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Gun violence is a concern for virtually every city in America. Predictably, each time a high profile case of a crime committed with a firearm makes headlines, print, broadcast, and social media are almost instantly engulfed by advocates on both sides of the gun control debate. Reaction was similar in early 2014, when a new concealed carry law in Illinois allowed residents to apply for a concealed carry permit. Since the law took effect, the city of Chicago has seen crime rates drop significantly.

In order to obtain a concealed carry license, an Illinois resident must meet certain provisions regarding eligibility and training. The concealed carry law requires the state to grant a license within 90 days to any applicant who meets all of the requirements of the law. When the license is granted, it becomes legal for the licensee to carry a concealed loaded or unloaded handgun on their person or in a vehicle. Even with a license, though, it is not legal to concealed carry in specifically designated places including schools, government buildings, amusement parks, and airports.

By the end of July, the state had already received over 83,000 concealed carry license applications, and had granted almost 70,000 licenses. The Illinois State Rifle Association estimates 100,000 state residents will be legally permitted to carry a gun by the end of the year.

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Illinois Eavesdropping Act is one of the toughest in the country. The law was passed in 1961, making it a felony to make an audio recording of any conversation unless all parties agree to the recording. If someone is found guilty, they face a prison sentence. The punishment for being found guilty of recording a police officer is even harsher – up to 15 years in prison.

However, over the past several years, the law has faced legal challenges by people who have been arrested and charged with violating, including a case backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU). The judge in that 2011 case ruled that the law was constitutional. In his decision he said, “If you permit the audio recordings, they’ll be a lot more eavesdropping. . .  There's going to be a lot of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers.”

But a few months later, another judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional and dropped all charges against the defendant – a woman who recorded a conversation she had with officers from Chicago Police internal affairs division, where they were trying to discourage her from discouraging her from filing a complaint of sexual misconduct against another officer.

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According to the Innocence Project, “more than half of DNA exonerations involve faulty forensic evidence from crime labs and unreliable methods such as bite-mark analysis.”

Because of these high statistics, the US Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced the first ever national commission on forensic science. This 37 member commission will include forensics practitioners, scientists, lawyers and members of law enforcement. The commission’s goal is to offer guidelines on training standards and standards in certification as required by law. The group met for the first time last week.

The NIST will also be establishing a second commission, which is being referred to as a “forensic-science standards board.” This group will offer recommendations on which standards should be set for criminal laboratories. Over the past few years, several studies which have been done on forensic practices in this country have produced critical results. In 2009, the National Research Council (NRC) announced its findings on forensic methods, concluding that almost every analytical testing technique was unreliable and contained too many variables. The study said the only reliable testing technique was DNA evidence. The goal is to create standards that will be followed by federal, state and local laboratories. Currently, there are too many differences each organization’s “standard testing” procedures, even in DNA testing. Other test reliabilities have also been questioned in past studies. In 2003, the NRC found that polygraph tests are too unreliable, but, a decade later, many law enforcement agencies still rely on those tests. Another study done in 2011 revealed that one in every 1,000 fingerprints was incorrectly matched and actual matches were missed in almost 10 percent of the examinations. If you’ve been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you need to contact an experienced Cook County criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights in the courtroom are protected.
Chicago, Illinois DUI Defense Lawyer Matthew R. Gebhardt examines the offense of DUI and its penalties under the laws of the State of Illinois.          DUI’s in Chicago, Illinois can be charged as Misdemeanors or Felonies. We will begin with an examination of Misdemeanor DUI’s in , Illinois.

Misdemeanor DUI’s in Illinois

Chicago DUI Defense attorney Matthew R. Gebhardt handles many misdemeanor DUI cases in Chicago, Illinois. The minimum penalty on a misdemeanor DUI in Chicago, Illinois is a period of twelve months supervision with alcohol education classes. The maximum penalty on a misdemeanor DUI in Illinois is 364 days in the Cook County Department of Corrections. If you plea or are found guilty after a trial on misdemeanor DUI charges in Illinois, many factors will be considered in determining your sentence. Some of these factors include: number of prior DUI and alcohol related offenses on your record, your criminal history, age, work status, citizenship status and any mitigating circumstances arising out of your case or background. There are also many issues that Chicago, Illinois DUI defense attorney Matthew R. Gebhardt can raise on your behalf should you decide to dispute the charges against you. Often times, what may seem like insurmountable evidence against you can be overcome by your DUI defense attorney. Some areas we often challenge include:  
  • · Unlawful Traffic Stop.
  • · Lane violation is not dispositive of DUI.
  • · Accuracy of Field Sobriety Test.
  • · Improperly administered Field Sobriety Tests.
  • · Officer’s failure to comply with observation period prior to breath test administration.
  • · Officer testimony that contradicts video evidence.
  • · Conflicting officer testimony.
  • · Reports authored by officers that do not reflect video evidence.
  • · Unlawful DUI Road Blocks.
  • · Physical limitations of the defendant in performing Field Sobriety Tests.
  • · Lack of Miranda Warnings.
  • · Performance of non-standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
  • · Breathalyzer Malfunction.

