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Illinois law sets out numerous criminal offenses for which you may be charged in criminal court if you are suspected of breaking the law. Some charges can be extremely serious and can put your life-long liberty at stake. Others, in comparison, may seem like a mere slap on the wrist. Additionally, there are many charges in between these two extremes that can mean fines, probation, jail time, and other consequences. No matter what type of charge you are facing, you should always consult with an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney for assistance with your case.


Misdemeanors are the less serious class of criminal offenses, and a wide range of criminal activity may lead to misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanors are further divided as follows:

A former basketball player for the Chicago Bulls and Temple University made recent headlines when he was indicted on several serious criminal charges in Lake County court. Allegedly, the former pro had been refused any subsequent massages from the massage therapist at a fitness center due to inappropriate behavior. Instead of respecting the request that he not return, he booked an appointment using a false name—that of NBA superstar Patrick Ewing. Following his appointment, the massage therapist called the police and all of the charges stem from that incident.

The following is a brief overview of the charges issued under Illinois law:

  • Attempted criminal sexual assault—Criminal sexual assault is sexual penetration that involves either the force or threat of force, or a victim who is unable to give consent or to understand the nature of what is happening. Criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony, therefore attempt of this offense is charged as a Class 2 felony, which means up to seven years in prison.

Earlier this year, Illinois joined several other states in the ountry that ban the use of hand-held cellphones for all drivers. While many people may think that the law is overly prohibitive, distracted driving is a serious issue and is responsible for thousands of accidents and injuries each year. Regardless of the merits or efficacy of the measure, the fact is that it is the law, and people who violate it can face significant fines and other penalties if they are caught, particularly if there is an accident or injuries involved with the violation. Fortunately, there are ways that a Chicago criminal defense lawyer can defend against cell phone ticket violations, and in some cases may be able to have the case against you dropped.

The Illinois Cell Phone Statute

The law prohibiting the use of cell phones and other electronic devices by drivers is found in 625 ILCS 5/12-610.2, which prohibits drivers from using an “electronic communication device” while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway. Under the law, “electronic communications devices” can include cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), or a portable mobile computer, as well as other devices. The law does not apply to navigation systems that are integrated into a vehicle. In addition to using a cell phone or other device to communicate, the law prohibits the composing, reading, and sending of text messages as well. Currently, the only way a driver in Illinois may permissibly use a personal electronic device is if it has hands-free capabilities, such as a speakerphone function, Bluetooth integration with the vehicle’s sound system, or a hands-free headset. The fines associated with violating the law are as follows:

There are many drivers who wonder whether or not it will hurt their Chicago DUI case if the DMV hearing is continued. The simple answer is that it will not hurt you, in fact, that extra time gives your DUI attorney the chance to subpoena the video and audio from the arrest, subpoena the arresting officer who will be providing testimony at that hearing, and decide upon the best defense for your unique situation.

When you have been arrested for suspicion of drunk-driving or driving under the influence, it is imperative to call the DMV office to schedule the DMV hearing within ten (10) days of your arrest.

The DMV Hearing

If you are facing criminal charges, you may wonder whether if you should hire an attorney to represent you. While many people may consider hiring an attorney, they may not fully realize that they do not just have the option to have a lawyer, but they have the actual right to have counsel if they so choose in many cases.

The right to counsel stems from several different sources. First, the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States sets out that an accused person in a criminal prosecution has the right to have the “Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” While this right originally only applied to federal cases, a decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) later applied the right to counsel to all state felony prosecutions, as well. Additionally, people facing misdemeanor charges have a right to counsel when there is a possible sentence of jail time.

The right to counsel is generally triggered when judicial proceedings begin against you, such as an indictment. From then on, you have the right to counsel at every major court proceeding in your case under the Sixth Amendment. Furthermore, prior to receiving any formal charges, you still have the right to counsel if you so choose during police interrogations and communications under the Fifth Amendment. Once you are in custody, law enforcement officers are required to inform you of this right to counsel by reading you your “Miranda rights.” It is always a good idea to ask for an attorney as soon as you can when confronted by police, and be careful not to speak with officers without counsel present.

