Monday, January 25, 2016

Supreme Court Grants Hope for Juvenile Mandatory Life Prisoners

Today, the United States Supreme Court granted prisoners throughout the country the right to challenge their mandatory life sentences in court.  In 2005 the Supreme Court barred the imposition of the death penalty for juveniles convicted of murder.  In 2010 it barred the imposition of life sentences for non-homicides and in 2012 the Supreme Court barred the imposition of mandatory life sentences for juveniles, even for murder cases.  However, the 2012 decision was not retroactive so it did not do anything for prisoners who had been sentenced to life in prison for crimes that they had committed prior to 2012.  Today, the Supreme Court gave hope to those prisoners to at least have an opportunity to seek a review of their mandatory life sentences.  Today's case involved 69 year old Henry Montgomery who had been convicted of murdering a deputy sheriff in 1963 when he was 17 years old.  Montgomery had been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.  In a 6 to 3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Montgomery must have an opportunity to go back to court and challenge his mandatory life sentence.  According to the majority opinion, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, he stated "that prisoners like Montgomery must be given the opportunity to show their crime did not reflect irreparable corruption; and, if it did not, their hope for some years of life outside of prison walls must be restored."  While the state still has the right to argue that the prisoner deserved this fate, at least the prisoners have some hope of someday getting out of jail.  As you can tell from the progression of the Supreme Court's decisions on juvenile cases, today's decision seems to be a logical progression of where the Supreme Court has been going with juvenile cases.  Since 2012 the Supreme Court has left the decision of what to do about prisoners sentenced to life in prison to state legislatures.  Today's decision takes that away from the states and allows prisoners to have their day in court.

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

Saturday, January 9, 2016

On Warnings: Winning a Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension

John D. Ioakimdis, Esq. 
Winning  a  Petition  to  Rescind  Statutory  Summary  Suspension  hearing pursuant  625  ILCS  5/11-501.1  means  the  world to  our clients. A win prevents our  client's privileges  from  being suspended so they can  drive while they are fighting their DUI and thereafter; whether the  DUI is  for  alcohol, cannabis or other drugs.

My client was involved in a car accident when he side-swiped a limousine. When the police officer arrived at the scene of the accident, he apparently smelled the odor of burnt cannabis on my client and arrested him for DUI. However, there was no evidence that my client was under the influence of alcohol or any drug while he was driving. The police officer, although, did recover a  pipe from my client and cannabis from his car.

Under 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1, the given officer is required to warn the motorist that his/her license will be suspended if he/she does not take the requested chemical tests. The police officer is required to sign and read to the motorist a document called a "Warning to Motorist" which warns  the motorist of the suspension. In our case, the  police officer did not warn our client that his license would be suspended for one year nor was he given a copy of the "Warning to Motorist."

At the hearing to Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension, the State's attorney admitted into evidence the police reports and the "Warning to Motorist." Being careful not to jeopardize my client's DUI case by having him testify at the Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension, I limited my questioning specifically on whether the police officer read the "Warning" to my client. My client did a great job testifying as our preparation went a long way during the  State's cross-examination.  The State's attorney tried to make it look that my client didn't remember whether he was read the "Warning." I objected to that line of questioning and was largely successful. At closing argument, I emphasized that the Court had no reason to doubt my client testimony, and further, if the State's attorney was unable to produce the officer to testify, the Court should place no weight on the State's "paper" evidence.  The Court agreed, and we won.

To note, on January 1, 2006,  625 ILCS 5/11-501.1 was amended to provide: "A person requested to submit to a test shall also acknowledge, in writing, receipt of the warning required under this Section. If the person refuses to acknowledge receipt of the warning, the law enforcement officer shall make a written notation on the warning that the person refused to sign the warning. A person's refusal to sign the warning shall not be evidence that the person was not read the warning."  

