Over 22 Years Experience, Rated as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer
Over 23 Years Experience Rated as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer

Drug and TASC probation is a special kind of probation because the law allows you to avoid a criminal conviction and eventually expunge your arrest record. It is one of the few ways to avoid going to jail and avoiding a permanent criminal conviction.

Under “regular” probation, a felony conviction stays on your record forever unless the Governor issues a pardon – not very common.  Understanding the differences between drug, TASC and regular probation is important because it can mean the difference between having a clean record or being permanently labeled a convicted felon.

A further distinction is also necessary between drug probation and TASC probation.  For drug probation, you have been charged with possessing illegal drugs.  For TASC probation, the charge does not have to be drug-related, but rather, have to elect to be treated as a person with a drug problem.   For example, if you are charged with Residential Burglary, you would not be eligible for drug probation or regular probation, but may be eligible for TASC probation.

babyIn a recent Illinois appellate case, a mother challenged a conviction for child endangerment. The case arose when a Chicago cop was patrolling at 1:00 a.m. and was flagged down by someone reporting a child was left alone inside a car. There was a six-month-old baby in the baby seat in the back of the car, and he’d been crying. The rear window was open, and the car wasn’t running. The fire department was contacted, and the baby was removed from the car.

The officer ran the plates and found the car was registered to the defendant, who lived about two blocks away. When the officer went to the address where the car was registered, he found the defendant sitting on the curb with a man. The cop smelled alcohol on the mom’s breath. He asked her if she knew where her child was, and the mom responded she’d gone to a party that night and drank alcohol, but she didn’t know why her car was parked on the other street. She’d forgotten her baby was inside.

She was put in custody. At trial, the officer testified that he’d asked her if she had the name of the primary suspect. He knew the car was registered to her, and a baby was in the car, so she was never free to go. The mom’s attorney asked for leave to file a motion to suppress the mother’s statements to the police because she never received Miranda warnings. The police reports included a summary of her statements to the police, given without Miranda warnings.

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laboratoryIn a recent Illinois appellate case, the defendant appealed his conviction for delivery of a controlled substance. On appeal, he argued that the prosecution hadn’t established a proper chain of custody for the drug, even though the parties had stipulated certain things about it, and that the fines, fee order, and mittimus had to be corrected accordingly.

The case arose when the defendant and his codefendant were indicted for delivering more than a gram of heroin under 720 ILCS 570/401(c). The defendant waived a jury trial. At the bench trial, two officers were called as witnesses. The first officer testified he was assigned to the narcotics division of the bureau of organized crime. He was the surveillance officer on the date of the transaction in question, and he sometimes used binoculars to observe what was happening. The second officer was undercover, buying the heroin.

The first officer testified he saw the undercover officer talking to the codefendant and saw the codefendant get into the passenger seat of the undercover vehicle. He followed the undercover vehicle to a residential neighborhood, where it was parked on a corner, and the codefendant got out of the car. The codefendant met the defendant, who was standing on the sidewalk.

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gunIn a recent Illinois appellate decision, the defendant was convicted for being an armed habitual criminal and sentenced to eight years in prison. He appealed, arguing that he wasn’t proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for the offense of armed habitual criminal, and the armed habitual criminal statute was not unconstitutional because it potentially criminalized totally innocent actions.

The case arose when two officers were patrolling. They heard a car alarm go off and found the car that was the source of the alarm. Nearby in another car, a couple was sitting in a parked car. The smell of marijuana was coming from the car. When he saw the officers come into the parking lot, the defendant left the front seat of the car and stood by it. The officer testified he’d left his own car and come up to the defendant. As he came closer, he saw that the woman driver was smoking what looked like a marijuana cigar. She put it down. A bottle of liquor was on the console.

In the interests of his own safety, the officer handcuffed the defendant. His partner came up to the driver and asked her to get out of the car. She said her identification was in the car, so the officer took the marijuana and liquor out of the car and searched for her ID. He saw her purse on the floor, and from it, a handgun was sticking out in plain view. He recovered the gun, which was a semiautomatic handgun that was loaded.

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522344117-1-300x200In a recent Illinois appellate case, the court considered a burglary conviction. The defendant was sentenced to an eight-year Class X sentence due to his criminal record. On appeal, he argued that he wasn’t proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt because the prosecution hadn’t established that he was not allowed to be in the building or that he planned to steal.

The case arose when a university employee who worked in the telephone operating department came to work early one morning. She worked in a building that had telecommunications equipment and was only accessible by using a key or key card. She used her key card to go inside the building, and only two other employees were there. Almost two hours after arriving, she saw on the video security monitor that the defendant was in the basement hallway. She knew he wasn’t an employee. He was checking to see if doorknobs were open and looking at equipment in boxes.

The employee asked a coworker to call the police, and she kept watching the monitor. The defendant disappeared from the monitor and then appeared on the other side of the divider from the employee. The employee told him to leave and asked what he was doing there. He said he was just looking. However, surveillance later showed that he’d been in the garage looking into the windows of different cars.

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Mental-HealthIn a recent Illinois appellate case, the defendant was convicted of first-degree murder under 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) and sentenced to natural life imprisonment. The defendant and several others were charged with six counts of first-degree murder in connection with the strangulation deaths of two men.

