Monthly Archives: August 2008

Illinois DUI Laws IV – The Automatic Felony DUI

A wrinkle in the DUI laws in Illinois that everyone should be aware of.

If you are pulled over for DUI and you do not have a valid license (it is is either suspended or revoked at the time) or you do not have insurance (it has to be valid at the time you are stopped), your DUI, even if it is your first, is a felony.

This is a huge deal for most folks. They don’t realize that you have to have BOTH a valid license AND insurance, not to get charged as a felony DUI, even for your first one. Otherwise, you would be able to get a misdemeanor for your first DUI, even your second.

Obviously, if you have a valid license and insurance, you are going to have your license statutorily suspended upon getting your first DUI (without a hearing). So now, you don’t have a valid license. And if you are caught driving for any reason, you’ll pick up a 625 ILCS 5/6-303 or a driving on a suspended license ticket. And those can get serious. They now can add up to felonies and automatic mandatory jail times up to 6 months. Frankly, the State of Illinois sometimes seems more concerned about putting people away for driving without a license than any other crime.

If you’ve had your license revoked because of a prior DUI, or just had it suspended for other traffic reasons, GET IT REINSTATED! Call a lawyer and take them to your hearing at the Secretary of State because driving without a license, or a DUI without a license, has become serious business.

Here is Part III of Illinois DUI Laws – Motions to Suppress

Here is Part II of Illinois DUI Laws – The Consequences.

Here is Part I of Illinois DUI Laws – The Initial Stop.

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Transvestite Bank Robber Masked?

I’m just rolling this one around in my head.

A man robbed a bank a few days ago in Park Ridge while wearing a dress.

Now, according to the article, at gunpoint he ordered two employees to empty a safe and herded them into a bathroom where he flex tied them and then left. He was reported to be wearing a dress and a big pink floppy hat.

What I think is clever about this is that he may not, for the purposes of the statute, be disguised. Generally, most state statutes for aggravated assault (threatening someone with a gun) while disguised (such as wearing a mask, hood, bandanna) is an enhancement, i.e. you get in more trouble. But here, he didn’t cover his face, he just dressed like a woman. Presumably, you would still be able to pick him out of a line up.

Speaking of which, would a fair line up have all the people in it dressed in drag?

Gun Possession Cases in Illinois – The Chicago Scourge

If possession of cocaine can get you deported and is generally a bad idea, a lot worse idea is possession of a gun.

Gun possession in Chicago, or “UUW (Unlawful Use of a Weapon) as it is generally known is a crime that is aggressively prosecuted. You will possibly get probation from a judge, but you will almost NEVER get it as an offer from a prosecutor.

To give you an idea of how common and pervasive this crime is, the annotated version of this statute, which is pretty long to begin with, runs 80 pages. That is over 250 cases describing all the ins and outs of gun possession. This is one heavily litigated crime.

There’s a reason for that. I tell my clients charged with UUW for the first time, you are having a giant T for Thug branded on your chest for this crime. If you have a UUW in your background and you pick up a new case, your bond is going to skyrocket. If you have a UUW in your background and you get another UUW, or anything that looks drug or gang related, your offer is going to skyrocket. This is one serious crime.

In order to prove gun possession, generally, the police must prove that they saw you with the weapon on your person, literally, touching you, or within a reasonable area to say you were in control of it (which is generally the area you can reach). As with drugs, guns can also be put upon you by means of constructive possession. This means that the gun must only be in an area over which you have exclusive and immediate control (i.e. your car, or your bedroom, etc.). But the case law on guns is terrible.

Also, if you are transporting the gun (and 90% of gun cases involve you having the gun in your car or on your person, so you are “transporting” it for the purpose of the law), there are a number of other things the state must prove. They must prove that you did not have the gun in a case, that the gun was in an operable condition and that you were not in possession of a Firearms Owner Identification Card.

Needless to say, I will get into gun possession cases more on some later dates, discussing the bad rulings, the good rulings, tactics and problems.

Can’t Make This Up

A short list of amusing courtroom anecdotes.

Today I was at 51st and Wentworth felony preliminary hearing court. The clerk called out the name of a gentleman with a case…”Brown, Cleveland!” Seriously. The whole front row of cops snickered.

At a sentencing in Rolling Meadows, two 18-year-olds charged with trespass to a vehicle (a nice way of saying “breaking into cars”). They each have a juvenile bust and are there with their parent(s). The judge asks them if they have anything to say before he sentences them. Warning! Usually, unless you are truly well spoken, or at least, truly sincere, just don’t say anything, not on a minor crime. One of the kids says “This is the stupidest shit I have ever done.” The judge snaps back “No it’s not, that was the first time. This is just you not getting the picture.”

