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Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

Which Crimes Could Get Me Deported?

By admin on January 20, 2018

Which Crimes Could Get Me Deported

In the fiscal year of 2017, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted 226,119 removals. 20.9% of people in Chicago were born in a different country. Certain parts of Chicagoland, like Cicero, Prospect Heights, and Schiller Park have welcomed 40% or more of their population from other countries. The Windy City proudly opens its doors for people from all over the world.

If you have been arrested, you will find it valuable to call a criminal defense attorney in Chicago. Keep reading our guide to learn which crimes are likely to lead to deportation.

Who Can Be Deported?

The current administration has placed a lot of emphasis on deporting undocumented workers, but they are not the only ones who face deportation to their home countries. Green cards and work visas can be revoked, at which point the owner of the visa or green card will be sent to their country of origin. It is always possible to lose your status, whatever that may be.

If you have already become a naturalized citizen, it is not likely that your citizenship will be taken from you. The process is called ‘denaturalization’, and there are generally four different circumstances in which someone may have their citizenship stripped from them:

  • If they falsified their paperwork during the naturalization process or concealed relevant facts
  • If they refused to testify before Congress
  • If they are a member of a subversive group, like the Nazi Party or Al Qaeda
  • If they received a dishonorable military discharge

These circumstances are not that common.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

According to US Code, people are ineligible for admission into the United States if they have committed a crime of ‘moral turpitude’ or have violated any law relating to a controlled substance. While there is little ambiguity when it comes to controlled substances, the term ‘moral turpitude’ remains a somewhat nebulous concept.

The State Department of the United States has issued guidelines defining what moral turpitude is. The most common elements in these crimes involve fraud, larceny, and intent to harm persons or things. Crimes involving dishonesty are especially prevalent in these guidelines.

There are a few crimes that have consistently been considered to be crimes of moral turpitude. The following is not an exhaustive list but can still provide some insight:

  • Murder
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Spousal abuse
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Animal fighting
  • Theft
  • Fraud

There are certain exceptions, however. If the crime was committed while the potential immigrant was under the age of 18, then under some circumstances, they may be admitted into the US or allowed to stay. In addition, if the crime does not carry a sentence of more than a year, and the immigrant was not sentenced to more than 6 months, then they may be allowed to stay in America.

Any immigrant that is convicted of 2 or more offenses could have their visa or green card revoked. It does not matter if the crimes come from a single act of misconduct, or if the crimes did not involve moral turpitude.

Someone who has come to the United States for the sole purpose of becoming a prostitute may face deportation. If someone commits or conspires to commit human trafficking offenses, even if they did so outside the United States, they may not be allowed to stay.

People convicted of “aggravated felonies” are treated especially harsh by the law. What is considered an aggravated felony according to immigration law does not fit with traditional legal definitions of “aggravated” or “felony”. Initially, it related to fairly serious crimes like murder or gun-trafficking. Now, it can apply to some misdemeanors. Those convicted of aggravated felonies are not allowed to receive most forms of relief that might save someone from being deported, including asylum.

If you have been accused of a crime, a lawyer from Sexner & Associates LLC can be your criminal defense attorney in Chicago. We have a team of experienced lawyers who are ready to fight for you today. Call us, day or night, at 1-800-996-4824.

Posted in: Criminal Defense

What Legal Issues Arise from College and Fraternity Parties?

By admin on January 9, 2018

What Legal Issues Arise from College and Fraternity Parties
If you consult a map of Chicago, you will find that the Windy City is covered with top-ranked universities like the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois. Our city attracts intellectuals and seekers of knowledge from all around the world.

Unfortunately however, the world of higher education is not always rosy. The death of a young man at Northern Illinois University in nearby Dekalb sparked a legal firestorm regarding drinking and personal liability. As Chicago personal injury lawyers, we want you to understand what legal issues come about due to college parties.

Hazing

According to Illinois law, hazing is illegal. This means that students cannot haze someone if it is not sanctioned or authorized by the university and the act results in bodily harm to the person.  Induction or admission into fraternities, clubs, and similar organizations cannot depend on such activities as a requirement.