Under the amended version of 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1, the motorist has the option to acknowledge in writing  that the "Warning" was given to him/her.  In the case discussed here, 625 ILCS 5/11-501.1 applied before its amendment.  Thus, the issue as to whether my client acknowledged the warning was not at issue. However, if the motorist refuses to acknowledge that he/she was warned, then the motorists will have grounds to win the Petition to Rescind Statutory Summary Suspension on the basis of Warnings if he/she can prove that the "Warning" were not given.

A win, of course, depends on the facts and a good understanding as to how the law will likely be applied to a particular case by the Court.  For more information, please contact John Ioakimids at 312-593-1765, or Legal Defenders, P.C. at 800-228-7295, or visit us at www.legaldefenderspc.com.




Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Win Source of Bail Hearing. Bond Posted, Client Released.

Our client was pulled over in his vehicle by the Chicago Police.  After he was pulled over he was placed under arrest.  His vehicle was subsequently searched and the police recovered approximately 2 pounds of marijuana and about 120 grams of mushrooms.  The arrest occurred late on Friday so he was taken to Central Bond Court at 26th and California on Sunday.  We appeared for him at the bond hearing.  The Judge set the bond at $10,000 cash.  The state filed a Petition requiring proof of Source of Funds, and the court granted their request.  Source of Funds is a procedure by which the Court wants proof that the money that will be posted for a bond is money that was lawfully obtained.  The law does not want drug money to be used to bond someone out of jail.  Prosecutors frequently request such proof in drug cases in which they believe that the defendant is a drug dealer.  When the prosecutor files such a request and the Court grants their request, then the burden shifts to the Defendant to file a Petition requesting that the Court conduct a hearing to allow the bond to be posted.  This is known as a Source of Bail Hearing.  At this hearing, the defense has the burden of proving that the money that will be posted for the bond is not drug money.

After the bond hearing we met with the friends and family of our client and obtained bank records, pay stubs, tax returns, business documents, and prepared affidavits to prove that the money that would be used to post the required bond was not drug money.  We filed our petition at the first court date in Maywood a few days after the bond hearing.  Less than a week later we conducted a hearing which lasted over 2 court dates.  We presented live testimony and presented evidence to the court to prove that the bond money was legally and lawfully obtained.  The Court was convinced that the bond money was not drug money and allowed the family to post the bond.  The client was released from jail the same day and was able to go back to work and is now able to work with us to assist in his defense.

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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What Does Source of Funds or Source of Bail Mean?

What is Source of Funds or Source of Bail Mean?

When you are charged with a felony, you will have a Bond Hearing.  At the Bond Hearing the judge will determine the amount of money that needs to be posted in order for you to be released from jail while your case is pending.  But in addition to setting the amount of money that needs to be posted, the judge can also set additional conditions that will apply to your bond.  Normally, a "D" Bond will be set which will require that only 10% of the bond amount be posted in cash.  The Judge can set other conditions, such as home confinement, surrender your passport, that you check in periodically with a probation officer or that you not have any contact with a witness.  When it comes to cases involving large amounts of illegal drugs, the state will often request that you prove Source of Funds or Source of Bail.  This will happen when the state, or prosecutor, believes that you are involved in criminal activity and that the only way the bond money can be posted is if money came from illegal criminal activity.  While the rationale may be true, most of the time this is not the case.  But when the state requests that a Source of Funds or Source of Bail hearing be conducted, this means that before the bond is posted, the Court must hold a hearing and allow the bond to be posted.  Without permission from the court, the bond cannot be posted.


What Happens When a Source of Funds or Source of Bail is Required?

The state will request a Source of Funds or Source of Bail hearing at the bond hearing.  If the court grant's the state's request, you will be required to file a written notice requesting that the court hold a Source of Bail hearing.  The burden of proof is on you to prove that the bond money is coming from legal and legitimate sources.  The notice must be accompanied by Affidavits along with any other evidence that proves that the money that is being used is not drug money.  A lawyer experienced with such matters will know what to do.  They will know what kind of evidence will be needed, how to prepare it, and how to properly present the evidence to the Court so as to get you released from jail.


Why Hire Legal Defenders For Your Source of Funds or Source of Bail Hearing?

