Victories - Part 2

Case:13 CR 218XX – Armed Habitual Criminal
Case Conclusion Date: February 22, 2016
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

Our client’s charge of Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon by a felon was upgraded to a charge of Armed Habitual Criminal based on his extensive criminal background. This is a Class X felony punishable from 6-30 years in prison and he would have to serve 85% of his time if convicted. There was no other option than to set the matter for trial.

This case centers around a firearm found in an area where the police stated they saw my client "crouching while walking" in the backyard of a house that did not belong to him. At trial the police testified credibly that they never saw my client with a firearm and no mention of a firearm was relayed by the police dispatch. Thus, there was clearly no actual possession by my client. The issue then became whether or not my client had constructive possession of the firearm recovered.

The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (1) knew a firearm was present and (2) that he exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area where the firearm was found. As the court stated in People v. Sams, mere presence in the vicinity or access to the area in which contraband is found is insufficient to establish constructive possession.

The judge granted my motion for directed finding at the conclusion of the State's case and my client was found not guilty.

Case:15 OP 773XX – Order of Protection
Case Conclusion Date: February 8, 2016
Practice Area: Criminal Defense/Civil OP
Outcome: Order of Protection Denied

Another denial of an Order of Protection. The Respondent, my client, was the landlord of an apartment building where the Petitioner, his step-niece, resided with her mother. She claimed in her Petition for an Order of Protection that he threatened her life, her mother’s life and constantly yelled at her in the hallway. The police were called out to the scene a few times over the previous few months and my client was never arrested. Because an Order of Protection would appear on my client’s criminal background, if entered against him, we set the matter for a hearing. The Petitioner and her mother both testified about the threats and the yelling and additionally made allegations that he exposed himself to them and made vulgar suggestive remarks. None of those allegations appeared in the Petition itself. After I pointed that out, the judge found it incredulous that of all the accusations made against my client, the Petitioner “forgot” to mention the alleged exposure in her Petition. Order of Protection DENIED.

Case:09 CR 12578XX – UUW/Gun Charge VACATED
Case Conclusion Date: January 14, 2016
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Conviction Vacated

Another felony gun conviction vacated! Initially we were contacted by the client’s sister because the defendant, my client, was facing a violation of probation for non-reporting. I inquired as to what the original charge was and learned it was for Unlawful Use of Weapon. This immediately triggered my radar due to the recent decision in People of the State of Illinois v. Aguilar. The Aguilar decision in 2013 held that the UUW statute that was in place at the time of his conviction was unconstitutional. My client was actually offered a year in prison on the violation in exchange for a plea of guilty. As he already had a few months under his belt in jail, he was seriously considering taking the deal. I advised him to reject that offer as I was almost certain I could vacate his original conviction for UUW and completely clear his criminal background. Luckily he put his trust in me and today the order was entered vacating that conviction and he now has NO criminal history.

Case:15 CR 15296XX – UUW/Gun Charge VACATED
Case Conclusion Date: January 13, 2016
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Conviction Vacated

43 year old client contacted me regarding his 2001 conviction for Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon, which is a felony. He wanted to know what could be done about this as it was affecting his ability to obtain employment. Luckily for him we specialize in gun charges and are very aware of the recent decision in People of the State of Illinois v. Aguilar. The Aguilar decision in 2013 held that the UUW statute that was in place at the time of his conviction was unconstitutional. As a result, anyone convicted under 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A), is eligible to have his or her conviction vacated. That is exactly the result obtained today for my client. He now has no criminal background and start his life over again.

Case:14CR109XX – Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver
Case Conclusion Date: December 9, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

A college student was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The US Postal Inspector intercepted two boxes from California containing almost 6000 grams of Xanax. These boxes were clearly labeled with my client's name and address. The defendant was facing a Class 3 felony which, if convicted, would subject him to prison time from two to five years and certainly ruin any chances of him obtaining gainful employment. The Postal Inspector and a Chicago Police Detective brought the boxes to my client's apartment complex. As my client entered the complex, he was asked his name, taken into custody, and the boxes were opened and the Xanax was discovered.

