judge, Kane County criminal defense attorneyWhen a decision is handed down in a criminal proceeding, both the state and the defendant typically have the right to file an appeal. Appeals filed by defendants nearly always follow a guilty verdict or an unfavorable ruling on a pre-verdict motion, and most are focused on the defendant’s rights to a certain extent. Many such rights have their foundations in the U.S. Constitution and its amendments, such as the right to due process of law and the right be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Other principles have been established in practice, such as the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But, what happens if the presiding judge falls asleep during the proceedings? Does a jurist’s quick nap constitute a violation of the defendant’s rights so grossly that it should result in a mistrial? An Illinois appeals court recently answered these questions.

Spree Killer on Trial

The trial in question took place in a Whiteside County courtroom in 2014, where the defendant was facing 15 counts of first-degree murder. During the trial, a local police officer testified regarding a video taken by security cameras that placed the defendant near the scene of the crime on the day of the murders. The courtroom was darkened to show the video and when the video ended, it became evident that the judge had fallen asleep.

The defendant’s attorney requested that the judge’s actions be noted in the record, and the observation was noted. On the next day of the trial, the defense motioned for a mistrial on the basis that the judge’s nap. The court rejected the motion, and the defendant was subsequently convicted on four counts of murder. The defense filed for a new trial, but the court refused. Thus, an appeal was filed.

No Reversible Error

On appeal, the defendant claimed that the judge’s falling asleep constituted a per se reversible error and that a new trial was warranted. A divided appeals court disagreed. The appellate panel agreed with the trial court that the judge falling asleep did not affect the proceedings in any way. The jury—not the judge—was the trier of fact in the case, and the judge was not asked to rule on any objections during the video.

The appeals court acknowledged that a judge falling asleep could cause harm to a defendant but the circumstances must be considered. In this case, the evidence against the defendant was “overwhelming” and the judge was not called upon to make evidentiary rulings at any time that he may have been asleep. The appeal was therefore rejected, and the defendant’s conviction stands.

Facing Criminal Charges?

At The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola, we are dedicated to helping those who are facing criminal charges. To learn more about how we can assist with your case, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney today. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation.





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DUI, Kane County DUI defense attorneyWhen a person is pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI), he or she has a few options. The first option is to be 100 percent cooperative and comply with every request the officer makes. Alternatively, the suspect could be polite and compliant with most of the officer’s requests, while respectfully refusing a breath test and other roadside sobriety tests. The third option is to be openly defiant and overtly refusing to comply with any of the officer’s requests. While the third option is better than outright aggression or fleeing—the remaining two options—such an attitude can lead to additional criminal consequences in certain situations.

Adding to a Driver’s Problems

In early October of this year, a 39-year-old man was pulled over in Plainfield Township by an officer of the Illinois State Police. The suspect—a Joliet Township High School District employee—refused to comply with requests for a breathalyzer and would not even get out of his vehicle when ordered to by the officer. It is unclear whether he submitted to field sobriety tests, but the pattern of events included in the police and court records suggests that he most likely did not.

Initial reports indicate that the man was arrested and charged with one count of DUI and one count of obstructing a peace officer in carrying out official duties. The obstruction charge was a misdemeanor while the DUI was a felony charge, as it represented a potential third DUI offense for the driver since 2002. Subsequent reports say that the obstruction charge was dropped, but the man now faces additional charges for aggravated speeding more than 35 miles per hour over the speed limit and improper traffic lane use. The aggravated speeding charge is a Class A misdemeanor. The man was freed on $10,000 bond.

Failure to Appear

While the charges are still pending, the man filed a petition to have his license suspension dismissed. Illinois law provides for the statutory summary suspension of the license of a person who fails or refuses a chemical tests for blood alcohol content incident to arrest. The man was due in court a couple of weeks ago to contest his suspension, but court records show that he and his attorney did not appear. His petition was subsequently dismissed.

Seek Help With Your Case

As this case clearly demonstrates, any situation involving DUI charges can become extremely complicated very quickly. If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Elgin. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola today.






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police, Kane County criminal defense attorneysWhile the majority of police officers are good and decent human beings, police brutality, aggression, and confrontational behavior does exist. Knowing how to handle such situations, should you ever experience it, is critical. In fact, in some situations, it could even save your life. At the very least, an understanding of your Constitutional rights and thoughtful action could help mitigate the risk of a wrongful arrest, wrongfully filed charges, and wrongful conviction.

