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Chicago has been named one of the most dangerous cities, with extremely high crime rates. Turning on the news each night, you likely see devastating videos of gun violence leading to lost lives. While it is no secret that Chicago has more than its fair share of violent crimes, statistics show that property crimes actually make up 76 percent of criminal offenses in Chicago in 2018. As a city known for its crime, it is important to know what actions constitute the most common offenses if you are a Chicagoan. Knowing who you can turn to if you find yourself facing criminal charges is even more critical. The legal team at Luisi Legal Group assists clients in defending themselves against all of the following charges.

Theft

Of all the crimes committed in Chicago, theft is the most common, with nearly 65,000 offenses recorded in 2018. The definition of theft is fairly obvious; it means taking something that does not belong to you. This also includes knowingly obtaining stolen property, even if you are not the one who stole it. The consequences of theft are dependent upon the price of the item. The lowest charge one can face is a Class A misdemeanor for items under $500 in value. However, when the price begins to surpass $100,000, those found guilty have committed a Class X felony.

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IL defense lawyerCrimes can consist of various actions, some of which do not always involve physical confrontations. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in 2018, 15 percent of all fraud complaints were related to identity theft. Overall, 33 percent of U.S. adults have experienced identity theft at some point in their lifetime. It can be relatively easy to find people’s personal and sensitive information on social media and networking sites, which can make them targets for phishing and imposter scams. Identity theft basically means representing yourself as someone else for financial gain. This offense is considered a form of fraud, which can carry significant penalties in Illinois. If you are facing charges related to identity theft, a seasoned criminal defense attorney can help you defend against this type of white-collar crime.

What Constitutes Identity Theft?

A person commits the offense of identity theft when he or she knowingly uses any personal identification information or documents of another person to falsely obtain credit, monetary funds, goods, and services, or property. An individual’s personal information can include name, address, date of birth, telephone number, Social Security number, credit or debit card account number, or passport. Types of documentation can include a person’s birth certificate, driver’s license, or state ID. In many cases, a person may use someone else’s credit card or debit card to make purchases, obtain a loan, or get cash out. Other acts include filing fraudulent tax refund forms or writing bad checks. Medical identity theft occurs when information is stolen, including health insurance member numbers, in order to receive certain medical services.

Identity theft typically includes three main types of actions:

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IL defense lawyerChicago’s Kennedy Expressway experienced a nearly 60 car pileup this Wednesday - the morning of icy conditions more usually seen in the winter months. This crash was a result of a combination of speeding and following too closely. These actions can lead to traffic tickets and fines for smaller crashes where it is obvious who is at fault.

The impact of this major crash was that 14 people were taken to the hospital and several more were treated on-scene. All of this could have been avoided if drivers practiced safer driving habits in the winter-like weather.

Safe Driving Tips for Icy Conditions

The roads become slicker even if it looks like ice is not sticking to the pavement. Drivers should slow their rate of travel because the faster one drives, the less control the driver has if the car starts to slide on the ice.

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IL defense lawyerLast year, there was a six-car pileup on the Kennedy Expressway which injured nine people and killed at least one person. A semi-truck struck stopped vehicles and the driver was charged with failure to reduce speed, according to the Illinois State Police department.

Since then, not much has changed in regards to speeding citations on the Kennedy or the other highways which connect Chicago to the suburbs. The most unfortunate part is seeing cars travel at far too high of a speed on roads that can already be dangerous because of the number of vehicles.

When Does Speeding Become Aggravated Speeding?

All drivers are responsible for knowing the speed limits on each type of road in Illinois. While there should be signs posted along the roads to remind drivers, everyone should know and maintain the proper speed in order to avoid collisions:

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IL DUI lawyerDriving after consumption of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous action. It can put the driver and those around him or her at risk of injuries or even death. This is why Illinois has strict penalties for those who choose to drive intoxicated.

Illinois State Police officers have the right to pull over any vehicle they suspect is being driven by a drunk driver. Signs that they look for are the car swerving across the road, braking and/or speeding suddenly for no reason, and misuse of car indicator lights.

