marijuana, Elgin drug crimes defense lawyerMarijuana laws in the United States are changing rapidly. Currently, Washington D.C and eight states have legalized the sale and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes while many others, including Illinois, allow the consumption of cannabis as treatment for certain medical conditions. In Illinois, it is still illegal for those without a medical marijuana registration card to possess, purchase, use, or sell marijuana. There are many myths regarding marijuana and its legality which Illinois citizens should be aware of.

Myth 1: It Is Legal to Drive Under the Influence of Marijuana If You Are a Registered Medical User

Some people think that if they are in a state where recreational marijuana is legal or they have their medical marijuana ID card that they are able to smoke marijuana in a car. This is absolutely not the case. Although there has been considerably less research about the effects of marijuana use on driving abilities than the effects of alcohol impairment, it is still considered dangerous and reckless to drive under the influence of cannabis. [BW1]

Myth 2: Police Must Tell You If They Are Police

Many of society’s misconceptions about drug laws come from television and movies. One of these myths is that if a police officer is undercover or otherwise not immediately identifiable as an officer of the law, that he or she must confess their identity if asked directly. In movies, this usually involves a character saying something along the lines of “Are you a cop? If you are, you have to tell me.” Citizens need to be aware of that this is completely false. Police are authorized to lie in order to keep themselves or others safe from danger, to prevent a crime from occurring, or to find sources of criminal activity. Police often pose as drug dealers or other criminals in order to bring offenders to justice in sting operations or investigations.

Myth 3: Officers Must Have a Warrant to Search Your Car If They Suspect It Contains Marijuana

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, however, motor vehicles are not protected from searches the way a home or business is. In order to search a person’s vehicle, police must only have probable cause. This can include things the officer sees, hears, or smells. If an officer smells marijuana or smoke from a car, he or she is authorized to search it.

Facing Drug Charges?

Although Illinois has decriminalized the possession of up to ten grams of marijuana, there are still stiff penalties for those caught using, selling, or purchasing marijuana illegally. If you have been charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense lawyer for help today. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola.

 

Sources:

https://www.ghsa.org/state-laws/issues/drug%20impaired%20driving

http://www.governing.com/gov-data/state-marijuana-laws-map-medical-recreational.html

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fraud, Kane County criminal defense attorneyNot all crimes are violent in nature, but they can still have serious consequences for those found guilty of committing them. Financial crimes such as advertising scams, internet fraud, and fraudulent credit card charges can damage a person’s credit score and negatively affect businesses. Many people who open their bank account or wallet only to realize they have been stolen from ask the same question, “Who must pay for fraudulent charges?”

Credit Card Fraud in Illinois

There are several Illinois state and federal consumer laws that address credit card theft. Credit card payments processed by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover are subject to a “zero liability” policy. This means that the owner of a credit card which is compromised is not held responsible for any fraudulent charges. Fortunately, consumers do not have to pay for charges which they did not make, but they do have a responsibility to tell their credit card company about the fraudulent charges as soon as they find them.

If a person’s credit card company does not have a zero liability policy and their card is used fraudulently, the most they will be required to pay back is $50 – the limit set by the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA). Debit cards are not treated the same as credit cards, so it is possible that those with debit cards may be help responsible for fraudulent charges made on them. The sooner you report the stolen card to the bank, the better. Sometimes a credit card number is stolen but not the physical card. In this case, a consumer is not responsible for paying those charges as long as they report the charges within 60 days of their credit card statement.

Criminal Charges for Credit Card Fraud

The use of a counterfeited, forged, expired, revoked, or unissued credit or debit card is a Class 3 felony if more than $300 worth of property was obtained in a six-month period. Possession of another person’s credit card, the sale or purchase of a debit or credit card, and the making of a false statement in order to procure a debit or credit card are considered class 4 felonies. A person found guilty of one of these crimes can face punitive consequences of one to three years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.

Facing Charges?

If you have been accused of credit or debit card fraud, contact a Kane County criminal defense attorney for the legal guidance you need. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation with The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola today.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lru/consumerlaws2014.pdf

https://www.creditcardinsider.com/learn/credit-card-lost-stolen-now/

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opioids, Elgin criminal defense attorneyRecreational use of opioids like heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine has become more popular than ever. These highly addictive drugs are designed to fight extreme pain, but many people either use them recreationally or become addicted and eventually need the drugs to simply feel normal.

