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Posted by on in Bail

Chicago criminal defense lawyerLast month, Illinois lawmakers passed legislation that would eliminate the use of cash bail in criminal courts throughout the state. The measure, which is now awaiting the expected signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker, is being touted by supporters as a strong step toward creating a more equitable justice system for Illinois residents of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Understanding How Bail Works in Illinois

When a person is arrested and charged with a crime, he or she is generally required to make an appearance in front of a judge in a preliminary hearing. This usually happens within 48 hours of the arrest. At this hearing, the judge will consider the details of the alleged crime and determine if the probable cause presented by law enforcement was sufficient to justify the arrest. If the offense in question is a misdemeanor, the suspect is likely to be given a date for the next required court appearance and released on his or her own recognizance. If the offense is a felony, the next appearance will be scheduled, and the judge must then determine the bond conditions on which the suspect may be released.

A bond is an agreement between the suspect and the court in which the suspect promises to appear as ordered in all future proceedings related to his or her case. In most jurisdictions, a bond agreement usually requires some type of collateral—most often in the form of cash—commonly referred to as bail. The amount of required bail typically depends on the severity of the alleged crime, the danger that the suspect poses to the community, and whether the suspect is a flight risk.

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Chicago IL criminal defense attorneyRoutine traffic stops for minor violations, like driving with a faulty tail light, failing to properly signal a turn, or exceeding the posted speed limit, are common occurrences, and in most cases they result in a ticket and fine, or even just a warning. However, sometimes what starts as a routine traffic stop can result in much more serious criminal charges, including for driving under the influence (DUI) or illegal possession of drugs, weapons, or stolen property. If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, it is important that you understand your rights.

Common Misconceptions About Traffic Stops

Many people believe that they are required to answer an officer’s every question and consent to their every request during a traffic stop. A person’s natural instinct may be to cooperate, and they may even hope that the officer will let them off with just a warning because they were so polite. The reality, however, is that anything you say to the police officer could become evidence used against you later in court. In addition, your statements could give the officer probable cause to arrest you for a more serious offense, or to search your vehicle.

You Cannot Be Forced to Incriminate Yourself

You should never lie to a police officer, of course, and you are required to provide certain information, such as that which is on your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of auto insurance. This information generally includes things like your name, address, age, and date of birth. However, you are under no obligation to provide the officer with any additional information. If an officer asks you a question that could be incriminating, such as, “Have you been drinking tonight?” you have the right to politely respond with something to the effect of, “I prefer not to answer any questions without the advice of an attorney.”

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Chicago federal crime defense attorneyIn the first few weeks of his administration, President Joe Biden has taken a number of steps toward keeping promises that he made on the campaign trail. To date, President Biden has signed more than two dozen executive orders, already approaching Franklin Roosevelt’s record of 30 executive orders in the first month of his administration. The president’s efforts of late have been directed toward social and racial justice concerns, including a noteworthy executive order that will phase out the use of private federal prisons by the Department of Justice.

Changing the “Whole Approach”

Last Tuesday, President Biden issued an executive order that directs the Attorney General and the Department of Justice to end their association with privately run, for-profit prisons. As part of the order’s directives, existing contracts with private prisons will continue to be honored, but the Attorney General has been instructed not to renew such contracts when they expire.

In his remarks prior to signing the order, President Biden emphasized his belief that the federal government must change “its whole approach” to issues of racial justice and social inequities, including in the criminal justice system. Biden added, “I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well.”

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Posted by on in Federal Crimes
Chicago federal perjury defense attorney

Most people have at least heard of perjury, and you probably realize that being accused of perjury is a serious matter. You might know that perjury means lying under oath, but did you know that it is a federal crime? There are a number of federal statutes that address and criminalize perjury and related false statements, but two, in particular, are used most often to prosecute perjury. Section 1621 of Title 18 of the United States Code is commonly used to prosecute perjury before administrative, legislative, and judicial bodies, while Section 1623 of Title 18 addresses false statements made before grand juries and federal courts.

While there are differences between these two statutes and their applicability, the overall definition of perjury remains largely the same. It may seem like a simple definition, but prosecutors must prove several distinct elements to obtain a conviction on perjury charges.

Perjury Can Only Occur Under Oath

Making false statements is not always perjury. In order for a false statement to constitute perjury, it must be made under oath. For example, if you are being questioned by the police and you make a statement that is not true, you cannot be found guilty of perjury because you did not swear an oath to tell the truth. To be considered “under oath,” a person must make a promise to give honest testimony, and the promise must be made before a person with the proper authority to administer such an oath, including an officer of the court.

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Chicago federal crime pardon attorneyIn the last few days of his presidency, President Donald Trump issued more than 140 pardons and commutations to individuals throughout the country. The list of those who received executive clemency includes high-profile musical artists, criminal justice activists, and people who were serving long prison sentences for relatively low-level federal offenses. But, where does the president get the authority to issue presidential pardons, and are there limits on who can receive executive clemency?

Pardons in the U.S. Constitution

Article II of the U.S. Constitution addresses the executive branch of the United States government, namely, the office of President of the United States of America. In Section 2 of Article II, the Constitution states that the president “shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences [sic] against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.” In short, this means the president has the authority to grant clemency to any individual who has been convicted of, or who is or might be under investigation for, a federal crime unless the individual in question is facing impeachment from public office.

The Constitution does not offer much more in the way of guidance or limitations regarding presidential pardons. However, the Department of Justice has set up a system through which petitions for executive clemency can be submitted and passed on to the president for consideration.

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