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Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

How Might I Lose My Driver’s License?

By admin on November 7, 2017

driver license

91% of all drivers who were arrested for DUI end up losing their driving privileges for at least some period of time. When you need a Chicago Traffic Violation Attorney, we can help. We want you to understand how you might lose your driver’s license, and what exactly it means to have your driving privileges taken from you.

Types of Punishments

In the state of Illinois, you can lose your driver’s license in two different ways: through suspension and through revocation. Suspensions and revocations are different administrative actions that grow out of different crimes or traffic offenses, and have different consequences for you.

In the context of DUI, when your license is suspended, that means that you will eventually gain your right to drive back. The exact length of the suspension depends on how many prior offenses and suspensions you have. The circumstances of the crime are also important. If you cause serious injury to another or if a reckless homicide occurred, the chances significantly increase that you will have your driver’s license revoked, rather than just suspended. For a first time DUI offender, you may have your license suspended for as little as six months, and most first offenders receive a suspension no longer than one year.  But under other circumstances, a DUI offender may have their license revoked for an indeterminate period of time, or even for life.

In addition, your license may be suspended if you accrue more than a certain number of parking fines or have an accident without insurance. Failure to appear in court after you have been given a traffic citation may also earn you a suspension. When people do not pay their child support or their fines, they might have their license suspended. If you do not pay tolls, you may also have your license taken from you until you take care of such overdue fines.

License revocations are far more serious. When your license is revoked, the chances of you getting it back quickly are significantly reduced. There are a few reasons for this. First, the state does not establish any specific reinstatement period, just a waiting period before a request can be made. If you want your license back, you will need to schedule a hearing. Second, being successful at this hearing is often very difficult without an experienced lawyer, and the hearing process is a highly structured event which requires you to submit specific pieces of evidence. License revocations are generally associated with more serious crimes and traffic offenses.  For that reason, reinstatement of your license is also more difficult.

There are other offenses that may result in your license being revoked as well. Leaving the scene of an accident when there has been a death or a personal injury can result in revocation. Similarly, attempting to elude a police officer, drag racing, driving without a valid license, false application to the Secretary of State, or being convicted of crimes such as car theft or transporting a gun may all result in your license being taken away.

The Next Steps

There are a few things that you can do if your license has been suspended or revoked. If your license has just been suspended, you can simply wait it out, as a suspension is not forever. But if your life will be made very difficult without a license during this period of suspension, an attorney can advise you as to whether it may be possible to lessen or eliminate the period of suspension entirely.

When your license is revoked, the situation is a bit trickier. You will have to petition the DMV (Secretary of State) to get it back. But until the DMV agrees to provide you some driving relief, the revocation will continue indefinitely.  If you need more information, check out our blog post about Illinois license revocations.

When you’re in need of a Chicago traffic violation attorney, call Mitchell Sexner & Associates LLC to speak to experienced and knowledgeable attorneys who are ready to help you today. Call us at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: DUI

Newest Laws about Expungement and Sealing in Illinois

By admin on November 1, 2017

The Latest on What Can and Cannot be Expunged in Illinois

Governor Bruce Rauner signed a new expungement law on Aug. 24, 2017. The new rules come from two different acts: Public Act 100-0284 and Public Act 100-0285. Before the law was passed, Illinois was notorious for having juvenile expungement laws that were among the worst in the nation. Public Act 099-0835 gives more rights to juvenile offenders.

As Chicago expungement attorneys, we want you to understand what rights you have. You may have made a mistake when you were younger. We do not believe that you should be haunted by these actions forever. Keep reading for more information on the latest expungement laws.

Expungement: A Brief Overview

When you are convicted of a criminal offense, there are more consequences than just jail time or fines. Employers do background checks, and landlords want to know your history. If they find that you have committed an offense, they are less likely to consider you for employment or housing. This can be frustrating, because you may be qualified to work or wish to live somewhere specific. Financial institutions, such as banks, also might check your criminal record.

