GIVING YOUR FIREARM TO THE WRONG PERSON: THE OFFENSE OF UNLAWFUL DELIVERY IN ILLINOIS

            With the rising number of mass shootings, some prosecutors have sought charges against the parties who provided the firearms to the mass shooter. For example, one Illinois man was recently convicted of illegally giving his son an assault-style rifle which the son later used in the 2018 Waffle House shooting in Tennessee.

            Under Illinois law, you can be charged with a felony for giving or selling a firearm to the wrong person under the wrong circumstances.  You commit the offense of unlawful sale or delivery of firearms when you knowingly sell or give any firearm to:

*  a person under age 18 where the firearm is of a size which may be concealed upon the person or where the person under 18 does not possess a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card 

* a person under age 21 who has been convicted of a misdemeanor other than a traffic offense or who has been adjudged delinquent

* any narcotic addict

* any convicted felon

* any person who has been a patient in a mental institution within the past five years. (The Waffle House shooter had undergone mental health treatment in 2016, two years prior to the attack.)

* any person with an intellectual disability

            If you are charged with unlawful delivery of a firearm, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately.  Do not try to talk your way out of the situation as you could instead hand the state the evidence they need to convict you.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most criminal offenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did you knowingly give the person the firearm?  Does the person meet the law’s definition of a narcotic addict or patient in a mental institution or person with an intellectual disability?  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you can on your own.            .

      If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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CAN I CLEAR MY OLD ILLINOIS ARREST WARRANT WHEN I LIVE OUT OF STATE?

Many years ago you were young and reckless.  You got arrested in Illinois.  You wanted to pretend your case didn’t exist, so you skipped out on your court date and eventually moved out of state.  Older and wiser, you worry that a routine traffic stop will send you back to Illinois in handcuffs.

Now, you are ready to deal with your past, clear the warrant and deal with the underlying case.  Can you put it behind you?

The answer is very likely yes.  An attorney can bring your open warrant before your original court to ask a judge to vacate or set it aside.  You would likely have to appear in person for a hearing on this procedure, but you may even be able to make later court appearances on zoom.

Once the warrant is set aside, you will have to settle the underlying offense.   An attorney can help negotiate a plea agreement or take your case to trial.  If you have been gone a long time, the evidence against you may have grown cold.  Therefore, it may be more difficult for the state to try your case. In rare cases, if the offense is very old and relatively minor, the judge might even be willing to dismiss it.

      If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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IS FREE SPEECH A DEFENSE TO THE CRIME OF GROOMING IN ILLINOIS?

The answer is generally not. Under the right circumstances, however, you may be able to prove that what you said to the child was in fact innocent.

Although a law may be deemed unconstitutional if it penalizes innocent people who reasonably believe they were acting legally, the Illinois appellate court has held that the grooming statute is not such a law. The law instead restricts speech that is integral to criminal conduct.

Under 720 ILCS 5/11-25, you commit grooming when you knowingly use an on-line or local bulletin board service or any other device with electronic data storage or transmission, perform an act in person or by conduct through a third party, or use or attempt to use written communication to seduce, solicit or lure a child or their guardian to commit a sex offense, to distribute photographs depicting a child’s sex organs, or otherwise engage in any unlawful sexual conduct with a child or a person you believe is a child. A “child” means a person under age 17.

In People v. Barker, the court rejected the defendant’s claim that the grooming law punished his innocent conduct. In that case, the defendant had: 1) knowingly engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old, 2) exchanged sexually explicit text messages asking for sex, and 3) researched how to block her phone’s GPS feature so her mother could not track her so that he could have sex. The court found the law was designed to protect against defendant’s exact actions.

Despite this outcome, it is possible that under very specific circumstances, you might be able to prove that your conduct or speech was innocent. A judge would likely consider the entire context of what you said or did in determining whether you were knowingly enticing a child. The state still has the burden of proving you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If what you said or did seems unclear, you may be able to win a not guilty verdict.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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WHAT IS CRIMINAL TRESPASS TO A RESIDENCE IN ILLINOIS?

You were invited to a party at the apartment of someone you didn’t know very well. The party was fun, and you drank a lot. Shortly after you left early in the morning, you realized you forgot your coat. You thought you remembered the apartment, but when you rang the bell, no one answered. The door was unlocked, so you figured you’d just go in and get your coat. You knew the host wouldn’t mind. But to your horror, you entered the wrong unit. The residents had been sleeping and immediately called the police. You ran away, but the police picked you up down the street. Now you are charged with criminal trespass to a residence.

What is that? What can you do?