Illinois’s social host liability laws can complicate matters, however. In the court case of Wakulich vs. Mraz, the court held that merely supplying alcohol was not enough to make someone liable, because at the time, Illinois laws eliminated liability for social hosts. But although originally dismissed, the appeals court overturned the ruling at least partially because the host had negligently failed to exercise due care for the girl after she became intoxicated and unconscious.

In Bogenberger vs. Pi Kappa Alpha , a pledge from Palatine died after a night of forced drinking at Northern Illinois University.  The question in this ongoing case was whether or not this was a social host situation, or if the hazing statute applied. The fact that fraternity members pressured younger students into drinking beyond their limits was enough for the courts to say that the court case could continue.

The Illinois Supreme Court held that the national organization for the fraternity was not responsible, as they had no control over the situation, and had a policy stating that hazing was not allowed. The court however did not look favorably upon the fact that the leaders knew that the NIU chapter had poor risk-management and had a history of wild parties. The parents were allowed to proceed against the local Pi Kappa Alpha chapter, it’s fraternity members, and the sorority members who were also present.

It may be a good idea to keep an eye on this case. The outcome could have implications that extend beyond college parties. There is a chance that it sets a precedent that extends beyond Illinois.

Underage Drinking

Partially in response to the Wakulich case mentioned above, Illinois passed the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act. This holds people liable if they supply drugs or alcohol to someone under the age of 18. If a minor drinks too much and injures himself or herself, the person who gave them alcohol could be sued.

Drinking, if the person is under the age of 21, is forbidden. Many college students use fake IDs to get alcohol. This is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, which means that a college student could spend up to a year in jail and face a fine of up to $2,500.  If someone is caught using a fake ID a second time, or makes and distributes fake IDs, then they may be imprisoned for up to 3 years. In addition, they could face fines up to $25,000. This is because selling fake driver’s licenses is a Class 4 felony.

Underage drinking is a serious problem. In 2013 alone, it cost our state $2.8 billion. College students do not always know their limits. When kids drink too much, they may run into problems with the law. Even worse, they could wind up hospitalized. Do not drink if you have not reached the age of 21 and if you are of age, please drink responsibly.

DUI

College students do not always fully understand the consequences of their actions either. Sometimes, they have a little bit too much to drink and then drive. If someone has a blood alcohol content of .08% or greater, then they surely will run into trouble with the police. Even if their content is below that limit, an adult can still be prosecuted for drunk driving.

Our state has a Zero Tolerance Law. That means that if you have consumed any alcohol and you are under the age of 21, you cannot legally drive. Should a 19-year-old have a BAC of .01%, they will face punishment including suspension or loss of license.

So don’t drink and drive. It may be a good idea to check out our blog about punishments for a first time DUI offense.

If you have been arrested after a college party, it is helpful to talk to a lawyer. They can discuss punishments, laws, and other facts with you. Having someone at your side can help you when you are facing a prosecutor. An experienced attorney will defend you, and make sure that you are treated fairly by the justice system.

The team at Sexner & Associates LLC can help fight for you today.  Our attorneys have helped many others before, whether a loved one has been injured by hazing or whether accused of such a crime. We know what it takes to make sure that you are properly protected. Call us today at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: DUI

What is Sexual Assault?

By admin on January 2, 2018

What is Sexual Assault?

In America, someone is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. Recent high profile cases involving Louis CKRoger Ailes, and Kevin Spacey have cast the spotlight onto sexual violence. The viral #metoo movement let many people see just how pervasive this crime is in our society.

As Chicago sex crime attorneys, we want you to understand what sexual assault is.

Criminal Sexual Assault

In the state of Illinois, officially speaking, there are two necessary elements to convict someone of sexual assault. The first element is always the same. If someone sexually penetrates another, that satisfies one of the conditions. The second element can vary. At least one of the following needs to be true for the incident to break the law:

  •        The perpetrator used force or threatened to use force
  •        The violator knows that the victim does not understand the nature of the act, or is unable to give consent
  •        The defendant is related to the victim, and the victim is under the age of 18
  •        The accused is 17 or older, and maintains a position of authority or trust in relation to the victim, and the victim is between the ages of 13-18

Multiple elements may apply at the same time.

