DCBA National Trial Lawyers Association ISBA Kathryn L. Harry & Assocs. PC, Attorneys & Lawyers, Oak Brook, IL


Archive for the ‘criminal charges’ tag

Illinois Drug Courts: A Second Chance

October 14th, 2014 at 10:37 am

drug courtThere are three primary driving considerations behind criminal punishment in the United States: deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation. Deterrence theories suggest that if people know about the punishments associated with crimes, they will not commit them. Deterrence can be either general or specific. Specific deterrence aims to discourage the individual criminal from committing future acts by providing them with a punishment for their actions, while general deterrence seeks to make an example out of the offender, thereby deterring others from similar conduct.

Retribution is the “you get what you deserve” type of mentality. This theory supports that punishment is a necessary evil when one commits a crime. The punishment, however, must be “proportionate” to the crime committed. This standard makes retributive justice difficult to implement because it is difficult to sentence offenders for similar crimes when every circumstance is unique. Regardless, the United States Sentencing Commission produces recommended sentencing guidelines based on the severity of the crime and the offender’s past criminal convictions, which can help judges determine what kind of sentence an offender should receive for his crimes.

Rehabilitation is arguably the most important theory of justice, but also the most difficult to implement in our justice system. Rehabilitation is the idea that instead of punishing offenders by having them sit in a jail cell, they should participate in programs that will better their lives, help them recover from previous hardships, and then be permitted to re-enter society as contributing and productive members. Rehabilitation is particularly important when you consider that it can cost anywhere from $14,000 to $60,000 per offender, per year to keep someone in prison in the United States. Rehabilitation not only offers a way to save taxpayers money in this regard, but certain rehabilitation programs may be the difference in saving an offender from a life of crime. It can also alleviate some prison overcrowding concerns.

Drug Courts Emphasize Rehabilitation

Illinois is just one of many states that has numerous drug treatment opportunities for non-violent or first-time offenders. Cook County, for example, developed a drug court that provides rehabilitative services for drug/alcohol addiction, and can result in a dismissal of charges after successfully getting through a probationary period. These opportunities are available only to those who committed a non-violent crime, admitted to being addicted to drugs, demonstrates a willingness to participate in a rehabilitation program, and has not been convicted of a violent crime in the past 10 years. These are very forgiving requirements; many states only allow these types of programs for juveniles or first-time offenders.

According to the Illinois Attorney General, criminal behavior is lower after an offender participates in a drug court program. Anything that can minimize the amount of people in prison while keeping the streets safe and simultaneously allowing people who make mistakes an opportunity to take responsibility and re-enter society is something worth pursing. The Illinois Drug Court programs are very liberally construed and provide many opportunities for one’s future if he or she abides by the terms of probation.

Drug Court and You

If you or anyone you know has been convicted of a drug crime, it is important that you understand your rights. You may be eligible to participate in one of Illinois’ many rehabilitation programs governed by the justice system. This may mean your charges can be dismissed or significantly lessened. Once you have been charged with a drug crime, it is critical to speak with an experienced DuPage County drug court attorney that can advise you of your options. The more time that passes, the less likely the prosecution may be willing to work with you to offer these types of programs, and if eligible, these programs can greatly improve your chances at returning to society without a record and with your health and wellness. Contact our criminal defense attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. serving the DuPage, Will, Kane, and Cook County areas at (630) 472-9700 today.

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The Risks of Trying to Represent Yourself in a Criminal Case

May 20th, 2014 at 9:27 am

illinois criminal defense representationSome local Illinois residents facing criminal charges attempt to handle their own case in court without the aid of a criminal law attorney. No matter what the rationale for trying to represent yourself may be, it is critical to understand the many pitfalls of this approach. The criminal justice system is quite complex, and every case requires a mix of legal expertise, procedural acumen, and familiarity with techniques of advocacy. As a result, it can be almost impossible for a defendant to navigate the system successfully without the guidance of an attorney.

In most cases, self-representation seems like the best option for financial reasons. When making these decisions though, it is critical to think long-term. What decision will best position you to get beyond the immediate challenges without loss of your freedom or permanent damage to your reputation? In many cases, protecting your future interests requires the experience, skill, and advocacy that only a criminal defense attorney can provide.

Common Reasons for Self-Representation

There are many reasons why criminal defendants may try to represent themselves in court instead of seeking out an attorney.

You may believe that your charge is minor or routine. All criminal charges must be treated seriously. Even a DUI or a traffic ticket can result in potentially serious penalties such as extensive fines, suspension of your driver’s license, or even time in jail. Also, just because a crime is “common” does not mean that the outcomes are pre-determined. Being charged with a crime is not a guarantee of conviction. Depending on the aggression of your defense, you may be able to avoid conviction altogether or plea down to a lesser charge. A defense attorney can explain the best options and aggressively fight to protect your future.

You may have had a bad experience with an attorney. Every criminal defense attorney is different. It is important that you develop a strong relationship with your advocate, trusting in their advice and feeling comfortable in being honest about your situation. Fortunately, there is a range of criminal defense attorneys from which you can choose. If you had a poor experience in the past, it is critical to look for a better match this time.

You may not believe you can afford a criminal defense lawyer. Hiring an attorney may seem like an unnecessary expense in an already stressful time, but few things are more valuable than your freedom. Talk candidly with an attorney about costs and determine whether investing in quality legal help now is the right choice. Securing proper advocacy is an investment in your future.