Under 720 ILCS 5/19-4, criminal trespass to a residence means that you knowingly entered or remained: (a) without authority within any residence, including a house trailer that is the dwelling place of another. This is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail; or (b) in someone’s residence when you knew or had reason to know that someone else was present. This is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. For apartment buildings, a residence means the actual apartment unit and not the common areas.

If you are charged with criminal trespass, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Were the residents able to identify you? Did you knowingly enter without authority or did you believe you had permission? Did a third party let you in? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO “SHARE A COMMON DWELLING” UNDER ILLINOIS DOMESTIC BATTERY LAW?

Under 720 ILCS 5/12-3.3, you commit aggravated domestic battery if you knowingly cause great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement or if you strangle someone while committing a domestic battery. Domestic battery means that you caused harm to a family or household member. Household members include people with whom you share a common dwelling. (See 720 ILCS 5/112A-3(a)(3).)

Sharing a common dwelling means “to stay in one place together on an extended, indefinite, or regular basis.” The court considers the length of time the parties lived together, the nature of the living arrangements, whether the parties had any other living accommodations, whether they kept personal items at the shared residence and whether the parties shared in the privileges and duties of a common residence, such as contributing to household expenses or helping with maintenance.

For example, in People v. Bryant the court held that the defendant shared a common dwelling with the victim even though he had lived at the victim’s apartment for only a few days before he stabbed her. The court reasoned that the defendant had intended to live with the victim for an indefinite period. He had no other current accommodations, and all his belongings were at the victim’s apartment.

If you are charged with aggravated domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not try to talk your way out of your situation. What may seem like justification to you may give the state the evidence they need to convict you. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Whether you shared a common dwelling with the victim can be a very fact-intensive inquiry, one which different judges may view very differently. An attorney who is familiar with the judges in your courthouse may be able to present your situation in its most convincing light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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WHAT TO EXPECT FOR YOUR FIRST COURT APPEARANCE ON ZOOM COURT IN ILLINOIS

Although courts are doing more in person, many court appearances still take place on zoom in the Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Daley Center and other courthouses. This can seem intimidating, but it’s really not that scary.

When you are arrested for a criminal, DUI or traffic offense, the officer will give you information on when and where to go for your first court appearance. Unfortunately, this does not usually include the zoom meeting and pass codes you will need to log into the courtroom. You will have to search the court’s website in the county where your case is located to find that information. If you hire an attorney, the attorney can provide this information to you.

In order to attend court, you will likely have to download the zoom app. Once you have done so, you can enter the virtual court at your scheduled time. Defendants logging into the courtroom will receive a message that the “meeting host will let you in soon.” This is normal and no cause for concern (unless you have the wrong meeting code information). Once the judge is ready, he or she will admit you. Be sure to turn on the video but mute your sound until the judge calls your name.

If you have an attorney, the attorney will answer on your behalf. At that point, the judge will look for you on the call. On your first court date, the attorney will enter his or her appearance and ask for copies of the evidence against you.

Although you are not appearing in person, you should dress and act as though you were physically in court. You should treat zoom court as though it were a business meeting for a job you really hope to get.

If you have been charged with a criminal, DUI or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense as well as helping you navigate your way through the court system.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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ASSAULTING A POLICE OFFICER DURING A DUI IN ILLINOIS

The officer stopped you for DUI near your home. You tried to reason with him to let you go. When he didn’t, you drunkenly tried to hit him. You missed. But now you are charged with aggravated assault on top of your DUI.

Can they do that? What can you do?

In Illinois, you commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Normally, this is a relatively minor offense—a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1. However, when you swiped at that officer, your offense became a Class 4 felony based on assaulting a peace officer or other emergency personnel, either while performing their official duties or because you wanted to stop them or retaliate against them for performing those duties. 720 ILCS 5/12-2(b)(4.1).

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you act knowingly? Note that drunkenness is not a defense here. But what if you swung your arms without realizing the officer was behind you? Was the officer’s fear of battery reasonable? Was the officer performing official duties? What if the officer was not on duty and just came over to watch your arrest? An experienced attorney can raise doubts about the state’s case. If, however, the evidence is overwhelming against you, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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CAN I BE CONVICTED FOR ABETTING A CRIME WHEN I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING?

Your cousin asked you to drive him to a convenience store. He ran in to pick up some lottery tickets, then came running out, jumped in your car and told you to take off. Later, you learned he’d committed an armed robbery inside the store. Can you be arrested when you had no idea what your cousin had been planning? The answer depends on whether the judge or jury believes in your lack of intent.