In Illinois, sexual assault is a Class 1 Felony. According to the law, and the guilty offender may be sentenced to 4-15 years in jail. In addition, criminals who commit sexual assault may pay up to $25,000 in fines.

If someone is convicted of sexual assault for a second time, then they may be charged with a Class X felony. Should someone be found guilty, a judge may be able to sentence that person to jail for 30-60 years.

Aggravated Sexual Assault

Aggravated sexual assault is also a Class X felony. In Illinois, sexual assault may be charged as aggravated sexual assault if certain aggravating factors are present including:

  •        The person uses a dangerous weapon
  •        The person threatens to use a weapon
  •        The commits the sexual assault while they are committing another felony
  •        The victim is 60 years old or older
  •        The victim has a physical disability
  •        The person injects or makes someone drink a controlled substance
  •        The person has a gun

A conviction may mean that the defendant may spend 30-60 years in jail.

Penetration is necessary for the crime to be sexual assault. This means that crimes of a sexual nature that do not involve penetration usually fall under criminal sex abuse rather than assault. Criminal sex abuse is typically a Class 4 Felony, or a Class A Misdemeanor, depending on what the specific allegations.

Other Types of Sexual Assault

That refers to the legal definition of sexual assault. But people do not always use the legal definition when they are talking about this topic. Many consider other acts, such as groping, sexual harassment, child sex abuse, elder abuse, and other forms of unwanted sexual conduct to be sexual assault, although they are different and have their own laws and punishments.

Possible Defenses

There are a few defenses for sexual assault. The accused can assert that they had consent or maintain that the event never occurred, as well as other defenses.

Despite what many people see in movies, getting a case dismissed due to insanity is exceptionally difficult. A defendant attempting to plead not guilty by reason of insanity happens in fewer than 1% of cases, .85% to be exact, and only one in four of those are successful. Most of the time, it is not even a viable option.

Text messages or written communication may help prove that someone had consent. Keep in mind, however, that in Illinois consent can be withdrawn.  Trying to prove or disprove consent usually devolves into a he-said-she-said scenario, and that can be a bit unpredictable.

Lastly, an accused person may be able to prove that the incident did not happen, that they did not do it, or other facts that illustrate that they could not have done it. This defense relies on facts relevant to the particular circumstances.

If you have been accused of sexual assault, it is a good idea to retain the services of legal counsel. They will be able to properly represent you and your situation, and help formulate a plan to increase your chances for success.  It has often been said that guilty people need a lawyer, but Innocent people really need a lawyer. The justice system makes mistakes, and overzealous prosecutors sometimes prosecute the innocent.

The experienced attorneys of Sexner & Associates LLC are ready to fight for you today. Contact us now.   

Posted in: Criminal Defense

New Illinois Laws for 2018

By admin on December 26, 2017

New Illinois Laws for 2018

2018 is now officially well underway. January 1st brought a new year, new hopes, and new laws. A wide variety of regulations came into effect once the clock struck midnight. We want to help break them down for you.

Sexner & Associates, LLC has an experienced team of Chicago traffic violation attorneys and criminal defense attorneys. If you have violated any of these laws, give us a call. Until then, keep reading for a handy guide on the most recent legal developments.

New Criminal Laws

Illinois has expanded the definition of the term hate crime. For a long time, our state’s prejudice-motivated crimes did not extend into the digital realm. Now, after Public Act 100-0917 is officially part of our codex, it is a crime to intimidate, stalk, or cyber stalk someone. Sending someone an offensive message via text, a messenger app, or a social media site may be a felony, depending on certain circumstances. Civil penalties, such as fines, may also be handed down.

In addition, crimes committed at mosques, churches, synagogues, or other places of worship could be considered hate crimes. Public Act 100-0260 was signed due to an increase in vandalism at religious facilities across our state. Committing this crime is a Class 3 Felony, which can carry a prison sentence of 2 to 5 years.

While this is not technically part of criminal law, this falls under the general umbrella. Public Act 100-0247, otherwise known as Sam’s Act, mandates that law enforcement officers take courses on mental health issues and mental health awareness. This may mean that the police handle people with mental illnesses in a better way. The law is meant to help police de-escalate difficult situations.

