CAN YOU USE AN EXPERT ON EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY IN ILLINOIS?

You are charged with a violent crime that took place late at night in your neighborhood. At the time, you were home alone watching TV.  But somehow, two eyewitnesses have picked you out of a photo line up. Can an expert witness challenge their testimony at trial?

Since 2016, Illinois courts have said yes, at the judge’s discretion.  Expert opinion regarding the reliability of eyewitness testimony has become widely accepted. DNA testing has confirmed that eyewitness misidentification is responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.

In People v. Lerma,  the Illinois Supreme Court held that the defendant was denied a fair trial when the judge refused to allow an expert on the reliability of eyewitness identification.  In that case, the victim was shot to death while sitting with a friend on his front steps.  The victim (before his death) and the friend identified the defendant as the shooter.  The defendant sought to use an expert to explain common misperceptions about eyewitness testimony.  For example, a witness’s level of confidence in their identification does not equal reliability. 

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did the eyewitnesses really see what they thought they saw?  Even if the state’s evidence is airtight, 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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

DOES ARGUING WITH POLICE EQUAL RESISTING ARREST?

            The answer is not necessarily.

            In Illinois, you resist arrest if you knowingly resist or obstruct someone that you know is an officer, firefighter or correctional institution worker in performing any authorized act within their official capacity. See 720 ILCS 5/31-1.

            But what does “resist ” or “obstruct” mean?  The answer depends on your particular facts, which different judges may view very differently. 

Resisting means more than simply talking back to police or arguing your rights, even if your language is abusive. You must commit a physical act that impedes, hinders, interrupts, prevents or delays the performance of the officer’s duties. Examples include going limp, forcefully resisting arrest or physically helping another avoid arrest. To be convicted, you must physically exert yourself in a way that materially opposes an officer’s attempt to perform a lawful act.

For example, in People v. Sadder-Bey, the defendant was polite, but argumentative and  refused multiple commands to exit his car.  The state argued that this refusal equalled resistance. The court disagreed.  Failing to act on an officer’s orders may be resisting. To reach a criminal level, however, this refusal must usually be combined with other opposition, such as defiantly grabbing the steering wheel when an officer says to get out of the car.

If you are charged with resisting arrest, contact an experienced criminal attorney.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  “Resisting” may mean different things to different judges. Therefore, it is best to hire an attorney familiar with your courthouse who can present your case in its 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.)

Posted in resisting a peace officer, resisting arrest | Tagged , | Leave a comment

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ILLINOIS’S NEW LAW ENDING CASH BAIL

The SAFE-T Act went into effect September 18, 2023.  The Act eliminated cash bond but allows a judge to keep you in jail if the state can meet certain criteria. Because a new law is bound to cause confusion, there has been a flurry of appellate court cases under the Act.  Here are some takeaways from those cases:

*The fact you committed a violent offense by itself is not enough to deny pretrial release.  The state must still show by clear and convincing proof that lesser conditions of release would not protect the community. See People v. Stock.

*The state can appeal if you are allowed out before trial.  The appellate court reversed allowing the defendant out on electronic home monitoring and permitting him to remain as a farm supervisor as long as he stayed 500 feet away from minor children.  The defendant was charged with sexually assaulting and abusing minors. The court said there was no way to enforce the 500-foot restriction.  See People v. Willenborg.

*The state needs to give you copies of your criminal history before the hearing. See People v. Mezo.

*A judge cannot revoke your pretrial release because you missed a court date.  However, the court can revoke it if you commit a felony or Class A misdemeanor or violate an order of protection.   People v. Barner

* If you challenge the conditions of pretrial release which were set before September 18, 2023, you reopen those conditions under the SAFE-T Act.  The only way a money bond can remain as a condition is if the you elect to stand on the original terms of your bond. If the you ask the court to reconsider, the court can either order your release with nonmonetary conditions or you’re your release altogether.  See People v. Davidson.

*If you are a threat to one person, that is enough to satisfy the Acts requirement that you are a threat to the community. See People v. Battle.

*Look carefully at whether your offense fits the definition of detainable. In People v. Grandberry, the defendant was originally detained based on aggravated battery, however, aggravated battery is only detainable if it causes great bodily harm or disfigurement. Defendant’s charge was aggravated because the victims were a police officer and a nurse and the state did not allege great bodily harm.  Therefore, the court said defendant should be released.     

If you or your loved one have been charged with a DUI or criminal-related offense, consider hiring an attorney for your detention hearing.  An attorney can look for weaknesses in the state’s petition to keep you in jail.  Did you commit a detainable offense?  Did the state follow procedures?  Even if the reasons for detaining you are strong, an attorney can argue you to release you on less restrictive conditions such as electronic home monitoring.

 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.

See our related web page at New Rules on Bond.

(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.)

Posted in pretrial bond, pretrial detention, pretrial release | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

CAN MY PRIVATE TEXT MESSAGES BE EXPOSED IN CRIMINAL COURT?

            Nearly everybody communicates through text messages, even about the most private matters.  But can you always keep your text messages private?  Not necessarily.

Be aware that if you are a defendant or a material witness, attorneys working either side of a criminal case can subpoena your phone records—and that includes your texts.  At that point, attorneys on both sides may be reading your private thoughts.  And if a judge decides that the text messages fall into an exception to the hearsay rule (for example, if you confessed to the crime), then those statements may be used against you in open court.

If you are a defendant, your attorney can try to keep as much of your private information out of court as possible by either requesting an order protecting the information or objecting to evidence admitted against court rules.  If you are a third party, you might consider getting your own attorney to look out for your interests.

 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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

DISORDERLY CONDUCT:  CALLING IN A FALSE ALARM IS A CRIME

            Calling 911 with a false alarm, such as a fake bomb threat, can be charged as disorderly conduct.