Understanding Your Risk

Anyone can be victim of police brutality or aggression, but certain groups are at an increased risk. For example, African American males are three times more likely to be killed by an officer of the law than any other race and gender combination. Further compounding this issue is the reality that African American men are much more likely to be stopped by a police officer than other groups. Therefor, it is critical that they, above all others, understand how they can attempt to deescalate a situation and protect their rights.

Protecting Your Rights and Safety

Dealing with an aggressive or confrontational police officer can be a frightening and traumatic experience. However, it is critical that you maintain calm, no matter how difficult it may be to do so. Any aggressive action on your part can escalate the issue even further. Regardless of what happens or how bad things get, be polite, do not engage, and speak as little as possible (this is especially important since officers are legally allowed to lie to you and attempt to manipulate you into incriminating yourself). Politely but directly, refuse to answer questions without an attorney present. If an officer continues to push you for answers, continue to restate your refusal reasonably and insist on waiting for an attorney.

If you find yourself in a situation where the officer will not let you go, politely ask him or her if you are being detained. If the answer is no, thank the officer and walk away. If you are being detained, then let the officer know that you are getting your identification, do so slowly, and then hand it over without making quick or sudden movements. Stay quiet and do not speak while the officer is reading your rights, then be sure to ask for an attorney. Once again, above all else, remain calm.

Contact a Kane County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, it is important that you seek quality legal assistance. Backed by more than 20 years of experience, Attorney Brian J. Mirandola has the skills and knowledge needed to aggressively represent you in your case. We will protect your rights and pursue a favorable outcome for your situation. Contact an Elgin criminal defense attorney for a free consultation today.







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breath test, Kane County criminal defense attorneyIf you are ever pulled over on the suspicion that you are driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs, there is a very good chance that the officer will ask you to take a breath test or another type of blood-alcohol content (BAC) measurement test. While you are probably aware that there could be consequences for failing a BAC test, there may also be consequences for refusing such a test, depending on the circumstances of the situation.

Preliminary Testing

A BAC breath test is commonly known by the genericized trademark “breathalyzer,” taken from the brand name of a popular line of breath alcohol testing devices. A breathalyzer is one of several tools that police officers will use to determine whether there is probable cause that a driver is intoxicated. During a DUI stop, an officer may question the driver about what he or she may have had to drink. The officer may also ask the driver to submit to field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer.

At this point in the stop, a breathalyzer is considered a part of the preliminary testing process and its results are not admissible in court. You are, therefore, free to refuse the breathalyzer without subjecting yourself to additional consequences. Keep in mind, however, that your refusal may suggest to the officer that you have something to hide, and he or she may look more closely for other indicators of intoxication, such as slurred speech or decreased motor skills. Based on the preliminary testing results and his or her observation, the officer must decide if there is probable cause to justify a DUI arrest.

After an Arrest

Once a driver is placed under arrest for DUI, the situation changes dramatically. The officer may again ask the driver to submit to a breathalyzer, but this time, the results are admissible in court. Evidentiary breath tests are usually conducted at the police station or another facility with a certified and calibrated testing device. Such devices are generally more accurate than the portable versions used during preliminary testing. The officers conducting the tests will also follow testing protocol more carefully so as to obtain an accurate reading.

Refusing a breathalyzer after an arrest for DUI does have consequences in Illinois. If you refuse, you will face a one-year suspension of your driving privileges for a first offense and a three-year suspension for a second or subsequent refusal.

It may, however, be in your best interest to refuse an evidentiary breathalyzer, depending on the situation. A failed BAC test after an arrest will result in a six-month license suspension for a first offense anyway, but a failed test gives prosecutors quantifiable evidence of intoxication, as defined by the law. If there is little other evidence to support your arrest for DUI, refusing a breathalyzer could be your best option to avoid a conviction.

Call an Attorney Right Away

When you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence, you need legal guidance immediately so that your rights are not compromised in any way. Contact an experienced Elgin DUI defense attorney by calling 847-488-0889 for a free consultation. Let us provide the skilled representation you need.