It is a vicious cycle. Many of those who become addicted start off using prescribed pain pills but when the prescription runs out, they turn to buying the pills illegally. Others find that pills are not effective or available and turn to heroin for relief. Heroin is especially dangerous because it is often mixed with fentanyl, which is up to 100 times more potent than morphine and many times that of heroin. The combination of easy access to the drugs, the prevalence of fentanyl-laced heroin, and the extremely addictive nature of these substances have dramatically increased the number of people who die from overdose. Of the 64,000 reported drug overdose deaths in 2016, two-thirds were linked to opioids. This represents an increase in drug overdose deaths of over 20 percent since 2015.

Deadliest Drug Overdose Crisis in US History

Another startling statistic is the increase in America’s murder rate. Data shows that the rate at which murders are committed in the United States has risen in 2015, 2016, and the first half of 2017. Criminal justice experts suggest that this three-year increase in murders could be linked to the opioid crisis. In the past, opioid misuse was mostly limited to people stealing or selling pain pills, but today, the problem is mostly driven by illicit drugs. In fact, before 2015, prescription pain medications were the biggest cause of drug overdose deaths. Everything started to change around 2014 when fentanyl-related overdoses  began to climb sharply. Currently, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are responsible for more overdoses than any other drug. Experts believe that with this shift from prescribed pain pills to illicit drugs came more violence.

Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri explains, “As demand for illicit drugs increases, people enter the underground drug market to purchase the drug. Those underground markets tend to be relatively volatile and sometimes violent places, so I’m suggesting that what we’re seeing here is a spike in drug-related homicides associated with drug transactions that become violent.” While the link between the increasing murder rate and opioid abuse is not completely understood, data suggests that the American population has every reason to be troubled by this opioid crisis.

Are You Facing Drug-Related Charges?

Getting involved with illegal drugs can be an extremely slippery slope. Those found guilty of possessing or selling substances like heroin can face devastating punitive and personal consequences. If you have been charged with a drug-related crime, you need an attorney who will fight for your rights. Contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense lawyer for help today. Call 847-488-0889 for a free, confidential consultation of your case at The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola.

 

Sources:

https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2017-preliminary-semiannual-crime-stats-released

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/2/6/16934054/opioid-epidemic-murder-violent-crime

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marijuana, Kane County drug crimes attorneyAn Illinois woman is facing possible felony drug charges after police officers found a bottle of the painkiller tramadol in her coat pocket. The 59-year-old woman does actually have a prescription for the type of pills found by police, but she has been charged with possession of a controlled substance that had been prescribed to one of her relatives. What makes this story unique is the way in which the pills were discovered.

Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The pills were only discovered after police searched the woman’s car. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects gives citizens the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Usually, police must have a warrant to search a home, but motor vehicles are different. A police office must only have “probable cause” to search a vehicle. Probably cause means that the officers must have reason to believe that evidence of a crime or illegal items will be found in the car. However, there are not clear answers as to what counts as probable cause. Of course, illegal items such as drugs, drug paraphernalia, stolen goods, or weapons in plain sight usually constitute probable cause, but officers do not have to physically see contraband in order to be authorized to search the vehicle. In 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court approved car searches if the police officer claimed to be able to smell marijuana in the car.

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

The issue with which the accused woman’s lawyer is concerned, is how the police gained access to the car. Police only discovered the illegal pills because they claim they say marijuana in the vehicle. What was allegedly drugs turned out to be pistachio shells. The suspect’s attorney believes that the shells were a false pretext to search the entire vehicle because pistachio shells look nothing like marijuana. Even those police officers who have never used or seen cannabis in real life applications have seen it on television or during training. This led the woman’s attorney to claim that the police illegally searched the defendant’s vehicle. Police never found any actual marijuana in the woman’s car, but she was still arrested for possession of the tramadol. Luckily for the defendant, her attorney doubts that the charges will stick. He told reporters “I think we are a motion to suppress and a bag of pistachio nuts away from resolving this matter.”

Facing Criminal Charges?