The State's Attorney made my client a very fair offer of expungeable probation ( 410 probation). I conveyed the offer and advised him not to accept it. The basis of our defense was that my client never had possession of the boxes. The State's Attorney, to obtain a guilty verdict, would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client had either actual or constructive possession of the boxes. Clearly he did not have actual possession as he never touched the boxes. In order to prove constructive possession, the State must prove (1) that the defendant had knowledge of the presence of the pills and (2) that he exercised immediate and exclusive control over the area where the pills were recovered. Control is established when a person has the intent and ability to maintain control over an item even if he lacks personal present control. That is not possible in the vestibule of a multi-unit apartment building. The judge agreed with the defense and found my client NOT GUILTY!

Case:Possession of Controlled Substance - Preliminary Hearing
Case Conclusion Date: November 24, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Finding of No Probable Cause

I generally don't post about preliminary hearing "wins", but in this case, we had a great set of facts. My client was charged with possession of a controlled substance. The police had a tip that someone who had a car matching the description of my client's car was selling drugs in the neighborhood. The police approached for a field interview and when my client started to put items in his pocket, they moved him to the trunk of his car. He then started to remove items from his pocket, one of which was a clear plastic bag with suspect heroin in it. The police told him to freeze and at that point, my client decided to run. He was chased but the police officer testified that he lost sight of my client and after he was apprehended, they found a clear plastic bag with heroin in it on the top of a garage roof. I questioned the officer about the chase and made a point about him losing sight of my client. The officer also testified that he did not see my client throw the bag onto the garage roof. After I rested, the judge asked for argument, which is rare. I argued that not only did the officer lose sight of my client, and did not see my client throw the bag onto the roof, but that the bag had no identifying markings on it and he could not possibly be sure that it was in fact the same bag that he saw my client with earlier. The judge acknowledged that my client did have the bag while at the car but that the officer could in no way know that it was in fact the same bag found on the garage roof. Finding of no probable cause!

Case:15DV754XX Domestic Battery
Case Conclusion Date: November 24, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

Stepfather was charged with domestic battery against his 16 year old stepson. The Cook County State’s Attorney alleged that he twice choked his stepson while his 13 year old cousin witnessed the incidents. The State's Attorney put on three witnesses to support this theory and had photographs of the injuries for further support. After all three witnesses testified, I put on my client to explain to the judge that the stepson hit my client's daughter and she called him to come home. This is the not first time this has occurred. My client admittedly sent angry emails and texts to his wife, the mother of his stepson, that she better come home ASAP and that he wanted the kid out of his house! I used those to our advantage and after the bench trial, the judge completely agreed with our side and found the defendant not guilty. He completely understood why my client was angry and did not believe the stepson was ever choked. Even the photographs showed no injuries.

Case: 14CR66XX Theft
Case Conclusion Date: October 19, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

Using the “How stupid would my client have to have been to have committed this crime” defense, here are the facts: client worked for a local pawn shop for over 10 years. Client was paid in cash and/or goods for his services, never given a paycheck. Client understands the pawn/jewelry business and knows that when goods are sold or pawned, a photo ID is produced and recorded with the Chicago Police Department and with the LEADS Online investigation system. The LEADS system is used to determine if sold or pawned items are reported stolen. All jewelers and pawn shops are required to use this system in their everyday transactions.

My client was owed money by the pawn shop he worked for and in exchange for what was owed, he was given two Rolex watches, which is subsequently sold at two different jewelers in the city. These were jewelers that he had done business with in the past and the employees there knew him by name. And, as required, he gave them his identification and signed the sales receipts.

His employer, for whatever reason, accused him of stealing these Rolexes and selling them at these two jewelry stores. The client was charged with two counts of theft. He was offered various types of probation and restitution in the amount of $10,000.00. As my client did not commit any crimes, he rejected the offers and demanded a trial. At trial, all evidence was presented, including the fact that the jewelers knew him, he did not appear nervous during the transactions and he presented his driver’s license. I argued, among other things, “my client would have to be incredibly stupid, knowing how the jewelry business functions, to have committed this crime, especially with jewelry establishments that know him by name!” Generally, arguing stupidity is not exactly a valid defense but the judge, in his ruling of NOT GUILTY, specifically stated that the defendant would have had to have been infinitely stupid to have committed this crime and did not believe that was possible in this instance.

