November
17
2017
Today we will examine statistics from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system concerning various crimes. Managed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the UCR provides a centralized depository for crime statistics across the United States. Starting in 1930, the FBI took responsibility for collecting and publishing UCR crime data. Today, the UCR system collects data from more than 18,000 sources, including cities, academic institutions, states, tribes, and federal agencies. At this point in time, the FBI has published UCR crime data for 2015 and 2016. The FBI divides UCR data divides crimes into two major buckets. Violent crime includes murder and manslaughter, two definitions of rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Property crime includes burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. In examining UCR data for Illinois from 2015 and 2016, we will look at both the totals and the rate per 100,000 people. This adjusted rate will give us a better idea of the frequency and density of the crime data. UCR Crime Data for the United States and Illinois   Concerning violent crimes, the UCR system provides the following data for the United States and Illinois.   UNITED STATES 2015 Violent Crimes (total): 1,234,183 2016 Violent Crimes (total): 1,283,058[...]
November
10
2017
Two men face criminal charges for attempted murder and aggravated arson after they allegedly hit, stabbed, and then lit a victim on fire in Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, according to an article by The Southern. The Cave-in-Rock Fire Department arrived on the scene in response to a structural fire. Firefighters found the victim in rough shape, bleeding from his wounds and suffering from burns. At that point, the fire had spread to the victim’s residence. Firefighters were able to extinguish the residential fire and transport the victim for medical treatment. Based on the victim's identification of his assailants, authorities arrested and charged the alleged perpetrators.   The Illinois State Police, the Office of the Illinois State Fire Marshal, and the Hardin County Sheriff's Office continue to work in concert to investigate these crimes. In the meantime, it feels like a great time to review Illinois laws and penalties concerning arson. What is the Illinois Definition of Arson? We can find the Illinois state definition of arson under 720 ILCS 5/20-1. Essentially, arson occurs when a perpetrator damages another person’s property with fire or explosives. Generally speaking, arson applies to property worth at least $150. Arson does not apply if the property owner[...]
November
3
2017
Today we will explore an important concept in criminal law – the difference between robbery and aggravated robbery. It should be noted that we will discuss the state-specific approach to these crimes in Illinois. The statutory schemes in other states will differ in many ways. What is the Definition of Robbery in Illinois? We can find the state-specific definition of robbery under 720 ILCS 5/18-1. There are two elements to the crime of robbery in Illinois. First, the perpetrator must steal property from someone else. Second, the perpetrator must use force or the threat of force in stealing the property in question. It is important to note that robbery does not apply to the theft of motor vehicles. There is a separate Illinois statute that addresses the theft of motor vehicles. What are the Penalties for Robbery in Illinois? Generally speaking, robbery is classified as a Class 2 felony in Illinois. Conviction of a Class 2 felony can result in: Sentence range of three to seven years; Extended term of seven to 14 years; Fines up to $25,000; Mandatory supervised release term of two years; and Probation or conditional discharge up to four years. There are exceptions. If the robbery[...]
October
27
2017
Before we delve into the finer points of aggravated DUIs, we need to take a step back and review standard DUIs. Essentially, it is illegal to drive in Illinois while intoxicated or incapable of driving safely. Illinois law accounts for intoxication on the basis of alcohol, drugs or a combination of both.   Illinois law under 625 ILCS 5/11-501 provides us with the definition for aggravated DUI. The crime of aggravated DUI applies if a person commits a standard DUI: Three or more times; While driving a school bus with passengers; That results in severe injury to another person; In a school zone and results in severe injury to another person; That results in death of another person; While using a suspended or revoked driver’s license; Without ever having a valid driver’s license; Knowing that the vehicle did not have valid insurance; That caused injury to a passenger younger than 16 years old; or While driving passengers on a for-hire basis. What are the Penalties for Aggravated DUI in Illinois? Illinois law under 625 ILCS 5/11-501 also provides us with the penalty structure for aggravated DUI. There is a tiered system in place, with penalties escalating for subsequent offenses or[...]
