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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerIllinois and the rest of the country are gradually returning to “normal” after 15 months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. One area that is preparing for that return is the Illinois criminal court system. When the pandemic hit and the state began shutting down, the Illinois Supreme Court entered blanket orders tolling speedy trials on all criminal cases. Last week, the court put out the “open sign” for all courts, issuing two orders that lift tolling on statutory time restrictions and relax or eliminate social distancing requirements. However, these new orders are leaving the courts themselves facing an avalanche of cases and major questions on how to handle them.

Right to a Speedy Trial

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees all criminal defendants the right to a speedy trial. While the amendment does not specify an exact definition for “speedy,” there are laws that do specify the time limit before a defendant should be tried.

In 1974, Congress passed the Speedy Trial Act, which addresses the federal government’s position on what is reasonable for a federal criminal case. According to the law, a trial should begin no later than 70 days from the filing date of the indictment, unless the defendant waives this right. In order to ensure that the defendant has enough time to prepare, the law also specifies that the trial cannot begin less than 30 days from the defendant’s first court appearance, unless the defendant agrees in writing.

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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerThere is no doubt that domestic violence is a very real problem in Illinois and throughout the country. However, not all accusations of domestic violence are founded on truth. If you have been accused of domestic battery or another form of violence against a household or family member, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. The state of Illinois takes domestic violence very seriously. Penalties for domestic battery may include heavy fines and jail time. It is important to take steps to protect your rights and avoid worsening the situation you are in.

Remain Calm and Do Not Retaliate Against the Accuser

Being falsely accused of hurting a current or former romantic partner, family member, or housemate is a very emotional experience to go through. Understandably, you may be shocked and angry that you have been accused of a crime that you did not commit. However, the most important step you can take is to remain calm. Do not confront the individual who has accused you of harming him or her. Any contact you make with your accuser may be used as an excuse for an additional allegation of abuse or violence.

Do Not Let Police Interrogate You Without Your Lawyer

When you are in a heightened emotional state, this is no time to talk to the police. Officers may try to ask you questions about the circumstances of the alleged altercation or your relationship with the accuser. Do not answer these questions without speaking to your lawyer first. Anything you say to the police may be used as evidence against you during future criminal proceedings. You have a constitutional right to decline police interrogation. It is important to take full advantage of this right.

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Itasca IL drug crime defense attorneyWidespread drug and alcohol addiction is an alarming problem in Northern Illinois and throughout the country.  It is estimated that 20.4 million adults suffered from substance use disorder in 2019 and over 70,000 individuals died from a drug overdose. Drug addiction destroys careers, fractures families, and creates a heavy burden on the U.S. criminal justice system. Criminal penalties for drug possession often include heavy penalties and long prison sentences. Proponents of House Bill 3447 say that individuals who are addicted to illicit drugs need treatment, not jail time.

Criminal Consequences for Drug Possession in Illinois

Most people know at least one person in their life who struggles with drug addiction. Many individuals who are addicted to substances wish to cease using the drug but find themselves unable to do so. Individuals who are caught with certain drugs may face life-changing criminal penalties including years or even decades in jail. Those convicted of drug-related offenses may find it nearly impossible to gain suitable employment and lead a lawful life after getting released.

Currently, possession of any amount of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, or morphine is a felony offense in Illinois. The greater the amount of the substance in an individual’s possession, the more severe the consequences. For example, possession of less than 15 grams of heroin is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison. Possession of more than 15 grams of heroin is a Class 1 felony punishable by 4 to 50 years in prison.

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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerLaws are put in place to deter people from committing crimes that could harm others, themselves, or property. Depending on the nature of the offense, the criminal charges and subsequent penalties can be significant. In particular, violent crimes are treated differently than other criminal offenses, often carrying more severe punishments. However, in some cases, people may not even realize that certain actions constitute a crime, thus inadvertently committing them. For instance, “reckless conduct” is considered a violent crime in Illinois, but some may not even understand what actions can result in this type of criminal charge.    

How Is Reckless Conduct Defined?

Violent crimes can refer to a range of criminal offenses such as battery, sexual assault, armed robbery, firearm violations, and more. One such violent crime in Illinois is reckless conduct, which is also known as reckless endangerment. According to Illinois law, reckless conduct is committed when someone recklessly performs an act or acts that cause bodily harm to or endanger the safety of another person, or that cause great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another individual. 

It is important to note that several reckless conduct acts warrant their own charge. For instance, the criminal transmission of HIV occurs when a person diagnosed with HIV knowingly participates in unprotected sex or donates blood, thus risking the lives of others. Another example is criminal housing management, which occurs when a building owner or manager fails to maintain safe conditions for his or her tenants. Common carrier recklessness can be prosecuted if an individual endangers the safety of others while operating a mode of transportation such as a bus, train, or taxi cab.

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Itasca criminal defense lawyerYou may have heard the terms manslaughter, homicide, and murder used simultaneously. However, they are actually separate criminal offenses in most states. According to Illinois law, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person. It results when an individual acts recklessly and that conduct leads to someone’s death. This is different than first-degree murder charges, which result from the intentional or knowing act that creates a strong probability of death or great bodily harm. Proving one’s mental state at the time of the crime requires a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help avoid a conviction. 

What Are Considered Reckless Actions?

Various acts can lead to a manslaughter charge. For example, driving a vehicle in a reckless manner may be considered negligence in a car accident case. If the crash causes the death of a passenger or a pedestrian, that may lead to a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter for the at-fault driver. Criminal negligence can also occur when a defendant fails to perform an act that he or she has a duty to perform. Parents can face manslaughter charges if they accidentally leave their child in a vehicle on a hot day, and the child dies. Another example would be a ziplining or parasailing guide or tour operator who fails to advise patrons on proper safety procedures, which causes a fatal accident. 

Illinois Punishments for Involuntary Manslaughter

The punishments for involuntary manslaughter can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. Although this crime is committed without the intent to kill, it is usually litigated aggressively by the prosecution. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or even counseling. In addition, a judge generally considers any aggravating or mitigating factors when determining a defendant’s sentence. In most cases, manslaughter is charged as a Class 3 felony in Illinois, resulting in up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

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