Public Act 100-0149 indicates that Illinois is cracking down further on DUIs. If someone drives on a suspended or revoked license when the underlying basis is an aggravated DUI in which someone was killed in the course of a reckless homicide case, punishments for these cases are now far more stringent.

Finally, Public Act 100-0460 explicitly forbids defendants from trying to reduce their sentence using what is colloquially known as the ‘gay panic’ defense. Some people have testified that upon learning that the victim was gay, they were overwhelmed by passion and could not stop themselves from murdering another. This is now against the law. As part of this, hearing that someone is of a different sexual orientation no longer qualifies as legitimate provocation for second-degree murder.

New Traffic Laws

Public Act 100-0436 has banned the practice of test-driving a vehicle while a ‘For Sale’ or ‘For Lease’ sign is displayed on a window. This law was passed in response to the death of Brendan Burke. The young man passed on because the other driver’s vision was obscured due to decals and paperwork. Politicians proposed this rule to help make the roads less hazardous.

In an effort to promote safe practices for both drivers and cyclists, the state of Illinois passed Public Act 100-0359. Those who ride their bicycles may now use the road’s shoulder, and motorists can pass cyclists in no-passing zones. When passing, drivers are allowed to cross into the oncoming lane when the bicyclist is riding at less than half the speed limit. That is to say when the driver has sufficient space and time to do so, of course. Now, cyclists may use rear red tail lights instead of a standard reflector, too.

If you have any questions about criminal or traffic laws, call the experienced team at Sexner & Associates, LLC today. We advise everyone to stay up to date, and make sure they are following all laws at all times. Should you run into some trouble, however, our attorneys can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Posted in: Criminal Defense

The Opioid Epidemic & Chicago Laws You Should Know

By admin on December 20, 2017

The Opioid Epidemic and Chicago_Laws You Should Know

There is an increasing need for substance abuse education as the opioid epidemic continues to sweep through the United States. Consider the 1,889 people who died as a result of opioid overdoses in Illinois in 2016. Perhaps they would still be alive if they understood the dangers of illicit opioid abuse.

We are seeing this attitude adopted by lawmakers across the state. Governor Rauner has appointed a task force to help implement sweeping change. Their goal is to reduce opioid overdose deaths by a third by 2020.

Before tackling this reduction in overdose deaths though, it is important to understand specific Chicago opioid laws. This can help individuals struggling with opioid use, abuse, or addiction to understand the consequences of their actions and make informed choices.

As one of Chicago’s premier drug crime defense law firms, we are here to help. We have decades of experience with Cook County prosecutors and can help you understand the significance of complicated and often overwhelming laws.

Cook County Drug Laws

Opioid abuse is a nuanced issue and, in many cases, the laws surrounding it are not. You should always consult with an experienced attorney after an arrest. This includes arrests for the possession or sale of prescription and street opioids.

This means that although we are detailing Cook County opioid laws here, there are many factors that may influence your specific situation. The fundamentals of drug crime charges are important to remember as you read on.

Possession of heroin is a complicated charge. If someone is arrested with less than a few grams of heroin, it may be considered simple possession. But it may also be considered possession with intent to traffic depending upon certain factors like the packing of the drugs and the possession of trafficking paraphernalia (scales, baggies, currency, etc.).

Simple possession of heroin is a felony that brings with it serious consequences. A first offense brings with it fines of thousands of dollars and many years in prison. The specific sentence depends on which type of felony was committed: a Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 or Class 4, for instance. These categories depend on the amount of heroin found. Repeated arrests for possession of heroin will lead to stricter sentences.

The sale, manufacture, or possession with intent to traffic heroin is also incredibly serious. A first offense with between ten to fifteen grams of heroin or morphine will increase the potential court fines dramatically and increase the potential years in prison. As the amount of heroin or morphine increase, so does the sentencing. If someone is arrested, for example, with between 400 and 900 grams of heroin or morphine, they can face much higher fines or the street value of the drugs and even more years in prison.

