The police arrested you for a felony in Illinois. The prosecution wants to use your prior conviction in another state to upgrade your charges or increase your sentence. Can they do that?

The answer depends on the specific law involved. An Illinois criminal or DUI statute may refer to whether you have been convicted under the laws of Illinois or any other jurisdiction. A court must look at your prior offense in the other state and compare it to the language of the charges against you.

In People v. Schultz, the court examined whether a defendant’s two Michigan convictions were forcible felonies for sentencing purposes in Illinois. Defendant was charged in Illinois with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. In Michigan, he was convicted for assault with a dangerous weapon. First, the court looked at whether “assault with a dangerous weapon,” was specifically listed under the Illinois definition of “forcible felony.” The court found it was not. However, the Illinois definition further included “any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.” The court then examined the elements of the Michigan crimes to determine whether the use or threat of force was necessarily involved. The court found that it was. As a result, the defendant was sentenced as a Class 2 rather than Class 3 offender.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove your prior offense truly falls within the charges against you? An experienced attorney may be able to find a weakness in the law. 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

(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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