The DUI Traffic Stop Process

Like any other traffic stop, the police officer will ask for the driver’s license and proof of insurance. They can also ask the driver if they are aware of what they have been stopped for. All the while, the officer is observing the condition of the driver. They are looking for signs that the driver is intoxicated:

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Posted on in Criminal Defense

Il defense lawyerThere have been many changes to Illinois law since the start of the new year. The number of new laws - including laws that have been amended - exceeds 250 and many of them deal with serious criminal charges, traffic violations, and more.

Of course, the law has been talked about the most before and after the new year was the legalization of recreational marijuana. Not only did this law change possession of marijuana charges, but it also annulled several minor possession charges that were committed before 2020.

The New Marijuana Law

The state of Illinois is the 11th state to make recreational marijuana legal. After the first of the year, the state opened several licensed dispensaries where people over the age of 21 can purchase marijuana.

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IL defense lawyerRoadways are becoming more dangerous every year. Especially now entering the winter season, it is important for all drivers to travel safely and obey the rules of the road. Any action on the road that is noncompliant with the law can be considered reckless driving which leads to consequences.

Illinois law says that reckless driving is any act while driving a motor vehicle that blatantly puts others in danger of injury or death. These actions are enforced through traffic citations when police officers observe reckless behavior on the streets.

Examples of Reckless Driving

The law is broad when it comes to determining reckless driving. The simple act of speeding can result in reckless driving charges because if someone is driving too quickly, they can easily collide with another vehicle or a pedestrian.

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IL defense lawyerThe state of Illinois has a highly specific law regarding gun ownership and concealed carry rules. Guns are legal to carry as long as the owner has the proper paperwork which gives them the right to carry.

Those who illegally carry a firearm will face misdemeanor charges for first offenses and possible felony charges for subsequent offenses. Illegal gun carriers will also face felony charges if they discharge their weapon resulting in injury or death of a victim.

Requirements for Owning and Carrying a Firearm

There are two types of permits that a person needs in order to legally possess a gun in Illinois. Homeowners who wish to possess a firearm for security purposes only need to apply for a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID). If a person meets the requirements for the FOID, they can then possess a gun within their home, but cannot carry it out of their home unless it is unloaded and stored inside a proper container.

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Posted on in Theft

IL defense lawyerStores have many methods of keeping their merchandise and location safe from thieves, but it can still happen from customers and employees alike. People who attempt to steal from a store will face serious consequences if they are caught. Retail theft may be a tempting idea for people who are desperate for food or clothes, but offenders will be charged with misdemeanor or even felony charges if caught.

What Does the Law Say?

The state of Illinois punishes alleged thieves whether they are a person off the streets or someone who works for the business. It also covers a variety of ways that people can attempt to steal. Most simply grab an item and leave the store, but other types of theft that the law covers are:

  • Altering and/or removing labels from items to make them “less expensive” when the cashier rings up the item.
  • Taking an item from the container in which it is being stored with the intention of stealing the merchandise.
  • Removing a shopping cart from the business without their consent.
  • Attempts to convince the merchant that they are the rightful owner of the merchandise they are trying to steal.
  • Using a theft deflection device to try hiding their unlawful action from the merchant.
  • Employees who under-ring a product so they do not pay full price.
  • Using a self-checkout line to attempt to not ring up a product properly.

The least severe charge for retail theft is a Class A misdemeanor which is given out when the value of property stolen does not exceed $300. Using an anti-theft device is also a Class A misdemeanor for first offenders; subsequent offenses are elevated to Class 4 felony charges.

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IL defense lawyerMarijuana will soon be legal for recreational purposes in Illinois, however, there are still specific dispensaries that will sell the drug. Other illegal substances such as opioids and narcotics are not to be sold in the state or brought into Illinois from other states/countries. Selling or trafficking illegal substances is breaking the Illinois Controlled Substance Act, and can lead to a drug crime conviction punishable as a felony. Consequences vary depending on the amount of drugs involved in the violation.

