St. Charles child abuse defense attorneyAs a parent, one of the worst things you can face is an accusation of shaking your baby or other forms of child abuse. When you are accused of this type of offense, a lot is on the line, including substantial and possibly permanent changes to your parenting plan, potentially losing your parental rights to your child, and criminal penalties if you are convicted of child abuse. When you are facing this kind of accusation, it is best to be proactive and start working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to clear your name and ensure that you can keep your relationship with your child.

Get Legal Representation as Soon as Possible

Do not discuss the case with anybody without first securing legal representation, and do not take any legal action without working with your lawyer. Working with the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) can be complicated, so it is best to enlist an experienced lawyer to help you navigate its system.

Comply With All Court Orders

To protect your child, the court may temporarily remove him or her from your care. If this happens, follow the court’s orders. It can be painful and feel unfair to have your child removed based on an accusation, but refusing to cooperate with the court will only hurt your case.

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Illinois manslaughter defense lawyerWhen a victim dies because of another person’s actions, the law considers this to be a homicide. It does not matter whether the individual who caused the death intended for a death to occur – he or she can be charged with homicide, as long as his or her actions were not justified. Whether a person is charged with manslaughter or murder depends on the circumstances surrounding the death, including whether the death was the result of an intentional act.

Manslaughter and murder are both serious charges that carry steep penalties for convicted individuals. There are different penalties for these different convictions, and in certain cases, it could be possible to strike a plea bargain, lowering a murder charge to a manslaughter charge and drastically reducing the potential penalties.

What Constitutes Murder?

Murder is defined as the act of intentionally killing another human being without lawful justification (such as self-defense). To find a defendant guilty of first degree murder in Illinois, the court must prove that at least one of the following was true when the victim’s death occurred:

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Geneva shoplifting defense attorneyShoplifting, the act of stealing from a retailer, is also known as retail theft. Like many other offenses, shoplifting is a serious criminal charge. Although the penalties for a shoplifting conviction are often not as steep as they are for other theft convictions, it is always worth your time to fight a shoplifting charge, because being convicted of shoplifting will subject you to certain civil and criminal penalties. In addition, a conviction on your criminal record can impact the potential penalties for any future charges that you may face. 

If you are facing a shoplifting charge, you should start working on your legal defense strategy with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The defense strategy you create will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. Below are a few potential strategies you may be able to use when you are facing a shoplifting charge:

It Was an Innocent Mistake

People make mistakes. You might accidentally walk out of a store without paying for an item because you were distracted or because the item was nestled among other items you paid for. Your defense strategy could involve demonstrating that you did not intentionally take an item without paying for it, or at least showing that there is not enough evidence to show you intentionally stole the item.

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St. Charles retail theft defense lawyerYou might think that only law enforcement has the right to detain individuals suspected of criminal acts. This is actually untrue. Shopkeeper’s privilege is a store owner’s legal right to detain you for a reasonable amount of time, question you, and call law enforcement to potentially make an arrest if he or she suspects that you have committed a criminal offense, such as shoplifting, in the store. 

Although a store owner or employee may detain and question you in this situation, they do not have the same authority as law enforcement. When you are held for longer than is appropriate for the situation, you may have grounds for a false imprisonment claim against the store owner.

When Can a Shopkeeper or Security Guard Detain Me?

You may only be legally detained in a store when the following circumstances occur:

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Naperville wrongful imprisonment attorneyThe criminal justice system in the United States is not perfect. Even with competent criminal defense counsel, innocent individuals are sometimes wrongfully convicted of crimes and sentenced to lengthy prison sentences. The 2015 Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer brought this issue to many viewers’ attention.

When DNA testing became sophisticated enough to use in criminal investigations, it became an important tool used to prove the innocence of many convicted individuals. Since the first DNA exoneration in 1989, 321 people in the United States have been exonerated based on DNA evidence. In total, 1,467 people have been exonerated in the United States.

How Are Innocent Individuals Exonerated?

As discussed above, DNA evidence from a crime scene can be used to prove that the individual convicted of the crime is innocent. When new evidence or other facts related to a case arise, the case may be re-tried. Throwing out certain evidence, using newly discovered evidence, and working with new details – like a truthful testimony after determining a witness in the first trial lied or the realization that a defendant made a false confession– can change how the court rules on a case, ultimately finding the defendant innocent.

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