Last, a fashion tip to the ladies. Do not come to court wearing stripper heels. I saw a young lady teetering about in 4-inch lucite heels the other day. Nothing good will come of that.

Missing Your Court Date – What Happens?

The judge will forfeit your bond (take it away) and issue a warrant for your arrest.

That’s the short answer. The long answer (or excuse that you might have) is more complicated.

You have a court date. It’s coming up, you know it’s happening, but you can’t get off of work. Or you have no one to watch the kids. You’re broke and you have no ride. There are a lot of reasons why you might miss court. And none of them are any good.

Going to your court date is the only thing you have to do that day. If you miss your court date, whether it’s for a traffic ticket, or a more serious crime, the result is the same. A warrant is issued for your arrest, and your bond is forfeited (the county takes the money you put in, and won’t give it back).

Now, this isn’t the end of the world. As your attorney, I can bring you in front of the judge, explain why you didn’t make it (usually just about any excuse will work), and ask the judge to reinstate your bond and quash (take back) the warrant for your arrest. HOWEVER! This only works once. If you blow it again, you’re going to go to jail.

WORD OF WARNING! If the judge doesn’t like you for some reason, like this is the second or third time you’ve done this, or you are sarcastic, surly, or mean to the judge, you can be shipped straight to jail even on your first missed court date. I have NEVER seen this happen, although I’m sure it has. That doesn’t mean it can’t. So don’t press your luck.

So what happens if you don’t come in front of the judge with me and vacate the bond forfeiture and quash your warrant? Well, you can come in on the next court date, which will be the last one you have. This will basically allow you to go through the same process I just described.

OR, you can completely skip your court dates from there on, have a warrant hanging over your head and a judge ready to just throw you under the bus the next time you appear.

And you WILL appear before that judge. If you are pulled over, stopped, arrested for any other reason, or have a run in with the police, you will be picked up, and taken to jail, where you will NOT get a bond, and have to go before the judge whose court date you missed before, and explain why you weren’t there. This is not the optimal way to appear before the judge, wearing the CCJ tan jumpsuit.

If you miss a court date, don’t panic. Have your lawyer “motion up” the case and appear before the judge looking sorry and all will be well. Just don’t make a habit of it.

UPDATE: Just last week I had a client who had missed a court date because he got hurt. He had visited his doctor, who told him to take time off of work, but my client DID NOT GET A LETTER from his doctor explaining that he was currently injured. I called my client because he had missed his court date and told him to arrange a date with me to bring him in, quash his warrant and reinstate his bond. He did so, but canceled, twice.

He DID come on the final date he had for court, his JBFX date, as it is known. On this date, he still had no letter from his doctor, no excuse better than “I was hurt and I couldn’t make it in earlier.” The judge, not in a good mood, lectured him from the bench, then revoked his I-Bond (which required no money down) and turned it into a D-Bond. This required my client to pay $2,000 to get out of jail. I told him this was a possibility.

Now…he gets taken straight into the holding cell in the courtroom. I had wanted to fight his case, but now, if I do, he has to put up $2,000 to get out to continue to fight it, or wait for his next court date (or two). The prosecutor gave him a good offer and my client had a really bad choice to make. He could take the deal, or pay the bond and fight the case. Or not pay the bond, lose his job, and fight the case (since he hadn’t expected, although he was warned, to have stay in jail, and he really didn’t have the $2,000).

What’s the lesson here? CALL YOUR LAWYER! GET TO COURT AS SOON AS YOU CAN AFTER YOU MISS YOUR COURT DATE!

I can only do so much, before your behavior puts you exactly where my client was…in a cell.

Musica Justicia – III

It’s been awhile, but I’ve decided to make this a bit more brief.

Artist – Hangar 18
Genre – Hip Hop

Best new hip hop group I’ve heard in a long time. Rapid fire rhyming and a combination of futuristic and old school beats. Love it.

Artist – The Baseball Project
Genre – Rock

This whole CD of straightforward garage rock is based on baseball. It’s got Peter Buck from R.E.M. in it…and not one song is a miss. If you like baseball like I do, and rock and roll, this is a must have.

Artist – Blood on the Wall
Genre – Rock

A guy and a girl trade off singing lead, a power trio with a sludgy bottom end, and a song entitled “Turn Around and Shut Up.” What’s not to like?

Remember, all bands recommended are vetted by my thorough process of listening to these CD’s while driving on my rounds throughout Cook County.