When two or more persons engage in a common criminal design, any acts to further that design committed by one party are considered to be the acts of all parties. All are thus equally responsible for the consequences. You would be accountable for your cousin’s crime if, either before or during the crime, you solicit, aid, abet, agree, or attempt to aid him in planning or committing the offense, and you had the intent to promote or facilitate that offense. See 720 ILCS 5/5-2(c). The State may prove your intent by showing either (1) that you shared the criminal intent of the principal, or (2) that there was a common criminal design. You are not guilty for the other’s offense unless you intended to aid in committing a crime. Participation must take place before or during the offense; after the fact is not sufficient.

Mere being at the scene of a crime does not make you accountable but your presence may be considered along with other circumstances by judge or jury.

Even if you were in on the plan, you are not accountable if (1) you are a victim of the offense committed; (2) the offense is so defined that whatever you did was inevitably incident to its commission; or (3) before the commission of the offense, you terminated your participation and either: (i) made your past efforts wholly ineffective, (ii) warned police, or (iii) otherwise made proper effort to prevent the offense.

In People v. Johnson, the defendant owned a taxi business. One evening, a man named Mason asked defendant for a ride, paying him $10. At a certain point, Mason told defendant to stop the car and started shooting an automatic weapon. Defendant then sped away in fear for his life. The trial judge convicted the defendant. However, the appellate court instead found the evidence too weak to uphold his conviction. Defendant was not a gang member, and there was no evidence that he knew of Mason’s intentions or that Mason even had a gun. Therefore, the state failed to prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As the case above illustrates, different judges see the same set of facts very differently. An attorney who is familiar with your particular judge may better present the facts of your particular case in their most favorable light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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WHAT IS THE OFFENSE OF GROOMING IN ILLINOIS?

When it comes to the offense of “grooming” a child, Illinois law seems to take a fairly broad approach. It is best to steer clear of anything that remotely smacks of sexual exploitation.

For example, in People v. Hubbell, the defendant sent a photo of his bare buttocks to a 16-year-old child with the message, “Now it’s your turn LOL,” and that he would like to “get with” her. He also asked her to keep the message secret. The defendant argued that he was only soliciting a picture of her buttocks which are not sex organs, and thus, the evidence was not sufficient to convict him. The court disagreed.

Under 720 ILCS 5/11-25, grooming is defined as trying to use or using an on-line, internet or local bulletin board service or any other device with electronic data storage or transmission to solicit, lure or entice a child or their guardian into committing any unlawful sexual conduct including distributing photographs depicting the child’s sex organs.

The court reasoned that the grooming statute contemplates a broad set of circumstances. Grooming is viewed as a way to facilitate the sexual abuse of children. An abuser’s conduct intends to “foster trust and remove defenses over time through a pattern of seduction and preparation, resulting in the child being willing and compliant to the defendant’s sexual abuse.” A judge or jury could properly find that “sending an inappropriate photo of something other than a sex organ was, if not a direct solicitation for a photograph of the child’s sex organs, at least a first step in a process that the defendant hoped would lead the child to send a photograph of his or her sex organs.”

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case. Can the state prove you were the person soliciting? If so, can your statements be understood as “soliciting, luring or enticing” the child. Was the conduct you allegedly solicited truly sexual? Even if the evidence is overwhelming against you, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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CAN YOU BE CONVICTED FOR INVADING YOUR OWN HOME?

The answer may be yes, if you are no longer living there. Under 720 ILCS 5/19-6, you commit home invasion when you, without authority, knowingly enter or remain in another’s home or falsely represent yourself to gain entry to another’s home while having reason to know that another is present, and you (1) threaten or use force while armed with a dangerous weapon or firearm whether or not injury occurs, (2) you intentionally injure someone in the home, or (3) you fire a gun, or in firing the gun, you cause great bodily injury, permanent disability or death. A “dwelling place of another” can be a home where you are on the deed or lease, but from which you have been barred by a divorce decree, order of protection or other court order.

It is a defense if you either immediately leave the premises or if you surrender to the person lawfully present without attempting to cause bodily injury.

To avoid a conviction for home invasion, you must have both a “tenancy interest” and a “possessory interest.” For example, in People v. Lawrence, the defendant broke a window to enter the home where he had lived with his former wife. Defendant’s name was still on the lease. Nevertheless, the court upheld his conviction for home invasion because the wife had kicked the defendant out several months earlier. While he had a “tenancy interest” because of the lease, he no longer had a “possessory interest.”

Home invasion is a Class X felony.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Did you have authority to enter the home? Do you actually still live there? Did you leave immediately? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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