The Punishments

During the sentencing of a crime, the presiding judge takes into account all parts to a story. With each criminal classification, there are parameters set in place that limits the authority of the judge ensuring that no penalty is too lenient or too harsh. The parameters for Class 3 and 4 felonies are as follows:

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Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorneyA background check is a compilation of various records within the past of a single individual or an organization, including criminal, financial, and commercial records. Employers utilize government agencies and private companies to dig up as much information about a potential employee during a pre-employment process. Companies implementing the extra precautionary measures reduce the risk of hiring a potentially dangerous individual to work in schools, hospitals, courthouses, and financial institutions where safety and security are paramount. These records show not only convictions but also arrests that did not result in a conviction, severely hindering even an innocent individual from finding gainful employment. As of 2017, new measures are in place to assist those interested in the expungement of their record.

Explaining Expungement

Even if someone was arrested but was found innocent or otherwise not convicted of the accusations, the arrest remains on the record for all interested parties to find. Illinois law grants that those who find themselves in such a position may file a petition with the court to have their records expunged. Qualifying arrests, felonies, and convictions have the right to request that the court destroys the records or seal them, so they are unable to be seen. Examples of crimes that may qualify for expungement include:

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Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyerStingRay devices are used prevalently throughout the state of Illinois by local and state police departments. These powerful devices, also known as “cell site simulators” or “IMSI catchers” mimic a standard cell phone tower. They are useful in tracking devices by sending out signals to a cellular device requiring it to give up its current location. However, with this technology comes the rise of privacy concerns as the device also transmits data back about many bystanders. The problem motivated Illinois legislators to alter laws to protect the rights of Illinois citizens.

Why Are They Used?

The StingRay is only about the size of a suitcase but can intercept, collect, access, transfer, or forward the data received or stored by hundreds or thousands of cell phones within any given neighborhood. Although they are not used throughout the entire United States, the cities and states that have them have been able to assist those in need. For instance, in October the technology helped in locating a 6-year-old girl in Arizona. When the device is in active mode, a compatible device is forced to disconnect from the actual service tower cell site and connect with the simulator, forcing all devices in the area to identify their location with the use of radio waves.

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Illinois DUI lawyer, Illinois defense attorneyReceiving a conviction of driving under the influence creates potentially irreparable impacts on an individual's driving record and reputation. From additional points on a driving record to your name visible on the local police blotter or news station, the side effects alone are a reason to avoid a DUI. In Illinois and around the country, police use portable breath tests, also known as breathalyzers, to create probable cause for the charge. Hundreds of unsuspecting motorists blindly agree to the procedure without question. However, when your future is in jeopardy, knowing your rights and when they are being infringed can prevent a problem before it begins.

Usage of Portable Breath Tests

Impaired drivers put themselves and others at risk for an accident. Understandably, police and lawmakers want to keep citizens safe, however, in many cases, their interests overshadow the rights of many of our clients. Many field officers inappropriately assess frightened drivers when no probable cause existed initially, giving them further reason to make an arrest if the result returns as positive. It is important to understand that the number on the breathalyzer does not mean a guaranteed conviction. PBTs do not measure alcohol directly. What they measure is methyl group compounds, which can indicate drinking alcohol in a rough estimation. However, a breathalyzer can register as alcohol with the presence of:

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Ilinois traffic violation lawyer, Ilinois defense attorneyIt is no secret that trains have the ability to create a massive amount of damage if any part of their operation goes awry. The fact that a driver is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train rather than another motor vehicle makes awareness of the safety regulations and laws regarding railroad crossing imperative for safety. Illinois is the epicenter of the comprehensive rail system throughout the United States, with 41 companies currently operating in the state. The number of injuries involving railroads and traffic violations increased in 2015 prompting a crackdown on the laws surrounding railroad crossings.

Statistics Leading to the Increase

The number of railroad crossings in Illinois is staggering. When attempting to do a search of all of the intersections - public, private, and pedestrian - in Cook County alone, we returned with a number greater than 2,500. Statistics of incidents at railroad crossing such as these are as follows:

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Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyerInstead of purchasing items such as tools, machinery, or even linens and tables for a one-time use, many Americans choose to utilize rental options. Through the usage of a rental company, items are available for a fraction of the cost of buying the product brand new or used. As of January 1, 2017, a new law enforcing the return of equipment rentals became active. If you choose to retain the rented equipment past the due date, you may now face criminal felony theft charges.

