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A small (public) demonstration: Why you need representation by a criminal defense attorney any time you are in Court

Posted by Steven H. Fagan | Feb 10, 2013 | 0 Comments

This week saw a drama unfold from Miami the likes of which could have happened (and likely has, but without cameras to record it all for our amusement) right here in the Chicago area criminal court.

A young woman named Penelope Soto got her 15 seconds of fame not for profound thoughts, a great job acting or singing, or for a wondrous act of charity. No, her fame is really infamy. She was arrested on a criminal charge and brought before a Judge for setting of bond.

At that time, she did not have the benefit of counsel whispering in her ear, and engaged in flippant conversation with the Judge. The Judge took her flip attitude into account in setting her bond, and she took umbrage, flipping him the bird. Go ahead, see how many times you can fit the word "flip" into one paragraph. It isn't easy.

The Criminal court Judge then held the young lady in criminal contempt. A felony under state law. The video shared on YouTube by several users was viewed over 400,000 times in very short order.

Fast forward four days later, when Ms. Soto appeared in court again, this time clearly with a criminal defense attorney standing right beside her and no doubt having had the chance to speak with her about how to properly comport herself before a Judge. Ms. Soto apologized, the Court accepted, admonishing her that her behavior showed disrespect to the institution of the Court, and was not appropriate. He then admitted her into a special drug court program designed to give her a second chance at a clean criminal record.  Incidentally, the view count appears to be growing at a far more sedate pace, with only about 5 or 6,000 views accumulated on YouTube.

There are many lessons here of course, and if you view the comments to these videos, you'll see some colorful "lessons". But one that should be obvious came from the Judge himself. This isn't a club. This is Court.

The person with a robe on is a lawyer - a very powerful one with the ability to permanently change your life. He or she is either elected or appointed and given the full power to lock you up for a long time if you make the wrong move.

The person prosecuting you is a lawyer - a very powerful one with the ability to permanently change your life.

Who is going to be standing next to you? Should you also have a lawyer?

If you want to discuss how an experienced Illinois criminal lawyer can help protect you, contact us by filling out the form on this page for a free consultation, or calling us at 847-635-8200 now.

About the Author

Steven H. Fagan

Steve Fagan earned his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, is a member of the NCDD, NACDL, ISBA and a founding member of the DUIDLA. He is published and has taught CLE for lawyers on subjects such as sex offenses, DUI and criminal defense, focuses on trial work and Real Estate closings


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We regularly appear for Illinois Criminal defense, DUI defense and Traffic violations throughout the Chicago area including Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane and Will county courts, Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Bridgeview, Markham, Maywood, Waukegan, Wheaton, Naperville, Elgin, St. Charles and more.