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.