You may believe you need only explain your innocence, and the charges will be dropped. The State only brings criminal charges against defendants when it believes sufficient evidence exists for conviction. Therefore, simply telling your story is usually not enough to disprove their allegations. Mistakes and misunderstandings happen all the time. A defense attorney knows how to gather evidence to prove your innocence and present it in an effective way in court.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorney for Help

Facing criminal charges can be unpleasant, and having a dedicated attorney gives you an ally during the stressful process. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will protect your rights and help you receive the best possible outcome in your case. If you have been arrested or charged, do not hesitate to call (630) 472-9700 to schedule a free consultation with Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. today. We work with individuals in DuPage County and in many nearby communities.

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Common Defense Strategies in Illinois Criminal Cases

May 2nd, 2014 at 3:44 pm

dupage county criminal attorneyThe primary duties of a criminal defense attorney include protecting your rights and building a strong defense for your case that will allow for successful prosecutor negotiations or a dismissal in court. While the specific defenses that can be used against criminal charges vary depending on the specific allegations and details of each case, the following are some common defense strategies used by experienced Illinois criminal lawyers:

Learn the defendant’s story. Sometimes, criminal defendants openly confess to the crime to their attorneys, while other times they completely deny involvement. In additional instances, a defendant may admit to only part of the offense, but provide an alternative explanation for their involvement. A qualified defense attorney will listen closely to what the defendant states and decipher the truth of what happened.

Compare the defendant’s truth with the prosecutor’s “truth.” Even if both the defense attorney and the prosecutor heard the same basic story regarding the events in question, they may each present the facts of what happened in two different ways. For example, a prosecutor may state a defendant punched their client because he or she was angry. However, a defense attorney may tell a different version, claiming that the defendant punched the accuser because he or she swung first and made them fear for their own safety. Explaining the facts and truth of a case in an alternate manner is an important skill for a defense lawyer.

Coach the defendant. Criminal charges can be stressful and such stress may often affect the way a defendant answers questions or the consistency of his or her story. In order to ease a defendant’s nerves and discomfort in depositions, trial, or other court settings, a strong defense lawyer may use various coaching techniques to prepare a defendant. For example, the lawyer may put their defendant through mock questioning and interviews to ensure consistency of answers in line with the main defense theory. Additionally, the attorney may also have their defendant write down on paper their version of events so they do not forget details or misstate the story.

Contact a DuPage County Defense Lawyer for Assistance

Simply because you have been arrested or charged with a crime does not mean you will be convicted and have to face the associated consequences. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney who will aggressively defend your case. Limit your chance of possible penalties or even have your charges completely dismissed. If you are facing a criminal law case, do not hesitate to contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. for a free initial evaluation. Call (630) 472-9700 today for assistance.

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Police Officer Foil Grinchs’ Attempts at Stealing Christmas Packages

December 5th, 2012 at 6:31 am

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, an off-duty police officer on his way to work began his shift a little earlier than planned when he noticed two men stealing mail from a postal truck and stopped them in the act. The men were not in uniform, yet they were unloading packages from a U.S. Postal truck parked on the 5900 block of West Fulton Boulevard. The officer watched them load the packages into a Black SUV that was parked close by. After loading the vehicle, the men sped off.

The officer began following the men and called into 911 with the description and information about the men and the SUV they were driving. Officers who were monitoring the radio spotted the men and began following them. When one of the men realized they were being followed by police officers, he began throwing the stolen mail out of the vehicle and onto the street.

Officers pulled the SUV over and arrested one of the men, Darrick Smith, 43, of Chicago, who was charged with burglary. The other suspect fled and was not caught. Police believe the two men broke a window in the mail truck, using a large piece of concrete that was found lying next to the truck.

Although Smith has been only charged with burglary, there is also the possibility, because of the alleged theft of U.S. mail, the postal inspector may also press charges. The offense would then become a federal offense and a guilty could find the defendant incarcerated in a federal penitentiary. If you’ve been charged with a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you in DuPage County. Having the right representation could mean the difference between a guilty and a not guilty finding.

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Four Involved in Drug Trafficking in DuPage County

October 20th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Timothy N. Morris, 29, was found guilty of calculated criminal drug conspiracy and was sentenced to 10 years in prison on October 1. The crime is a Class X felony which carry mandatory sentences of 6 to 30 years in prison upon conviction. The Naperville Sun reports that Morris has to serve at least 75 percent of his term in prison and pay about $2000 dollars in fines and court costs. Furthermore, he will be supervised for three years after completing his time in prison.

Morris was part of a narcotics ring that operated last year in the Naperville-Aurora area and Chicago.  Naperville Police Department’s Special Operations Group arrested three other suspects in connection with the drug ring: Ian E. Lona, Gilda L. Ruales, and Teresa I. Sanchez. They were arrested on October 6, 2011, in Naperville and Morris was arrested 14 hours earlier on Chicago’s west side.

Police started investigating the actions of the group after Ruales had been arrested for selling cocaine in Aurora. Later, police found out that Ruales and Sanchez were dealing drugs in Naperville and Aurora. Following this lead, undercover police agents purchased cocaine and hundreds of ecstasy pills from the members of the ring.

Ruales faces trial on four Class X felony counts later this year. Lona and Sanchez have already been sentenced to six years in prison for manufacture or delivery of 200 but less than 600 ecstasy pills.

Drug crimes, even possession of small amounts of narcotics, may result in harsh penalties. If you have been charged with a drug crime, be it a misdemeanor or felony, it is important to seek the help of a knowledgeable defense attorney. Contact an experienced drug crimes defense lawyer in Illinois today.

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