Case: 15OP756XX
Case Conclusion Date: October 15, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Order of Protection DENIED

Unbelievable this matter went this far. The disgruntled ex-husband of my client filed an Order of Protection, for apparently violating provisions of their divorce decree. A divorce decree out of Arizona no less that had not be registeredin the State of Illinois. Regardless, the appropriate venue would have been the Domestic Relations Division which handles post-divorce decree issues, such as a violation. After being set for hearing, and the Petitioner having testified, the Order of Protection was denied outright. And my client did not even have to testify.

Case: 15-2143XX
Case Conclusion Date: October 14, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

My client was charged with battery due to an alleged sprained wrist of the victim. The victim claimed that the defendant, after a verbal altercation at work, grabbed her by the wrist and twisted it in anger. Now, my client is the director at an institution and a conviction for battery would result in her termination, so even though the State’s Attorney offered my client court supervision, it would still have the same effect, and we set the matter for trial. What actually occurred was that the “victim” entered my client’s office, already confrontational, and started yelling at her. Not wanting to have the entire facility involved in their conversation, my client attempted to close her office door and brushed the victim’s hand away from the door jamb so she wouldn’t be hurt. After a bench trial my client was found not guilty.

Case: 15OP751XX
Case Conclusion Date: Sep 29, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Order of Protection DENIED

The client was a local university student with no prior criminal history and a straight A student. He ended up as the respondent in a Petition for an Order of Protection filed by his disgruntled ex-girlfriend. Allegedly he grabbed her by the coat collar and pulled her out of his dorm room. This incident took place 7 months prior to the date of filing in a different country. After a hearing, the judge determined that an Order of Protection, which would hurt my client's chances of future employment, was not warranted and the Petition was denied.

Case: 15OP773XX
Case Conclusion Date: July 22, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Order of Protection DENIED

My client’s wife, the Petitioner, filed an Emergency Order of Protection against him for allegedly shoving and hitting her on two different occasions. As I instruct all of my clients, he remained calm and mild-mannered throughout the hearing, the same could not be said for the Petitioner. I was able to cross-examine and unnerve her to the point that her demeanor was detrimental to her case. Additionally, she never contacted the police to file charges against my client for battery. In once instance, she alleged that my client tried to prevent her from driving away from the residence with their 10 month old disabled daughter by jumping in the car, putting it in park and taking the keys out of the ignition. This turned out to be true and luckily we had a photo of his daughter improperly restrained in the carseat with the seat belt across her face and not properly buckled. The Judge heard all of the testimony and was able to observe the demeanor of both my client and his wife and DENIED her Order of Protection.

Case: 14-2428XX
Case Conclusion Date: July 8, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

The Defendant, who had no prior criminal record, was charged with Assault. My client allegedly intimated that he had a gun and then threatened to "put a hole" through the victim if he didn't close his screen door to allow him access to pass by on the sidewalk. The Defendant was offered court supervision, which I strongly recommended he refuse and request a trial date. Luckily my client agreed. The case was then set for trial. Even assuming that my client did say this, to be found guilty under Assault, the victim must have been in fear of imminent bodily harm from the Defendant. Because the Defendant said that IF the victim didn't close his screen door to allow him to pass, that constituted conditional language, which infers a FUTURE threat. A conditional threat is not sufficient to justify an Assault under the Illinois Compiled Statutes. I requested a Motion for Directed Finding after the victims testified, which means that if it was granted, my client would not even need to testify. The judge deliberated for awhile and at the end of his deliberations, my Client was found not guilty.

Case: 14-2181XX
Case Conclusion Date: April 6, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

While working at a massage parlor, my client was accused of prostitution by an undercover officer with the Chicago Police Department. She was offered the State's Attorney's deferred prosecution program which would have resulted in a dismissal upon completion. My client was adamant she did nothing wrong and the officer was lying. The case went to trial today and after the officer's testimony, my client testified as to her version of the facts and she was found not guilty!