October
20
2017
The Evanston Police Department is receiving a flood of calls detailing alleged child sex crimes by a former high school teacher, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune. This flood of calls started around October 11, 2017, after a man posted on social media about being molested by the teacher in question. After hearing about other long-running instances of sexual abuse, the man did not want to empower a child predator to hurt more victims. So he posted about his molestation, which dated back to the 1980s. Since this man’s initial social media post, other alleged victims have come forward to post about molestation and sexual assault by the same teacher. Evanston police have also received approximately 30 calls. Though, according to police, most of the calls have involved hearsay or background information. There are no formal charges pending at the moment. Despite the lack of formal charges, the high school in question sprang into action. The high school issued a “no-trespass order” to the teacher on October 12, 2017. The teacher is barred from the high school campus as well as school-related or school-sponsored events. This news development also raises an interesting question about the statute of limitations[...]
October
13
2017
The North Central Narcotics Task Force completed an investigation, arrested a man and woman as well as seized large amounts of marijuana, according to an article by the Northwest Herald. A combination of more than 50 law enforcement agencies, the North Central Narcotics Task Force investigates major crimes within Kane, McHenry and DeKalb counties. Among other criminal activities, the task force investigates gangs as well as illegal weapon and drug trafficking. Accused of trafficking multiple ounces of illegal drugs, the man and woman face charges for possession and delivery of marijuana. In light of this news story, it feels like a great time to review Illinois laws and penalties concerning marijuana. What is the Illinois Legal Approach to Marijuana? Under the Cannabis Control Act (the Act), Illinois provides its state-specific approach to laws and penalties concerning marijuana, which is legally referred to as cannabis. While the Act makes it unlawful to possess marijuana, there is also some leeway for smaller amounts. Essentially, the Illinois legislature understands that marijuana use is widespread and pervasive amongst Illinois citizens. In order to deal with this type of widespread and pervasive use, the Act sets out “reasonable penalty system” for criminal offenses involving cannabis.[...]
October
6
2017
In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Illinois gun laws are back in the news, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune. During a discussion on gun control, a White House official questioned whether strict laws actually prevent gun crimes. The official pointed out that strict gun laws across Illinois have done little to prevent gun crimes from affecting 4,000 victims last year in Chicago. While that is a fair point, proponents of strict gun control argue that there is a larger picture to consider. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, approximately 60% of illegal guns recovered by police in Chicago come from Indiana, Wisconsin, or Mississippi – states with lax gun control. Given all of the recent noise concerning Illinois gun laws, it feels like a great time to engage in a history lesson of sorts. We will review Illinois gun laws, past and present, below. What is the History of Illinois Gun Control? Back in 1982, the city of Chicago rolled out a comprehensive ban on handguns. The ban made it illegal to have a handgun in your home or carry a handgun in public. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the[...]
September
30
2017
In a unanimous decision, the Illinois Supreme Court voted to allow the use of hearsay testimony in the highly publicized murder conviction of former police officer Drew Peterson, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune. Peterson is currently serving a sentence of 38 years for the 2004 death of his third wife and 40 years for scheming to kill a prosecuting attorney. Authorities have remaining questions concerning the 2007 disappearance of Peterson’s fourth wife. But as the fourth wife’s body was never found, there is a lack of evidence to charge any suspects. Defense attorneys for Peterson appealed the murder conviction based on the use of hearsay testimony. Hearsay is legal device that prohibits witnesses from testifying as to things they did not see, hear, or experience directly. Generally speaking, hearsay is not allowed in criminal trials because the defendant cannot challenge the validity of the statements offered. In Peterson’s case, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that hearsay was allowed under special circumstances. Pointing to evidence that Peterson disposed of certain witnesses to prevent their testimony, the court allowed hearsay in this case. Disappointed with this result, Peterson’s defense team will likely try to appeal to the United States[...]
September
22
2017
After a violent hazing incident, five Wheaton College football players now face felony charges for aggravated battery, mob action, and unlawful restraint, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune. The perpetrators allegedly barged into a freshman teammate’s dorm room in March of 2016. After tackling their victim, the perpetrators duct taped his wrists and ankles. Then they carried the victim through a crowded dorm to the parking lot. While driving the victim to another location, the perpetrators applied more duct tape and stripped the victim’s clothes. In addition to beating the victim repeatedly, the players also tried to insert an object into the victim’s rectum. Finally, the perpetrators dumped the victim half naked on a baseball diamond and drove off. To fully grasp the impact of this violent incident, we need to review Illinois laws concerning aggravated battery, mob action, and unlawful restraint. How Does Illinois Define Aggravated Battery? We can find the definition for aggravated battery in Illinois under 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05. Essentially, Illinois defines aggravated battery as regular battery committed under certain circumstances. As a reminder, battery in Illinois occurs when causing harm to another person or insulting or provoking another person with unwanted physical contact. Battery[...]
