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Monmouth Illinois Criminal Defense Law Blog

4 key elements of self-defense

If you're facing assault and battery charges in Illinois, you may be considering a self-defense claim to show why you should not be convicted. It's one of the most common tactics, as many people feel they were honestly just trying to protect themselves, not trying to start a fight.

If you were not looking to harm anyone and you were just trying to keep yourself or someone else safe, this could work for you. There are four key elements you need to be aware of:

  • You had no reasonable chance to get away without a physical confrontation. For instance, perhaps the person cornered you in a parking garage.
  • That person threatened to harm you or use unlawful force against you. This threat may be verbal, but it could also be made clear in other ways.
  • You did not try to provoke that person or cause harm yourself. If you keep encouraging someone to attack you or insulting and threatening them, it makes it far harder to use self-defense as an excuse if that person finally gives in and strikes you.
  • You honestly thought that you were going to come to harm and you were really afraid. If someone makes an obvious joke and you punch them and then claim it was in self-defense, it may not hold up. If that person makes a serious threat and you know they could harm you -- perhaps that person is larger than you and makes a menacing motion while threatening you -- then you can honestly say you felt afraid and had to protect yourself.

How the amount of drugs impacts criminal charges

If you are found with illegal drugs in your possession -- on your person, in your house or in your car, for instance -- you can face simple possession charges. These are the lowest level of drug charges and they tend to bring the softest sentences.

Drug distribution and trafficking charges usually bring heavier sentences. If you are caught in the act of selling illegal drugs to someone else -- perhaps an undercover officer -- or driving with them across state lines, you can face trafficking and distribution charges.

Was that tax mistake negligent or fraudulent?

Tax mistakes happen. When they're just negligent, it's often not a huge issue. You may still get a small fine and you may have to pay what you owe due to the error, but you did not commit a crime. The United States simply has citizens fill out their own taxes; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can't possibly expect people with no training to be perfect.

That said, there is a big difference between negligence and fraudulent activity. Typically, that difference is intent. If you chose to fill out your taxes incorrectly on purpose, in an effort to pay less than you knew you owed, then you have possibly committed tax fraud. That's when you may face criminal charges.

Woman arrested for a DUI while sitting at a gas station

A woman from Minnesota was in Illinois, sitting in her car at a gas station, when police arrested her. They say she was under the influence and she is facing DUI charges.

The arrest happened on a Monday night. According to reports, the woman had a whisky bottle in her car, on the passenger seat. It was open. Police showed up right around 9:27 p.m.

Watch what you say after getting pulled over for a DUI

Getting pulled over in Illinois because an officer believes you are operating your vehicle while impaired is not the end of the world. However, if you had one or two drinks and run your mouth, you could find yourself in hot water with a DUI charge

You may think you can talk your way out of having to perform field sobriety tests and an arrest. What you might not realize is anything you say could be used as evidence and may result in more criminal charges. Take some time to review a few things you should never say when dealing with law enforcement during a DUI stop. 

What are some useful strategies to defend against a DUI?

Most people that open up the newspaper and read about a drunk driving story will have an instinctual reaction to it: that driver must be guilty. This is in part because the way drunk driving is portrayed (we are conditioned to think all drunk drivers are bad people acting poorly, when this isn't always the case) and in part because of the assumption that there are no viable ways for the person accused of driving under the influence to defend himself or herself.

But this isn't correct. Many people accused of a DUI are able to defend themselves against the charge. How do they do it? Let's review some common questions regarding this topic:

What's an aggravated DUI in Illinois?

In the state of Illinois, a DUI is classified typically as a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is one year of prison time. A DUI can become a felony due to certain aggravating factors with the maximum sentence of more than one year in county jail. Here's the relevant statute dealing with misdemeanor DUIs and aggravated DUIs.

Do I need to hire a Lawyer on My First DUI?

Are you asking yourself, "Do I need a lawyer or can I represent myself in court just as well on my first DUI?" If you search this question on the internet, you can get advice that you can represent yourself just as well as hiring a lawyer on your first DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs). Typically it is said that you don't have a defense and you can plead guilty without a lawyer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

When can a police officer search my phone?

With the commonality of cell phones, there have been new rules made for police officers to abide by when trying to find evidence using them. Remember these five guidelines if you're ever caught in a situation when your cell phone could potentially incriminate you.

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