What Is Illinois Controlled Substance Act?

Illinois created the Controlled Substance Act to clearly define what would happen if a drug dealer is caught during a sale or if someone is found trafficking in drugs from other states. The law covers controlled substances, counterfeit substances, and controlled substance analogs.

The Act includes detailed accounts for what type of felony punishments a person can face if they are charged with drug dealing of substances such as cocaine, morphine, methamphetamines, and LSD:

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IL defense lawyerThe state of Illinois does have separate laws in place to differentiate between robbery and burglary. Both are very similar crimes that involve someone breaking into a specific property, vehicle, or business and either taking items or has the intent to steal items.

The act of burglary is defined by Illinois law as a person(s) unlawfully entering a property without permission of the owner with the intent to steal items while on site. Even if no property is taken, a person can be charged with burglary if the intent to steal is proven.

Illinois law defines robbery as a person(s) taking property from another person with the use of force or threat. The law does not cover automobiles, but Illinois does have a separate law for vehicular theft.

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IL defense lawyerIllinois State Police estimates that every year distracted driving is the cause of more than 1 million crashes. Of those accidents, the economic damages - injury and death - add up to close to $40 billion. This is why Illinois is cracking down on cell phone usage while behind the wheel. The law changed on July 1 and now states that using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle will be considered a moving violation on the first violation.

What Was the Previous Law?

Before the first of July, drivers who were stopped because of cell phone usage behind the wheel were given a verbal warning that if it were to happen again, they would face a traffic violation. The subsequent traffic stops would result in a moving violation and a fine would be issued depending on how many violations the driver has had:

  • First offenses are punishable by a $75 fine.
  • Second offenses are punishable by a $100 fine.
  • Third offenses are punishable by a $125 fine.
  • Fourth and subsequent offenses are punishable by a $150 fine.

What to Expect Now

The major change to the Illinois law is that now any violation of cell phone usage while driving will go on a driver’s permanent record as a moving violation even if it is the first offense. The fines remain the same as before, but according to a report from the Chicago Tribune, if a driver receives three violations in one year, their license will be suspended.

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IL defense lawyerIllinois has plenty of rules for motorists to remain safe when driving through construction zones. According to the Illinois Highway Safety Plan, motorists are more likely to be injured in a construction zone accident than workers, but the rules are put into place to avoid any accident or injury. Those who do not adhere to the construction zone rules are putting their lives and the lives of the workers at risk. Motorists who are caught will be charged with a commercial driver’s license violation which leads to traffic tickets and fines.

What Are the Punishments for Construction Zone Violations?

Distracted driving is one common violation that can result in a motorist being pulled over and ticketed. If someone is talking or texting on a cell phone, the fine is $75 for first offenses and increases to $150 for subsequent offenses.

Speeding in a construction zone is a ticketed offense whether or not there are workers present. This is because 90 percent of work zone fatalities are motorists and not workers, according to the Illinois Highway Safety Plan. First offenses for speeding in a construction zone are punishable by a minimum fine of $375 and subsequent offenses result in a minimum fine of $1,000. If the subsequent offense happens within two years of the first offense, a motorist will have their CDL suspended for 90 days. 

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IL defense lawyerTen states in the United States plus Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana, but Illinois is not one of them. Though the state may be getting closer to legalizing the substance, it is still considered a drug crime to possess weed. This includes the cultivation of cannabis plants.

There are serious consequences to possession of marijuana charges, but punishments for growing the plants are even worse. According to Illinois law, growing cannabis plants can be a misdemeanor or a felony charge with punishments varying according to the number of plants grown:

  • Five or fewer plants: Class A misdemeanor charge, one year in prison and $2,500 in fines.
  • Five-20 plants: Class 4 felony charge, up to six years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
  • Over 20-50 plants: Class 3 felony charge, 2-10 years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
  • Over 50-200 plants: Class 2 felony charge, 3-14 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.
  • Over 200 plants: Class 1 felony charge, 4-30 years in prison and $1000,000 in fines.