September
15
2017

Aggravated DUI Lands Illinois Man in Prison

Categories: DUI |

A Fairmont man received a five-year prison sentenced for aggravated DUI, after causing the death of a young woman last year, according to an article by The News-Gazette. The man was driving near the Vermilion-Edgar County line when he veered off the road to avoid an animal. The man overcorrected when roadside gravel caused the vehicle to slide. At that point, the vehicle flipped over and smashed into a utility pole. The young woman was a passenger in the middle-front seat, wearing only a lap safety belt. She was ejected from the vehicle on impact and later died from her injuries. A second male passenger was treated for minor injuries. Shortly after the crash, authorities measured the driver’s blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.12, above the legal limit. Authorities also found beer cans in the driver’s vehicle. In light of this news development, this is a great time to review the laws and penalties for DUI and aggravated DUI in Illinois. How Does Illinois Define DUI? Under 625 ILCS 5/11-501, Illinois outlines its state-specific approach to DUI. This section of Illinois statutes makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while “incapable of safely driving.” The legal limit for intoxication in Illinois[...]
September
8
2017
Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill into law that removes the statute of limitations for child sex crimes in Illinois, according to a press release from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. Sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett and State Representative Michelle Mussman, Public Act 100-0080 changes the Illinois Criminal Code of 2012 to remove the statute of limitations for child victims of sex crimes. The new law applies to all future child sex crimes and any presently unexpired child sex crimes. So long as the victim was under 18 years of age at the time of the offense, then the statute of limitations disappears for: Criminal sexual abuse, Criminal sexual assault, Aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Aggravated criminal sexual assault and Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Attorney General Lisa Madigan helped spur the charge to amend existing laws and remove the statutes of limitations for child sex crimes. As Madigan stated in the press release: “Sex crimes against children are a horribly tragic violation of trust that can take a lifetime to recover from. This new law will ensure that survivors are provided with the time they need to heal and seek justice." Before Public Act 100-0080,[...]
September
1
2017
Authorities arrested two Chicago men who allegedly conducted a series of illegal firearm sales, according to an article by DNAinfo. Over the course of four months, the men sold 16 firearms, including but not limited to an AK-47 rifle, sawed-off shotgun, and .22-caliber pistol. In two of the transactions, authorities benefited from cooperation. A buyer in New York recorded the interaction and transaction, reporting everything to law enforcement. A buyer in Illinois also reported the interaction and transaction to the authorities. Both men are facing federal charges in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The charges included illegal weapon possession and alteration of a serial number. The maximum sentences range from five to 10 years in prison. While the alleged perpetrators in this news story are being charged in federal court, it feels like a great time to examine Illinois laws concerning the illegal use and sale of firearms. How Does Illinois Address the Illegal Use and Sale of Firearms? Referred to as unlawful use of a weapon, the Illinois Criminal Code addresses illegal use and sale of firearms in section 720 ILCS 5/24-1. In most circumstances, people are allowed to carry firearms in public[...]
August
25
2017
After Governor Bruce Rauner signed two new bills into law in August of 2017, Illinois will feature enhanced protection of rights for former criminal offenders, according to an article by Illinois Policy. The goal of both bills is to help former criminal offenders find gainful employment and integrate back into their communities. The first bill, House Bill 2373 (HB2373), adjusts the requirements for record sealing under the Criminal Identification Act. This bill expands the conditions under which a former criminal offender can apply for record sealing. Individuals who did not commit violent or sexual felonies are eligible for record sealing. If a criminal record is sealed, the general public and private employers are unable to access the records without a court order. Additionally, HB2373 allows the Illinois courts to seal records in cases of public indecency, which is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense. HB2373 also prevents Illinois courts from sealing records for violations under the Humane Care for Animals Act. The second bill, House Bill 3817 (HB3817), adjusts several requirements under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987. This bill most notably allows for automatic expungement of juvenile criminal records under various circumstances. If a record is expunged,[...]