Introduction of Illinois Senate Bill 1120

With a significant portion of the population on a strict budget, frivolously spending money to purchase items for a short project is avoided at all costs. Businesses began to rent out services and equipment at a relatively small price to alleviate the predicament in the community. Patrons decide their due date for the return of the rented product based on the estimated length of time for project completion. Many times, the actual completion date is well after the initial estimation, leaving the rental establishment without the use of their equipment for an unknown amount of time. With this new bill, if a person knowingly obtains the temporary use of labor, services, or equipment only available for hire with the intention of keeping it past the due date, criminal charges may ensue.

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Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyerBattery cases, in any circumstances, are judged harshly. Many of us learn as children to keep our hands to ourselves and treat others the way we would also like treated. In regards to the battery of a pregnant woman and that of an unborn child, not only is there the social stigma that coincides, but there is also double the punishment for these felony crimes. Understanding how they are different may help determine the best course of action in your case.

Illinois Assault vs. Battery

The laws surrounding assault and battery vary from state-to-state. In Illinois, assault is any behavior that causes a reasonable fear of immediate danger to themselves, someone they love, or their property. Therefore, in Illinois, no physical contact needs making to qualify for an assault charge. Battery cases involve physical contact. Legally, battery occurs when an individual knowingly and unjustifiably:

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Posted on in DUI

Illinois DUI attorney, Illinois defense lawyerConsider any traffic stop in which you were a party. Even in a simple stop for something such as a broken tail light, this formality is a form of a seizure, which is protected by our Fourth Amendment rights. When a stop is performed without just and reasonable suspicion, any following charges should be deemed unconstitutional and be dismissed, even in cases involving DUI. However, these sort of outcomes depends on favorable circumstances coupled with a knowledgeable attorney who has the ability to use them to your advantage.

The Fourth Amendment

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures, including arrests, and demands a court-issued warrant even in cases with probable cause. However, a loophole exists in which if the officer believes the driver or general public are in danger, a warrantless stop is permissible. Reasonably suspicious activities are not clear-cut or defined for cops, offering ambiguity that allows an officer to use their judgment given the present circumstances. If the stop is improper, the stop itself and any resulting evidence are challengeable. Possible defense include:

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Posted on in Traffic Violations

Illinois traffic violation attorney, Illinois defense lawyerObtaining and maintaining your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) comes with important duties. These drivers are responsible for safely operating larger-than-average vehicles and transporting goods and products from one site to another, often across many state lines. In 2015, there were an estimated 10 million CDL holders in the United States, although only about 3.5 million of these have gainful employment as drivers. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that approximately one in 15 of employees is a truck driver. It is a job that is in high demand and pays well. However, with copious amounts of large vehicles on the roadways with the ability to cause catastrophic damage, regulations for operation are becoming increasingly strict. With a single traffic violation, the livelihood of these drivers is at stake due to CDL suspension or revocation.

Benefits to Becoming a Truck Driver

Just as with any employment opportunity, becoming a truck driver comes with considerable positives and negatives. However, those who are drivers seem to find that the benefits of becoming a truck driver far surpass any negatives and are unlike those found in any other field of employment. These advantages are not worth jeopardizing over a legal infraction. Benefits include:

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Posted on in DUI

b2ap3_thumbnail_DUI_20161212-150629_1.jpgEarlier this year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner made considerable alterations to the legal world with regards to marijuana. Not only did this move decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug, but it also redefined the terms of DUI of marijuana. Now, DUI charges are applicable only after finding a certain amount of THC in your body through testing. Another advancement has come into play to assist officers in determining who is high, the marijuana breathalyzer. This technology may alter the legal process once again.

The Law

The topic of marijuana has always been an incredibly heated debate. It was a monumentally progressive advancement for our state to become the 17th in the United States to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot. Now, instead of a criminal record, for quantities of less than ten grams of marijuana, officers issue a citation and a fine. This step significantly frees up officers and the legal process, as well as allows these individuals to obtain employment still and pursue higher education. Additionally, the terms of DUI marijuana changed. The charge only applies if:

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyerControversial as the topic of gun control is right now, there is a constitutional right to bear arms. Illinois rates as a B+ for firearm safety regulations, which inevitably means that it is harder to own a firearm in Illinois than other states with lower scores. The higher standards exclude a significant portion of the population from the purchase of firearms. If you are eligible for gun ownership, there are limitations on the weapons you may possess. Citizens not following these regulations often face weapons charges.

