Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Illinois Criminal Defense Laws
If you have been arrested or accused of a crime, we understand that it's a stressful time for you. Fear, anxiety and an uncertainty about the future are common reactions. No one wants to get caught up in the criminal justice system.
Know that we take your situation seriously. Our job is to recommend an experienced and successful criminal defense attorney to help you and give you confidence that you will be protected. There are thousands of lawyers on the Internet, and many of them will send you unsolicited letters trying to get you to hire them. It's hard to figure out whom to trust. That is why people come to us.
Every defense attorney we recommend has years of experience protecting defendants in Illinois. Each has an impressive background and is highly respected in the legal community. All of these attorneys handle their own cases rather than passing them off on a new and inexperienced associate. Many are former prosecutors, and others have enough experience that they know how to think like a prosecutor, and can identify weaknesses in the case against you.
Our goal is to recommend the Illinois defense attorney who is best for you. We look at experience, location, reputation, personality, past success, and anything else that you tell us is important to you. This does not guarantee a result, but gives you the best chance of getting the best result possible. Whatever you do, even if you are guilty, don't just go to court and plead guilty. An experienced attorney can minimize your punishment and often get the prosecutors to drop charges.
The following links provide specific information about some areas of Illinois criminal law. Please let us know if you have questions. We help with any type of criminal case in Illinois, not just the ones discussed below. If you would like a referral to an Illinois criminal defense attorney, please contact us. It's completely free and confidential.
Attorneys and Trial
- Illinois Criminal Sexual Abuse Lawyers
- Illinois DCFS Defense Lawyers
- Plea Bargains and 402 Conferences In Illinois
- Testifying in Illinois Court Cases
- What makes a great Illinois criminal defense lawyer?
- What Should I Ask a Criminal Lawyer Before Hiring Them?
- Your First Meeting with a Criminal Defense Attorney
- Illinois Felonies
- Misdemeanor Offenses
- Assault in Illinois
- Battery in Illinois (aggravated battery)
- Burglary in Illinois
- Class X Felonies in Illinois
- Criminal Sexual Assault
- Criminal Sexting
- Disorderly Conduct in Illinois
- Domestic Violence In Illinois
- Drug Possession
- Drug Trafficking
- 1st Degree and 2nd Degree Murder in Illinois
- Forgery in Illinois
- Illinois DUI laws
- Illinois homicide and murder
- Illinois prostitution
- Manslaughter in Illinois
- Rape in Illinois
- Retail Theft Lawyers in Illinois
- Robbery in Illinois
- Statutory Rape in Illinois
- Theft in Illinois
- Unlawful Use of a Weapon
- Appellate Attorneys in Illinois
- Criminal Law 101 in Illinois
- Eavesdropping and Privacy Laws in Illinois
- Expungement and Record Sealing FAQs
- Expungement and Record Sealing in Illinois
- Felony Process in Illinois
- Frequently Asked Questions about Illinois Criminal Law
- I Want To Drop The Charges
- Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney Blog
- Illinois DCFS Defense Lawyers
- Illinois Drivers License Reinstatements
- Juvenile Arrest and Detention in the Illinois Juvenile System
- Orders of Protection
- Pardon Attorneys
- The Right to Remain Silent
- Sex Offender Registration
- Cook County Criminal Districts
- DuPage Criminal Lawyers
- Kane County Criminal Attorneys
- Lake County Criminal Lawyers
- McHenry County Criminal Attorneys
- Criminal Districts
- 26th and California
- Skokie Courthouse
- Rolling Meadows Courthouse
- Maywood Courthouse
- Bridgeview Courthouse
- Markham Courthouse
- Daley Center
- 555 W. Harrison
- Belmont & Western
- 3150 W. Flournoy
- 5555 W. Grand Avenue
- 155 W. 51st Street
- 727 E. 111th Street
- Cook County Orders of Protection
- Will County Criminal Attorneys
Findgreatlawyers.com focuses on finding lawyers in every part of the state of Illinois. From Chicago to Rockford, to Central Illinois, down to Southern Illinois, and every county in between. Whatever the legal area or location within the state of Illinois, we know the perfect lawyer for you.
