Friday, October 16, 2015

Reduced Aggravated Felony UUW to Misdemeanor UUW

Defending gun cases in Cook County is not easy in light of all the shooting violence in Chicago. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office pursues gun cases very aggressively. It is virtually impossible to reach any agreement with the State's Attorney's office unless the agreement involves the defendant agreeing to serving jail time.  However, I appeared in Court today and convinced the State to reduce my client's charges from two felony Aggravated UUW charges to one count of Misdemeanor UUW.  As the State stated in Court, I submitted a "substantial mitigation packet" on behalf of my client.  My client was working miscellaneous jobs to provide for his family.  One job involved clean up and maintenance work for several landlords.  The landlords would call him to clean and repair their apartments once they were vacated by their tenants.  On the day of his arrest for this case, he was pulled over while going to a vacated apartment to do work by a police officer for a minor traffic offense.  While the officer was issuing my client a ticket, my client voluntarily told the officer that he had a loaded firearm in the glove compartment of his vehicle.  The officer retrieved the firearm and placed my client under arrest.  My client told the officer that he needed to have a gun with him because sometimes he would enter the apartments that were supposed to be vacated only to find that people had broken in to the apartments and were residing in them.  My client had a valid Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) but no Conceal and Carry Permit.  As a result, he was charged with felony Unlawful Use of Weapon (UUW).  I submitted a compelling mitigation packet and was able to convince the Cook County State's Attorney's Office to reduce the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.  My client has a family, a mortgage and owns a business.  A felony conviction would have had a devastating effect on his future and the future of his family.   After his period of probation for the misdemeanor ends he will eventually be allowed to seal the case which means that the public will not be able to find his conviction and the case will not hinder his future or affect his family.  After this excellent result, when the case gets sealed, it will be like it never existed as far as the public or prospective employers are concerned. 

For more information about the Chicago Criminal Defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at, or call my office 312-229-5500, or call me directly at 312-593-1765.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vacating UUW Convictions in Illinois

Today I appeared before Judge Haberkorn in the Circuit Court of Cook County - 2nd Municipal District and vacated my clients Unlawful Use of A Weapon (UUW) conviction from August 22, 2006. My client, a family man and an electrical engineer by trade, was arrested for a DUI and the officer found a loaded gun on the passenger side of the car. My client plead guilty to the UUW and the DUI charge - he represented by another attorney when he plead guilty to the charges.

Over 10 years later, I was able to vacate my clients UUW conviction based on recent decisions from the US Supreme Court, the US Court of Appeals (7th Circuit) and the Illinois Supreme Court. My filed brief in support of vacating my client's conviction was thorough and included a detailed analysis of all relevant case law. Our position was so strong, that the Cook County State's Attorney conceded.   

I have been fighting for my clients for many years who has been prosecuted by the State of Illinois for violating gun laws which have now been found to be unconstitutional. After many battles with the State's Attorney's Office, it is encouraging to see that the United States Constitution is alive and well. Wining a case like this has special significance since today is 9/11.  Our freedoms are under attack at many levels and can't be taken for granted. Without fighting the government and overzealous prosecutors, we are left with allowing them to define our freedoms. In Illinois, for those who have UUW convictions (Class 4 and Misdemeanors) and had a FOID card at the time of their conviction,  may  be eligible to have their convictions vacated and their records eventually expunged. Kudos to all the criminal defense attorneys who have been fighting for our rights to bear arms under the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution.

Kudos all the attorneys who have been fighting for decades in Illinois to protect our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  

For more information, visit, or email me at or call me at 312-593-1765. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Do You Have To Be Driving Your Vehicle To Be Guilty of a DUI in Illinois?

The short answer to the question presented in the title to this post is no.  Let me explain.

In my 23 years of practicing law, I have seen it all and have been asked every question that you could imagine.  One of the most common areas in which I get asked questions has to do with whether someone has to actually be driving their motor vehicle in order to be guilty of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI).  In Illinois, you are considered to be "driving" a vehicle, for purposes of a DUI, if you have actual physical control of a motor vehicle.  Whether you had actual physical control of a motor vehicle depends on the totality of the circumstances.  Some of the factors are where you were sitting in the vehicle, did you have the key to the vehicle, what were you doing inside the vehicle and did you have the ability to start the vehicle and move it?  

I recently had a case in which my client had attended a party at a bar and had too much to drink.  My client realized that he was in no condition to drive so when he went to his vehicle, he decided to put back his driver's seat and go to sleep.  A few hours later, the police responded to a call of a man possibly passed out or dead in a parked vehicle and approached my client's vehicle. The officer saw my client laying back in the car seat and started knocking on the window of the vehicle to get my client's attention. My client woke up and opened the door.  My client was eventually pulled out of the vehicle, the officer detected the strong odor of alcohol on my client's breath, administered field sobriety tests and placed my client under arrest for suspicion of  Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI).  Under Illinois law, my client was considered to be "driving" the vehicle because of the facts of the case.  He was inside the vehicle and the vehicle was in good working condition. He lived in the suburbs and had driven to the city for the event.  What was most damaging to my client's case was the police officer recovered the keys to the vehicle in the front pants pocket of my client.  

In 1997 the Illinois Supreme Court issued a ruling which pretty much describes what "driving" is defined for a DUI.  In City of Naperville v. Watson, 677 NE2d 955 (1997), the police found Taylor laying across the front seat of his car, his head on the passenger seat, and the motor running so he could have the heat on.  Taylor had not driven the car to the location and had no intention of driving the vehicle.  He was merely sleeping in the vehicle with the engine on to provide heat.  The Supreme Court looked at the fact that he had the motor running, the keys were in the ignition, his position inside the vehicle, and that he was under the influence of alcohol as enough evidence to sustain his DUI conviction.