The crime of possession of a prescription drug varies in severity depending on the type and quantity of opioid possessed. Prescription drugs are classified by Schedule, which denotes their medical use and potential for abuse. Many opioids fall into Schedule II and include: prescription morphine (Kadian, MS Contin) fentanyl, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), oxycodone (Percocet, Roxicet), fentanyl (Duragesic), hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab), methadone, and others.

Possession of a Schedule II opioid may bring with it a fine of up to $25,000 and between one and three years in prison. This is when someone has committed a Class 4 felony. The type and quantity of prescription opioid someone has will determine whether they face a Class X, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, or Class 4 felony. Depending on the quantity, they may also face intent to distribute charges, which are more serious.

Prescription forgery is a felony (known as a “forged script”). A first offense brings with it potential fines of up to $100,000 and between one and three years in prison. A second offense brings with it a fine of up to $200,000 and between two and five years in prison.

The possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor. Opioid drug paraphernalia can include: hypodermic syringes, tin foil with opioid residue on it, straws with opioid residue on them, and empty drug baggies. Offenses carry with them a fine of between $750 and $2,500 and as much as one year in jail.

It is also worth pointing out that the use of a firearm during any of the above offenses will greatly increase the punishment. If someone has a gun while committing any of these offenses, they can expect to have many years added to their prison time. If someone fires a gun during any of these offenses, they can expect to have many more years added. If someone fires a gun and it results in injury or death, they can expect to have additional years or possibly natural life added to their prison time.

If you have been arrested for any type of opioid charge, do not wait to contact Sexner & Associates LLC. We can help and will give you a free case consultation. You can reach us day or night at 1-800-996-4824.

Posted in: Drugs

What Should I Do After I Have Been Arrested?

By admin on December 10, 2017

what should i do after i've been arrested

According to the FBI, there were 1,572,579 arrests for drug abuse violations in 2016. This means that someone was arrested for drugs once every 20 seconds. This number represents a 5.63% increase over the previous year.

At Sexner & Associates LLC, we know how hard being arrested can be. It may seem like your whole life has changed in less than a minute after the police handcuff you. There are certain actions you can take to make your situation better. But more importantly, there are a few things you should do to avoid making your problems far worse.

As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we want you to know what to do if you are arrested. Check out our guide below.

Do Not Resist

It can be incredibly frightening and frustrating to be arrested, especially if you did not commit any crimes. Some people lash out in anger, and physically resist police officers. This is unwise. Once it becomes clear that you will be arrested, you should carefully listen to your instructions and comply.

Resisting a police officer is a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Illinois. The definition of this crime may be somewhat vague, but the consequences for making such an error in judgment is not: harsher punishments may be added on to your sentence, and a judge will not look favorably upon this fact.

Assaulting a police officer is an even more grievous mistake. In some situations, it may be a felony. Beginning a fight with police officers may result in serious time in prison. In worst case scenarios, the office may fear for his or her life and use deadly force. Remember that you want to get home safely.

Keep Quiet

You have the right to remain silent. It may prove incredibly beneficial if you exercise that right. The police are almost certainly not going to be on your side. If you are talking to the authorities, it is helpful to have a lawyer sitting right next to you. Law enforcement officers are looking for any reason to bring the hammer down on you. Just to reiterate, keep quiet. Ask for a lawyer.

There is no law that says that the police always have to tell the truth. They can and will lie to you to try and get you to admit to a crime. A good lawyer will be able to see through these falsehoods.

When you are at a police station, there is no such thing as ‘water-cooler talk’. If they start talking about the Bulls, they may be subtly trying to steer the conversation towards what you were doing on Saturday night after the game, when the crime occurred. There is no need to fall into this trap. Even if it is not a direct line of questioning, it is a good idea to stay silent.

When you are on a phone call with a loved one, you will not want to elaborate too much on what you did or where you were. Someone in the office may be listening in. It is likely that if you speak a language other than English, someone at the Police Department also speaks that language. Statements made in Spanish, Polish or another language are just as valid as statements made in English.

Understand the Process and Know Your Rights

After an arrest, the police are allowed to:

  • Take and secure your personal property or money
  • Fingerprint you
  • Photograph you
  • Ask you to participate in a line-up
  • Provide a writing sample

This is just a small list of actions the police may perform. At no time may the police use excessive force. If you believe that the police treated you in a violent manner, you should bring it up with your lawyer.