Private defense attorneys and public defenders
There are both private and public attorneys who defend those facing criminal charges in Illinois. Although both have the job of building a good case in your defense, there are some differences to be aware of. One main difference is that public defenders are free and you need to qualify in order to get one. A judge will make the decision based on your financial situation. Private attorneys charge fees, usually hourly and sometimes a flat rate. Public defenders serve an important role, but if you can afford a private Illinois defense attorney we usually recommend doing so. The reason is because of their resources. Public defenders are often overworked and many are underpaid. They have a very heavy caseload and can only devote so much time to your case. If you are paying a private attorney for their time, then that time is yours.
Attorney-client confidentiality in criminal cases
Your Illinois attorney is ethically bound to keep anything you tell them confidential. This is true even if you confess to committing a crime. The only time they are obligated to tell police anything is if they believe you are going to hurt someone in the future. In that case, they have a duty to try and stop it from happening. The confidentiality rule also applies to Illinois lawyers you consult with but do not hire. This confidential relationship is extremely important because it is your attorney's job to defend you and the best way for them to do that is if they know all the facts. Confidentiality allows you to be honest with your attorney, which helps them do the best job they can for you.
The truth about the “best” defense attorney in Illinois
The truth is that there are many excellent criminal defense attorneys in Illinois. The reality, in our opinion, is that there is someone out there who is best for you, but they might not be who is best for the next person. We say this because we believe in matching clients up with an attorney who has experience and success in the exact same kind of case that they're facing. Your attorney should appear often in the courthouse where your case is being heard, and they should have an excellent local reputation.
DUIs and losing your license: suspension vs. revocation
There are two ways in which you can lose your license after a DUI in Illinois. The first is a suspension, technically called a statutory summary suspension. If you fail a drug or alcohol test at the police station after getting pulled over, your license is suspended for six months in most cases. Statutory summary suspension is automatically applied by the Illinois secretary of state; it is not tied to whether you are found innocent or guilty in court. If you are found guilty of driving under the influence, your license will be revoked. The revocation can be up to a year for a first offense and longer for a subsequent offense. After a suspension or revocation time is over, you don't get your license back automatically. There may be fees and other requirements before your driving privileges are restored.
Shopping around for a criminal defense attorney
Considering your options and being proactive in selecting a defense attorney is important. Shopping around includes more than just comparing legal fees. Most defense attorneys charge an hourly rate, and you should find that the majority of attorneys you call charge around the same amount. Be wary of an attorney who charges significantly less than everyone else. Shopping around should also include meeting with attorneys to see if they know what they're doing (experience, track record of success, etc.) and if their personality is a good fit with yours. Go in prepared to ask a lot of questions. Consultations shouldn't cost you anything, and talking to an attorney about your case is confidential.
Police searches – know your rights
If the cops have something called probable cause, they can search you or your car. If they don't, they can still do a search if you consent. So if they ask you whether they can look in your trunk, don't say yes out of fear. You have the right to say no. We suggest doing this politely. What if they do a search without probably cause? Some people wonder if they can sue for the violation of privacy, but the main consequence of an illegal search is that any evidence that was found can't be used against you. There are some exceptions and special cases, so keep in mind that this is just a general explanation. The thing to remember is that you have the right to decline a search.
Only the prosecutor can drop the charges against you
The best way to get this to happen is to hire an experienced attorney who knows the law and knows the local attorneys (including prosecutors) and judges. It's a common misconception that the victim of a crime can drop the charges. A criminal case is brought against you by the state, not by the victim. If the victim refuses to cooperate, it can lead to dropped charges because the prosecution is left without anyone to testify against you, for example. But a victim cannot make the case go away because they want it to.