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

 

Sources:

https://illinoiscaselaw.com/police-car-search-legal-in-illinois-if-they-smell-marijuana/

https://www.alternet.org/drugs/illinois-woman-felony-drug-charges-cops-mistake-pistachio-shells-marijuana

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DUI, Kane County DUI attorneySometimes, unusual circumstances leading to drunk driving arrests sound more like movies than real life. Alcohol is often a factor in thrill-seeking or risky behavior. Those who drink to excess are generally less inhibited than a sober person would be. The consumption of alcohol—especially in large quantaties—releases the feel-good hormone dopamine. When a drinker’s brain is flooded with dopamine, the drinker begins to have trouble discerning what is a good decision and what is a bad decision. This leads many people to do or say things while they are drinking that they would not do or say while sober.

The false confidence which alcohol can give users is one reason why many drinkers choose to drive when they are incapacitated. Many who are arrested for drinking under the influence (DUI) got behind the wheel because they greatly underestimated their inebriation. Such a mistake can cost a person severely.

Man Attempts to Order Food at Bank

Recently, a 38-year-old man in Florida was charged with driving under the influence after making a humiliating mistake. The man drove to a bank’s drive-up lane and then passed out at the wheel. When employees began banging on his window, he woke up. Upon waking, the inebriated man mistook the bank drive-up for a Taco Bell drive-thru, and he attempted to order a burrito. When the branch manager of the bank explained to the man that he was not at a fast food drive-thru, the man drove to the front parking lot. This is where police found the man and arrested him for drunk driving.

Anonymous Tip is Considered Probable Cause

In 2014, the United States Supreme Court gave police the authority to stop vehicles based on anonymous tips. In Navarette v. California, the high court that the police can pull over a vehicle based solely on an anonymous drunk driving tip. The driver does not need to appear to be intoxicated or commit any traffic violations themselves, and such a traffic stop does not violate the Fourth Amendment right to unreasonable search and seizure. For example, if a vehicle is weaving in and out of lanes or driving carelessly, another driver can call 911 and report the driver. If police deem the tip to be credible, they may attempt to locate the driver and pull him or her over. If the driver refuses or fails a chemical blood alcohol test, he or she will likely be arrested on DUI charges.

Are You Facing DUI Charges?

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, you need an attorney who will develop a strong defense strategy and 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.

 

Sources:

https://www.rt.com/usa/154144-scotus-anonymous-tip-police-stop/

http://www.wcvb.com/article/man-charged-with-dui-after-ordering-burrito-in-bank-drive-thru/15839564

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death, Elgin criminal defense attorneyBy now, virtually every motorist knows that the consequences for driving under the influence (DUI) can be severe. In addition to stiff criminal penalties, drinking and driving can result in injury or death to the driver, passengers, other motorists, and pedestrians. Tragically, 10,265 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Accidents involving drunk driving account for nearly one-third (29%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

In most cases involving DUI, prosecutors only have a certain amount of time in which to file formal charges. This is known as the statute of limitations. For a misdemeanor DUI offense, the statute of limitations gives authorities 18 months to take action. If the charge is a felony, prosecutors usually have three years from the date of the incident.

A new law, however, recently eliminated the statute of limitations for a felony DUI that causes a fatality. This means that if a person drinks and drives and causes an accident that results in at least one death, he or she can be prosecuted at any time. The three-year limitation will still apply to other felony DUI charges. House Bill 3084 passed both the Illinois House and Senate and became law late last year. The measure went into effect on January 1, 2018.

Consequences for DUI in Illinois

If you are caught driving with a blood alcohol content of over 0.08, you will most likely be charged with driving under the influence. Generally, a police officer uses a chemical blood alcohol content (BAC) test, such as a breathalyzer, to determine how intoxicated a driver is. If the driver fails the test, meaning that he or she was found to have a BAC over the legal limit, he or she will have their driver’s license suspended for 6 months. If the driver refuses to submit to a BAC test, he or she will automatically have their license suspended for one year. These suspensions are in addition to any consequences that may result from a criminal conviction. Penalties for a first DUI offense may include:

  • Driver’s license revocation for one year if the driver is over 21 years old and two years if the driver is under 21;
  • Maximum imprisonment of 6 months;
  • Minimum fine of $1,000;
  • Community service;
  • Drug and alcohol program participation; and
  • Motor vehicle registration revocation.

Criminal and administrative penalties only increase for subsequent DUI charges. In addition to the penalties listed above, a driver convicted of a DUI may also be required to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed on his or her vehicle.

