Criminal Defense Law
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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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.
Drinking and driving do not mix. This implies that if you’ve been drinking, refrain from driving. Drunken driving can result in injuries and loss of lives – yours and/or others. Why would anyone want to drive under influence and end up smashing their own car or damaging someone else’s property?
The worst thing about drunken driving is that it can lead to you getting arrested, losing your license, paying hefty fines and insurance amounts, and generally lose the kind of life you’ve been living all along.
However, you need not necessarily have to be drunk and drive to get arrested/found guilty of drunk driving in Joliet. In fact, any person with any amount of alcohol in their blood stream can be charged with DUI and be held responsible for an accident which may take place, irrespective of who was actually at fault.
So if you’re under the impression that because you drink and drive responsibly, you’re safe from the drunk-driving charge and its consequences, you’ve got something else coming at you.
In this post, we look at a few measures you can take to avoid a DUI arrest.
Adherence to Traffic Norms
A police officer needs probable cause (or a valid reason to stop your vehicle) to be able to take action against you. Don’t make his job easy by committing traffic violations. It is always a good idea of refrain from driving a vehicle with an expired plate, defunct brake lights/turn indicators/head lights.
When you get into your car, make sure you fasten your seat belt as many states have made wearing seat belts when driving mandatory, failing which an officer is liable to stop your vehicle.
Adhering to speed limits, keeping off your cell phone, turning down the radio, showing indicators and making complete stops will do you good. The less the distractions, the better you will drive.
One of the first things that the officer will look for as evidence against you will be the stench of alcohol on your breath. Do remember that you’ll be dealing with a trained law enforcer here, so merely chewing gum will not mask the stench. You need to be smart about this.
Before you even get into your car, eat something, chew gum, gargle with mouthwash, re-apply your cologne/perfume, or (as a last resort) light up a cigarette. These may work in camouflaging the smell of alcohol originating from your breath.
Keep the windows of the vehicle open to get some fresh air in, and for the alcohol stench to escape.
Keep Alcohol Away
If you get pulled over on a suspicion of DUI and get caught with alcohol in your possession, you could be heading for big trouble. Do not ever make the mistake of transporting alcohol in your car after you’ve been drinking.
If you do have anything stashed up in your vehicle after a night of partying, make sure you discard the liquor bottles/containers from your vehicle, else it may get difficult to convince the court that you were sober when the prosecutor presents pictures of an open beer bottle resting in your car’s cup holder.
Do Not Tell the Officer You’ve Been Drinking
When asked whether you’ve been drinking, use your right to remain silent. A lack of response to the officer’s questions cannot be held against you, so says the Fifth Amendment.
Becoming unresponsive to his questions will prevent the possibility of you having to lie to him, which can be held against you. So make sure you do not lie.
And while this sort of behavior may make you look suspicious, know that you don’t have to provide any answers before consulting your DUI lawyer in Joliet.
Skip the Sobriety and the Breathalyzer Tests
Even if the officer does not smell alcohol on your breath, he may say that he does (he’s allowed to lie to you). He may then ask you perform certain field sobriety tests, which differ from state to state. Remember, you are not under arrest and are not required to perform any of these tests. In fact, performing them might lead to you giving more ammunition in the hands of the officer, which means more trouble for you!
Additionally, say no to perform the portable breath test as well. The officer may say that he will let you go if you pass the test, but do not fall for that. Politely decline to submit to it. While several states now allow officers to carry portable breath units on them, they are undecided upon whether the results can be used as evidence.
In some jurisdictions, a refusal to submit to field sobriety tests may result in the suspension of your driver’s license. If you’ve really had too much to drink and are likely to fail the test, do not submit to them and settle for the license suspension in order to decrease the probability of a successful prosecution in the court.
On the other hand, if you know that you’ve not/barely had anything to drink, you could take the field sobriety tests as there is a high probability that you will pass them.
If the officer places you under arrest and takes you in custody, try and stay calm and be quiet. While you may be panicking inside, refrain from letting it show, especially in violent ways. Focus on regaining your composure and remember not to utter a word.
The officer may start talking to you in a friendly tone to get you to admit to drinking. Again, do not fall for that. Simply respond by saying that you would rather not speak until your attorney is present.
Hire a DUI Defense Attorney
Engage the services of a qualified and an experienced DUI attorney without wasting any more time. Be aware of the fact that regardless of how weak the evidence against you is, the prosecution will seek a conviction against you.
You may not be able to defend yourself as well as an experienced attorney, who will study your case minutely and find technical defenses on your behalf.
Apart from that he will also be able to guide you with the paperwork involved as well as protect many of your procedural rights. A good lawyer comes at a price, but the costs associated with a conviction on your record for a lifetime are significantly higher. So decide well!
To avoid a DUI arrest, it is always best to not drink and not drive. However, if you do find yourself behind the wheel after a couple of drinks and are stopped by a police officer, you will have to be smart in dealing with the situation to avoid an arrest. The above points should keep you from getting in trouble until you can get in touch with an attorney.