August
18
2017
In July 2017, Attorney General Lisa Madigan rolled out comprehensive guidelines for responding to sexual assault in Illinois, according to a press release from the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. With detailed instructions on how to respond to complaints of sexual abuse, Illinois law enforcement will be in a better position to help and support victims. Titled “Comprehensive Guidelines for Law Enforcement Policies on Responding to and Investigating Sexual Assault and Sexual Abuse,” Madigan’s initiative mandates a number of changes, including updates to reporting policy, test results and test consent. Reporting: Authorities must prepare reports in writing for every claim of sexual assault. It does not matter who reported the crime or where the crime happened. Test Results: Victims have the power to ask for the test results concerning sexual assault evidence. But if the release of such information would jeopardize an open case, law enforcement authorities can decline to respond. Test Consent: Victims have more time to consider whether to consent to test analysis of sexual assault evidence. For adults, the deadline increases from 14 days to five years after the crime. For children, the deadline is five years from their 18th birthday. This development is the latest[...]
August
11
2017

Illinois DUI Fatalities Beginning to Level Off

Categories: DUI |

After successfully decreasing the number of DUI-related deaths in the state for decades, that trend in Illinois seems to have flattened out, according to an article by the Daily Chronicle. To gain a better understanding of what this means, we need to look at the numbers. Over the last 30 years, DUI fatalities dropped by approximately 60%. Over the last 15 years, DUI fatalities dropped by approximately 50%. Over the last several years, however, DUI fatalities have stayed constant. Looking to the latest DUI statistics published by the Illinois Secretary of State, we can see this trend play out over a decade-long period. 2004: 604 DUI fatalities 2005: 580 DUI fatalities 2006: 594 DUI fatalities 2007: 507 DUI fatalities 2008: 434 DUI fatalities 2010: 354 DUI fatalities 2011: 323 DUI fatalities 2012: 393 DUI fatalities 2013: 389 DUI fatalities 2014: 369 DUI fatalities Considering the information outlined above, it feels like a perfect time to review Illinois laws and penalties concerning DUIs. What are the Illinois Laws Concerning DUIs? We can find Illinois laws concerning DUIs in 625 ILCS 5/11-501. Under this section, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated and “incapable of safely driving.” Illinois sets the[...]
August
4
2017
An Illinois judge declared that the state law prohibiting ballot photos was unconstitutional, according to an article by the Belleville News-Democrat. On Election Day in 2016, a Madison County man attempted to take “ballot selfie” after voting. An election official told the Madison County man not to take a photo of his ballot. The reason was simple. Taking a photo of your ballot violates Illinois law. In response, the Madison County man brought a lawsuit against the county clerk, contending that this law violates First Amendment rights. After considering the arguments of both parties, a Madison County associate judge declared the law unconstitutional. Contained in 10 ILCS 5/29-9 and titled “Unlawful observation of voting,” Illinois law prohibits individuals from intentionally voting in a manner that “can be observed by another person.” Illinois law under the same section also prohibits individuals from intentionally observing “another person lawfully marking a ballot or lawfully casting his vote.” Essentially, Illinois law exists to protect secrecy of the voting process and ballot box. By preventing individuals from sharing their vote or watching others voting, these laws defend against vote buying and voter intimidation. If any individual commits either of the above-mentioned actions, that individual is[...]
July
28
2017
With a statewide budget crisis in full swing, Illinois legislators are mulling over the legalization and taxation of marijuana as a potential solution, according to an article by DNAinfo. Separate bills proposed by State Senator Heather Steans and State Representative Kelly Cassidy both advocate for the legalization of marijuana, commonly referred to as cannabis in Illinois law. The bills would allow adults to “possess, grow, and buy small amounts of marijuana.” Voting on both bills was intentionally delayed until the start of the next legislative session in January. This delay will give legislators a chance to research and solicit feedback in advance of voting. Despite the proposed legislation, it is important to remember that cannabis remains illegal in Illinois. That is why we will explore Illinois laws governing cannabis in the sections below. What are the Laws in Illinois Concerning Cannabis? The Cannabis Control Act (the Act) outlines the Illinois rules and regulations concerning cannabis. Codified as 720 ILCS 550, the Act recognizes that “the use of cannabis occupies the unusual position of being widely used and pervasive among the citizens of Illinois despite its harmful effects.” As a result, the Act establishes a “reasonable penalty system” for cannabis-related offenses,[...]