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study, Elgin drug crimes defense attorneyWhen the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program finally got underway in late 2015, Illinois lawmakers hoped that legalizing marijuana for those with approved medical conditions would have positive results. The main goal of the program was to help such patients alleviate pain and to deal with chronic health problems while reducing the need for highly-addictive opioid prescriptions. A new peer-reviewed study suggests that the pilot program seems to be working.

Limited Study Participants

The limited-scale survey was conducted by researchers at DePaul University and Rush University and included responses from 30 patients currently registered for the Illinois medical marijuana program. The project, while small, is the first peer-reviewed, published study regarding medical marijuana use in Illinois specifically. The study’s authors acknowledge that the survey was not large enough to extrapolate percentages or quantified conclusions, the response received did provide anecdotal support for other studies that suggest medical cannabis may help reduce the use of opioids.

The participants were all volunteers, which led the researchers to note that the subjects’ opinions may skew in favor of marijuana, but the feedback provided much needed qualitative information about how the drug is being used so future studies can be done with better accuracy.

An Alternative to Prescription Painkillers

The average age of the participants was 45, and most used marijuana for chronic pain, seizures, or inflammation. They anonymously reported that they had numerous concerns about tolerance, side effects, and addiction when it came to prescription drugs. Marijuana, overall, was reported to manage certain symptoms better, faster, and for longer periods of time than prescription medications. Subjects claimed that using marijuana helped a number of them eliminate the need for prescriptions that were “frightening” and could make a patient feel like a “zombie.”

The study’s lead author is presently working on another project that has already accumulated more than 10 times the number of responses. With about 25,000 registered participants statewide, larger studies will certainly be needed to gauge the pilot program’s success.

Facing Drug Charges?

Possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is still a criminal offense for those who are not registered to participate in the state’s medical cannabis program. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with marijuana possession, you need an advocate who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Elgin drug crimes defense attorney to discuss your case. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola today.





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traffic stop, Elgin traffic violations lawyerMost adults can remember the feeling of independence that accompanied getting their driver’s license for the first time. On the other hand, most can also remember the nearly overwhelming fear that took over when they were pulled over by police for the first time. Getting stopped for a suspected traffic violation is intimidating for many drivers, including those who have been driving for decades. Younger drivers, however, often experience even more stress when they are pulled over, leading to confusing and potentially dangerous situations. Fortunately, lawmakers in Illinois have taken steps to prepare young drivers on how to handle being stopped by the police.

Helping Young Drivers Learn

Around this time last year, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bipartisan measure that requires all driver’s education classes in the state to include a section on how to behave during a traffic stop. The bill’s timing coincided with a number of horrific, headline-making examples of traffic stops that escalated and spiraled out of control—some of them resulting in tragedy. The new law went into effect on January 1, 2017, and affects driver’s education classes at public schools, private schools, and private training programs.

In many such classes, instructors ask a police officer to come in and talk to the students about traffic stops. The idea is to give drivers insight into concerns that the officer will have during the stop—something many young drivers may never have considered on their own. With a new perspective, new drivers will be better prepared if and when that first stop happens.

Quick Tips

It would be easy to list pages and pages of advice on how to handle a traffic stop, but the most important tips can be quickly summarized. If you are pulled over for a possible traffic violation:

  • Be polite and cooperative. Arguing with the officer is not going to get you anywhere. If you disagree with the officer, you can state your disagreement reasonably and politely, but do not expect the officer to change his or her mind about a ticket;
  • Keep your hands visible and move slowly. During a traffic stop, a police officer is prepared for just about anything and may be a little on edge. If you need to move to get your license or insurance card, tell the officer where it is and ask for permission to retrieve it. Moving deliberately will keep you and the officer much safer; and
  • Address any problems later. If you believe the officer conducted an illegal stop or issued a ticket for something you did not do, you will have the chance to contest the ticket later. Your best option is to allow the stop to conclude as quickly as possible, even if it means allowing the officer to do something you know is not right. Calling him or her out on it during the stop is only likely to make things worse.

If the traffic stop results in a citation that you believe is unfair or inappropriate, your next step should be to contact an experienced Kane County traffic violations attorney. We will review your case and help you explore your available options. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola today.