The case arose when the defendant’s father called the police to report two dead people in a residence occupied by a woman and her father. When the police came, the woman said there were two people hiding in the house. A cop found one of the hiding men upstairs with the bodies, which were face down with plastic bags over their heads. The man who was found said he’d killed one man, and the other man who was hiding had killed the other one.

The defendant wasn’t at the residence but was driving elsewhere. She was stopped and taken into custody, and she told the officer she wanted to talk and wanted to know how much time she’d have to serve as an accessory to murder. She was read her Miranda rights, which she waived. Her interrogation was recorded. She told the police she and her 15-month-old daughter were living in the woman’s house in Joliet. The woman lived on the second floor, and her father lived on the first floor. The woman’s boyfriend (the man who was hiding and then discovered) and the man who was hiding elsewhere in the house were with the defendant and the woman at the woman’s house.

garage-door-1205688-e1489524207300In a recent Illinois appellate case, the defendant was convicted of aggravated vehicular hijacking, armed robbery and attempted first degree murder. The case arose when the victim left work and drove home to Chicago. At midnight he stopped at a stop sign by his home, and saw someone there with a dog. He continued home and parked in his garage. When he heard a noise in the alley, he waited to make sure the garage door would close. However, the man with the dog was standing at the garage door and came in asking for help.

The victim told him to leave and called for his wife. The man stabbed him seven times and demanded his wallet, keys, and money. The victim gave him these things, and stayed on the ground. The man had trouble unlocking the door of the SUV so the victim told him what button to push. The man put the dog in the SUV and told the victim he’d leave the SUV near a hospital and to wait 10 minutes before doing anything.

Once the man left, the victim went inside and asked his wife to call 911. He was a doctor, so he provided his wife and her brother with instructions on how to perform first aid for himself while they waited for the paramedics. The police got a description of the man, but at trial the victim testified he hadn’t given the description the police had reported and that the attacker had a black nylon hair covering that was over his face when he stabbed him.

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drugsIn a recent Illinois appellate case, the defendant was convicted of unlawfully delivering heroin. An accountability theory was used to obtain the conviction, which resulted in a 3.5-year sentence of imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The case arose when a 29-year-old woman died due to a heroin overdose in 2014. The defendant’s roommate sold the heroin to the decedent. The defendant was charged with delivering a controlled substance on an accountability theory once it was discovered that the defendant had arranged the sale. The defendant pled not guilty and asked for a speedy trial. The prosecution subsequently charged the defendant with criminal drug conspiracy under 720 ILCS 570/405.1. The defendant said on the record that he would waive his right to trial by jury and also signed a waiver. The prosecution had agreed to dismiss the second count so that the trial occurred only on the first count.

The defendant admitted that his roommate sold the heroin to the decedent. All that was at issue was whether he was accountable for the delivery. Evidence submitted by the prosecutor included screen shots of Facebook conversations and text messages between the different parties, as well as a police interview. Among the Facebook conversations was one between the defendant and the decedent in which the decedent asked whether she could get pills. The defendant responded that he couldn’t get anything, based on two people who had responded to the request.

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Illinois Administrative Hearings and Criminal Cases

Illinois Administrative Hearings and Criminal Cases

Most people are surprised to learn that an “administrative court” system exists in Illinois that functions primarily independent of our traditional court system.   These “administrative courts” are created by cities and villages. Fines can be up to $750.00 per offense, and a person can be jailed for up to 6 months if the municipal offense in a misdemeanor. Many of the traditional criminal cases such as theft,  possession of a controlled substance, battery, assault, etc. are now being decided by appointed “hearing officers” under the label of “quasi-criminal criminal cases.”  The “story” goes that these proceedings are civil, and thus, are not “real” criminal cases.

Although administrative rulings by appointed hearing officers/judges that deal with quasi-criminal cases can be appealed to Judicial Court, they rarely are because it is extremely difficult and expensive to have an administrative ruling overturned under current Illinois law.

doorIn a recent Illinois Supreme Court case, the Court considered a case involving a charge of Resisting a Peace Officer. The case arose in 2011, when the daughters of a family with four kids (including the defendant) died in a car accident. The trial court ordered that the biological father should have temporary physical custody of the decedent’s daughter. The order permitted law enforcement officers to help the father get the daughter from whoever had physical custody.

The law officer tried to serve the order on the family three times. On the third occasion, the defendant, the uncle of the child, who was visiting, came to the door and eventually wound up in custody, charged with Resisting a Police Officer.

At the jury trial, the court admonished the jury that the defendant was presumed innocent and advised them of the Zehr principles. The Zehr principles provide that when the defendant requests, the Court must advise potential jurors that the defendant is presumed innocent, the defendant is not required to produce any evidence, the state has to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and that if the defendant does not testify, that refusal to testify cannot be used against him.  While testifying, the deputy claimed that he gave the defendant the court order, that the defendant was upset they were there, and that the child was on vacation. He claimed that the defendant got agitated and said the paper wasn’t a search order, and he poked the deputy in the shoulder and told them to leave the property. He arrested the defendant for Battery to a Peace Officer, but the defendant started thrashing to resist the arrest. They cuffed the defendant, and one of the police officers got open scrapes and cuts or scratches.

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