Defining aggravated assault and possible defenses a defendant may use

The definition of what constitutes assault is slightly different depending on what state you reside in.  Likewise, what constitutes simple assault versus aggravated assault is also defined differently as well.  However, there are many commonalities as well.

In some instances, the mere threat, or an attempt to commit an assault can be viewed as an actual assault.  In other states, actual contact must take place for the assault to have occurred.

The difference between simple assault and aggravated assault depends on the degree to which the victim is injured.   A minor injury such as a bruise or a limited threat of physical abuse will more often than not be relegated to a simple assault status.  However, where injuries are more significant, such as broken bones, or the threat is obviously violent, aggravated assault charges will likely result.

Aggravated assault will also be the case when a person uses a weapon on another person, or uses or points a gun at them.  Aggravated assault also applies when the assault takes place during the commission of another crime such as a robbery or rape, or the assault is committed against police or fire personnel, the elderly or developmentally disabled individuals.

The most common form of aggravated assault defense is a claim of self-defense, especially when it can be proven that the victim is the one who initiated the confrontation.  Another possible defense is that there was no criminal intent and that the assault that took place was purely accidental.  There is also the mental capacity claim, where the defendant can make the argument that they were not capable of controlling their actions or that they didn’t understand that the assault was breaking the law.

The Law Office of David M. Smith serves clients in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding Illinois communities.

Understanding what constitutes aggravated kidnapping

A conviction for any form of kidnapping is sure to bring a long prison term under Illinois law.  Sentencing can further be enhanced if the charge is elevated to aggravated kidnapping.

In some instances, kidnapping may be prosecuted under state laws, but when someone is kidnapped and transported across state lines, it can trigger a federal charge, resulting in even more harsh penalties.

Kidnapping takes place when a person knowingly confines another person against their will and then moves that person from one place to another.  Physical force or the threat of physical force does not always have to be present.  A person can be kidnapped if they are duped or deceived.  The key to a charge is that a person ultimately holds someone against their will.

Kidnapping is elevated to a charge of aggravated kidnapping if the following conditions are in place:

  • It is the intent to hold the victim for ransom
  • The victim is under 13 or severely mentally disabled
  • The perpetrator used a weapon in the commission of the kidnapping
  • The victim suffered significant bodily harm
  • Another felony was committed during the commission of the kidnapping

Aggravated kidnapping carries with it a prison term of up to 30 years in prison, plus up to another 25 years depending on the seriousness of the crime, so it is imperative to retain an experienced attorney as soon as possible if you have been charged.

In some cases, an attorney can argue that a person consented to be moved to another location instead of against their will, although this defense is not permissible if the victim is under 13 or severely mentally disabled.

In other situations, such as with divorced parents, it can be argued that one parent took a child to keep them from imminent harm or that there was no increased harm that took place to the victim by moving him or her.

The Law Office of David M. Smith serves clients in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding Illinois communities.

What constitutes the unlawful use of a weapon in Illinois

Because the Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) often times is a felony in Illinois, it is important for you to understand what legal rights and responsibilities you have when it comes to the possession and use of firearms.

  • To be able to possess a gun, all Illinois residents are required to have a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) issued by the Illinois State Police.
  • To obtain a FOID card, you must not have been convicted of a felony anywhere in the United States, are not mentally, intellectually or developmentally disabled, have no Civil Order of Protection on file against you or been convicted of assault, battery or related crimes in the past five years. Other restrictions also apply.
  • If you have a valid FOID card, you are only allowed to transport your firearm if it is unloaded and in a case. If the firearm is in your car, loaded and out of a case, then you can be charged with a Class 4 felony.  You can carry a concealed weapon on you and in your car only if you have obtained a license under the Firearm Concealed Carry Act, but you must take note that some businesses can forbid guns on their property.
  • Unless you are in your own residence, place of business or on your own land, you can be charged with a felony UUW if the firearm is loaded and immediately accessible, or not loaded but ammo is immediately accessible.
  • Even if a gun is not used in the commission of a crime, a person may be charged with a UUW crime by simply possessing a gun under the wrong conditions, such as if a person is under 21 years old, gang-related activity, possession of a gun during the commission of a violent misdemeanor such as domestic abuse, or possession while committing misdemeanor drug offenses under federal law.


The Law Office of David M. Smith serves clients in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding Illinois communities.

Possible defenses against first degree murder charges

First degree murder charges are the most serious type of homicide charges in Illinois.  To be convicted of a first degree murder charge, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant had intent to kill or do great bodily harm, or that the acts they were committing had a strong possibility of causing death to an individual.

Although Illinois is no longer a death penalty state, if convicted, a defendant could easily face life in prison for their actions.  That’s why it’s imperative to immediately retain the services of a top-rated murder defense attorney if you are charged with this kind of capital crime.

An attorney may be able to craft several possible defense strategies on your behalf and depending on your particular situation…

Some of those defenses may include:

A lack of intent – if a murder is committed but there was no forethought, then by law it cannot be considered murder in the first degree.  The lack of premeditated thought would relegate it to a lesser charge of second degree murder instead.