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breathalyzer, Kane County DUI defense attorneyEvery one of us has experienced fear in a particular situation—especially when the police are involved. In fact, the fear that arises when one is being pulled over is extremely common, and police officers are trained on how to handle a person’s fears. Of course, if you have been drinking and you are pulled over, your fear is likely to be even greater. Fear can lead to impulsive and irrational decisions, including attempting to trick or fool a breathalyzer test. Regardless of what you may have heard, such tricks rarely work and may lead to even bigger problems for you.

Two Rounds of Breathalyzers

It is important to understand that there two different types of breathalyzer tests typically administered during a stop for suspected driving under the influence (DUI). The first is a preliminary test, which provides a basis on which the officer will conduct the rest of the stop. Preliminary blood-alcohol content (BAC) testing is not admissible in court and officers may administer preliminary tests in a fairly casual manner. It is during the preliminary tests that those inclined to try to manipulate the test results are likely to do so.

The second round of testing is conducted after a person has been arrested on suspicion of DUI. There are specific protocols that the officer must follow when conducted the second test, as the results of this round are usually used as evidence during prosecution. For example, the officer will observe the suspect for a prescribed amount of time to ensure he or she does not put anything in his or her mouth that could affect the test.

Pennies, Mouthwash, and Sprays

As the officer approaches your car, it may be tempting to rinse your mouth with mouthwash or breath spray. Or, perhaps you have heard that putting a penny in your mouth will cause a breathalyzer to give a lower reading. The short answer is do not bother with these types of tricks. To begin with, many types of mouthwash and breath sprays actually contain alcohol, and while a breathalyzer is not really focused on alcohol in a subject’s mouth, the residual amounts could cause the preliminary test results to show higher than they otherwise would show. Breathalyzers take samples of deep lung air—which is why the officer will ask you to continue exhaling for as long as you can. Putting items in your mouth or attempting to mask the smell of alcohol will have no effect on the traces of alcohol deep in your lungs.

If you are afraid of failing a breath test, you could refuse to take it. Refusing a preliminary test does not carry criminal or administrative consequences, but your refusal could prompt the officer to look even more closely for other signs of impairment. Refusing a test after you have been arrested will result in the suspension of your driving privileges, but so will failing. Many believe that you are better off dealing with the suspension rather than providing the police with additional evidence to be used against you.

Call Us for Help

When you have been arrested and charged with DUI, you need an attorney on your side who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Elgin DUI defense lawyer for help. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola today.





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rights, Elgin criminal defense attorneyCrime-related procedural television dramas often share many similarities. Among them is a scene in virtually every episode where a suspect is placed under arrest and taken into police custody. As the officer begins to put the handcuffs on, he or she usually starts to recite a few lines, beginning with, “You have the right to remain silent.” Thanks to such depictions, most Americans are aware that these statements—called Miranda warnings—are an important part of the criminal justice process. A much smaller percentage of people, however, understand what the warnings actually mean and when they apply.

Miranda Rights vs. Miranda Warnings

There are two primary components of the Miranda warnings—the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Both of these elements have their basis in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees a criminal suspect rights regarding self-incrimination. The Sixth Amendment also guarantees the right to an attorney, but the warnings are focused on confessions and self-incrimination.

In short, the rights addressed by the Miranda warnings have been in place for more than 200 years, but the warnings themselves are the product of a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In that case, Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court determined that because the police did not remind a suspect of his rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present, the man’s subsequent confession was not admissible as evidence. From then on, Miranda warnings—a restatement of existing rights—have remained a crucial element of the arrest and interrogation processes.

Common Misconceptions

The exact wording of the recitation of Miranda warnings may differ slightly among arresting officers, but it will always be something similar to, “You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be you used against you in court. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

The Miranda warnings are not required to be given at the time of arrest necessarily, but they must be given before the suspect is questioned. If, for example, a suspect is arrested and not “read his Miranda rights,” any spontaneous or voluntary comments or excuses he makes are admissible in court, even without a lawyer present. If the officer begins questioning the suspect before reading the warnings, however, any resulting information or confession is not admissible.

Once the Miranda warnings have been given, it is then up to the suspect to exercise his or rights. Any criminal suspect placed under arrest should refuse to answer any questions until an attorney can be present. It may be difficult and could even require an extra day or two in jail, but the risks of being tricked or pressured into self-incrimination are too great.