As you can see, what most people consider "driving" is not what the law considers to be "driving" for purposes of a DUI.

For more information about the Chicago Criminal Defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Transporting a Gun in Illinois Law

Under Illinois law, you need to have a valid FOID card to possess a gun if you are a resident of Illinois. A FOID card is a Firearm Owner's Identification card issued by the Illinois State Police after a background check. However, if you possess a loaded gun outside your home or business, you can be charged with a Class 4 Aggravated UUW felony 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6 if the gun is loaded, immediately accessible and you do not have an Illinois Concealed Carry License. 

Thus, a law-abiding citizen with no criminal history who has a valid FOID card but not a Conceal Carry License, can be charged with a non-expungable felony if the person carries a loaded gun on their a) person or b) in their car if the gun is immediately accessible. If you have an Illinois Concealed and Carry Licence, then can you transport a loaded gun on your person or in your car without violating Illinois gun law. If you only have a FOID card and not a Concealed Carry License, then the safe way to transport a gun is in a) case and b) unloaded.

The threat of prosecution by the Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez is real. Her office is currently prosecuting FOID card holders with felony charges who were arrested for transporting their gun a) loaded b) immediately accessible and c) without being issued a Illinois Conceal Carry License pursuant to 430 ILCS 66/10.

For more information contact attorney John Ioakimidis at 312-593-1765 or at

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez Continues to Prosecute Low Level Drug Possession Cases

My client's felony drug case was dismissed after a finding of no probable cause at the preliminary hearing at the Cook County Court Brach 50 (Grand & Central). My client is an armed security guard and a criminal conviction would have had serious consequences on his life, his FOID card and his Conceal and Carry License. He was pulled over for a traffic violation but was driving on a suspended driver's license. He was arrested and the police found two zip lock baggies of marijuana and one pill of Ecstacy on him. 

The Cook County States Attorney dismissed the marijuana charges per the recent change in policy of not prosecuting  marijuana possession cases for under 30 grams in most cases. However, the police officer was present and the State proceeded to preliminary hearing on the Ecstasy pill (.03 grams). Wisely, the Judge did not see fit that the felony drug case proceed any further. In other words, the Cook County State"s Attorneys Office is continuing to prosecute low-level drug possession cases. 

Not prosecuting marijuana possession cases but prosecuting other drug possession cases is a policy that can be surely replaced by a better one. Wouldn't be better to treat people who are arrested for drug possession in a non-criminal matter? For possession of marijuana, the Cook County State's Attorney has answered that question in the affirmative. I believe justice will be better served if the States Attorney's policy of not prosecuting marijuana cases be extended to all low-level drug possession cases. I'm sure there is a better way to treat people with addiction issues than to spend valuable and scarce resources trying to brand them as criminals.

For more information contact attorney John Ioakimidis at 312-593-1765 or at

Friday, June 12, 2015

Supreme Court Declines to Hear Gun Case Further Muddying 2nd Amendment Waters

On Monday the United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of a San Francisco Second Amendment gun case.  By declining to hear an appeal of this case, the Supreme Court has caused further confusion on what the parameters of the Second Amendment will be.  Further, by refusing to review this case, the Supreme Court has caused a conflict to occur with previous rulings by this Court with prior gun cases.

The case involves a legal challenge to a San Francisco ordinance which required that if a homeowner wanted to own a gun in their home, they either had to carry it on their person, or store it in a lock box or have a trigger lock attached to their gun.  Here is where the conflict with previous cases arises.  In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Court struck down a city ordinance which banned all handguns and required trigger locks on any other weapons inside homes in Washington D.C.  In striking down the city ordinance the court declared that American's had the fundamental right to possess guns for self defense.  The court stated that the ordinance was inconsistent with the Second Amendment because it denied citizens the right to own a firearm and the trigger lock denied them the right to access the firearm quickly for self defense.  The San Francisco ordinance was enacted in 2007, a year before the Heller decision.  A federal judge upheld the ordinance by finding that it did not unduly infringe upon right to own a firearm.  The Plaintiffs pointed to the Heller decision and the dissent pointed out that by failing to hear the appeal, the decision would be "in serious tension" with the Heller decision.

The Court offered no explanation for declining to hear the appeal.  The Court's decision to decline to hear the appeal because it seems as if this case is directly on point to Heller.

The case is Espanola Jackson v. City and County of San Francisco (14-704.)

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Frozen Assets Case

On Monday the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving whether a criminal defendant can use funds frozen by the federal government to pay their attorney fees.  The case involves Sila Luis who was indicted in 2012 for Medicare Fraud.  The Federal government alleged that Luis received over $45 million in Medicare payments by submitted fraudulent bills for treatment not rendered, and paid kickbacks and bribes to get customers.  After the indictment the Federal Government froze Luis's assets.  Luis sued the Federal Government claiming that not all of his assets were acquired illegally and that he needed access to his money to pay his attorneys.  The government claimed that they could put his funds on hold because the money would have to be forfeited if Luis was convicted.  The government is not alleging that the funds are tainted but just that they would have to be paid in fines and court costs in the event of a conviction.  

The main question presented in the case is whether Luis's Sixth Amendment Right to an Attorney outweighs the federal government's interest outweighs the federal government's interest in preserving their right to recover money in the event of a conviction.  

Last year the Supreme Court ruled that a criminal defendant does not have the right to challenge the freezing of his assets.  But in a strong dissenting opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts warned that the majority was opening the door to the possibility that a prosecutor with bad intentions could initiate a criminal prosecution against an innocent person and then disarm that person by making it impossible for them to hire an attorney by freezing their assets.  It looks like Justice Robert's warnings have come to fruition.

The case is Sila Luis v. United States.  Oral arguments are expected to be heard next term.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.