Dupage County Lawyers

Criminal Defense

What Does a Speedy Trial Mean?

The right to a speedy trial is a fundamental principle in our criminal justice system. According to the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” The amendment guarantees a trial within a set period of time, and it prevents the prosecution from unnecessarily delaying your trial. In addition, the state of Illinois also provides a corresponding right in the Illinois Speedy Trial Act, 725 ILCS 5/103-5. However, despite these guarantees, a speedy trial does not always happen, and our justice system often falls short of this goal. While there are...

What Is a Class 4 Felony in Illinois?

In Illinois, crimes are classified according to how serious they are.  Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, which are broken down into five classifications, from most serious to least: Class X, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4. Although a Class 4 felony is the least serious of all felony charges, it still is a serious charge, with serious punishments. A prison sentence for a Class 4 felony conviction is 1 to 3 years, and Class 4 felony convictions can also include fines of up to $25,000. Some common Class 4 felonies include aggravated assault, stalking, drug possession of a controlled substance,...

Illinois Man Shares Experience to Highlight Possibilities of Reform

There can be life after prison, although the road to get there is usually difficult and badly needs reform. Consider the case of an Illinois man, now heading to Stanford University after having served 15 years of a 30-year prison sentence for marijuana trafficking.  Jason Spyres, now 36, was caught with 38 pounds of marijuana in Macon County in 2001.  He was given a Class X felony sentence, fined over $200,000, and told that he was un-rehabilitatable. Class X is considered more serious than a second-degree murder conviction, where the sentence may be probation. Now that he has left prison, Spyres is on...

Marijuana Laws Continue to Drive Conversation in Illinois

Marijuana laws have become much-debated issues among Illinois lawmakers and candidates for office.  Legislators recently approved a bill that allows medical marijuana to be used in place of prescription painkillers and also eliminates requirements for patients to get fingerprints and criminal background checks. While this would make it easier to possess marijuana legally, Governor Bruce Rauner is against the expansion of medical marijuana, and it is still possible for someone to be arrested for a marijuana crime. If you have been charged with a crime involving marijuana or any other drug in Illinois, your could wind up with a criminal record...

Our Justice System Can't Cope with Mental Illness

The Illinois criminal justice system is not equipped to handle inmates with mental health issues. Despite the fact that people struggling with mental illness need treatment, in our society too many of them wind up in jail, putting a strain on both those that have the mental health problems and those without them. Estimates from 2009 show that about 2 million times each year, people with serious mental illnesses are booked into U.S. jails. The Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) estimates that 16 percent of 48,000 individuals in the total DOC population have a mental health disorder. Unfortunately, jail only makes their conditions worse, since...

Validity of Bloodstain Patterns Called into Question

Judges and juries are often swayed by what they think is the scientific reliability of the so-called "forensic sciences" such as analysis of handwriting, fingerprints, hair, bite marks, and blood spatter patterns. No wonder. It can be very impressive when people who claim to be experts in forensic science fields testify as to their conclusions about evidence that supposedly links an accused suspect to a crime. However, while some evidence (such as from DNA) can be extremely accurate, there are limitations to many areas of forensic science, and tools such as bloodstain patterns can be flawed. In fact, appeals due to...

Genealogy Testing: A New Frontier for Criminal Investigations?

DNA genealogy systems are increasingly being used to link perpetrators with a crime.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operates a central DNA database for the country, and Illinois is considering joining the eleven states that already use the process to help their police departments identify criminals. And it’s not just the perpetrator's DNA that may be linked to a crime – a family member’s DNA may wind up pointing the finger at a criminal as well. Sites commonly used by genealogists, such as GEDmatch.com, can help generate a DNA profile that can lead law enforcement to a related individual. If you have...

Can Legal Medications Result in a DUI?

Driving under the influence of prescription medications can be as deadly for drivers as driving under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. Consequently, even if the doctor prescribed your medication, both prescription and over-the-counter drugs could potentially lead to a DUI. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Roadside Survey, more than 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, over-the-counter or prescription drugs. It can be difficult to assess just how prescription medications affect an individual, since effects of drugs vary widely, depending on the medication, how it was taken and the person taking it.  Some drugs are...

Illinois Supreme Court to Hear Youth Crime Case

When children commit terrible crimes, should they be punished for most or all of the rest of their lives? Is our criminal justice system providing what children need to rehabilitate and become useful members of society? How much prison time is too much for crimes committed at an age when brains and judgment are not fully developed? In an attempt to deal with these issues, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear the case of Demetri Buffer, who received a 50-year prison sentence without parole for a crime he committed when he was 16. The plaintiff’s argument is that this sentence, 25...

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

Probable cause is a fundamental principle in our criminal justice system. The concept stems from a requirement in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution that says "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” However, the term isn’t defined in the Constitution, so it is subject to interpretation by the courts. Probable cause must usually be met before police make an arrest, conduct a search or get a warrant. This means that police who wish to arrest or search someone, or get a warrant to do so, must show that they have probable cause to take these actions.  Probable cause can make the...

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