Charged With a Crime?

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged a crime, it is imperative to seek legal help immediately. An experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney will work to protect your rights and ensure that law enforcement and prosecutors are held to the highest standards. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola today.





Posted in Kane County Criminal Defense Lawyers, Your Rights | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

zero tolerance, Elgin DUI defense attorneysAccording to the Illinois State Police, approximately forty percent of Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives. Underage drunk driving accidents account for a large portion of these auto accidents. The need for a proactive approach to underage drunk driving is an ongoing problem.

Legal Consequences of Drinking and Driving Underage

Illinois maintains a “Zero Tolerance” law for drivers who are underage (under the age of 21). This means that a driver who is not above 21 years old who is caught driving with any trace of alcohol in their system can be charged with driving under the influence. Underage drivers do not need to be impaired in order to be charged with a DUI. Put another way, young people who drink and drive do not need to have a blood alcohol level of .08% or above in order to break the law. Legal consequences of a conviction for drinking and driving while underage include loss of diving privileges for a minimum of 2 years, a fine of up to $2500 and possible imprisonment for up to a year for the first conviction. A second underage DUI conviction will result in 48 hours mandatory jail time or 10 days of community service, the loss of driving privileges for a minimum of 3 years, and possible imprisonment for up to a year. A third underage DUI conviction is a class 4 felony. Those convicted face a fine of up to $25,000, a maximum of 3 years of prison time, and the loss of driving privileges for 6 years or more.

The underage individuals who are caught drinking and driving are not the only people affected by the Zero Tolerance Law. Parents who knowingly allow their underage children or children’s friends to drink alcohol in their home can face legal consequences should those children be hurt or killed in an alcohol-related accident. Underage drivers are also not allowed to transport alcohol. Those found with alcohol in their vehicle can be given a fine of up to $1,000 and have their driver’s license suspended.

Legal Guidance for Those Charged Under a Zero Tolerance Law

If you or your child has been arrested for underage drinking and driving, you need an attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable, and ready to fight on your behalf. Contact an Elgin DUI defense lawyer today to discuss your case and explore the possible options. Call 847-488-0889 and schedule a free, confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola.





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fake ID, Kane County criminal defense attorneyA quick Google search for “fake IDs” returns over a million results. Many of the top search results are websites touting their business of manufacturing and distributing fake driver’s licenses and identification cards. The websites claim that their IDs “even fool experts!” and “pass blacklight tests!” With school is starting for most colleges, many young people will be tempted by the appeal of purchasing a fake ID. Students under the legal drinking age may be drawn by the possibility of being able to buy alcohol or to get into bars and nightclubs that are 21 and over. It may seem easy to get away with using a fake ID, but the reality is that obtaining or using a fake ID is a crime that can have very serious consequences.

Consequences of Buying or Using a Fake ID

The state of Illinois takes fake IDs very seriously. It is illegal to obtain, distribute, use or even possess a fraudulent state ID card or driver’s license, as well as to help anyone else do the same. The state has the authority to suspend or even revoke a person’s driving privileges if they are caught possessing another person’s license or state ID card. This can happen without a conviction.

You could be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for:

  • Letting another person (such as a friend or relative) use your license;
  • Claiming another person’s license as your own;
  • Possessing a driver’s license or identification card with false information on it;
  • Possessing or using falsified documents with the intent of obtaining a fake ID; or
  • Altering or attempting to alter a driver’s license or state identification card.

The penalties for a conviction include up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines. A conviction also becomes a permanent part of your criminal record.

The charges can become even more serious in other situations. Under Illinois law, you could be charged with a Class 4 felony for:

  • Possessing a fraudulent driver’s license or ID card which was produced by an entity other than a government office;
  • Possessing equipment that can be used to produce an ID designed to mimic a government-issued ID;
  • Manufacturing, distributing, or selling fraudulent IDs; or
  • Advertising fake IDs.

A conviction could result in a prison sentence of one to three years in jail and fines up to $25,000.

Contact a Knowledgeable Lawyer

If you or your son or daughter has been accused of possessing or attempting to use a fake ID, contact an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney. At The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola, we are equipped to help you protect your rights at every stage of the process. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation today.





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