Criminal defense attorneys charge by the hour
You've probably seen attorneys advertise that there's “no fee upfront” or “no fee unless you win.” You might be wondering why you can't get this deal for your criminal case. It's called a contingency fee and it's typical in injury lawsuits or other where you are suing for a sum of money. If you win, your attorney's fee is a percentage of that amount. In a criminal case, however, there is no monetary win, which is why attorneys charge hourly. Rates vary, so make sure to do your research. Look for a fair rate, and be cautious of rates that are extremely low. You want an attorney who will do what they can to get your case dismissed or get you reduced charges or other leniency. You want an attorney who will go to trial if necessary. You don't want to pay an attorney a few hundred bucks to help you plead guilty.
Don't assume you have a straightforward criminal case
While some cases may be more complex than others, we wouldn't call any case simple, because every case involves different circumstances. So we don't recommend hiring just any attorney. Don't hire your neighbor who's an attorney because they're giving you a good deal, and don't ask your divorce attorney to handle a criminal matter on the side. Hire someone because they have handled your type of case many times in the past, they focus on criminal defense and not several areas of law, and they have a track record of success. Hire the right attorney the first time, because you usually don't get a second chance.
Is your defense attorney a former prosecutor?
If so, we think it gives you a leg up. The fact that the attorney on the other side may be their friend or former colleague is a good thing. Many of the criminal defense attorneys we recommend are former prosecutors. They have a unique insider's view of how the prosecution looks at a case, including the types of deals they're willing to agree to. If your attorney has an existing relationship with the prosecutor in your case, it can help you work out a deal in your favor. In any type of case, you want an attorney with a good reputation, excellent client reviews, and a history of success in getting their clients what they want. When it comes to criminal defense, we believe former prosecutors have a unique advantage.
Sexting is Illegal in Illinois
Minors who send, receive or share sexually explicit pictures on their phones can be charged with a misdemeanor. Because sexting is a fairly new phenomenon, the law did not address it until recently. Instead, it had been lumped in with child pornography laws and teens were subject to harsh punishment, including possibly having to register as a sex offender. New laws make it a less serious offense, and also give judges the ability to order alternative sentences, such as fines or court-ordered counseling. Often, a school official or security officer is the first person to deal with alleged sexting. If this happens to your child, you might want to talk to a defense attorney, especially if law enforcement has gotten involved.
Taking a deal
A plea deal is an agreement between a defendant and the prosecutor. Usually, the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offense or lighter sentence. It's mutually beneficial because it saves the prosecutor time and closes the case, and the defendant gets leniency. However, some deals are not good for the defendant. In order to get a deal, you have to plead guilty. This means you will have a conviction on your record. Some convictions can be sealed later on, but others cannot. It's important to have an experienced attorney negotiate a deal so you don't end up hurting yourself in the long run. A good defense attorney will take your case to trial if need be.
Disorderly conduct charges in Illinois
Disorderly conduct is something that disturbs the peace or undermines public safety. It sounds vague, and it is. We've seen a lot of cases where police officers arrest someone and charge them with disorderly conduct for lack of a better option. It can be used as a catch-all. The good news is that a lot of these cases can get thrown out by an experienced defense attorney. Find someone who is very familiar with the local courthouse and judges. Spending time in jail is rare, but it's a possibility. More common consequences include fines and community service.
Robbery vs. burglary in Illinois
Both of these crimes are generally known as theft crimes. Burglary is defined as entering a building (or other area) with the purpose to commit a crime. You don't even have to break in or actually take anything to be charged with burglary. Robbery is defined as taking something from someone by means of force or fear. If the person committing robbery states that they have a weapon, it can be charged as aggravated robbery. Burglary and robbery are Class 2 felonies, with certain circumstances making them Class 1 felonies. Aggravated robbery is a Class 1 felony. Armed robbery is a Class X felony.
