Published August 27, 2012
Douglas County Courthouse — photo taken 8/27/2012
The address of the Douglas County Courthouse is 401 South Center Street, Tuscola, IL 61953. Visitors must pass through security when entering the courthouse.
Courtroom “1″ is located on the third floor of the courthouse. There are plenty of parking spaces around the courthouse to accommodate visitors.
The courthouse is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Published July 28, 2012
The Charleston Post Office is moving all post office boxes to the new post office location in town. Due to the move, they are downsizing the number of available post office boxes. The post office is eliminating my current post office box number. Due to this, please direct all mail to my physical address and remove my post office box address from your contact books.
My physical and mailing addresses are now the same:
1505 18th Street, Suite 2
Charleston, IL 61920
Published July 17, 2012
During initial (usually free for most cases) consultations, some potential clients will ask if consultations are confidential. The short answer is “yes.” Even though these people have not become clients yet, their statements are not disclosed to anyone outside the office without permission from the potential clients.
Rule 1.18 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct states:
(a) A person who discusses with a lawyer the possibility of forming a client-lawyer relationship with respect to a matter is a prospective client.
(b) Even when no client-lawyer relationship ensues, a lawyer who has had discussions with a prospective client shall not use or reveal information learned in the consultation, except as Rule 1.9 would permit with respect to information of a former client.
Published July 9, 2012
Some potential and current clients I talk to feel the police and the state’s attorney’s office are treating them unfairly. This is frequently not the case. If a guilty person wrongly feels the State is treating him unfairly, in my experience, the case usually fits in one of the following categories:
- The Routine. Sometimes the questioning defendant is simply being treated exactly the same as thousands of defendants before him. He may not understand this because the sentence seems harsh now that it is being applied to him, he may have heard stories (either false or involving different circumstances) of the State treating others better, or he simply does not realize that this is how things work in cases like his. Regardless of the reason, the defendant is not being treated particularly worse than anyone else.
- On the Radar. Trouble begets trouble. Sometimes a particular person gets on the radar of police or prosecutors. As a general rule, the more criminal history the person has, the harsher the sentence he will receive. The key here is to simply quit violating the law; a judge or prosecutor will not be sympathetic to the suggestion that a person’s misdeeds should be ignored since the State is watching the person closely.
- But, You Did That. Not all crimes are equal. A person possessing a Class C misdemeanor amount of marijuana will get a slap on the wrist (in the grand spectrum of things); a person trafficking pounds of pot will not be treated so lightly. Child molesters are universally reviled. It is always a terrible idea to stick a gun in a person’s face. Serious consequences follow the commission of serious crimes and being a first offender probably won’t count for too much.
Now, of course, there are some cases where the State does, in fact, treat the defendants unfairly. It does happen. The most obvious example of this is where an innocent person is charged with a crime. But, often times a defendant’s feelings about being treated unfairly are just wrong.
In a previous post on watercraft OUI vs. motor vehicle DUI, I discussed some differences between the two offenses. Here are a few more differences:
- Second OUI Is a Felony, but Second DUI Is a Misdemeanor. A person’s third DUI in a motor vehicle may be charged as a Class 2 felony. OUIs differ from the DUIs in this regard in that a person’s second OUI may be charged as a felony if the person’s first OUI resulted in a conviction (no supervision). 625 ILCS 45/5-16(A)(4)(a).
- Different Field Sobriety Tests. The field sobriety tests that work for motor vehicle DUI investigations don’t work well in the aquatic environment (except for the HGN test a/k/a the eye test). As such, different tests are typically administered. In a DUI case, the three typical tests are the HGN test, the Walk-and-Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test. In an OUI case, the three typical tests are the HGN test, the Alphabet test, and the Hand Pat test.
- Conservation Police. With OUIs, you are probably being investigated by a conservation police officer. While experiences may differ elsewhere in the state, every OUI I have handled has been investigated by the Illinois Conservation Police.
Published June 27, 2012
If you are under 18 years of age and wish for a court to put you on judicial supervision for speeding or another traffic offense, you must personally appear in court in order to receive judicial supervision (absent good cause). The Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-6-1(n)) states as follows:
The provisions of paragraph (c) [pertaining to judicial supervision] shall not apply to any person under the age of 18 who commits an offense against traffic regulations governing the movement of vehicles or any violation of Section 6-107 [graduated license] or Section 12-603.1 [safety belts] of the Illinois Vehicle Code, except upon personal appearance of the defendant in court and upon the written consent of the defendant’s parent or legal guardian, executed before the presiding judge. The presiding judge shall have the authority to waive this requirement upon the showing of good cause by the defendant.
Published June 19, 2012
If an offense has a mandatory-minimum sentence, that means that the law requires a trial court to, at a minimum, impose a certain defined sentence. The trial court can go beyond the mandatory-minimum sentence, but it must at least impose the minimum sentence set forth in the law.
For example, consider the offense of Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer. The statute defining the offense, 720 ILCS 5/31-1, requires either 100 hours of community service work or 48 hours in jail. The Unified Code of Corrections also states that this offense is not eligible for judicial supervision. As such, at a minimum, the trial court must convict the defendant of the offense (supervision is not a conviction) and impose either the community service work or send the defendant to jail. The Court could go beyond this minimum, for example, by sentencing the defendant to a month of jail and 150 hours of community service work, however, the Court could not go less than the mandatory minimum.