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Chicagoland Law Blog

Plea bargain considerations

If you have been arrested in Illinois and now face the prospect of enduring a trial to defend yourself against a criminal charge, you may understandably be scared and unsure of whether or not you want to experience this. These thoughts may make you want to investigate other options. A plea bargain is one option that may be available to you to avoid the time and cost of a full trial. However, whether or not this is the right thing for you to do may depend on a variety of factors.

As explained by Flow Psychology, there can be downsides to entering into a plea bargain just as there may be benefits to doing so. Some have argued that defendants at times might feel forced into accepting a plea bargain rather than given the choice to do so. If this happens, that is actually against the law as a plea deal should be optional because a person always has the right to a trial to prove their innocence.

Illionois police do not have free rein for search and seizure

Let's say you're driving along an Illinois highway, and a police car comes up behind you and flashes lights to pull you over in a traffic stop. You pull to a stop on the side of the road, roll your window down, and prepare to show the officer your driver's license and vehicle registration card. The next thing you know, the officer asks you to step out of your car and then asks if you'd mind if he or she took a look inside your vehicle.  

Do you know your rights, especially those pertaining to search and seizure? Police officers cannot do and say whatever they want when they pull you over. In fact, if the officer asked you to exit your vehicle, it is likely he or she suspects you of a crime, such as drunk driving. The more you know about your personal rights, the better, including the right you have to request legal representation before answering investigation questions. As for searching your car or person, there are a few things you should know. 

What is a statutory summary suspension?

If you are like most people in Illinois, you likely know that you could be at risk of losing your right to drive if you are ever charged with a drunk driving offense. However, you may not fully understand the processes involved with this penalty. There is one way that a person might lose driving privileges after being arrested for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that is called the statutory summary suspension. 

As explained by Cyberdrive Illinois, if you were to be charged with a DUI offense, you might experience both administrative and criminal penalties. The loss of the right to drive is one form of administrative penalty. By a statutory summary suspension, you would be required to be notified of this loss of privilege and then 46 days after being notified, your license suspension may begin. In some situations, your license may actually be revoked instead of suspended.

Defendant's mental competency questioned

Many Illinois residents know that there are conditions or factors that may impact a person's ability to process information correctly or to make appropriate decisions. This might happen due to a substance addiction but it may also be due to the fact that a person's natural mental state is somehow compromised. Mental illness is a serious problem for many people facing criminal charges and just how or when it is considered during the course of a defense might make a big impact in the outcome of a case and of a person's life.

The Belleville News-Democrat recently reported on the story of a man who has already once been found to be mentally incompetent in a criminal case and may be found so in yet another case. The first case took place last summer when the defendant is said to have called a local Illinois police department and made remarks that were racially disparaging. While he pled guilty, the report indicates he was deemed not mentally fit. It is not known whether or not he served any time for the charges against him.

What is the one-leg stand test?

If you have ever wondered exactly what happens when a law enforcement officer asks a driver to take a field sobriety test in Illinois, you are not alone. Most people know that these tests in some form attempt to evaluate a person's balance or other functions but may not fully understand exactly what these tests can determine and how they must be administered.

According to FieldSobrietyTests.org, one of the tests approved for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is called the one-leg stand test. As the name implies a person is asked to stand on one leg but that is not the only instruction that must be followed in order to pass this test. The leg that you must raise should be held a certain height off the ground and is not allowed to be put down even for a brief second until the officer tells you that it is appropriate to do so.

Avoid these first-time homebuyer mistakes

If you live in Illinois and are thinking about purchasing your first home, you probably have lots to consider. Maybe your primary objective is to find a home in a neighborhood with great schools, or maybe your biggest goal is to shorten your commute. Regardless of your reasoning for starting the house hunt, knowing what to expect – and what to avoid – can streamline the process and save you some serious money. At Mockaitis Law, we recognize that many first-time homebuyers make similar errors, and we have helped many people navigate Illinois’ housing market and find solutions that meet their needs.

Per CNN Money, one common first-time homebuyer mistake you can easily avoid is to wait on the mortgage preapproval process. While a mortgage preapproval does not automatically mean you will get a loan, it should give you a realistic idea of what type of budget you are working with, which can help steer your home search in the right direction.

Who needs to use an ignition interlock device?

If you have been arrested for and charged with suspected driving under the influence in Illinois, you will not doubt want to learn as much as you can about the defense process as well as what penalties you may experience if you are ultimately convicted of a DUI offense. One of the things that many people in your position are concerned about is maintaining their ability to drive. Certainly this can affect many things in your life especially if you rely on your vehicle to get you to and from work or school.

As explained by Cyberdrive Illinois, a division of the Office of Illinois Secretary of State, you may be required to install and use a breath alcohol ignition interlock device even if a DUI conviction is your first ever. However, if you are willing to forgo the ability to drive during the period of your license suspension, you do not need to install a BAIID.

Do you have a disabled loved one who needs a guardian?

When an Illinois family member needs constant care and support, it may be necessary for you to step in and protect his or her interests. One way that you can do this is by establishing a legal guardianship. A guardian would have the responsibility of meeting certain needs and making decisions on behalf of a loved one.

There are cases in which it is necessary to set up a guardianship for the care of a minor, but this is not the only reason why your family could benefit from this type of legal protection. Elderly and disabled individuals who may lack the physical or mental capacity to care for themselves may need a guardian at some point.

What happens if you don't pay your parking ticket?

In Illinois, when you get a parking ticket, you're expected to pay it within a certain amount of time. It can be a pain to deal with, especially when you weren't counting on additional expenses. But more importantly, it can have a serious effect on you if you don't pay it off.

The City of Chicago's official site points out that there are penalties for not paying off your parking ticket on time. Though the collection rates can differ from city to city, a typical rule of thumb is that a ticket's cost will go up every time you miss the deadline. In Chicago, the ticket price will double. This can be a huge detriment to some people when most parking tickets already start off at $75 for the base offense. Additionally, the city you live in may impose a collection fee if you continue missing your payment due dates. This fee can run up to 22 percent.

Basics of the field sobriety tests

You may have wondered what really happens when a person who has been pulled over by police is suspected of drunk driving. One of the things officers generally do is request that the driver complete certain tasks. Known as field sobriety tests, these tasks are part of a standard drunk driving investigation. 

FieldSobrietyTests.org indicates that there are three such tests standardized for use by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The goal of the tests is to provide support for arresting a person, not to conclusively prove that they are actually drunk. The test with the highest accuracy rate, which is still only 77 percent, measures an involuntary jerking of a person's eyeball. The remaining two tests each evaluate a person's ability to process more than one action at a time.

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Mockaitis Law
123 W Washington Street, Suite 102
Oswego, IL 60543

Phone: 331-642-1515
Fax: 630-427-4947
Fax: 331-216-5920
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Our office is accessible via the store front on Washington Street.