There are two types of orders of protection (restraining orders) – civil and criminal
You can seek either a civil order of protection or a criminal order of protection. It depends on your situation and whether the police are involved (reports made, arrests, victim willing to file charges, etc.). For example, if you called the cops because you were the victim of domestic violence, you would seek a criminal order of protection. If you are going through a divorce case and need an order of protection related to custody or visitation of your kids, you would seek a civil order of protection. Police documentation isn't required. Instead, you must show a history of abuse.
You can hire an attorney for a DCFS case
If you are under investigation by the Department of Child and Family Services, there are attorneys who can help protect your rights. The agency investigates reports of child abuse and/or neglect. Anyone can make a report, and their names are kept anonymous. The agency may or may not decide to do a full investigation. But if they do, it can lead to criminal charges and a judge may order that your kids be placed in the care of someone else. It's illegal for someone to knowingly make a false report, but of course it still happens. Having an attorney on your side can make a difference.
Illinois has five classes of felonies
Felonies are crimes that are punishable by a year or more in prison, as well as up to $25,000 in fines. These can be violent crimes, crimes of theft over a certain amount, repeat misdemeanors, crimes with aggravating factors, etc. A Class X felony is the most serious, with a possible six years in prison or more. The other classes are 1, 2, 3 or 4, with Class 4 being the least serious with a minimum prison term of one year. In addition to fines and prison time, you can lose your right to vote, your driving privileges and the right to own a weapon. In Illinois, if you are convicted of a felony, you cannot expunge it from your record unless you can get a pardon from the governor.
In statutory rape, consent doesn't matter
Statutory rape is sex with a minor. Consent doesn't matter because the law says that a minor is not legally able to consent. So even if a 16-year-old agrees to have sex with her 18-year-old boyfriend, it would be considered statutory rape. There are different categories of offenses depending on the age of the victim and the age of the offender. In general, the consequences are greater when the victim is very young or in situations where there is a large age gap between the victim and offender.
You can go to jail for excessive speeding
Most traffic violations do not carry the possibility of jail time. However, excessive speeding is a criminal offense. If you are found guilty of going 40 mph over the limit, or more, you face not only hefty fines, but possible jail time as well. It's a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by $2,500 and up to a year in jail, with no option for court supervision (paying the fine and completing traffic school). Speeding between 30 and 39 mph is punishable by $1,500 and up to six months in jail.
Shoplifting and civil demand letters
If you were accused of shoplifting, you may get a demand letter in the mail. It will be from a law firm representing the store. It's fairly routine. They often tell you that you have to pay a certain amount in order to avoid a lawsuit. The amount is going to be much more than any items you supposedly tried to steal because the law firm tacks on legal fees, even though they have no basis for doing so. These letters can be threatening and may suggest that you will be sued or even face criminal consequences if you don't pay. Generally speaking, it's not a good idea to pay at this point.
Who should you hire to appeal your case?
You have the right to appeal your conviction, as well as your sentence. Some criminal defense attorneys handle trial work as well as appeals, although many do not. It's a different process and involves some different skills. There are attorneys who focus on only appellate work, and hiring one of them may be the right choice. You have 30 days to file a notice of appeal. The appellate process involves a written argument called a brief, and sometimes an oral argument as well. A panel of three judges will make the decision. Your case may be remanded (sent back for a new trial), reversed or both.
You don't have to answer a police officer's questions
You don't have to wait until you're arrested and read your rights before you exercise your right to remain silent. You don't have to answer any questions from the police. If you get pulled over, it's a good idea to be polite and show your license and whatever else is required, but you don't have to say where you're going or where you've been. You don't have to answer any questions about whether you've been drinking, either.
If you're under 21, you can lose your license more easily
If you are under 21, the law is more likely to take away your license for less. For example, your license will be suspended for two moving violation convictions in 24 months. If you're over 21, the law is more lenient, and your license is suspended for getting three convictions in 12 months.
