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Orland park criminal defense attorney, stop-and-frisk searchYou are walking down the street minding your own business. A cop approaches you and starts asking questions. After a few moments, the cop decides to frisk you and discovers illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia in your pockets. You are arrested and charged with possession.

Is this legal? Can the police just “stop and frisk” you without a warrant? Unfortunately, in many cases they can and do. Illinois courts afford police wide discretion to conduct stop-and-frisk searches where a “reasonably prudent person” would believe his or her “safety was in danger.”

In theory, police are entitled to conduct these types of warrantless searches to protect against a person with a dangerous weapon who might try to hurt someone. But in practice, stop-and-frisk often leads to over-broad policing that unfairly targets certain groups. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois notes that Chicago police disproportionately target African-Americans, who represented “72 percent of stops, yet constitute just 32 percent of the city's population.” Additionally, the majority of stop-and-frisks do not recover dangerous weapons or any other illegal activity.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, sex crimes caseA sex crimes charge can permanently brand the accused as a “sex offender” in the eyes of the law and the public. One factor to keep in mind is not all sex crimes involve physical assault. For example, if a person “engages in a sexual act” in the “presence or virtual presence” of a child, he or she may be charged with “sexual exploitation.” This is a misdemeanor for a first offense but a felony if the defendant has any prior sex crimes conviction.

Ex-Wife's Testimony Used to Convict Defendant

In pursuing a sex crimes case, Illinois prosecutors will not hesitate to introduce any evidence designed to make the defendant look as bad as possible to the jury. Judges are supposed to keep unduly “prejudicial” evidence away from the jury, but prosecutors still have quite a bit of leeway in making their case. This includes allowing evidence that supposedly proves a defendant's motive or intent.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, prescription drugsAlthough DUI is usually associated with drunk driving, Illinois law actually prohibits operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug or controlled substance. This can even include a legal prescription drug. To avoid a DUI conviction, a defendant must prove not only that he or she had a valid prescription, but he or she also used the drug in a manner that did not prevent him or her from driving safely.

Driver Must Prove Xanax Did Not Impair His Driving

In a recent Illinois case, police arrested a man for DUI after blood and urine tests revealed the presence of alprazolam in his system. Alprazolam, better known as Xanax, is a prescription drug used to treat anxiety disorders. The defendant held a lawful prescription for Xanax, with instructions to take two pills per day.

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Orland Park criminal defense lawyer, proving my innocenceAlthough television legal dramas might lead you to think the criminal justice system is infallible—the heroic police and prosecution always manage to catch the clearly guilty defendant—the reality is there are many people in Illinois sitting in prison for crimes they did not commit. In fact, the National Registry of Exonerations at the University of Michigan reports 195 wrongful convictions in Illinois—most of them from Cook County—have been identified and overturned since 1989.

Illinois Man Exonerated After Years in Jail

Defendants in sexual assault cases are especially vulnerable to false convictions based solely on the testimony of an unreliable accuser. An Illinois appeals court recently looked at whether or not an accuser may challenge a defendant's actual innocence even when the state concedes there was a wrongful conviction.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, criminal trialIf you are facing felony charges, it is important to make sure the court respects all of your constitutional rights. While even the best judges make honest mistakes, such errors can prove costly when you are facing the loss of your freedom and the permanent taint of a felony conviction. Therefore, a defendant should never hesitate to object—or in some cases appeal—when a judge fails to follow the law.

Murder Conviction Overturned After Judge Kicks Out Defendant's Grandmother

A recent Illinois case illustrates how a seemingly minor procedural error can be a big deal in a felony case. The defendant here was tried for murder. A jury convicted the defendant and the judge sentenced him to 100 years in prison.

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