Before you get ‘booked’, law enforcement must decide if they are going to file any charges. This must typically be done with 72 hours. Once you have been charged with a crime, you will attend an arraignment. There, you can enter a plea.

You need to post bail before you can be released from police custody. This is property that you give to the authorities as a promise that you will show up for court. In Illinois, it is almost always cash. A judge sets this amount in the case of felonies. Sometimes, a bail will be zero dollars, also known as personal recognizance.  You have a right to have an attorney present at this hearing to demonstrate why your bail should be lower than requested by the prosecutor.

You have the right to an attorney. Although every case is different, many who exercise that right receive lighter punishment, if they face consequences at all. We have the experienced team that you need. When you are facing legal trouble, you should not delay in reaching out to find experienced criminal defense attorneys.

Contact us today for a free consultation. Read our blog post about mistakes people make after arrests. If you have any questions, call us at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: Criminal Defense

Reckless Driving vs. DUI Charges: The Difference, and What It Means for You

By admin on December 1, 2017

Reckless Driving vs. DUI Charges

2.2% of Illinois drivers report driving after drinking too much. This is above the national average, where only 1.9% of people reported operating a vehicle after throwing back a few too many drinks. As Chicago DUI lawyers, we recommend that you drive safely at all times. If you have had too much to drink, hand your keys to your friend or call a ride-sharing service.

We do understand that mistakes happen though. When you drink too much alcohol, your ability to think is not what it should be. If you drink and drive, you should understand the consequences.

DUI Charges in Illinois

If you have a blood-alcohol concentration that is .08% or higher, you are what some call “legally drunk”.  But although .08 is the “legal limit”, sometimes even those who blow below a .08% may still be charged and convicted of DUI if your behavior suggests that you are impaired. That’s because everybody’s metabolism is different. Drivers under the age of 21 and school bus drivers may not however, have any alcohol in their system if they want to drive.

Penalties for a DUI conviction depend on several different factors. Judges will consider:

  • The driver’s age
  • Whether the driver was transporting someone under the age of 16
  • The driver’s BAC level
  • Whether the driver has any previous DUI convictions

It may be a good idea to use the DUI sentence calculator to look at the consequences of your specific case.

Generally, the effect on your license from a DUI is far more severe than it is for reckless driving. Someone charged with even their first DUI conviction might see their license revoked for a year and suffer a suspension of their vehicle registration. Guilty parties may see up to a year in jail or more in some circumstances, or a fine of up to $2,500.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a serious offense, but in general, it is considered to be a less serious charge than DUI, although it is also a Class A misdemeanor. According to the law, reckless driving is a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”. Although this may be considered somewhat vague, it is ultimately up to the courts to interpret what ‘willful and wanton disregard’ might be. This will generally depend on the particular judge or jury.

Reckless driving is not a felony. It is a Class A Misdemeanor with penalties including fines of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail. This puts it in a similar category as DUI, but in practice, judges are often not as harsh with reckless driving charges as they are with DUI. Lastly, reckless driving charges do not usually result in a suspension or revocation of your license.

What It Means for You

A driver can sometimes enter into a plea bargain to reduce a DUI to Reckless Driving as a lesser charge. When a driver does this successfully, it is sometimes known as a ‘wet reckless’, although due to changes in the law, a “wet reckless” no longer means as much as it once did in Illinois. A reckless driving charge may mean that the defendant does not have to go through the same alcohol/drug class as for a DUI case, but sometimes it still does. Both prosecutors and Judges in Illinois always consider your history when determining sentences and when possible, a DUI reduced to a reckless driving charge is always of some value.

If you have any questions, we are here to help. Sexner & Associates LLC has a team of lawyers that are reliable and ready to fight for you. When you are charged with DUI, you need an experienced lawyer at your side. We want to be your Chicago DUI lawyers. Call us today at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: DUI

The Fundamentals of Drug Crime Charges

By admin on November 20, 2017

The Fundamentals of Drug Crime Charges

In 2014 alone, there were more than 100,000 arrests for drug-related crimes in Illinois. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Chicago is a high intensity drug trafficking area. Many people in our community have been arrested for drug crimes. There are a wide variety of drug crimes, which include everything from smoking marijuana to trafficking vast amounts of narcotics.