You can lose your driver's license for underage drinking, even if you were nowhere near a car. The idea here is that if you're breaking the law by drinking underage you aren't going to be responsible enough to not get behind the wheel. If you do drink and drive underage, you can get in trouble under both the zero tolerance law and regular DUI laws, and you can lose your license for years.
Don't try to outsmart the police if you are arrested or being questioned. Their job is to get a confession and if you lie you could face more charges. Your best bet is to politely decline to answer their questions and say nothing.
Did you know that if you have ever been arrested, you still have a record, even if it was dismissed, and background check companies can see your record?
You can be arrested for assault in Illinois and don't have to actually touch someone for that to happen
Most people who think of assault imagine someone who has been punched in the face or otherwise attacked. In reality, assault can be just words that create a reasonable fear in someone that harm may happen.
For example, if you shake your fist in someone's face and say "I'm going to kill you", that is likely an assault. If they sarcastically say "I could kill you" then it's probably not an assault.
Bottom line is that you don't need any injuries for an assault charge to be filed. A good criminal lawyer will help show the Judge the true intent of your words and hopefully keep you out of jail.
Sometimes it's best to have a Judge decide your case, not a jury
When you are charged with a crime in Illinois you have a choice of having your case heard by a jury or a Judge. Your attorney should give you guidance on what is the right option for you.
Many attorneys recommend that you let the Judge decide when they have a good relationship with him/her or insight as to how they will rule. Trial by Judge is also recommended a lot when you have an inflammatory situation such as a child being killed or a death by a DUI. Judge's often do a better job of ruling based on evidence rather than emotions, especially when compared to a jury.
A jury is recommended when you have a more complex situation or when your attorney thinks that they can create reasonable doubt. If one jury member finds in your favor you can't get convicted of that charge. If your lawyer thinks the jury will be able to relate to what happened then it's also a good choice.
The bottom line for you is that you need an attorney that can help you make an educated decision as to what the right option is. If you would like our recommendation of an experienced lawyer please contact us at (312) 346-5320.
You can be a mile away and get charged with murder
Under Illinois criminal law, if you are committing a felony crime and it leads to someone's death, you can still be charged with murder. For example, let's say you are planning with a friend to rob a bank. He is going to go into the bank and is supposed to use a toy gun. You decide to create a distraction a mile away that will keep police from going to the bank and stopping him. Your felony act is conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
If your friend ends up using a real gun and shoots someone or otherwise kills someone during the robbery, you can be charged as an accessory to murder and could possibly spend the rest of your life in jail.
A good lawyer leaves no stone unturned in defending their clients
It is always a bad idea to plead guilty right away. You should always consult with an attorney after you've been arrested; a good attorney will look at every possible option to fight for you. Recently, some law firms have looked at the Facebook and MySpace settings and status messages of witnesses to discredit them. Lawyers often have a lot of creative alternatives that they can consider taking on behalf of their clients.
You can be charged with homicide for giving someone drugs
Three men, age 20-25, have been charged with drug-induced homicide in connection with the death of an 18 year-old woman who overdosed on heroin. All four were using heroin in an apartment one evening; one of the men sold the heroin to the others, while another cooked it and loaded it into a syringe. After using it, all four fell asleep. Later, the three men were unable to wake the girl, so they put her in a car and took her to a gas station, then dialed 911.
Paramedics brought the woman to a nearby hospital, but she was pronounced dead. An autopsy revealed that the cause of death was drug overdose. The three men have now been charged with homicide.
Judge rules a dying boy's comments are admissible
A DuPage County judge ruled that statements that a dying boy made to his mother may be used at the father's murder trial. The statement alleges that the boy's father poured gasoline on him and his younger brother and then set them on fire.
Nisha Patel, the accused man's wife and mother of the two boys, testified in a hearing that her son Vishv provided her with graphic details about the incident. Vishv said that his father took the boys out to buy toy cars on Nov. 18, 2007, stopping to buy some gasoline. He returned with the boys to their home, and then told them to get into the bathroom, in the tub. Vishv went on to describe that his father poured something over them and he knew it was gas, not water, because it burned his eyes. The father then stood up with a lighter and set them on fire. He and his 4-year old brother, Om, were badly burned. Om died of his injuries on Jan. 17, 2008. Vishv died on Feb. 19, 2008.