Are You Facing DUI charges?

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, you need an attorney who will fight to protect your rights and help you understand your legal options. 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.

 

Sources:

http://www.republictimes.net/new-laws-for-illinois-in-2018/

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

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due process, Elgin criminal defense attorneyThe internet has changed the world in arguably more ways than any other invention in human history. At the click of a button, we have the ability to share our thoughts and beliefs across the globe. We can access the wealth of global knowledge on our cell phone. While the advances made because of the internet are astounding, there are a few downsides to being constantly connected to the rest of the world, especially as they relate to allegations of illegal activity.

Recently, a multitude of men and woman have come forward to accuse others—mostly high-profile individuals—of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and even rape. The public’s response to these allegations has been intense. While it is understandable that many people have emotional reactions to news involving terrible crimes, it is a mistake to automatically assume that any person accused of a crime is guilty.

However, because we have the ability to disseminate information at almost instantaneous speeds, the rumor mill is more powerful than ever. This can lead to inaccurate assumptions being perpetuated throughout social media. Anyone can make a statement about another which will be seen by possibly millions of people. It is therefore more important than ever before to grant accused individuals the presumption of innocence.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

The United States Constitution states that “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This clause is the only one which appears twice in the Constitution—once in the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth. This should be a clue as to its importance. Due process means that every citizen of the United States has the right to an unbiased trial, the opportunity to present a counterargument to the charges leveled against them—including the right to present evidence and call witnesses to support their claim—and be represented by a qualified legal professional. When the court of public opinion tries the case before the real trial can occur, the trial is no longer unbiased.

Consider for a moment the possibility that the cases being made against individuals like Harvey Weinstein may someday see the inside of courtroom. Of course, he has already been tried and found guilty in the proverbial court of public opinion, making it nearly impossible to find neutral, unbiased people to serve on a jury. Thus, the presumption of guilt, ironically, could make it impossible for a court to convict a guilty person properly..

Facing Charges?

If you have been accused of a crime, you deserve an aggressive defense. An experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney can help you navigate your legal options and choose the best course of action for your unique case. Call The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 for a free consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/due_process

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-innocense-presumption-guilty-metoo-sexual-misconduct-1128-20171127-story.html

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skimmer, Elgin criminal defense attorneyIn the past, thieves used to have to steal physical property or cash in order to get their payout. Today, much of the money floating around the United States is stored electronically as data, and is transferred via digital transactions. Thus, most people own a debit card and a credit card or two. Virtually anyone who has one or more such cards may have unknowingly been exposed to one of the most complex credit card fraud schemes yet.

If you have ever used an ATM, you are familiar with the plastic slot in which you place your debit or credit card in order to withdraw money from your account. Similar slots are also present on gas pumps and other self-payment machines. According to the Chicago Police Department, some of these innocuous looking plastic slots are actually intricately-designed devices called encoders or skimmers which are capable of stealing a person’s debit or credit card information. Many people whose information is stolen by a encoder are scammed and do not even realize it. Often, it is only when mysterious purchases show up on a credit card statement or there are insufficient funds in an account does the victim realize they have been deceived.

Fraudsters Face Serious Consequences

Just because this method of capturing credit or debit card information does not involve physically stealing from another person does not mean that the criminal penalties are less strict than other types of theft. In Illinois, a person who unlawfully uses a scanning or re-encoding device with the intent to defraud is guilty of a class 4 felony. This becomes a class 3 felony for any subsequent offenses. A class 4 felony can result in up to $25,000 in fines and up to three years in prison. A class 3 felony can result in up to 25,000 in fines and up to five years in prison.

Just the act of stealing the credit card information is a crime itself. A person who unlawfully uses a financial transaction device to capture, copy or transmit or otherwise obtain personal information without the consent of the person will be guilty of a class A misdemeanor which can result in fines of up to $2500 and up to one year in county jail. The severity of criminal punishment can vary based on the amount of money stolen and the fraudster’s criminal history.

Facing Charges?

If you have been charged with using a credit card skimmer to commit fraud, you need an experienced Kane County criminal defense attorney who will help you understand your options going forward and build the best plan possible for your defense. Call The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 for a free consultation today.