When you are charged with a crime in Illinois, you have several options. You can plead “guilty” to the offense, which often occurs in exchange for a plea deal arranged between your criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor, usually limiting the penalties you face. You can plead “no contest,” or “nolo contendre,” which means you do not admit guilt but also do not dispute the charge. A no contest plea has the same effects as a guilty plea and often also accompanies a plea bargain. In both of the above scenarios, you will have a conviction on your record for the offense.

The third option for all criminal defendants is to plead “not guilty” and dispute the charge. Not guilty pleas will eventually lead to a criminal trial, in which either a judge or jury of your peers will hear evidence and decide on your guilt. Though most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains, a number of cases do proceed to trial. Therefore, it is important to understand the process of criminal trial in Illinois.

Jury Selection

To date, Colorado and Washington State are the only two states that have legalized the personal possession and private use of certain amounts of marijuana. Both states have adapted their respective criminal laws to provide no penalties for anyone who possesses or uses privately less than one ounce of marijuana. Several other states, while not fully legalizing any amount of marijuana, have decriminalized the possession of smaller amounts of marijuana by eliminating any jail sentence for first time offenders.

The Illinois legislature, on the other hand, continues to have very strict marijuana laws on the books. For example, if you were charged with possessing the one ounce of marijuana that would be completely legal in Colorado or Washington, you would face penalties of up to one year in jail. If you are accused of possessing over 30 grams (just over one ounce), you can face felony charges, one to three years in jail, and fines up to $25,000. To put that in perspective, possessing over one ounce in Colorado is a petty offense carrying a fine of $100 and no possible time in jail. Many people believe it is time for Illinois to be more progressive in its treatment of those who possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

Proposals for Lesser Penalties

Three proposals are active in the Illinois legislature that seek to amend the state Cannabis Control Act to provide for lesser consequences for certain marijuana possessors. None of the proposals go so far as to suggest that the state legalizes any amount, however they do seek to eliminate the possibility of jail time for possessing certain smaller amounts of marijuana. All three bills are similar, with small differences in applicable amounts of marijuana that should be decriminalized. The following are brief descriptions of each:

When you receive a DUI charge in Chicago, the court may set an arraignment date in the future. The court will order you appear at the arraignment date. You may wonder what happens if you don’t go to your Chicago DUI arraignment. Here’s what you can expect if you choose not to appear at your Chicago DUI arraignment:

The court may re-notice the arraignment

If you’re lucky, the court gives you the benefit of the doubt, and they send out another notice for a second arraignment date. The notice goes to the address that you give law enforcement at the time of your arrest. If the address isn’t valid, you may not receive this notice.

The potential consequences of a DUI will depend on the subjective facts and circumstances of every case. The court typically looks at a variety of factors surrounding the DUI arrest. These factors include:

  • Whether the driver charged with a DUI was transporting a child under 16 years of age.
  • The age of the driver charged with the DUI.

Almost every Major League Baseball (MLB) fan is aware of scandal that came fully to light last year, involving several players who received steroids from the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic in Florida. New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez was one of 13 players who received suspensions as a result of the allegations. Though none of the players have faced criminal charges, the owner of the now-closed Biogenesis clinic now faces serious charges of distributing large amounts of anabolic steroids. Allegedly, the owner not only provided the drugs to professional baseball players, but also to numerous coaches, judges, and high school athletes.

Rising Popularity of Steroids

Anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs have been on the rise for years among athletes, especially in high school, who want to increase strength quickly for a chance to compete for college scholarships and professional drafts. Some coaches have been known to encourage steroid use or even find ways to supply the drug to a team to increase the chances of winning. Lately the MLB scandal has revealed that steroid use does not necessarily decrease once an athlete has reached elite levels. Though steroid use has become popular and even is accepted in many circumstances, possession and distribution of the drug is still highly illegal and can mean severe consequences.

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