Look Out For Attorney Fees That Are Too Low
We received a call from someone who was looking for a Cook County retail theft attorney. He was hoping to find a lawyer cheaper than one that a friend had recommended to him. We asked him what that lawyer was charging and he said $400.00.
While there is no “set price” for what a lawyer charges in these cases, it is extremely unusual for a Cook County criminal defense lawyer (or any other county for that matter) to handle a charge that can land a client in jail for such a low price. We'd say the average fee for lawyers who actually defend these cases is around $1,500.00 and that price reflects the tremendous amount of work that needs to be done to achieve the best result possible.
We know and recommend some attorneys that handle these cases for less than $1,500.00, but when you get to a crazy dollar amount like $400.00, there is certainly a big risk that you are paying an attorney that money and all he is going to do is help you plead guilty. Guess what, you can plead guilty for free. We don't know who that lawyer was and while anything is possible, if an attorney's fee sounds too good to be true then it probably is.
Your Miranda Rights Only Apply When You Are in Custody
People who are being placed in the custody of the police have be warned that they have the right to remain silent; that anything they say can be used as evidence against them in court; that they have the right to an attorney; and that if they cannot afford one, the court will be appointed for them. Although most people have heard this on television and the movies, what they do not know is that if you are merely being questioned by the police and not in their custody, you will not be protected by their Miranda Rights. According to the Supreme Court, the key question should be whether the personal was formally arrested, or the restraint that the police put on the person's freedom of movement was enough to determine that is was an actual arrest.
If you are not sure whether you are under arrest, it is best to not say anything because what you say might hurt you if charges are filed against you. Inform the police that you will not speak to them without a lawyer if you are arrested.
Convicted murder and drug trial defendant gets new trial because of co-defendant's rants.
In a Federal court decision recently handed down by the appellate court, a convicted murderer and drug dealer won a new trial because at the original trial he was tried with a co-defendant who went off on rants which included screaming at the Judge and threatening her. This same co-defendant also reportedly “stared down” jurors in an effort to intimidate them. A new trial doesn't mean he walks free, but he does get another day in court.
The lesson for you, if you or a loved one is a criminal defendant in Illinois is that you need to consider whether or not a co-defendant could hurt your case. You have to look out for yourself and if a co-defendant is going to make you look bad, whether it's their appearance or actions, you should consider asking for a separate trial. The Judge may not grant it, but if you get convicted it gives you an opportunity on appeal.
How can you intentionally strike a car, kill three people and likely walk free in a year or so?
We received this question from a visitor to our site who was wondering about the reckless homicide and murder charges at the Skokie criminal courthouse where a model ran her car into three innocent people trying to kill herself, but instead killed them. Her criminal defense lawyer argued that she was insane at the time of the act, at least criminally so under Illinois law. The judge believed that she didn't know what she was doing and that she had no intentions of hurting anyone but herself.
As a result, the maximum sentence was 10 years and she received eight years. She is eligible for release after serving half of her sentence which is approximately one year away. Many people are mad about this result and understandably so. That said, it shows the value of having a good criminal defense lawyer. The attorney in this case knew how the judge tends to rule so he elected for a bench trial instead of a jury trial where emotions might have trumped the law. It was a smart move and is a good lesson for anyone looking for an Illinois criminal defense attorney. That strategy makes sense in Skokie, McHenry, Peoria and Belleville or any other city no matter how different those towns are from one another.
How speedy is a speedy trial supposed to be?
Typically if you are arrested and choose to move your case along, you should be at trial within six months. The best Illinois criminal defense lawyers recognize that most prosecutors are over-worked and don't always have the ability to get a case ready for trial that quickly. As a result, we often see attorneys who are able to get serious charges dismissed on behalf of their client or reduced. These time limits and this strategy don't always apply.