It does not necessarily even have to be a conviction to cause you problems. Someone may be able to find your criminal history, even if it was just an arrest or if you were released without charges.

But when you have your record expunged, a potential employer, landlord, or interested person should not be able to see what you were charged or convicted of. For legal purposes, you are not required to divulge that the offense ever occurred. After your records are expunged, people should only know of your history if you tell them.

This is similar to a legal process called sealing, but these processes are not exactly the same. In an expungement, your record is not available to anyone. Sealing however, usually, means that your record is still open to police, courts, and other members of the justice system. But it is hidden from private companies like employers and landlords.

Not every crime is eligible for expunging or sealing. For example, convictions for domestic battery, DUI, sex crimes and reckless driving cannot be removed or hidden from your record.

Expunging your record can be a big benefit to people who have a history with the law. It can provide someone with a ‘clean slate’, and a chance to start again.

The New Sealing and Expungement Laws

Public Act 099-0835 changes how expungement works for minors. Before, people had to wait until their 18th birthday before they could have their records expunged. Now, under certain circumstances, they may file a petition to have their records eliminated at any time.

Before, you could not expunge another charge if there was a conviction of any kind on your record. Now, if you have been convicted of something, you may still be able to expunge another case.

In addition, now there is no waiting period to expunge dismissed charges, although you will have to wait two years to expunge supervision, and five to expunge certain special probations. If you have pending charges, you cannot file to expunge.

Now, citizens of Illinois can seal a wider range of charges. For many non-sexual, non-violent charges, you can try to make sure that no employers, landlords, or banks discover your history. Additionally, the process for sealing and expunging your records is quicker and easier in some circumstances. This is especially true if you committed the crime while you were young.

At Sexner & Associates LLC, we believe that everyone should receive fair treatment. If you would like to have your criminal record examined to determined if you qualify for expungement or sealing, you can contact the Chicago expungement attorneys at Mitchell Sexner & Associates LLC. All of our attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced and ready to fight for you today. Call us at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: Criminal Defense

The Five Best Reasons to Hire a Lawyer to Fight Traffic Tickets

By admin on October 24, 2017

The Five Best Reasons to Hire a Lawyer to Fight Traffic TicketsThe red light camera on the corner of Van Buren and Western, which is not far from our Chicago office, caught more than 10,000 drivers in just one year! The red light camera program has been put under fire recently, but a traffic ticket is still a traffic ticket.

Fines are a daily occurrence in Arlington Heights and Chicago. As Chicago Traffic Violation Lawyers, we want to help. Check out the five best reasons to hire a lawyer to fight traffic tickets.

You Have the Right

The Constitution enshrines your right to the due process of law. This means that the government must operate within the law, and provide fair procedures. Legally speaking, you have a right to defend yourself from accusations placed against you. As an American citizen, you should fight for your rights.

You Can Get the Ticket Reduced

The State of Illinois allows citizens to request a court hearing. In these hearings, you may ask your judge to have your fine reduced. In addition, you can sometimes discuss a monthly payment plan, or request an alternative punishment like community service. When you get your ticket, there often are instructions for this on the back.

You Can Get the Ticket Thrown Out

If you think you have received a ticket unfairly, you can fight to have it thrown out. A little bit of preparation can go a long way. There are many different ways that can help improve your chances for a dismissal.

Although law enforcement officers are not required to show the method used to detect speeding, there are often techniques by which a good traffic lawyer can challenge the technology, whether it involves radar, laser or some other method.  This is due to the fact that speeding tickets often rely on someone’s perception. That perception could be false.

If the law enforcement officer used radar, it is entirely possible that the radar was calibrated incorrectly, or the device is inaccurate. Some officers are not trained on how to use these devices, and may be reading it incorrectly. Finally, many different factors, such as water in the air or other cars in the area, may make the reading incorrect.

If your lawyer successfully uses these defenses, the ticket may be dismissed without further punishment. You will only have to pay your lawyer.