We have done numerous Source of Funds or Source of Bail hearings.  We know that figuring out what needs to get done at the hearing could be catastrophic.  We will work with your friends and family to make sure we do this the right way, before we file the paperwork, because we understand how important it is that you be released from jail so you can go back to work and be with your family and assist your attorneys to defend you in court.  We will insure that the notice contains the proper affidavits and documents that will help insure that the court will grant your Source of Bond or Source of Funds petition.  We know what we are doing and we will make sure you are released on bond so you can get out of jail.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, PC, visit us at www.legaldefenderspc.com or call us anytime at 312-229-5500.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Year Brings Major Changes to Illinois DUI Law

The new year will bring some pretty significant changes to the Illinois DUI laws.  The changes have the support of anti-DUI activists and criminal defense attorneys.  But to get everybody on board, the law contains things that make everyone happy.  First, let's talk about the changes which will affect the fewest number of drivers.  Here's the changes:

- If you have been convicted of 2 or more DUI's, you will be required to have a Restrictive Driving Permit for five years before you can have a full license reinstatement.

- In order to have your license reinstated, you must have a Restrictive Driving Permit (RDP) and a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAID) for five continuous years.

- If you have four or more DUI convictions you can apply for a RDP with the Illinois Secretary of State five years after your most recent revocation began or your most recent prison sentence ended (whichever is latest).  In order to get a Restrictive Driving Permit you must request a formal hearing before the Illinois Secretary of State and demonstrate that you completed your alcohol treatment and have not had any alcohol in 3 years.  If the RDP is granted you will have to use a BAID.  If you are caught driving without a BAID your RDP will be revoked forever and you will not be allowed to ever have your license reinstated.

- If you no longer live in Illinois and you have four or more DUI convictions, you can petition the Secretary of State to terminate the revocation ten years after the most recent license revocation.  But if you ever move back to Illinois your license will be revoked again and you will have to start the process of getting an RDP from the beginning and demonstrate all the things stated in the above-paragraph.

Now let's talk about the biggest change to the Illinois DUI law.  This change will affect almost everyone that is charged with a DUI in Illinois.  The changes now allow for a driver charged with a DUI to legally drive from day one of the Statutory Summary Suspension.  Under the current law, which will be replaced by the new law on January 1, 2016, if you were arrested for a DUI, and it was your first offense, your license would be suspended for 6 months if you failed a breath test or 12 months if you refused a breath test.  The suspension would take effect 46 days after you were arrested.  You could arrange to have a BAID installed in your vehicle which would allow you to drive during the period of your Statutory Summary Suspension.  However, the BAID could not be installed on your vehicle until at least 30 days had passed.  So even if you arranged to have a BAID device on your car, you had to serve a 30 day suspension of your license, unless you had won a Statutory Summary Suspension hearing and had the suspension of your license revoked.

Under the 2016 changes, you can have a BAID device installed in your vehicle immediately so that you can begin driving your vehicle on the 46th day after your arrest.  In other words, you no longer have to serve the 30 day suspension.

So while the changes contain things that help defendants, it also contains changes that help prosecutors.  Starting January 1, 2016, if you are arrested for a DUI you will be required to sign a form in which you acknowledge that you have been warned of the consequences to your driving privileges if you fail a breath test or if you refuse to take a breath test.  This change to the law makes it much more difficult to win a hearing on a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension.  The most common way to win a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Suspension is when the police officer fails to show up for the hearing and the driver testifies that they were never given the Warnings to Motorists.  This change to the law takes away the most common way to win a hearing for a Petition to Rescind a Statutory Summary Suspension.

