When facing criminal prosecution in Illinois, you may feel overwhelmed with questions about what you can do to protect yourself and fight your charges. We're here to help. Here are some frequently asked questions, but if you have specific questions about your case and want to learn more about how we can help, pick up the phone and call us now.
What should I do if I'm arrested?
If you are arrested and accused of committing a crime, the first thing to remember is that you have the right to remain silent. After identifying yourself to the arresting officers, tell them you would like an attorney and refuse to say anything further. Law enforcement is allowed to lie to suspects and trick them in an attempt to obtain incriminating information. Your attorney can protect you from making any potentially damaging statements, ensure your rights are not violated in any way, and determine your defense options.
The officer didn't read my rights- will this help my case?
The arresting officer's failure to read your Miranda rights could play a large role in your defense, as the judge may rule that anything you said at the time you were taken into custody is inadmissible as evidence before the court. The Fifth Amendment provides you with the right to protect yourself against self-incrimination, and the officer has a responsibility to make you aware of this right. The statements you make while in police custody may make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, and if so, a competent criminal defense lawyer will know what to do.
Is assault the same crime as battery?
Although commonly talked about together, assault and battery are two separate offenses with separate consequences. Assault is charged if the defendant acted in such a way as to place the victim in reasonable fear of "receiving a battery". Battery is charged if the defendant intentionally caused bodily harm to the victim without lawful justification or if they made physical contact with the victim in an attempt to provoke or insult the person.
What types of criminal cases do you handle?
At Fagan, Fagan & Davis, we defend clients facing a wide range of both felony and misdemeanor charges, such as DUI, drug crimes such as possession or delivery, assault & battery, domestic violence, hate crimes, retail theft, theft crimes, auto theft, robbery, murder, manslaughter, sex crimes, and traffic tickets.
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
In the Illinois criminal court system, there are two types of charges: felonies and misdemeanors. Felony criminal charges are the more serious of the two and are punishable by one year in prison or more, depending on the class of felony. Misdemeanors are lesser offenses that are punishable by less than one year in jail, again depending on the misdemeanor classification.
Will I go to jail or prison?
There are many sentences available under Illinois law that does not involve imprisonment, even if when the defendant is facing felony charges - in fact, Illinois law expresses a preference for probation wherever appropriate. Although imprisonment is a possibility, you can reduce your chances of being sentenced to jail or prison by contacting an experienced and aggressive lawyer to defend you in court. The right defense for your case can avoid conviction and jail or prison, and can help avoid or lessen other penalties
What are the possible penalties I may face if I'm convicted?
The penalties in a criminal case depend entirely on the charges and the circumstances of the case. Misdemeanor charges are usually punishable by no more than one year in jail and less than $2,500 in fines. Felonies are punishable by probation or at least one year in state prison and fines totaling as much as $25,000. Other possible penalties include probation, mandatory supervised release (commonly called parole), restitution to the victim, mandatory counseling or rehabilitation, community service, license suspension, loss of certain rights, and a mark on your permanent record. Certain factors can enhance your penalties, such as having prior criminal convictions on your record, using a weapon to carry out your crime, and committing a crime involving a child.
Why should I hire a private criminal defense attorney instead of a public defender?
A Public Defender can be appointed when a defendant qualifies economically as indigent. Accepting a Public Defender should only be done when a defendant truly cannot afford a private criminal defense attorney for a number of reasons. The Public Defender's office, while generally staffed by competent and qualified Illinois criminal defense lawyers, is often inundated with more cases than they can handle. They simply cannot devote the personal attention to each client that private criminal defense lawyers can. There are even situations where having a PD handle your case limits your ability to protect certain rights. For instance, in DUI proceedings, a Public Defender is not authorized by Illinois law to address a driver's license suspension. Finally, if the PD is appointed, once your case is resolved, if the Judge finds that you could have paid for a private attorney, the Judge could order you to pay the office of the Public Defender for their services.