Insurance Will Go Up if You Do Not

Many people think that they can get away with just paying whatever the cost of the ticket is. But while it’s true that they may save on the cost of an attorney, there are other costs associated with a violation. Even if you are a first-time offender, you may wind up paying up to $1,000 in higher insurance premiums over the course of several years.

You Can Maintain Your Driving Privileges

If you accumulate too many traffic tickets over time, your driver’s license may become suspended or revoked. People who are found guilty over and over may therefore have a hard time keeping their license. But if you have multiple traffic tickets thrown out or if you receive court supervision, your driving record will look better.

Mitchell Sexner & Associates LLC are experienced Chicago traffic violation lawyers. Call us today at (800) 996-4824.

 

Posted in: Traffic Violation

My License Has Been Revoked. What Happens Next?

By admin on October 17, 2017

what happens after your lciense is revoked

Drivers in Illinois can have their licenses revoked for a wide variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons is DUI. After your license has been revoked, you may feel ostracized, frustrated, and unable to do much.

If you are dealing with a license revocation in Chicago, Sexner & Associates LLC can help.  Check out our guide to learn what you can do after your license has been revoked.

Understanding Your Revocation

The state revoking or suspending your license are two different actions, though they may seem similar at first. A suspension means that you will eventually have your driving rights returned. A revocation is ‘indefinite’. This means that there is no formal end to your revocation.

You are not automatically granted your driving rights back, but that does not mean that you will never drive again. After a certain period of time, you become eligible for reinstatement. You have to appear before the Secretary of State of Illinois to petition for your driving privileges back.

The Next Steps

If you are going it alone, you should understand that it is an uphill battle. A formal hearing has a very low rate for a successful appeal. Should your license get revoked, it is a good idea to hire a lawyer. They have the know-how to help you get through your case successfully.

If you have only committed one offense, then you may be eligible for an informal hearing. Compared to a formal hearing, this is often a relatively quicker and easier procedure, but you should not rely on this being the case.

If your driver’s license was revoked for a non-fatal offense, a single DUI, or multiple minor moving violations, you may be eligible for an informal hearing. At this hearing, you may be granted a restricted driving permit or get your license reinstated completely.

When you have committed more than one serious offense, you carry a massive burden of proof. The evaluators are always very skeptical, and there are many hoops to jump through. You will need to show, at the very least, that you have completed an alcohol evaluation, when the cause of the revocation is alcohol or drug related.

In addition, you must show that you are not dependent on alcohol or drugs. One of the ways you can show this is through participation in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

After you have received your hearing request and have made the necessary fee payment, you will be mailed a Notice of Hearing with your scheduled hearing date. If you do not speak English, you are responsible for bringing your own interpreter. Those who are hearing impaired can request that the Secretary of State provide a sign language interpreter.

What Happens If I Drive with a Revoked License?

If you drive on a revoked license, you will greatly reduce any chance of getting your license reinstated. The Secretary of State will not look kindly upon this.

When someone drives while their driver’s license is revoked, the exact punishment depends on the crime. According to Illinois law, it is usually a Class A misdemeanor to drive while your license is revoked, which can land you up to a year in jail. You may also see a fine of up to $2,500. If your license has been revoked due to reckless homicide or for any number of other reasons and you continue to drive, you may be charged with a Class 4 or even higher felony. Consequences for this are far more severe.

We do not recommend driving with a revoked license. It can land you in serious legal trouble.

When you need assistance with your license revocation in Chicago, we can help. Sexner & Associates LLC has an experienced, aggressive, and resourceful team that is ready to fight for you. Call us today at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: Traffic Violation

What Punishments are There for a First Time DUI Offense?

By admin on October 10, 2017

According to the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists and the Illinois State Police, there were 5,619 arrests for DUI in 2016. Chicago Police reported 2,592 arrests themselves. In the Chicago metropolitan area, Elgin ranks third in terms of sheer number of DUI arrests, with 365.

That means that there was a DUI arrest in Elgin, on average, every single day.

