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Illinois is introducing a massive crime reform bill that will have a major impact on anyone involved in the criminal justice system.  Contact our office to discuss how these changes will impact your rights.

traffic stop, Skokie criminal defense attorneyThe U.S. Constitution gives all of us a number of rights that we tend to take for granted. One of the most important rights is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that law enforcement has to have a reason before they stop you in your car.

Legal Requirements to Make a Traffic Stop

A law enforcement officer must have a reason for pulling you over. The law requires that the police have probable cause to believe that you have violated the law. Probable cause means the police have to have more of a reason than past experience or a gut feeling when pulling someone over.

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ignition interlock, summary suspension, Lake County criminal defense attorneyDrunk driving may, in some ways, be a relic of the past—it is not common for a person to get behind the wheel of car when he or she has been drinking and to not recognize that what he or she is doing is illegal and dangerous. Awareness about the danger and irresponsibility of drunk driving has steadily increased since the early 1990s when states began to launch serious campaigns to deter drunk drivers and police forces around the country cracked down on drunk driving offenses. Yet the problem has not, to any real extent, been eradicated, and in fact, numbers tend to fluctuate from year to year. In 2012, for example, there was a significant increase in the number of fatalities resulting from drunk driving, that after 2011 when the death toll fell below 10,000 for the first time.

That year saw a 3.3 percent increase in fatalities, causing some activists to call for ignition interlock devices to be installed in the car of every convicted drunk driver across the country. In Illinois, a person convicted of drunk driving may apply, during the period of statutory summary suspension of his or her driving privileges, for driving relief, and choose to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed in his or her vehicle. If a person convicted of drunk driving chooses to have the BAIID installed in his vehicle during that period of license suspension, there are no other stipulations regarding his driving rights—he is allowed to travel, even interstate, providing that the BAIID is installed.

Not all convicted drunk drivers are required to install the BAIID, however. A person may opt to adhere to the mandatory suspension period. Yet if the person is then caught driving the vehicle, whether or not he has been drinking, he is guilty of a Class 4 felony. Punishment, if you are a convicted drunk driver and caught driving without an ignition interlock device during the license suspension period, includes possible imprisonment of 1–3 years, a minimum of 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service, and fines as high as $25,000.

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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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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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