Of course, there are more penalties that one may face if the prosecution discovers that the plants were grown with the intent to sell or distribute the cannabis.

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IL defense lawyerThe first thing people think of when they hear the phrase “domestic violence” is often a spouse abusing their partner. However, it is just as common for children under the age of 18 to be victims of the abuse or neglect. Minors can be affected in a number of ways by not only being a victim of domestic violence, but also if they are a witness to the abuse or neglect. Side effects vary based on the age of the minor, but some include:

  • Increased crying or signs of terror such as hiding;
  • Bed-wetting or thumb-sucking;
  • Drop of self-esteem or feelings of guilt;
  • Trouble in school or becoming anti-social;
  • Less participation in activities;
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse;
  • Depression or behavior changes; and
  • Mimicking the abusive behavior.

As with adults in a domestic violence case, an order of protection can be ordered to keep the abuser away from any minor in an abusive situation. However, it is the responsibility of a parent or guardian to issue an order of protection.

How the Court Handles Cases of Domestic Violence of a Minor

In the state of Illinois, there are several steps to determine whether a child should be allowed time with a person accused of domestic abuse. After an order of protection goes into effect, the court will:

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IL DUI attorneyWhile we have seen national campaigns designed to combat driving under the influence of alcohol for decades, the concept of drug DUIs is fairly new in the public consciousness. Since the legalization of medical marijuana and recreational cannabis in a growing number of states, law enforcement has been forced to adjust.

That includes in Illinois, where medical cannabis was legalized in 2013. There are now approximately 40,000 medicinal users registered through the Illinois Department of Public Health, in addition to thousands of unregistered recreational users throughout the state. Like alcohol, there are strict rules in place to limit the frequency of marijuana DUI.

Cannabis DUI in Illinois

Illinois law states medical marijuana users may not drive under the influence of cannabis, and they must transport it in a sealed container that is not accessible while the automobile is moving. If a licensed patient or any citizen is pulled over, and the officer believes the driver is impaired by cannabis, they must submit to field sobriety testing. Refusal or test failure results in a driver’s license suspension and possible revocation of their medical marijuana card.

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IL defense lawyerIn recent years, police officers have been more strict on how they handle DUI cases -- and for good reason. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 10,874 people who died in alcohol-related car crashes in 2017. Because of this, penalties for DUI convictions and even arrests can be quite severe.

If an officer pulls you over because he or she thinks you may be under the influence, the officer will probably ask you to step out of your vehicle. They will also probably ask you to submit to a number of field sobriety tests, which is how they gain sufficient evidence to arrest you for DUI. If you are arrested on suspicion of DUI, you will be asked to submit to a chemical test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Refusing to submit to the chemical test can mean you will be subject to penalties.

Illinois Implied Consent

Most states have an implied consent law and Illinois is no exception. According to Illinois law, any person who is in actual physical control of a vehicle on Illinois roads has been deemed to have consented to give a sample of blood, breath or urine to test for their BAC or traces of drugs if they have been arrested for DUI. The arresting officer must have had probable cause to arrest the person.

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IL defense lawyerIf you are like some people, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach when you see a police officer, even if you did not do anything wrong. Getting pulled over by a police officer can be a daunting experience and one wrong move can cost you greatly. If you disrespect an officer, whether you mean to or not, the officer will most likely punish you to the full extent of the law for the reason he or she pulled you over. A simple traffic ticket can turn into a big deal. Often times, police officers will let you off the hook a little bit if you comply, which is why it is important that you know what you should and should not do when you are pulled over by a police officer.