Under  720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(6), you commit disorderly conduct when: (1) you knowingly called 911 or transmited a false report to a public safety agency, (2) you knew there was no reasonable basis for doing so, and (3) you knew that the call or report could result in an emergency response.

If the state fails to prove the first element, it does not reach the second. For example, in People v. Purta, the defendant contacted his district manager, stating he’d been frightened by two or three men who walked by his store with a shotgun and assault rifle. The district manager called 911. The trial court convicted the defendant based on the manager’s call.

The appellate court, however, reversed. The state did not prove that the defendant had knowingly caused the information to be transmitted to the public safety agency, it said.  To act knowingly, the defendant had to be practically certain that the call to his manager would result in a call to 911. Such an inference was unreasonable.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  Even if the state’s evidence is airtight, 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.)

Posted in disorderly conduct | Tagged , , | Comments Off on DISORDERLY CONDUCT:  CALLING IN A FALSE ALARM IS A CRIME

WHAT IS CONTACT OF AN INSULTING OR PROVOKING NATURE IN A BATTERY?

            In Illinois, you commit battery if you knowingly, without legal justification, physically hurt another person or cause contact of an insulting or provoking nature. Battery can become an aggravated offense depending on the type of injury, victim or place of the offense. See 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05.

            But what does “insulting or provoking” mean?  According to Illinois law, the court determines whether contact is insulting or provoking by an objective standard.  In other words, the contact is not insulting or provoking just because the victim feels that way. Instead, a judge or jury must determine whether a reasonable person under the same circumstances would find the physical contact insulting or provoking.

            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.

Reference: People v. Davidson.

(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.)

Posted in battery | Tagged , | Leave a comment

WHAT IS OBSTRUCTING JUSTICE IN ILLINOIS?

You commit obstructing justice under one definition when: (1) you knowingly furnish false information, (2) intending to prevent the apprehension of any person, and (3) the false information materially impeded the administration of justice. See 720 ILCS 5/31-4(a)(1).   Note that the third element wasn’t added until October 28, 2020.

For example, in People v. Prince, the defendant was arrested and gave police a false name and date of birth in order to prevent his capture under an outstanding warrant.  The court found that the defendant had furnished false information in order to avoid apprehension.  However, the court held that the state did not prove that the defendant materially impeded justice.  For one thing, the defendant was already in custody.

If you have been charged with obstructing justice or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the officer have probable cause to stop you?    Did you knowingly furnish misinformation?  Were you unaware of an outstanding warrant against you and thus had no intent to escape apprehension?   Even if the police acted lawfully and 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.

See also: People v. Casler

(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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

WHAT IS A “PUBLIC PLACE” UNDER ILLINOIS AGGRAVATED BATTERY LAW?

            In Illinois, battery can be upgraded to an aggravated offense if the battery took place in a public place of accommodation or amusement.  The law also includes battery that takes place in a public way, public property, sports venue, domestic violence shelter or  place of religious worship.

            According to the Illinois Supreme Court, such a public place does not include the stoop in front of a victim’s apartment door.  A “public place of accommodation or amusement” is a place for the general public use, supplied for convenience, to satisfy a need, or to provide pleasure or entertainment.  The front stoop did not meet these requirements.  A stoop’s purpose is for a resident to access his or her home. The public’s ability to access a place is not enough to turn it into a public place of accommodation.  The place must be one where the general public is invited to enjoy the goods, services or accommodation being provided.  See People v. Whitehead

            If you have been charged with aggravated battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did the fight occur in a “public place of accommodation?”  (See our related post: How does your bar fight become a felony in Illinois?)  Were you acting in self defense or defense of another? 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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

DOES THE GOVERNOR HAVE A TIME LIMIT IN ACTING ON MY PARDON REQUEST?

You presented a pardon petition to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, and everything seemed to go very well.  The state’s attorney did not object to your pardon. A couple board members even said you had clearly changed for the better. 

Does the governor have a specific time limit in deciding your petition?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Requests for pardon are reviewed very carefully.  As such, you must brace yourself for the possibility that a decision could take two years or longer.  Furthermore, even the quickest decisions will tend to take more than six months.

This does not mean that should give up on requesting a pardon; the relief in receiving a clean slate can be considerable. But it does mean that you must adjust your expectations.

So while the wait may be a long one, I can see from my clients that it is well worth it.

If you wish to seek an Illinois pardon, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can help you present you and your situation to the Board in your best possible light.

 If you have questions about executive clemency, 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.)

Posted in executive clemency, pardon, pardon criminal record, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

THE CRIME OF THEFT-RELATED DEVICES IN ILLINOIS

            Illinois law makes possession or use of certain theft-related devices an offense ranging from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Class 3 Felony.

            Under 720 ILCS 5/16-6, you may not knowingly:

  • possess certain items designed to tamper with a coin-operated machine with intent to commit theft. It is a separate offense if you cause damage or loss of more than $300 to the machine.
  • manufacture, sell, offer for sale or distribute any theft detection shielding device.
  • possess a theft detection shielding device intending to commit theft or retail theft.
  • possess a theft detection device remover intending to remove any theft detection device from any merchandise without permission of the merchant or owner.
  • use a scanning device to access, memorize, or store information encoded on the magnetic strip or stripe of a payment card without permission and with intent to defraud
  • use a re-encoder to place information encoded on a payment card’s magnetic strip onto a different card without permission and with the intent to defraud.

            If you are charged with a theft-related device offense, contact an experienced 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 crime beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did you commit the offense knowingly?  Can the state prove your intent to commit theft or defraud? Did you have the owner’s permission to scan or re-encode the magnetic strip?  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.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment