The Tomczak Law Group - Blog
When you have been charged with driving under the influence in Illinois, you will need a lawyer who has extensive experience handling cases that involve impaired driving charges. While any lawyer can represent your interests in court, a legal counsel who has years of experience successfully representing clients (and a track record of plea bargaining) with DUI cases is your best chance of a reduced sentence and more lenient restrictions.
Selecting an attorney to represent your DUI case is similar to conducting an interview. Remember that your legal counsel works for you, the client. As such it is important to spend a reasonable amount of time meeting with and interviewing different attorney’s and firms to determine who will connect with you best, and represent your interests most effectively. If you are paying out of pocket for your own defense (and not using court appointed free counsel) you have the right to choose.
Finding a Local Attorney
If you are incarcerated, you are permitted access to resources that can help you arrange for legal counsel. If you are given access to a computer and the internet, you can easily look up law firms in your local area and call them. Alternatively if you are not provided with this access, call a family member to assist by contacting 2-3 DUI specialty attorney’s and schedule interview appointments. Be prepared to ask questions that will help narrow your choice down to find the best attorney for your case, and one you feel comfortable working with.
Interviewing Legal Counsel
It is expected that any lawyer who is interested in taking your case will be happy to share information on their case history and performance. After all, the whole point of seeking private representation is to increase your chances of plea bargaining your case before the court. You need a lawyer who has a good track record, and familiarity with your circumstances.
Be prepared to ask a number of questions to help qualify your selection of a DUI lawyer.
a) What is your hourly rate?
While it may seem awkward to ask the question, the cost of some counsel can exceed what you may have in terms of means. Do you have savings or other financial resources (including family members) who can contribute to the cost of your defense? Determine what your level of affordability is and ask for an estimate of the cost for your defense.
Remember that an estimate is based on an hourly rate, and the required work on your case is difficult to predict, but a good lawyer will be able to give you an average or “ball park” figure to help you make a decision that fits your budget. That figure should also include the cost of file review, evidence collection and the cost of investigators which may be used by your attorney to assist in building your case.
b) How many impaired driving cases have you taken to trial?
A lawyer can have extensive experience preparing impaired drivers defenses as part of a legal team, without ever having stepped foot in court. If your DUI charge includes a felony offense (involuntary manslaughter or reckless endangerment charges) or if they involve a loss of life or personal injury, you need a lawyer who is confident with presenting cases in court. It is also okay to ask for information regarding the number of cases they have won or successfully plea bargained. It will help give you an idea about their ability to create a strategic defense that will work in court.
c) Do you have malpractice insurance?
The question may seem awkward but it protects both your attorney and your own personal interests. All lawyers should carry valid malpractice insurance. Ask to see evidence of a policy to validate it. In the event that a lawyer does not have legal malpractice insurance, the client can be held responsible for damages in a negligence or malpractice suit. It is for the mutual protection of attorney and client that you should insist on seeing evidence of malpractice insurance.
d) Have you ever been disciplined by the Bar Association?
Would you like a lawyer who has a track record of “getting it wrong” when it comes to the defense of his or her clients? Complaints and discipline handed down by the Bar Association is an indicant of both the ethics and the professionalism of your attorney. For your DUI defense, you want a lawyer who knows the rules, not one that has a bad reputation within the Illinois court system. While there should be no bias, it can impact the successful plea bargaining in your case.
If the driving under the influence charge appears to fall in the category of a felony offense, you can face more than a suspension of your license and fines; you can face a lengthy prison sentence. Take your time and due diligence in selecting the best DUI lawyer in Will County for your case.
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There are two sides to every story unless it is a criminal case; then there are three sides of the story. There is the victim’s story, there is the story of the accused and the story that is most plausible to the court and jury. When it comes to criminal defense, presenting all sides of the story in an accurate way means the difference between compassionate sentencing and possibly an acquittal.