As Chicago DUI lawyers, we want to help you understand the consequences of a DUI conviction. The easiest way to avoid any problems with DUI is to not drink and drive. If you have knocked back a few, it may be a good idea to hand your keys to someone else.

Punishments for DUI

There are a few possible punishments for DUI, depending on the circumstances of your case. A few factors determine your sentence, even for first time DUI cases.

In Illinois, DUI is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor offense. This is means it is a criminal offense. Theoretically, a guilty verdict could come with up to one year of prison, but in practice, most first-time offenders receive no jail time.

In addition, there is usually a fine. These fines do not include court costs, nor do they cover additional stipulations of the sentence such as alcohol awareness classes or reinstatement process costs.

Should you be convicted of DUI again, your first DUI will become a factor when it comes to punishment. There is no limit to the ‘look back’ period. If you were first convicted of DUI in 2006, it will be brought up in court in 2029.

There are administrative penalties as well. A first DUI does not always lead to a suspended or revoked license. Many people believe that this is true, but a suspended license does not happen every time. When a license is suspended, however, generally it is for 6 months. There are some circumstances when a license suspension lasts for a whole year or up to 3 years.

Alcohol awareness classes were mentioned above, but we did not explore what they really are. These are courses that provide counseling, facts, and general education on what alcohol abuse can do to you. Those who plead guilty or are found guilty will have to pay for them, and regularly attend them. There is usually a test at the end and additional requirements will need to be met to help reinstate your license.

While this is not necessarily a punishment handed down by the judiciary, those who were found guilty of DUI may find it difficult to rent an apartment, find employment, or get approved for a loan. Employers and landlords often check to see if potential workers or renters have had legal issues, and are less likely to engage with people who were convicted of DUI.

More Serious Punishments for More Serious Crimes

Those punishments are for people who were caught drinking and driving without hitting anything or anyone. There are circumstances where drunk driving punishments become more severe.

In certain instances, the penalties depend on the passengers. The driver of a school bus, a taxi or a car where a person under the age of 16 is a passenger will see harsher penalties. Someone who drives drunk without insurance, a legitimate driver’s license, or has a suspended license will also see more stringent punishments.

Consequences become harsher when the driver was drunk and commits a hit and run.

In Illinois, there is Aggravated DUI. That is a felony punishable by more than a year in the penitentiary. Fines and jail time become far more extensive. This includes when a drunk driver hits someone, and causes severe bodily injury, or death. Some who were convicted of Aggravated DUI have spent a decade or more in jail.

If you are in trouble for DUI, call Mitchell Sexner. He is an experienced, resourceful, and personable lawyer. Contact us today.

Posted in: DUI

The Five Most Common Mistakes People Make When Talking to Police

By admin on October 5, 2017

Picture this: on one hand, you have a champion chess player, who has played in a thousand matches. She knows every single trick in the book, because she wrote the book. On the other hand, you have a regular person. They may know the rules, but their understanding of chess strategy is rough.

When you’re talking to the police, you are the regular person, and they are the chess champion. You may make a mistake and not even realize it is a mistake. Police-induced false confessions are one of the largest causes of wrongful convictions, according to Cornell University.

Police know how to extract confessions from people. There is no good way to predict what information the police might use. Remember, they have done this many times before. While some officers do want to uphold justice, some simply want convictions to make themselves look better.

As part of our dedication to you, we want you to understand what you should not say to police.

“Yeah, you can search my car.”

Police need a warrant to search you, your home, or your backpack. In order to search your car, they must establish probable cause. This means that the police should have a reason to believe that you have committed, are committing, or will commit a crime. If they have not established probable cause, you should not let them search your car.

People might not understand that the things they have in their car could lead to legal trouble. If you were speeding and have an empty wine bottle in the trunk, an officer may try to pin a DUI charge on you. You may not think much of the joint you have in your glove box, but a police officer might. They will look for items that you might not consider a big deal.

Police can search whatever you give them consent to. Anything they find can and will be used against you. This applies to cars, homes, apartments, bags, anything.