 

Sources:

http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/credit-card-skimming-devices-laws-and-legislation.aspx

http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2017/10/23/bbb-stresses-vigilance-after-card-skimmers-found-chicago-atms

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alcohol, Kane County DUI defense attorneyIf you are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI), the arresting officer may ask you to take a breath, blood or urine test in order to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC). If your blood alcohol content is found to be 0.08 or higher, you are considered legally intoxicated and you will likely be charged with a DUI. But, are you required to take such a test?

Implied Consent

Illinois has an “implied consent” law. Implied consent means that by driving on the streets and highways of Illinois, you agree to submit to chemical testing for impairment if you are ever arrested on suspicion of DUI. A chemical test is different from a typical criminal interrogation in that you do not have the right to speak to an attorney before you are tested.

It is not uncommon for a police officer to ask a driver to submit to a preliminary breath test before he or she is arrested. In most cases, a preliminary test is used to establish probable cause, and you do not have to take this preliminary test. Refusing a test at this point does not result in any specific penalties, but it may give the officer reason to look more carefully at other indicators of intoxication such as slurred speech or decreased motor skills.

Incident to Arrest

After you are arrested for DUI, the arresting officer will tell you that your license will be suspended if you refuse to submit to an evidentiary chemical test. The first time that you refuse to take the test, the result is that your driver’s license will be suspended for one year. A second or third refusal in the future will result in your driver’s license being suspended for three years. If you refuse to take the BAC test, the arresting officer will submit a sworn report to the Illinois Secretary of State that explains the details of the refusal, and you will receive notice of your license suspension. The actual suspension begins 46 days after you receive that notice.

The answer to, “Should I refuse a blood alcohol test?” is not always simple. In most cases, it is not beneficial to refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test when you are arrested for a DUI. Although the consequences for refusal are often milder than those for a DUI, refusing the test does not guarantee that you will not be convicted of a DUI. A driver can still be convicted of driving under the influence even if they were not tested. In some cases, refusing to take a blood alcohol test can make you appear even more guilty, and prosecutors may suggest in court that you refused the test because you knew you were intoxicated.

Get Help with Your DUI Case

If you have been arrested and charged with DUI or you have questions about your right to refuse blood alcohol tests, contact an experienced Kane County DUI defense attorney. Call The Law Offices of Brian J. Mirandola at 847-488-0889 for a free consultation today.

 

Sources:

https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501.1

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hate crime, Elgin criminal defense attorneyIn early January of this year, the nation was horrified at a shocking display of racism and violence. An 18-year-old disabled man was brutally attacked by four young individuals who filmed and broadcasted themselves physically and emotionally torturing him.

In a Facebook Live video stream, the victim can be seen bound and gagged. The aggressors tease, taunt, and humiliate the teen. They beat, stabbed, punched, and kicked the victim, as well as cut off part of his scalp with a knife. The video of the torture lasts about 30 minutes but the victim was bound for several hours. During the video of the attack, the four suspects, who are black, can be heard making expletive-laced comments about “white people” and President Donald Trump. One of the four individuals involved in the attack contacted the victim’s mother and demanded a $300 ransom for the victim’s return.

A Horrifying Situation

The references to President Trump and “white people” led many to believe that the violence was racially or politically motivated. Some attributed the attack to the “Black Lives Matter” movement. According to police, the torture only stopped when a downstairs neighbor complained about the noise. The four people believed to be responsible were eventually arrested and a GoFundMe campaign was set up for the victim.

Last week, one of the aggressors—a 19-year-old woman—pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and intimidation charges, as well as to committing a hate crime. She was sentenced to four years of probation. Cook County Circuit Judge William Hooks called the incident “horrific.” He forbade the woman from using social media during her four-year probation, banned her from contacting the other suspects in the case, and ordered her to perform 200 hours of community service.

The judge said that he did not impose a prison sentence because he did not think it would be beneficial. He said to the woman, “I’m not sure if I did that you’d be coming out any better.” She does face prison if she violates any of the restrictions. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dropped additional charges against the woman, including kidnapping.

Contact a Skilled Attorney

Allegations of any type of violent crime are extremely serious. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney. Call 847-488-0889 for a free consultation with a member of our team today. We will review your case and help you determine the best course of action for moving forward.

 

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-facebook-live-beating-disabled-teen-20171208-story.html

http://www.fox32chicago.com/news/crime/chicago-police-4-in-custody-after-young-man-tortured-on-facebook-live

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