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Hal Garfinkel is retained as the defendant's lawyer in the Chicago high profile murder case of Marlen Ochoa-Lopez. Read more...

Chicago violent crime defense attorneyIf you have been arrested on charges related to a violent crime, including assault, battery, or homicide, you could be facing serious and long-term penalties. But, what if the actions for which you were arrested were taken in self-defense or while protecting a loved one or your home? Could you still be found guilty and sentenced, or might it be possible to use the concept of “justifiable force” as a defense? The answer will depend on the specific circumstances of your situation, but it is important to understand how the law in Illinois deals with justifiable force.

When Is Force Justifiable?

A justifiable force defense is not appropriate in every case or circumstance. In order for this defense to apply, your violent actions must have been intended to defend yourself or someone else from an unlawful act, bodily, harm or death. Justifiable force might also be a viable defense if you were defending your property or that of a family member from an unlawful act, such as a break-in or attack. However, a justifiable force defense will not automatically validate your actions. There are additional details that you need to consider before attempting to use it as a defense.

Limits on Justifiable Force

To the average person, it might seem that acting in self-defense is generally accepted as a defense to many violent crime charges. However, the laws regarding self-defense vary widely. For example, the “justifiable force” doctrine in Illinois is substantially more restrictive compared to the “stand your ground” laws used in many other states. In Illinois, you cannot use a justifiable force defense if you were the original aggressor in the situation in question. The amount of force used must also be found as proportionate to the reasonably perceived threat. For example, if you had the reasonable belief that you were in danger of being killed, and the only possible way to avoid it was the use of deadly force, a justifiable force defense is likely to be appropriate. If, however, the only reasonable danger was to your property, deadly force is not likely to be considered proportionate or justifiable.


war-crimesEarlier this year, President Donald Trump announced that he was considering granting pardons to a handful of individuals accused of war crimes. While he has since stepped back from the plan to pardon, it had many questioning what constitutes a war crime in the United States? Are war crimes punished internationally?

War Crimes and the International Criminal Court

It is true that there is an International Criminal Court that prosecutes war crimes. However, here in the United States, those accused of committing a war crime are prosecuted domestically. That means that defendants are tried and, if convicted, sentenced in the American federal court system.


Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois violent crime statistics,When high school seniors choose which university to attend, the safety of the campus is an important factor to consider. Thanks to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, more commonly called the Clery Act, most American universities are required to report any violent crime that occurs each year on campus. The data, which includes the number of rapes, incidents of stalking, and assaults and other violent crimes that occur on campus, is accessible to students and parents to review when selecting a college to attend. As a recent report shows, however, six Chicago area universities, and potentially many more across the country, may be more dangerous than their reported numbers portray.

Location Matters

The Clery Act, named in honor of a student who was murdered on a Pennsylvania campus in 1986, mandates that any college in America that receives any type of federal aid must provide a yearly report of crime on campus, campus being the key word. In December 2014, a 23-year-old student of Loyola University was fatally shot one block off of the university’s main campus. When Loyola released their 2014 crime report, the number of homicides was listed as zero. This is, as a university spokesperson reported, due to the fact that the Clery Act only requires that schools report on crimes that happen within a certain geographic location. “The crime occurred near Albion and Lakewood, which per the Clery Act, is not within the university’s reportable geographical boundaries.”



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