A plea of insanity – in some instances, if it can be proven that the defendant lacked the mental capacity to knowingly and willfully commit a murder with premeditated and clear thought, then the charge may be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.

Self-defense – if a defendant acts in such a way to preserve their own life due to a direct threat from another, then a self-defense strategy may prove to be successful in a court of law.  Closely aligned to this is a defense of others, meaning you took actions to protect another person or persons from an aggressive and life-threatening situation.  In all self-defense situations, a defendant must be able to show that they were not the instigating party and that the degree of force they used was appropriate for the specific situation.

The Law Office of David M. Smith serves clients in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding Illinois communities.

White Collar Crimes in Chicago: How to Protect Yourself

Temptationis an inherent part of the human condition. People that are accused of white collar crimes are simply just people that made a mistake in a moment of weakness. However, the severity of the consequences has the potential to dramatically impact a person’s life.

White collar crimes are a category of crimes that include: forgery, wild fraud, money laundering, fraud, Ponzi schemes, embezzlement, credit card theft, and identity theft. In Chicago and elsewhere in Cook County, each crime is a Class 1 felony – resulting in 4 to 16 years in prison without the opportunity for parole. Even worse, the penalties of a white collar crime conviction directly correlate to the amount of money or financial assets allegedly stolen. Even if a jail sentence can be avoided, the repercussions of a conviction would destroy a person’s professional life – both in getting hired and being placed in a position of trust.

The best white collar crimes defense is to get the most seasoned white collar criminal defense attorney in Chicago and Cook County. They will use their experience to prepare a strategic line of defense that will poke holes in the prosecution’s claims. For instance, the prosecution of white collar crimes will have an investigation using documentation in order to prove any sort of illegal activity to charge the defendant with. This is considered a “paper trail.” In order to best confront these investigations, it is important to get an experienced and successful defense attorney – and fast.

Chicago white collar crime defense attorneys, like David M. Smith, will use strategies that they have cultivatedthroughout their careers to limit the prosecution’s ability to investigate – especially if they do not have a warrant. Another important factor to consider when preparing your own defense is that document-based trails can be extremely complicated – having a line of defense that includes the defendant’s documentation to show innocence may be enough to have the trial dismissed. In light of this, having a white collar crimes defense attorney and strategy are the best tools to avoid a conviction.

Vehicular Hijacking in Chicago: Tips to Bring to Trial

Vehicular hijacking crimes are a Class 1 felony.

That’s right –there’s a chance that you will spend 4 to 15 years in jail while paying fines up to $25,000. Even worse, there is no opportunity for parole if convicted.

It may seem that vehicular hijacking is just another form of theft. You may ask yourself, “Why are these potential penalties so harsh?” In Chicago and Cook County, the process of vehicular hijacking may require force to remove individuals from their cars. As a result, vehicular hijacking includes the common factor of violence that makes it a Class 1 felony. With the steep penalties that come with a vehicular hijacking conviction, it is essential that you have aChicago vehicular hijacking charges defense attorney so that you can protect yourself.

There are many factors to consider when looking at your own particular case. Did you use force or fear to take the vehicle? Did you have any weapons on your person? Is there any solid evidence that links you to the crime (DNA, photos, etc.)? Did you return the car? In regards to using force or fear as well as weapons, threatening or implicitly threatening the safety of an individual could result in an aggravated vehicular hijackingcharge with a jail sentence of 6 to 30 years. On the other hand, if you returned the car, then your defense can claim that you never had the intention of permanently taking the car. With this, you could be charged for joyriding, which is a Class A misdemeanor. If these options are not for you, there is a defense in which you can argue for mistaken identity. If the prosecution cannot prove that you took the car in the first place, you may be able to walk away without a conviction.

As you can see, having a successful and experienced vehicular hijacking crimes defense attorney, such as David M. Smith, to use their skills to create strategies for your defense will enable you to leave your trial having the best possible outcome for your case.

Charged with a DUI in Chicago: What You Need to Know

You’ve been charged with a DUI – Driving while Under the Influence. You just made a mistake, and now you feel like there’s no way out. “How could this happen to me? What should I do?”, you think to yourself in a panic.

There are two things that you need in order to tackle a DUI in Chicago and elsewhere in Cook County: time and information. After a police officer determines that your blood-alcohol concentration is .08% or higher, your license will be immediately suspended. Although you will be given a receipt to continue driving, you have 45 days until your license is officially suspended. This is where time is a crucial factor. Immediately after receiving a DUI, you will need a top DUI attorney to file a petition to the Secretary of State to revoke the license suspension. Even if the petition is rejected, having an attorney file a petition will allow you to receive a Monitoring Device Driving Permit with an installed Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlocking Device after the first 30 days of your license suspension

The possible consequences of a first offense DUI conviction are:

  1. Minimum 1-year license suspension
  2. $2,500 in fees and penalties
  3. Up to 1 year in prison
  4. Drug and alcohol program
  5. Community Service

Although it is unlikely that you will serve jail time for a first offense, a license suspension and fees are enough to severely impact anyone’s life. In order to prevent a DUI conviction, information is key. A topChicago DUI attorney will look at your case to determine whether to bring your case to trial or negotiate a plea bargain. It is important to remember that there are other variables that can prevent your conviction in atrial such as contesting the breathalyzer test results.Attorneys such as David M. Smith; the finest DUI Attorney in Cook County, Chicago; will use their expertise to ensure that you receive every benefit as well as take the best course of action during your DUI trial.