As Chicago Drug Crime Defense Lawyers, we want you to know what the process is like. Knowing the procedure can help you protect your rights. In some cases, understanding what you are dealing with may keep you out of jail.

Controlled Substances

In Illinois, there are a few different laws that govern the use of drugs. Our state has the Controlled Substance Act. This criminalizes the knowing possession, manufacture, and delivery of drugs. The state of Illinois ties its drug schedule to the federal schedule published by the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The Controlled Substance Act bans a wide variety of recreational drugs, including opioids, hallucinogens, and depressants. The authorities seek to limit certain drugs because they have limited medical use, and leave people vulnerable to abuse and addiction.

This law also regulates prescription medication. When someone is prescribed a certain drug, they are not allowed to sell it, give it, or otherwise transfer it to someone else. Context matters when it comes to drug laws.

It is important to keep in mind that the Controlled Substance Act does not govern the use of marijuana. Illinois has the Cannabis Control Act. This law separates marijuana from other drugs, which means that it has its own degrees of punishment.

Trafficking vs. Possession

Drug trafficking is punished much more severely than simple possession. According to the law, if you have larger quantities of a controlled substance or marijuana, you have committed a more serious crime. Possessing larger quantities of a drug is perceived as more harmful to society because you are affecting more people.

Even if someone intends to use all the substances themselves, having a certain amount of a drug may land the person in more trouble. The police will also consider other indications of distribution. For example, scales, small bags, and large amounts of money may indicate that someone is trafficking drugs.

When the police catch someone with between 15 and 99 grams of heroin, cocaine, or morphine, the guilty party may under some circumstances go to jail for not less than 4 years and not more than 15. When someone is found with between 100 grams and 399 grams of those drugs, they might go to jail for between 6-30 years. The punishments get more and more severe in relation to the quantity of the drug.

What the Prosecution Must Prove

In order to successfully convict someone, the prosecution must prove the following:

  • The identity of the substance in question
  • That someone knowingly possessed the substance
  • That the substance was in their immediate and exclusive control

 

Proving the identity of the substance is fairly straightforward. The prosecution or police will run chemical tests to show that the white powder (for instance) in someone’s car is cocaine. If they cannot definitively prove what something is, then the accused may go free. Part of this process also involves demonstrating the weight of the substance to the court as well.

You should remember that trying to sell counterfeit drugs may result in the same charges as selling real drugs. This means that if you convince someone that oregano is marijuana, you could still be in trouble for selling marijuana. The authorities might have to search your texts or other sources to prove that you intended to sell a look-a-like substance such as this.

The next step is ‘knowing possession’. If the authorities get a warrant to search someone’s computer and they find an indication that they messaged someone else about the drug, that may be enough to establish that the person knew about it.

Finally, the prosecution has to prove that someone actually possessed the drugs. This can be divided into two different categories.

The first category involves the actual physical control of the drug. When the police find drugs in someone’s bag or pocket, that is a strong indicator that they are in possession of the drug.

The second category is called ‘constructive possession’. This means that in some circumstances, it is reasonable to assume that only certain people had access to or control over the drugs. For example, imagine a scenario where the police search someone’s one-bedroom apartment. Even if he or she is not at the location at the time, the authorities may find drugs in that person’s couch. Only so many people have access to that area. The prosecution may be able to demonstrate that rationally, only one person knew about this, and prove possession in that manner.

There are some ambiguities in the law, however. It is possible that more than one person could possess the same drugs. For example, when the police search a car, they might find drugs in the trunk. If there are two people in the car, the authorities may not be able to prove that it was in possession of both people or which person possessed the drugs. This may be a viable defense.

If you are charged with a drug crime, it is imperative that you hire a lawyer. Drug crimes are very serious matters, and the police are almost certainly not necessarily on your side. One of the best ways to avoid jail time (or see reduced jail time) is to retain the services of a reputable attorney.