From the point of view of an accused person, an arrest and accusations are very stressful and upsetting. If it is your first time experiencing an arrest, it can be difficult to know what to do next. The emotions are conflicting, and so is a sense of panic and uncertainty.
Your story is important, and your reason and the background information that precipitated the event are all evidence that can support a quality defense with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Talk to Your Lawyer First
In the United States of America when you are arrested and accused of crime there are laws that protect your rights as the accused. The laws are in place to prevent the manipulation of evidence, and bias from external parties that may skew the real evidence and the true story of what happened in the incident. The justice system protects the rights of the victims and also the accused to ensure that true justice is served.
The first law that protects your right as an accused after being remanded to the custody of the police are the Miranda Rights. One of the rights outlined by Miranda is that you have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Whether that questioning occurs at the scene, in the back of a police car, at a police station or in a jail cell, you have the right to remain silent until you have spoken with a legal representative. Often times accused individuals do not realize that they have the option to not speak, and to prevent incriminating themselves by what they say to the authorities before they have had an opportunity to consult with the legal representative.
Before you say anything, comment on anything, or answer any questions or provide consent for testing, or search of the vehicle or your premises and personal belongings speak with your criminal defense lawyer will county. It is your right. And remember it is also your right to be provided with free legal representation should you be unable to afford one.
Handling While Incarcerated
Did you know that when you are incarcerated, as an American citizen you have Eight Amendment Rights in the U.S. Constitution which guarantees that all prisoners must be free from cruel and unusual punishment? The definition of cruel and unusual punishment can include violence, sexual interference, forced nudity for the purpose of humiliation, being denied adequate sleep and accommodations that are reasonable, including bathroom facilities. Being declined food and water which is deemed to be safe to eat and drink is also violation of your constitutional rights.
If the authorities deem the accused crime to be heinous, there is a potential for police assault and mishandling of incarcerated parties. Your criminal defense lawyer can immediately begin to address any issues regarding your accommodation, and treatment by incarcerating officials.
How Long an Accused Can Be Held?
While in some states there is a limit to how long someone can be held without a formal charge, in the state of Illinois there is no precise limits on the amount of time that someone may be held in custody before being charged. The court system in Illinois uses the “totality of the circumstances” evaluation to determine if an individual has been held longer than required or for a greater duration than what is deemed reasonable by the court. The rules for juvenile delinquents however are different and vary on a case-by-case basis.
The calculation for “totality of the circumstances” includes a review of the total length of time the accused has been held, how often the Miranda rights have been read (to remind them of their rights) and the conditions of the accommodation being provided to the prisoner. If the individual has been held for an extended period of time much of the evidence collected from interviewing the accused during their time of incarceration may become inadmissible in court. This protects the accused from being coerced into providing false evidence or admissions on the promise of being released from incarceration, or as a result of pressure applied during forced incarceration.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer quickly becomes an advocate on behalf of his client to ensure that treatment while incarcerated is within the accused rights. Not only can a criminal defense lawyer help improve your conditions during your period of incarceration, but they can advise you on your best defense strategy and begin building an efficient defense, and help prepare you for your court date.
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There is a lot of social stigma when it comes to being charged on a DUI offense. The first thought is that someone has deliberately got behind the wheel of the car when they knew they were drunk or impaired on a chemical substance. As lawyers with decades of experience handling DUI charges we know that that is not always the case. The instances where someone made a bad judgment on their own personal level of impairment are frequent. In other words, when you’re impaired you don’t make the best decisions. And with the majority of DUI charges it really is that simple. A bad decision made by someone who was impaired, that ended up with bad consequences.
In other cases there may be some significant reasons why someone has been charged with DUI on a number of occasions. Again the assumption is that it is a malicious act; someone fully intending to be irresponsible and put their lives and the lives of others at risk. When in actuality there are many factors including addiction that make the circumstance not quite so black-and-white. Other health conditions can also make becoming impaired easier, including specific medications and even anxiety and mood disorders.
