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When to Consider a Plea Bargain

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Chicago criminal defense lawyerEveryone wants their case to be dismissed, or at least to be acquitted at trial. In many cases, getting off the hook completely is entirely possible. If the evidence is not so strong, or the police have violated your rights in a serious way, then hoping for dismissal or acquittal is not unreasonable at all. However, courts do not just dismiss cases once criminal charges have been filed without a very good reason. In some cases, taking a plea bargain may be the best strategy for minimizing the impact the charges could have on your life. Before you consider changing your plea or taking any other offer made by the prosecution, it is crucial to discuss your options with an experienced attorney. 

Situations in Which Taking a Plea Bargain May Make Sense

One of the big risks of going to trial is that if you are convicted at trial instead of pleading guilty to a lesser offense, you may face harsher sentencing for a more serious crime. Some factors that may push you and your lawyer toward accepting a plea bargain include: 

  • Avoiding a felony - Being a felon can mess up the rest of your life in a way that having a misdemeanor would not. If your original charge is a felony offense, and you are offered a plea bargain that would reduce it to a misdemeanor only, it may be better to play it safe. 

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shutterstock_1848965575.jpgOn January 1, 2020, marijuana became legal for recreational use in Illinois. While the state had previously allowed marijuana to be used for medical purposes by people who had received a state-issued medical registration card, all adult residents of the state and visitors from other states are now allowed to possess and use marijuana. However, there are certain limits that apply to recreational use of marijuana, and people may still face drug charges if they violate the state’s marijuana laws.

Drug Charges for Possession or Distribution of Marijuana

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act made it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess a certain amount of marijuana for recreational use. A person may possess up to:

chicago defense lawyerGas prices have skyrocketed over the decades and paying for fuel is one of the most onerous aspects of car ownership. However, the State of Illinois gives no free passes for gas theft. The crime is punished harshly, with serious consequences that can upend your life. Gas theft takes many different forms. The offender may drive to the gas station and siphon gas directly into his vehicle or walk to the pump and fill a jerry can or barrel.

If you are charged with the crime of gas theft, you have the right to legal representation. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide you with options and chart a path forward based on your needs.

Misdemeanor v. Felony Gas Theft

Per Illinois law, theft occurs when a party knowingly steals property belonging to someone else. You can also face theft charges for buying or receiving stolen goods. The element of intent is important in a fuel theft case. The offender must knowingly take fuel without paying for it and without any available pretense that would justify his actions (e.g., being told by the station owner not to pay for the gas).

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chicago criminal defense lawyerIf you are accused of domestic violence, you may also be the subject of a protective order. Courts issue protective orders to preserve the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims. They may be imposed if the offender allegedly abused, harassed, or intimated the victim. An order is also warranted if the personal liberty of the victim was allegedly violated, or they were willfully deprived of basic necessities so as to put them at risk of physical, mental or emotional harm.

Protective orders are issued when an alleged victim is threatened or harmed by a former or current household or family member, including: 

  • People related to the offender by blood
  • Those who reside in the same home as the offender
  • People who have a child with the offender
  • A person who is married to or dating the offender
  • People with a disability or other high-risk adults at risk of abuse.

The State of Illinois takes domestic violence very seriously and imposes harsh penalties for violating a protective order.

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IL defense lawyerUnfortunately, a surprising number of people find themselves the victims of assault, battery, and other violent offenses every year in Illinois. Even more shocking, many of these people end up being the person who is charged with a violent criminal offense. If you were charged with a violent offense after defending yourself in a robbery, fight, or attack, you may be bewildered and unsure of what to do. The first step is to assert your right to remain silent and contact a lawyer for help. You could be facing life-altering consequences, including considerable jail time.

Can I Face Charges if I Acted in Self Defense?

When police are called to the scene of a physical altercation, they do not know the events that preceded their arrival. In many cases, it is nearly impossible to tell how a fight started or who is the true culprit. This can lead to victims being treated like criminals. You may have been arrested and charged for assault, battery, or even homicide even though you were only acting in self-defense. Do not take these charges lightly. Speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.

What Does Illinois Define as Self Defense?

In order to prove that your actions were not malicious but instead an act of self-preservation, your lawyer will need to demonstrate that you used reasonable force to defend yourself, another person, or your property.

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