Felony (Aggravated) DUI in Illinois.

Illinois defense lawyer Matthew R. Gebhardt also handles many Felony (Aggravated) DUI cases in Illinois. In Illinois, there are many factors that will elevate a DUI to a Felony status. According to the Illinois Secretary of State, any of the following may result in your being charged with a Felony (Aggravated) DUI: • Third or subsequent DUI (Class 2 felony; penalties vary according to offense). • DUI committed while driving a school bus carrying persons age 18 or younger (Class 4 felony). • DUI resulting in great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement (Class 4 felony). Revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of 2 years. • Second or subsequent DUI committed while transporting a child under age 16 (Class 2 felony; penalties vary according to offense). • DUI committed while transporting a child under age 16 and involved in a crash that resulted in bodily harm to the child (Class 2 felony; penalties vary according to offense). • DUI committed without a valid driver’s license or permit (Class 4 felony). • DUI committed without vehicle liability insurance (Class 4 felony). • DUI committed after a previous conviction for reckless homicide while DUI or Aggravated DUI involving a death (Class 3 felony). • DUI committed in a school zone while the restricted speed limit is in effect and involved in a crash that resulted in bodily harm (Class 4 felony). • DUI committed while revoked or suspended for DUI, reckless homicide or leaving the scene of a personal injury or death (Class 4 felony). Any penalty imposed is in addition to the penalty for any subsequent DUI violation.    • DUI resulting in a death (Class 2 felony). Revocation of driving privileges for a minimum of 2 years from the effective date of the revocation or from the date of release from incarceration for the offense. Source: 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, Illinois Secretary of State The penalties on a Felony DUI in , Illinois are as follows: Class 4 felony • Possible imprisonment of 1-3 years; fines of up to $25,000. • Aggravated DUI involving injury — Possible imprisonment of 1-12 years; fines of up to $25,000. Class 3 felony • Possible imprisonment of 2-5 years; fines of up to $25,000. Class 2 felony • DUI — Possible imprisonment of 3- 7 years; fines of up to $25,000. • Aggravated DUI with 1 death — Possible imprisonment of 3-14 years; fines of up to $25,000. • Aggravated DUI with multiple deaths — Possible imprisonment of 6-28 years; fines of up to $25,000. Class 1 felony • Possible imprisonment of 4-15 years; fines of up to $25,000. Class X felony • Imprisonment of 6-30 years; fines of up to $25,000.   Source: 2013 Illinois DUI Fact Book, Illinois Secretary of State   Although the penalties for Aggravated DUI in Illinois are far more severe than those of the misdemeanor DUI, defending the charges against you is often very similar. The same defenses stated previously can be successfully employed when challenging the merits of the Aggravated DUI charge against you. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony DUI in Chicago, Illinois, it is imperative that you retain legal counsel to provide you with the best defense possible. At the Law Office of Matthew R. Gebhardt, P.C., Mr. Gebhardt’s experience as a former prosecutor means that you’ll have access to the best knowledge and education on your side -- an informed and experienced DUI  defense lawyer working for you at every step of the way. Mr. Gebhardt draws upon his prior position as a prosecutor to anticipate how the State will present their case against you. He can then determine what defenses will be most likely to prevail and concentrate his efforts in those areas. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI in Illinois, contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. As always, the Law Office of Matthew R. Gebhardt, P.C. offers free consultations for anyone charged with a DUI in Chicago, Illinois or any other municipality.   

In 1993, Juan Rivera was wrongfully convicted of rape and murder and served 19 years before finally being freed. The court found that coercive interrogation methods used under the authority of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge led to the conviction. Now, a new state law hopes to put an end to wrongful criminal convictions in Illinois.

Illinois SB1006 requires that recordings be taken of interrogations as part of certain violent crime investigations. Any statements made by a suspect in cases covered under the law will be ruled inadmissible in court unless the interrogation is recorded via audio or video. The new requirements will be phased in over the next three years, according to the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange as follows:

  • June 1, 2014 – Aggravated arson and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child
  • June 1, 2015 – Aggravated vehicular hijacking, home invasion, and aggravated kidnapping
  • June 1, 2016 – Aggravated battery with a firearm, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and armed robbery.

The law is designed to offer some clarity in cases where police and suspects must recount their interrogation experiences in front of a jury. The new law will make it much more difficult for suspects to claim they were coerced, and police will be prevented from using overly-aggressive interrogation methods that may lead to a false confession. Overall, this new law provides for accountability on both sides of the table, and many lawmakers consider it to be a win-win step for both defendants and law enforcement officials.

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