No matter what the reason there are significant consequences for driving while impaired. The state of Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to driving while impaired, no matter what the chemical substances, which can include illicit drugs like marijuana, and even prescription medications. A DUI conviction is life altering.
Lack of Transportation
Did you know that even first-time convictions come with the mandatory driver’s license suspension in the state of Illinois? Drivers found guilty of the first offense can face anywhere from six months to one year of license suspension. While there are provisions after 31 days is served of a driver’s license suspension which enable a driver to request a Monitoring Device Driving Permit (MDDP), individuals who are charged with repeated offenses do not qualify for an MDDP.
The length of time for driver suspension for second and subsequent offenses can range anywhere from three years and longer. Convicted drivers are also required to carry three years of high risk insurance for their automobile once their license is reinstated, at a tremendous personal expense.
Limitations to Employment Opportunities
Are you a delivery driver, taxi driver, school bus driver or in an occupation that requires you to operate a motor vehicle? If so being successfully convicted of a DUI ensures that you will not be able to operate a commercial vehicle for the duration of your license suspension. What that means for people employed in transportation sectors is that you will either have to be transferred to another role or leave your job.
There are no exceptions to this rule when a driver has been accused of DUI. Even after reinstatement of a suspended license, given the increased insurance liability of a convicted driver, many businesses will not hire or rehire a driver who has been convicted of DUI. Driving under the influence is truly a career limiting conviction.
Certain types of occupations require a clean criminal record abstract. Whether you are working as a doctor or nurse, with children as a teacher or daycare provider, or in another caregiving or administrative role such as a government job. If you’ve been successfully convicted of a DUI and there were extenuating factors such as involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, or other felony charges due to loss of life or personal injury, you will have a criminal record.
In addition to complicating your career, a criminal record can also make it difficult or impossible to visit other countries in the world. Every time you use your passport, the fact that you did have a felony conviction will appear on your public record. This can complicate everything from finding a new job, to travel, to being bondable in certain career positions and other factors.
Time in Prison
You don’t have to be a fan of the television show “Orange is the New Black” to know that serving time in prison is anything but easy. Whether you are serving a year, three years or more depending on the nature of conviction, going to prison is completely disrupting to your career, your social life, and your personal freedom. Any driving while impaired charge that involves a loss of life can land you in prison, and if it is a second offense the sentence may surprise you. With impaired driving responsible for sentences of three years to seven years or more.
A DUI attorney in Joliet, Illinois can help you evaluate the extenuating circumstances of your DUI charge, and look for evidence that may help the plea-bargain to a lower amount of time in prison, or shortened length of time with the driver suspension. With so much to lose and given the severity of legal consequences for DUI is important to have experienced representation to provide the best defense possible, and to help you get back to your normal life more quickly after sentencing.
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A large number of people harbor the notion that criminal behavior and substance abuse are interrelated, and that those who commit crimes such as theft and burglary, do so to procure money to buy drugs.
This often-lethal combination has ruined the lives of entire families. Preventing this and/or dealing with this can be challenging, but not impossible, especially once you understand how the two are related.
According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, “The connection between alcohol, drugs and crime is clear. And, so is the connection between alcohol and drug addiction and crime.”
Criminal acts resulting from substance abuse include activities like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, violence, robbery, assault, rape and prostitution. Manufacturing and possessing illegal drugs (such as methamphetamine or cannabis) with the intent of distributing them, and using such drugs are also punishable by the law.
Too many people end up in prison, wasting their lives because of committing crimes related to substance abuse. In order to curb such crimes, we need to understand the connection between substance abuse and crime.
The relationship between the two, however, is a complex one. Two questions that immediately spring up here are:
- Is it the drugs and alcohol that lead to crime or is it the other way round?
- Are people who do not use drugs and alcohol not capable of committing crimes such as theft or assault?