Case: 14 DV 796XX
Case Conclusion Date: March 5, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

Domestic Battery charges filed against my client for allegedly beating his son’s mother. State's Attorney offered to reduce the charges to Simple Battery for court supervision, domestic violence counseling, an alcohol evaluation and the entry of an Order of Protection against him. As his attorney, I conveyed the offer and highly recommended he reject it. Case went to trial today. The victim testified that my client, with no provocation or verbal argument, picked her up and slammed her to the ground and then beat her for 20 more minutes. She never called 911 (he did) nor did she seek medical treatment for her supposed injuries. She even brought photos to court allegedly showing her injuries. My client testified credibly that not only did he not engage in any physical altercation, she was the aggressor. FINDING OF NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL

Case Conclusion Date: March 4, 2015
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Outcome: Not Guilty

Client was charged with a Class X, non-probationable, criminal, sexual assault against a roommate of his girlfriend. He was also charged with theft for allegedly stealing an ipad, cash and a laptop computer. We demanded trial as the victim wasn't appearing in court for the trial. On the last day of our demand, the victim and her witness appeared and it was on! I successfully argued that what sexual encounter did allegedly occur, which my client denied, did not qualify as a sexual assault and the court agreed. No one appeared in court to testify as to the theft charge. And, to top it all off, when the victim DID call 911, she made no mention of any criminal sexual assault, only the theft. Finding of Not Guilty!

Case: 14 OP 774XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: February 13, 2015
Outcome: Order of Protection DENIED

An Order of Protection was filed not once, not twice but three times against my client. The first two were dismissed after the Petitioner attempted to extort money from my client. The third filing was the final straw. He hired me and we fought this case to its rightful conclusion, order of protection denied. There were no allegations of abuse, stalking or harassment. The judge saw right through the Petitioner's claims after my strenuous cross examination of her.

Case: 141134955XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: January 15, 2015
Outcome: Finding of No Probable Cause

My client was charged with possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 Felony which is punishable by one to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. My client, who was not the driver, was located in the rear passenger seat of a vehicle when said vehicle was pulled over for a broken windshield. Allegedly the officers found drugs in the driver’s side door area. For some reason, my client was asked to exit the vehicle and he was subsequently detained and a protective pat down was performed on his person. The officer stated in court that he did not see any weapons in the vehicle and no drugs were found in the vicinity of my client’s person. I argued that there was no probably cause to perform said pat down and they judge wholeheartedly agreed. The case was dismissed and my client was released from custody!

Case: 14 CR 84XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: October 24, 2014
Outcome: Motion to Suppress Evidence GRANTED

California client was charged with Drug Trafficking when the rental car is he was driving was stopped by a State Trooper for traveling 60mph in a 55mph zone. Yes, really. Trooper had a "hunch" that my client was involved in "some" sort of illegal activity based on the condition of the interior of the car, the fact that his luggage was in the back seat and not the trunk and the fact that my client appeared very nervous. Trooper called for a K9 dog sniff, which took 34 minutes to arrive. Client was facing 12-50 years in prison. Motion to Suppress evidence was heard today and the judge ruled that based on the Caballes case, the officer unlawfully prolonged the traffic stop for the K9 to arrive. Motion granted! My client got to go back home to California to be with his beautiful wife and kids.

Case: 13 CR 199XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: October 2, 2014
Outcome: NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL

The defendant, my client, was charged with Delivery of a Controlled Substance, which is normally a Class 1 Felony, punishable from 4-15 years in prison (IDOC). Unfortunately my client has prior convictions such that his case is a mandatory Class X Felony, which would result in a sentence of 6-30 years in prison with no possibility of probation. Basically my client had no option other than to go to trial or accept a 6 year prison sentence. To further complicate things, the alleged delivery was witnessed by an undercover Chicago Police Department surveillance officer in an unmarked vehicle. Officer testified that he saw an exchange of United States Currency (USC) in exchange for a plastic baggie with 10 smaller baggies inside. The buyer ultimately fled the scene as officers approached and made good on his escape but not before dropping the baggie with the heroin in it, which was recovered by the officer and used as evidence against my client at trial today. But for some reason, when my client and his vehicle were searched, no USC was recovered, not a single dime. The standard is that the State's Attorney must prove my client guilty BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT. And...that missing moolah was just enough to create that doubt. Finding of not guilty.