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


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Illinois Possession of Cocaine Law

How Illinois Classifies Illegal Drugs

In Illinois, it is against the law to possess any amount of cocaine.   Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is derived from the South American coca plant.  Illinois classifies illegal drugs according to schedules.  The penalties for possession of drugs vary based on what schedule those drugs are classified.  Here's a breakdown of the drug schedules in Illinois:
-Schedule I - This is for the common street drugs like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, crack.  These are drugs that have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, or are unsafe for medical use even under medical supervision.
-Schedule II - This is for drugs such as cocoa leaves and opium.  These are drugs that have a high potential for abuse, have an accepted medical use, and can result in severe physical and psychological dependence if abused.
-Schedule III-This is for drugs such as steroids.  These are drugs that have a potential for abuse less than Schedule I or II, have accepted medical use, and can lead to low or moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence.
-Schedule IV - This is for drugs such as diazepam.  These are drugs that have a lower potential for abuse, have an accepted medical use and may lead to limited dependence.
-Schedule V - This is for prescription drugs that have the lowest potential for abuse.  These are drugs that have medical use and contain very small amounts of narcotics.
Cocaine is a Schedule I drug, which means that it carries the harshest penalties under Illinois law.

What Are the Penalties for Possession of Cocaine?

The penalties for Possession of Cocaine depend on the amount of cocaine you are caught with.  Here's the breakdown of possible penalties based on the amount:
-Less than 15 grams - Class 4 Felony.
-15 to 100 grams - Class 1 Felony.
-100 to 400 grams - Class X Felony.
-400 to 900 grams - 8 to 40 years in prison.
-Over 900 grams - 10 to 50 years in prison.

Why Hire the Legal Defenders for Your Possession of a Cocaine Case?

We have a proven track record of fighting and winning drug cases in Illinois.  We have won cases that other lawyers would be afraid to take.  We will go over all the evidence and make sure that the state followed the law.  We will challenge the state's case vigorously.  Many Possession of Cocaine cases involve issues concerning search warrants, probable cause to stop you and conduct a search, bad information used to obtain a search warrant, whether the search exceeded the scope of the search warrant, whether consent to search was obtained and whether the state will be trying to use your statement and if that statement was appropriately obtained.  Because of our experience, we can spot issues that other, less experienced attorneys, will not even realize are there.  As we poke holes in the state's case, the state will often back down and reduce or dismiss the charges as their case starts to crumble.  We will stop at nothing to win your case.
If you hire us, you will get the personal cell phone of your attorneys.  We are a team of lawyers and we use our collective efforts to pool our resources to win your case.  You can contact us anytime to discuss your case or have any of your questions asked.  We will guide you through the legal process and make sure you always know what is happening with your case and understand what is happening.
If you have a Possession of Cocaine case in Illinois, give us a call.  We can help.

For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at www.legaldefenderspc.com or call us anytime at 312-229-5500.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Highland Park Second Amendment Case

Today, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of a case which upheld the banning of semiautomatic assault weapons in Highland Park, Illinois.  Two Justices, Alito and Thomas, disagreed with the decision to not review the case.  The case had been closely watched but gun rights activists and is of significant 2nd Amendment importance.  

In 2013 the city of Highland Park Illinois enacted a local ordinance banning high capacity magazines with more than 10 bullets and also banned assault weapons.  The Highland Park ordinance was in response to a Federal Court of Appeals decision which ordered the State of Illinois to enact a conceal and carry mechanism.  The Illinois legislature gave municipalities 10 days to enact restrictions.  Highland Park was one of only 20 municipalities in Illinois, all around the Chicago area, to actually impose restrictions on guns.  A Highland Park resident, along with the Illinois State Rifle Association filed suit alleging that the ban was unreasonable because it banned some of the most popular semi-automatic weapons as well as magazines with more than a 10 round capacity.  In a 2 to 1 decision the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Highland Park ordinance by finding that the ban was allowed the 2nd Amendment.  By refusing to hear the case, the United States Supreme Court has upheld the banning of semi-automatic assault weapons.  Seven other states have enacted laws similar to Highland Park which ban assault weapons.  

In 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that established the right to own a firearm inside the home for self defense.  But since Heller, towns and states continue to impose restrictions upon that right.  Since Heller, the Supreme Court has refused to strike down any restriction that has been challenged before the Supreme Court.  So by refusing to take any case challenging any restriction, the Court seems to be saying that states and towns have great leeway in imposing restrictions on the right to own a gun.  

The case is Friedman v. Highland Park.

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