Think about it. If you exercise your right to a trial, if the prosecutor doesn't have their act together, they may not have a key witness subpoenaed or ready evidence. Hiring an experienced, aggressive criminal lawyer that truly fights for you can be the difference between winning and losing. If you have a felony charge in Illinois whether it's sexual abuse, burglary, drug trafficking or any other charge, when you interview a defense lawyer ask them about their strategy for pushing for a quick result. If they aren't at least thinking about it they might not be right for you.
Remember, anything you say can and will be used against you.
We've all heard that line muttered on TV or in the movies. It sounds hokey, but the truth is that this Miranda warning is something to keep in mind if you are ever approached by the police about a criminal matter. We aren't encouraging anyone to obstruct justice, but if there is any chance that you could be the subject of a criminal investigation, we advise you not to say anything without a lawyer present. Cops or other investigators will often say that you can make things easier by cooperating or some phony story like that. It's ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that you have a right to a lawyer and it's for your protection that you should do so. We don't care if it's a big city like Chicago or a smaller area in St. Clair County or something in between like Aurora. Any criminal lawyer would tell you that you are best served by saying nothing. Without an attorney present your words could get twisted against you and your rights could be violated. If you have already made statements, your best advice is to just stop there. It's not just a strategy, it's your right under the law.
You are allowed to switch attorneys if you aren't happy with your current representation.
We encourage people to find the right lawyer for their needs. Hopefully you don't hire a felony lawyer and then find out a month later she has only defended 10 felonies in her life and none are the same charge you are facing. If you are charged with criminal sexual assault in Wheaton for example, you give yourself the best chance for success by getting a lawyer that has defended similar criminal charges in DuPage County or at the very least has defended high level felonies like criminal sexual abuse, murder, rape, armed robbery, etc. If you realize that you hired a Naperville criminal attorney who mostly defends disorderly conduct cases, you owe it to yourself to seek another opinion. Your life is on the line and the time to find a new lawyer is not when you need to appeal.
Never just plead guilty, even if you are guilty.
We aren't saying that you won't ever eventually plead guilty, but before you do so, you need to give your lawyer a chance to evaluate the evidence and see what can be arranged with the prosecutor. More often than not a good criminal lawyer can get supervision for his client which is entered into the record as a not guilty finding as long as you don't get into additional trouble. We don't care if you are caught shoplifting on tape and gave a written statement admitting it. Even then you shouldn't just go in to court and plead guilty. If you do, you are setting yourself up for the worst possible result. A lawyer can almost always get you a better result than you can get on your own, especially if they regularly appear before the prosecutor or Judge.
If you are a criminal defendant in a misdemeanor in Illinois, don't stand out.
If you are charged with a felony in Illinois, the odds of your attorney walking in and having your case resolved in one day are not good. On the other hand, hundreds of people go to court every day charged with misdemeanors. In Illinois a misdemeanor is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, but the reality is that most first time offenders don't go to prison (it does happen though). The ones that end up in jail usually stand out.
So how do you not stand out? We have a few suggestions.
- Don't say anything. So many people we want to talk to just want to tell their side of the story. It might make you feel better, but in most court rooms, the Judge is trying to process a lot of cases and get on to lunch. If everyone was able to give a speech he'd never get to go home. Good criminal attorneys in Illinois know what the judge wants to hear.
- Along with number 1, since you could go to jail if convicted or have a record, why risk a bad result by not having a lawyer. If you don't believe us, go to court and see how the people who have lawyers are treated as compared to the ones that don't have a lawyer. We have seen countless times where a person represents themselves and is forced to come back to court numerous times while others in the same situation get their case dismissed because their lawyer insisted on it when the prosecution wasn't ready.
- Don't dress flashy, wear a hat or do anything that is going to make the prosecutor of Judge notice you. They want to get through their case load. Don't give them a reason to pay attention to you.
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