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[...]