Avoiding a Theft Conviction: Programs in Cook County That You Need to Know About

Whether committing theft stems from a sudden impulse or a desperate moment, the consequences of a theft conviction are as suffocating as having an albatross around your neck – the financial, social, and psychological burden can stay with you throughout your life.  The penalties that result from a theft conviction differ depending on whether the theft is considered a misdemeanor, which is stolen property valued at less than $300, or a felony charge, which can range from $300 to $10,000. In Cook County, Chicago, a variety of factors are taken into consideration when determining if the defendant is guilty or what type of penalties the defendant will receive from a conviction. With such complexities taking place during a theft case, it is essential to get a successful theft charges defense lawyer to provide the best possible outcome for you in the courtroom.

The key to preventing a theft conviction is to know the programs that are available for first-time offenders or minor crimes. In Cook County, the First Offender Program was enacted in 2013 where first-time offenders are placed in a probationary program instead of getting a conviction. In this respect, the theft charge will not appear on your record and thus will not prevent future employment opportunities. Similarly, the Deferred Prosecution Program gives first-time offenders of non-violent felonies the ability to avoid a conviction by participating in a twelve-month program where all requirements must be met to prevent a conviction. With these programs, however, there is an application process involved where you must receive a referral and pay fees in order to apply to the program. In this regard, it is important that you have an experiencedCook County,Chicagotheft charges defense lawyer to help navigate the complicated processes of applying and being accepted into these programs.

By finding the right theft charges defense lawyer, like David M. Smith, you’ll finally be able to release your albatross and leave the past where it belongs – behind you.

Accused of a Sex Offense? How to Protect Yourself in the Face of False Allegations in Chicago

False allegations in sexual offense cases have the potential to lead to irreversible consequences. In most cases, a sexual offense conviction forces the defendant to register as a sex offender.Even worse, a conviction of a sex crime in Cook County,Chicagocan lead to imprisonment for 6 to 30 years. Despite the overwhelming devastation inbeing accused of a sexual offense crime, knowing how to protect yourself in the face of false allegations is essential.

You may wonder “How do I prove my innocence? Should I talk directly to the accuser about this? What are the next steps I need to take?” In order to answer these important questions, finding an experienced and successful sex offense attorney can provide the answers and support you need to protect yourself. As a result, you’ll have an ally to navigate the complicated processes of a court trial.

Our legal system takes the time to investigate and gather concrete facts forsex crimecases. However, these investigations are time sensitive since important information that would aid your case could already be lost. What interactions have you had with the accuser and can you document them? I’m talking text messages, Facebook messages, and even emails. Do you know any witnesses that can attest to your innocence? Perhaps a co-worker will remember your appropriate behavior in the workplace. Also, the accuser will often begin building their case before the defendant is even aware of the sexual offense accusation. As a requirement tobuilding your own solid case, having an experienced Chicago sex offense attorney as soon as possible is vital.

With this, it is important to have sex offense attorneys like David M. Smith, who have encompassed both efficiency and effectiveness in building the best case for your trial. In the midst of turmoil in experiencing a sexualoffense accusation; finding the right representation will ensure that you walk away with your reputation, livelihood, and sense of ease restored.

How to Contest a Probation Violation in Chicago

First things first – don’t panic. Violating your probation doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be immediately thrown in jail. However, you do need to consider the potential penalties that you could receive if convicted. Keep in mind: the type of penalty you may receive will stem mainly from the severity of the probation violation. In Chicago and elsewhere in Cook County, if your violation was a lesser crime, the court may sentence less severe penalties such as community service or enroll you in a mandatory program. These programs will vary depending on the nature of your crime. Alternatively, if you have committed a felony, there is the possibility that you may be sentenced to spend the rest of your probationary period in jail. In any case, it is vital to have a knowledgeable and strategic probation violation charges attorney to help protect yourself duringtrial.

The processes that occur during a probation violation trial differ from the procedures at other types of trials that you may have experienced. The greatest difference is that the legal standard in which to prove guilt is drastically decreased. There is no “beyond a reasonable doubt,” but instead a “preponderance of evidence.” What this means is that if the judge determines that the likelihood of your probation violation is over fifty percent, you will be convicted. You will also be forced to testify against yourself without the protection of self-incrimination laws. Despite these difficulties, there are different ways in which an attorney can protect you in court.

Remember two terms: “willful” and “substantial.” These two terms need to be proven in order to result in a probation violation conviction. Is there evidence that indicates that you understood the nature of your probation violation and did nothing to prevent this violation? The prosecution needs to prove that you intentionally violated probation and that this violation impacts your probation. These are factors that an experienced attorney can skillfully refutein court. With this, your best weapon in a probation violation case is a seasoned Chicago probation violation charges defense attorney, like David M. Smith, to navigate the convoluted nature of probation violation trials.