It would be unfair to say that all drug and alcohol users are addicts. Most of them tend to grow out of it rather than get hooked on to them. There are, however, a number of people who do indulge in the overuse of these substances and commit crimes, thereby creating a link between the two.
One of the main reasons for this could be that by abusing substances, the user develops a decreased perception of social support and a smaller social network. There are several other sociological factors such as family, employment, lifestyle, marital status and mental health at play as well. Examining these factors is important to understand why people turn to drugs or alcohol and engage in criminal activities.
Reasons for Substance Abuse
The use and abuse of substances such as drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, typically, tends to begin in the pre-adolescent and the teenage years. Some people may be more prone to addiction to these substances than others.
Some of the main causes of substance abuse, particularly among the youth, include:
Curiosity can be extremely dangerous as far as experimenting with drugs and alcohol is concerned. Several teens are given a higher degree of freedom than they did as children. They may take undue advantage of this and dabble in drugs and alcohol to experience what it is like to get “high,” and ultimately end up getting addicted.
2. Family History
Children with a family history of substance abuse tend to follow in the same steps because that’s what they learn to consider normal. They often tend to imitate their parents and end up getting abusing substances in the process. This does not apply to all the kids with such a family history. Some children do the opposite and avoid substances like a plague in order to not end up like their parents.
3. Peer Pressure
Peer pressure and insecurity can get the better of teens, which may lead them to use drugs and alcohol. Some have a tough time saying “no” as they believe it could lead to distressing consequences such as being laughed at, teased, humiliated, ostracized, and bullied.
Sometimes boredom can lead to teens downing a beer or two when with friends or alone, eventually leading to a full-fledged addiction. This is more likely to happen in homes where alcohol is easily accessible.
Teenagers who grapple with emotional issues are highly vulnerable to substance abuse. They use substances to make themselves feel better by consuming substances that will numb/ease their pain, even if it is temporary. This is also applicable to teens struggling with low self-esteem.
Consequences of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse has no positive effect, but it does have a host of adverse effects.
• Physical Health
Driving under the influence of substances can result in accidents, physical disabilities and diseases. Youth who indulge in such behavior are at a higher risk of death through accident, homicide, suicide, and illnesses.
Further, youth who abuse substances also tend to participate in sexual activity at an early age, which can lead to unprotected sex with multiple partners. This increases the risk of contracting (and passing on) the HIV virus, which causes AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Apart from that, it is also responsible for damage to the liver, the brain, the heart, and the reproductive system, among other organs.
• Mental Health
Aside from ruining the cognitive development, substance abuse also gives rise to other mental health issues such as depression, behavioral problems, personality disorders, developmental delays, social withdrawal, thoughts of and attempts at suicide, and other psychosocial problems.
Overuse of drugs such as marijuana can lead to short-term memory loss, poor learning and psychomotor skills. It can also stall the emotional development.
• Social Issues
The families of youth who abuse substance are more likely to find themselves in family crisis, which may result in family dysfunction. Substance abuse can drain a family of their financial and emotional resources. This can, in turn, give rise to alcohol and drug-related crime.
• Legal Consequences
The legal implications of substance abuse can vary from state to state. The penalties include spending a lifetime (or several years) in jail and/or hefty fines. Other implications include the establishment of a criminal record and confiscation or non-issuance of the driver’s license.
Having a criminal record can brand the substance abuser a criminal and can ruin his career as no employer would want to hire a criminal. This can also take a toll on his personal life and bar him from entering several countries.
If you or your family member has been charged with criminal activities, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney from your area at the earliest. If you’re a resident of Joliet, for instance, get in touch with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Joliet, who can help you fend off those charges.
One of the best ways to deal with and curb incidents of substance abuse-related crime is to understand how these factors influence each other. As complex as this may be, doing so is important. While a lawyer can be your best ally if you’ve been charged with such a crime, it is also important to keep the bigger picture in mind and figure how you can prevent it. The above tips should give you an insight on how both these factors are associated.