Friday, August 2, 2013

Don't keep secrets from your Criminal or DUI defense lawyer. Espescially not about the good stuff.

I suppose nothing should really surprise me. But this week I had an hour-long conversation with a client about his Chicago DUI case. It was our first meeting, but it was obvious within a few minutes we were a great fit.

I was going to be his lawyer.

He was going to be my client.

No two ways about it, like I said, it was obvious - we hit it off right away. Part of that lengthy conversation involved learning about his past. I find that very often, DUI prosecutors (even the ones with icy cold hearts made of stone) actually care about who they are prosecuting. Even if they don't Judges may care who they are Judging, and at some point, they may actually have the opportunity to find out.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to me that despite asking about it earlier, I at last got my client to admit (ADMIT?) that he had been honorably discharged from the United States Navy not long ago, and had received a few medals and commendations along the way. Maybe it was just the way US servicemen are that they don't feel like it's any big deal.

It is. It matters. It may matter a lot. It reminded me of another similar story. Watch the video and find out why there's no place for humility when taking to your Illinois DUI lawyer, then, if you're facing criminal or DUI charges in Cook county, Lake county or DuPage county courts like Chicago, Skokie, Waukegan or Wheaton, pick up the phone and call us at 847-635-8200.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Think you have to prove you are not guilty? Not in this country

If you've been arrested for an Illinois criminal offense or DUI, whether a felony or misdemeanor, you probably feel like your back is against the wall. You probably are turning it over in your mind in the middle of the night, worried you're forgetting something crucial. Because you believe you now have to prove your innocence.

Not in Chicago. Not in Illinois. Not in the United States of America.

We have a Constitution. That document notes that you, the defendant, have certain rights. Among those is the presumption of innocence, and the right to make the prosecution prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the bad old days, and indeed in many countries today, you would indeed be called upon to prove you are not guilty of a criminal offense.

Watch the video for an explanation, and then pick up the phone and call 847-635-8200 for a free consultation.  If you'd like, you can also review our many other helpful videos about Illinois Criminal Lawyers and DUI Defense in the Chicago area.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Give us your tired, your poor, your undocumented and we will license them!

Illegal aliens, or undocumented immigrants if you prefer, have long had a problem. Forget the debate for the moment about whether their very existence within a particular space on the map is a violation of the law - that's not what this blog is about. "They" (and for convenience, not for any other reason, that's how I'll be referring to illegal aliens or undocumented immigr. . . oh, you get it now, don't you) have been otherwise unable to comply with a great many laws.

And far more importantly to everyone else around them, holding them accountable to our laws has also been nigh unto impossible.

What do I mean?

Hold that thought a moment. For now, we must mention some very big news here in Illinois. Trust me, it all fits in. Illinois has just passed a law that goes into effect later in 2013 which will provide the opportunity for undocumented or illegal immigrants to obtain valid driving privileges in Illinois. This is going to have a significant effect, in some very interesting ways. Regarding Illinois DUI law, an arrest for DUI while unlicensed is a felony. Not because the driver did something particularly nefarious or had greater criminal intent (no one seems to care about intent when it comes to DUI, do they?) but simply because the driver, for whatever reason, does not have the State's imprimatur via a piece of plastic saying they can drive. Whether a person just never bothered to get a license (yes, we've seen that over here in our law office, recently in fact) or because they were legally unable to obtain a license, it is a crime to drive without a driver's license.

Now there are different reasons one might not be able to obtain a license. If your name is Dick Whitman, but you're posing as Don Draper, that might've worked in 1962, but nowadays, that's a tough sell. Maybe your license was taken away for a good reason by the State. Or, maybe there just was no way you could legally get one.

Rather than seeking out friends of a certain former Governor and Secretary of State of Illinois for help, you can now direct undocumented friends and family to an actual, honest to goodness legal way to get a license.

And it's good for all of us I say, no matter your political persuasion, that we'll have these "Temporary Visitor's Licenses".

Here's why:

  • A valid driver's license creates a vested interest in keeping that license valid. Think about this - aside from safety, what stops you from speeding? You want to keep that license, right? Yes you do, and so will "they".
  • Getting a valid driver's license is going to require familiarity with the rules of the road, just like every other licensed driver. 
  • Vision tests. That's right, you can be undocumented or illegal. Just not blind, okay?
  • Included in those rules of the road is a requirement that we all maintain valid liability insurance.
  • Valid liability insurance means if we get into an accident, those we get into an accident with are not left on the roadside with empty hands (I really wanted to get more colorful there, but my kids might read this blog, you know?).
  • A valid driver's license has an address and identifying information on it, and this kind will be electronically tied to facial recognition software to prevent fraud. Know what that means? Accountability - "they" can be sued and more importantly, served. And if necessary, more easily tracked down by police if laws are violated.
  • Insurance companies are going to be very happy about those premiums, aren't they?
  • Greater accountability can only lead to one of those things we all want in our society in general - more stability and greater responsibility.
  • These silly (yes, silly I say) enhancements of DUI offenses to felony status simply because someone finds themselves in an impossible situation ends.

Does it feel sort of like rewarding bad judgement or poor behavior or simply a sop to a sad story? Yes. It does a bit. That said, there's a lot to like about this one, espescially if we want a way to make "them" just as accountable to the law and to their neighbors as all the rest of "us".

And then "they" are actually in many important ways,  a great deal more "us", aren't they?

Yes, driving is a privilege. But a driver's license is a government document which creates a government record. It's an albatross around all our necks - a yoke we all willingly wear for the benefit of our community.

I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Is drinking and driving the same thing as DUI in Illinois?

Maybe you had a drink at dinner. Or you toasted the bride at a wedding. Perhaps you just enjoyed a beer with a friend. Under Illinois DUI law, is it illegal to drive home after you've had that drink? Many people automatically assume drinking and driving is DUI. But the answer may surprise you . . .

If you've been arrested for DUI in the Chicago area, but don't think you were impaired by the alcohol you consumed, you're going to need an attorney right away. Give us a call at 800-454-4Law or 800-454-4529.