Disqualifiers to Purchase

To legally purchase or otherwise own firearms or ammunitions, the Illinois Department of State Police (DSP) must issue a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card. The process necessary to obtain a FOID is designed to weed out unqualified individuals due to safety concerns to themselves or others. The limitations that may result in ineligibility are:

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Posted on in DUI

Illinois drunk driving lawyer, Illinois defense attorneyMany often say that ignorance is bliss. The phrase is used notably either about the period before any devastating news was received or when others know the truth of a circumstance and the person living in it is unaware and happy in their non-reality. This term also has applications in a variety of legal settings. However, can ignorance of the law be used as a defense for DUI in Illinois?

Ignorance as a Defense

In limited circumstances, ignorance or a misunderstanding of the law is applicable as a defense. As with any defensive strategy, the details surrounding the event are key elements. If the questioned behavior is not obviously wrong, this may be an avenue to consider when planning defense cases. Ignorance potentially may be a solution if the following qualifications are satisfied:

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Illinois criminal law statutes, Illinois defense attorneyBy definition, stealing is taking possession of something that is not yours, regardless of tangibility. The idea of saving money by taking ownership of something that you did not purchase is not a new idea, however with the birth and growth of virtual items, the list of things available to steal has also grown. Now, the Internet is nearly essential to function in daily life, requiring a monthly internet bill that some budgets cannot cover. Therefore, hacking into someone else’s wi-fi network seems like a valid option. However, this is still a form of theft that can get you into trouble.

Why Is It Stealing?

The Internet is seemingly unlimited, without a visible ownership due to the nature of the product. While some individuals do actively invite complete strangers to use their internet connection by leaving their network open without a password, the majority of the population leans toward their privacy. There are a variety of reasons for people to limit the usage to people they know, including:

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Illinois drug crimes attorney, Illiois defense lawyerIf you are unsure of the intricacies of the law, it becomes difficult to ensure that you are behaving lawfully in every aspect of your daily life. Drug laws are no exception to this. There are several elements of the Illinois Controlled Substance Act. You may have a general understanding of the law, but knowledge of what it fully entails may assist you in altering your behavior to prevent unwanted drug charges.

The Forming of the Act

On February 5, 2010, the Illinois Controlled Substance Act was put into effect. The creation of the act grants government and law enforcement officials the authority to prosecute various drug crimes. The reasoning behind creating laws was to combat the rising crime that perceived to be directly related to contraband in the community. A few of the substances that are considered controlled are:

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Posted on in DUI

Illinois DUI laws, Illinois drunk driving attorneyNo one ever anticipates being the recipient of a DUI charge when they begin their drive. If we had that information, perhaps more individuals would choose one of the many alternate options to make it to their destination. However, once a driver has been pulled over safely, it is the duty of the officers to complete standard procedures. If the officer fails to complete the routine in a legal manner, anything that the driver is charged for, including driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana, may be susceptible to being dismissed.

Chronological Order of a DUI Traffic Stop

Officers endure extensive training programs to be prepared to follow protocol instinctively during a traffic stop. If the officer strays from the guidelines set for them, they potentially may also be in violation of the law. The steps flow in such a way to protect the rights of citizens, and these rights are not to be infringed upon. These measures include:

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Posted on in Traffic Violations

Illinois traffic attorney, Illinois traffic lawsSpeeding happens. Occasionally it is intentional, for instance for an emergency or someone is simply late for work. Other times, an individual is lost in thought and is not paying attention to the odometer. No matter the reason, speeding can potentially put the lives of others at risk and Illinois law seeks to enforce harsh punishment to those who are found guilty of speeding traffic violations. When the odds are stacked against you, it is best to guard yourself with legal backup to protect your driving privileges.

The Laws

The law punishes speeding by minors and commercial truck drivers differently than the general driver. Therefore, for the scope of this article, we are focusing just on general speeding traffic laws. Illinois is one of the states that has an “absolute” traffic law. That means that if you even go over the posted speed limit by one mile per hour, then you are in violation of the law. According to state statutes, the basic speeding law states:

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Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois driving statutesFor years, if you went to the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), you have been able to get everything accomplished and leave the facility with a freshly printed driver’s license or state ID. However, Secretary of State Jesse White just announced that as of July, this will no longer be the case. Due to a federal mandate, states must take precautions to protect against identification fraud. These changes will also affect license reinstatement process because to reinstate your license you need to reapply for the license.

Federal Mandate

The mandate that Illinois is following was passed by Congress in 2005 as a direct result of the 9/11 Commission’s push for higher standards to prevent duplication of identification cards. Therefore, the Department of Homeland Security enacted what is known as “Real ID Act." For states that do not meet these standards, if they were to visit a federal facility, their state issued ID would not be an acceptable form of admittance. This will also affect air travel and notices will start to become more and more prevalent in the coming years. For now, the services that remain unaffected are:

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