July
21
2017
Citing a six-year-old hate crime charge, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) is attempting to block the hire of an Illinois man, according to an article by The Chicago Tribune. The hate crime charge in question was never prosecuted, however, raising questions about this course of action. The CPD applicant in question, Patrick Lavin, was formerly an undergraduate student at Southern Illinois University. Approximately one year before he graduated, Lavin was involved in an argument over a taxi that turned physical. Two groups began jostling with each other, resulting in injuries to several people. One of the injured parties was gay, leading authorities to charge Lavin with a hate crime as well as felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor battery. Lavin maintains that the hate crime label was and is inappropriate; he never intended to injure anyone on the basis of sexual orientation. Prosecutors eventually dropped the hate crime and felony aggravated battery charges. Lavin then pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery. A few years later, Lavin was able to get this case expunged successfully. In the spirit of full disclosure, Lavin divulged everything about this incident on his CPD application. But CPD guidelines allow for the disqualification of an applicant “if there[...]
July
16
2017
Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed off on a bill that takes aim at repeat gun offenders, according to an article by Reuters. This bill increases the minimum sentences for repeat firearm offenses under the Illinois rules governing unlawful use of weapons. Passed as SB1722, this bill is also referred to as the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act (SNRA). In addition to adjustments to gun laws, the SNRA also allows the Director of State Police to create the Violent Crime Intelligence Task Force. This task force is “dedicated to combating gun violence, gun-trafficking, and other violent crime” across Illinois. As reported by Reuters, the SNRA will increase the minimum sentence for repeat firearm convictions from three to seven years. In order to hand out a more lenient sentence, judges will now have to submit their justification in writing. As one of the chief supporters of the SNRA, Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson believes this initiative “will make someone think twice about picking up a gun before they ever use it." Considering the implications of this news story, we should review Illinois firearm laws concerning unlawful use of weapons. What is Unlawful Use of a Weapon? The Illinois Criminal Code addresses firearm[...]
July
14
2017
Illinois resident Brendt Christensen is currently awaiting trial on kidnapping charges, according to an article by The Chicago Tribune. Christensen is charged in connection with the disappearance of Yingying Zhang, a visiting scholar at the University of Illinois. Prosecutors admitted that while Zhang is still missing, she is most likely dead. Prosecutors also claim to have recordings of Christensen describing intimate details of Zhang’s abduction. Christensen’s criminal defense attorneys question the credibility of this alleged recording. Referencing their client’s constitutional rights, they want to ensure a fair trial as well as a chance to examine all of the evidence. In light of this news story, it feels like an appropriate time to review the Illinois laws concerning kidnapping. What does Kidnapping Mean in Illinois? The Illinois Criminal Code defines kidnapping in 720 ILCS 5/10-1 as a Class 2 felony, providing the guidelines quoted below. “He or she knowingly: (1)  and secretly confines another against his or her will; (2)  by force or threat of imminent force carries another from one place to another with intent secretly to confine that other person against his or her will; or (3)  by deceit or enticement induces another to go from one place to[...]
July
7
2017
A McLean County case involving criminal sexual abuse and failure to register as a sex offender is on hold presently, while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to hear the case, according to an article by The Pantagraph. The case centers on Mark Minnis, a Normal, Illinois resident. In 2010, when Minnis was 16, he was adjudicated as a juvenile delinquent for engaging in sexual relations with a girl who was 14. As a result of this decision, Minnis received a 10-year requirement to register as a sex offender for the misdemeanor of criminal sexual abuse. It is important to note that adjudication as a juvenile delinquent is not the same as a conviction. The purpose of this process is to “remove juveniles from the ordinary criminal process in order to avoid the stigma of a prior criminal conviction and to encourage treatment and rehabilitation,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In this way, minors can sidestep the negative repercussions of a criminal conviction, while receiving treatment to prevent future criminal activity. Furthermore, there is growing evidence that methods like adjudication as a juvenile delinquent have a positive impact on the rehabilitation of minors. A report from the Illinois[...]