Case: 13-2217XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: March 20, 2014
Outcome: NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL

My client, a 62 year old election judge with no criminal background whatsoever, was charged with battery for allegedly grabbing and twisting the hand of a woman who was trying to grab a ballot from him during a union election. The "victim" then waited a day to even call the police. The State’s Attorney offered my client court supervision, which is not a conviction and could later be expunged. My client was adamant that he did not commit this act and that the victim was just out for revenge for a previous issue. The matter was set for trial. Victim called two witnesses on her behalf and we had two on my client's side. Judge quickly determined that no criminal activity occurred and found my client not guilty.

Case: 14 DV 700XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: March 14, 2014
Outcome: NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL

This matter stemmed from a charge of domestic battery against a "landlord". My client, who has no criminal background, leased the basement area from a woman who owned the home. The landlord decided to come into my client’s living space without knocking or announcing herself while my client was visiting with his sister. Upon requesting that she leave immediately, the landlord refused and started a verbal altercation. In response, my client put his arm out to prevent her from entering into the area further. She then became combative and proceeded to hit my client twice. In order to restrain her from continuing to hit him, my client then grabbed her by the arms and removed her from the area and shut his door. She then called the police claiming he grabbed her and left bruises. The State offered to dismiss the charge and instead have him agree to an Order of Protection. I advised against this as an Order of Protection would result in a mark on his criminal background, and my client's background was clear, other than this arrest. We proceeded to trial and the judge found his story more believable than the victim's and he was found not guilty. Needless to say, another very happy client.

Case: 13 OP 745XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense – Civil Litigation
Date: February 3, 2014
Outcome: Order of Protection DISMISSED

I represented the Respondent in defense of a Petition for an Order of Protection

The basic facts are that she dated the Petitioner for over a year, they planned to marry and for whatever reason, the wedding was cancelled by the Petitioner. Then things fell apart disastrously. Emails and texts were sent, police reports were filed, my client was arrested on more than one occasion as a result of the Petitioner’s false accusations. She actually ended up with a misdemeanor criminal trespass to property! That case went to trial and she was found not guilty.

I cannot tell you how much work went into this case. My client was incensed with how she was treated by the Petitioner and how much strife he caused in her life. And truthfully, it was almost impossible for me to represent her as she was very emotional and demanding (understandably) with what she expected of my legal services. I had to explain that it was a somewhat simple matter of defending the allegations in the Petition and that it wasn’t necessary to bring up other seemingly irrelevant issues that weren’t related to those specific allegations.

The key is, I tell every client, criminal or civil: be calm in court, do not make any gestures, do not make any comments unless you are being questioned, and just stand there next to me and look at the judge. People and some attorneys don’t understand that a judge is actually watching everything that goes on in her courtroom. She notices how you dress, how you compose yourself and what you say. I’ve lost trials based on how my client comports herself in court.

My client at her hearing performed exceptionally. She didn’t do anything to offend the court and remained calm and fairly impassive. On the other hand, opposing counsel started yelling at her when she didn’t answer a question the way he wanted her to. The judge lit into him like I’ve never seen. At the end of the day, the judge found the Petitioner to be wholly unbelievable in his allegations and my client now has a clean record. Justice prevailed.

See more at: http://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/2014/02/07/order-protection-dismissed/

Case: 12 CR 13XX
Practice Area: Criminal Defense
Date: December 5, 2013
Outcome: NOT GUILTY AT TRIAL

Another NOT GUILTY on a charge of Aggravated Unlawful Use of Weapon by a Felon!

It took almost two years, but my client’s case finally went to trial today in Bridgeview. This was a case where the co-defendant was alleged to have fired off a couple rounds on New Year's Eve, which was allegedly viewed by a patrol officer. My client was alleged to have made an oral statement admitting to the gun that was found in his bedroom closet after an unconstitutional search of his residence. We were forced to go to trial as the charges carry a mandatory prison sentence, no probation available. The possible sentence upon a guilty verdict was 3-7 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The Judge was fantastic and was eloquent enough to say that you don't need to call someone a liar for them to not be necessarily believable. It was a close one as most judges tend to believe oral statements when made in the presence of a police officer. NOT GUILTY for both co-defendants.