Sexner & Associates LLC is ready to fight for you today. If you have any questions about drug crime charges, call us at (800) 996-4824 to discuss your case with Chicago drug crime defense lawyers.

Posted in: Drugs

The Insider Look at DUI Stops

By admin on November 15, 2017

The Insider Look at DUI Stops

The 1985 case the People of the State of Illinois vs. Bartley gives Illinois police the right to establish sobriety checkpoints. Cops will block off parts of a road, chosen at ‘random’, and ask drivers questions. These drivers are briefly detained.

As Chicago DUI lawyers, we want you to understand what these DUI stops are, and what they mean for you. Because we are concerned for your safety, we recommend that you never drink and drive. If you have had a few beers, call a friend or a ride-sharing service. It may save your life.

Legal Challenges

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects your right to privacy. Before police search you or your property, they must establish ‘probable cause’. This means that they cannot search you whenever they feel like it. They must have a reason to believe that you committed a crime or are committing a crime.

An example of this is when a drug dog signals that they have found an illicit substance in a car. When a drug dog ‘alerts’, this suggests that you have committed the crime of drug possession. They have the right to then search your car in this case.

In the past, many people complained that these checkpoints were unfair. People are randomly selected, and must deal with the police. The Supreme Court of the United States held that these checkpoints are fine, because delaying the drivers to ask a few questions does not have much of an impact. American case law holds that the pros outweigh the cons.

The National Highway Safety Transportation Board sets rules for DUI stops. According to these rules, police must publicize where the checkpoints are before they administer them. There are resources online to help you find when and where these DUI stops will be placed.

What to Do at a DUI Stop

In all interactions with the police, whether you are at a DUI stop or not, you should be polite and firm. It is important to keep a cool head, and make sure that you remain calm throughout the interaction. Use your reason and common sense.

Legally speaking, you have a right to avoid a DUI stop in Illinois. This right was granted in the court case the People of the State of Illinois vs. Timmsen. You can make a legal U-turn, take a different route, or otherwise find a way to get around the DUI stop. Avoiding the DUI stop in and of itself is not considered probable cause for arrest. But there are three actions that raise reasonable suspicion, and are not considered valid reasons for avoiding a DUI stop:

  1. When a vehicle fails to stop at the roadblock
  2. When the driver and a passenger swap seats just before the roadblock
  3. When the driver avoids the roadblock in a ‘suspicious manner’

This last one is a real sticking point. There is still some debate as to what ‘avoiding the roadblock in a suspicious manner’ means, and results vary according to jurisdiction.

You should approach the DUI checkpoint slowly, and roll down your window so the officer can talk to you. The officer will bend down to peek inside. If you are carrying anything that you do not want the cops to see, you may decide to stow it before they have a chance to find it. A breath mint may conceal what you have consumed, but only for a short period of time.

When you are at a DUI checkpoint, the officer will ask you for your license and registration, and if you have been drinking. You have to give them your license and registration, but you do not have to answer any of the questions. It is ok for you to say that you do not want to respond to something they ask.

In addition, you should not consent to a search. Police officers need warrants or probable cause before searching through your car.

Try to keep the talking to a minimum. In these cases, police are not necessarily on your side. If they ask a question, they are likely looking for something that could put you behind bars. They are hunting for clues that you are drinking and driving. A police officer is not looking for a reason to let you go. If you choose to answer questions, make sure you do not admit to violating the law. Keep your answers short and to the point.

Sometimes, you have to use your judgment. If you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, you can have your license suspended for as little as six months or for longer than a year. If you take the test and blow above a .08%, you will have your license suspended as well, and you may face jail time. Additionally, you may face a fine if charged with a DUI. If you know you have been drinking and are above the legal limit, then you should carefully weigh your options.

If you are arrested, you have the legal right to a lawyer. When the police have established probable cause, they might put you in jail. When you request an attorney, you should be as explicit as possible. Say that you want a lawyer, and that you will not answer any questions unless there is a lawyer present.

The lawyers of Sexner & Associates LLC can help you out today. We are experienced Chicago DUI lawyers. Our team is reliable, experienced, and ready to assist you in your case. Call us today at (800) 996-4824.

Posted in: DUI

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