“See, what happened was…”

When police are talking to you, they want information. Law enforcement might not have enough information to detain or arrest you, and you should not give them this info. Even if it seems like a friendly conversation, the police will be examining your story very closely, looking for any small detail or hole.

When you are being questioned by police, you have a right to speak with a lawyer. In a vast majority of situations, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police. They know the games the police are playing, and how to beat them.

“How much would it take to make this go away?”

In the state of Illinois, bribery is a Class 2 Felony. It does not matter if you are at a regular traffic stop, are being interviewed by the police, or are in front of a judge.

Do not talk about, joke about, or mention bribes in any way. Even implying that you will give them money in exchange for legal favors will land you in hot water.

“Just so you know, I have a weapon.”

Many police officers think that they have a dangerous job. As the tragic deaths of Philando Castile, Eric Garner, and many others have shown, some officers are prone to using their firearms.

While we will not debate the merits of these cases, you should know that implying you have a weapon could be taken as a threat. Even in cases where the weapon is legal, knowing you have a gun will put police on edge.

“No, I am not going to take that breathalyzer test.”

People often think they can easily beat a DUI charge if they refuse to take the breath test. While the prosecution may have a more difficult time proving a DUI without it, they may still be able to lay out the proper evidence to convict you. Each case is different.

After you have been arrested for DUI, you will be officially requested to submit to blood, breath, and/or urine tests. When a driver is in custody and does not agree to the tests, he or she may have their license suspended for up to three years.

According to law however, you may refuse to take a preliminary breathalyzer test without consequence. There are also other tests, such as the “walk & turn test” and “horizontal gaze nystagmus test” which are known as “field sobriety tests” and can be refused without consequence as well.

When you are in legal trouble, call Mitchell Sexner. He is an experienced Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney, and can help you out today. Call us, day or night, at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: Criminal Defense

If You Feel Unsafe Around Cops, Call a Lawyer to Protect Yourself

By admin on September 25, 2017

Law enforcement officers are supposed to keep us safe and protect us, and for the most part they do that. Unfortunately, there are some police officers who fail to understand that they are supposed to act responsibly even when interacting with a “suspect.”

In June 2011, Flint Farmer was infamously shot and killed by a Chicago police officer during a traffic stop. The officer’s dashboard camera recorded him standing over Farmer and shooting him in the back. A total of 16 shots were fired, and seven hit Farmer, who was unarmed. Read the rest »

Posted in: Police Brutality

Double DUIs: Better to Learn the First Time

By admin on September 25, 2017

A second DUI offense, especially if you are currently dealing with penalties from your first DUI, can be particularly difficult.

In these situations, Illinois courts are more likely to impose strict penalties since the defendant has shown he/she did not learn from the first offense. That’s why it’s vital to have tough legal representation to protect yourself. Read the rest »

Posted in: DUI

Friday Night Drinks: Be Careful Before Driving

By admin on September 25, 2017

For September 8th, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to lift the decades-long “prohibition” on Friday night games at Wrigley Field, allowing the Cubs to play the Brewers with the blessing of MLB.

Though the Brewers didn’t like this (they were counting on taking advantage of a day game), they did end up winning with a score of 2–1.

Never mind. There are four rematches coming up in the regular season. And while the ban remains officially in place, this one exception may open up the possibility of future Friday night games at Wrigley Field. Read the rest »

Posted in: DUI

Bartenders: Are They Liable for What Their Patrons Do?

By admin on September 25, 2017

A Palatine-area bar recently got into some legal “hot water.” In the mix were a former American Idol contestant, a bartender, and a nasty bar fight.

On July 8th, a confrontation between patrons and bar staff concerning a knocked-over table erupted into physical blows. The former American Idol contestant, who was asked to leave along with her group, ended up being charged with battery, and on the other side a bartender was arrested for the more serious charge of felony aggravated battery. His victim suffered a concussion, two black eyes, a broken nose, and a forehead cut. Read the rest »

Posted in: DUI