Proper Etiquette After You Are Stopped

There are certain things that you should and should not do when you are pulled over by a police officer. Here are some tips that you should follow when you find yourself in the middle of a traffic stop:

  • As soon as you see flashing blue and red lights behind you, slow down and look for a safe place to pull over. If there is no safe place to pull over within a minute or so, you should turn on your hazard lights, which signals to the police officer that you acknowledge that he or she is trying to pull you over.
  • Once you have found a safe place to stop, turn your engine off and keep your hands on the wheel where the officer can see them at all times. This ensures safety for both you and the officer because the officer may become suspicious if he or she cannot see your hands.
  • Roll down your window completely when the officer comes to the side of your vehicle. If it is night time, it may be a good idea to turn on your vehicle’s interior lights so the officer can see you and the interior of your vehicle clearly.
  • Only reach for your license, registration, and proof of insurance when you are instructed to do so. Reaching for the glove box can also raise a red flag for the police officer.
  • Do not get out of your vehicle for any reason unless the officer instructs you to do so. This goes for both you and any passengers you may be carrying.
  • Be polite to the police officer, answer any questions he or she may have and comply with his or her requests. This can save you a lot of grief.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyer

Getting on the bad side of a police officer can be detrimental to your driving record. Police officers do not respond well to civilians being rude and argumentative. If you find yourself in possession of a traffic ticket, a skilled Chicago traffic ticket defense attorney can help you fight the charges against you. At the Luisi Legal Group, we can help you form a personalized defense for your traffic ticket. Call our office today at 773-276-5541 to schedule a free consultation.

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IL DUI lawyerThere are many ways that you can lose your driving privileges in Illinois -- not paying child support, not taking care of parking tickets and not paying toll fees. However, the most common way Illinoisans lose their driving privileges is by being convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) or related charges. In Illinois, you are subject to an administrative license suspension, in addition to any criminal suspensions you may face. Failing a chemical test to measure your blood-alcohol content (BAC) and refusing to take a chemical test are two common DUI-related charges that result in a loss of driving privileges. In order to get your driving privileges back, you will have to attend an informal or formal hearing at the Illinois Secretary of State’s office.

Informal Hearings

If your driver’s license was suspended or revoked due to a DUI-related charge or conviction that did not involve a fatality and this was your first DUI, you do not have to attend a formal hearing and can attend an informal hearing. Informal hearings are held at certain driver services facilities throughout the state on a walk-in basis. You will provide the hearing office with all applicable documentation, which will then be sent to the main office in Springfield. The main office will mail you a letter stating the outcome of the hearing, which can be either a denial, a restricted driving permit or a full reinstatement of your driving privileges.

Formal Hearings

If this is not your first DUI disposition or your DUI charge involved a fatality, you will be required to attend a formal administrative hearing. You must mail in a written request for a hearing, which will take place at administrative buildings in either Springfield, Chicago, Joliet, or Mt. Vernon. During the hearing, a hearing officer will listen to all testimony, review all documentation and examine all evidence and witnesses. The hearing officer will then issue a recommendation based on all of that information.

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IL defense lawyerEach year, the FBI puts together a report on crime statistics and one of their reports focuses on hate crimes in the United States. In 2106, the FBI reported that there were 6,121 hate crime incidents that took place in the U.S., with over half of those incidents stemming from racial or ethnic bias. About half of all racially or ethnically based hate crimes were those that were anti-black or African American. The prevalence of hate crimes has risen by a significant amount in the past few years and recently, a Chicago man was arrested on charges of drawing swastikas on buildings.

Chicago Man Charged with Felony Hate Crimes

A 51-year-old man has been arrested and charged with multiple counts of hate crimes after the man is alleged to have drawn swastikas on multiple homes on the North Side. The man is being charged with two felony counts of hate crimes, along with three misdemeanor counts of criminal defacing of property. Chicago police say that the man was identified on home security video footage showing him using chalk to draw swastikas on garages and fences.

Illinois Hate Crime Laws

In Illinois, a hate crime is defined as any crime that is committed due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of another person or a group of people. Hate crimes can include assault, battery, stalking, intimidation, theft, damage to property, trespassing, and others. A hate crime is a Class 4 felony for a first offense and a Class 2 felony for a second offense. A first-offense hate crime can be classified as a Class 3 felony if it is committed on the grounds of a religious institution, a cemetery, a school, a public park or any public property within 1,000 feet of any aforesaid locations.

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