Published December 10, 2011
At the end of a criminal jury trial, the judge will give the jury certain instructions that they must follow when determing whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. Up until recently, the pattern jury instructions (the instructions that a judge will use unless the law is not correctly reflected in them), were not freely available on the Internet. As reported by Illinois Lawyer Now, they are now. Click here to access them.
When I begin a case (or need to think through the law applicable to a situation), I often head to the pattern jury instructions. After all, as Stephen Covey tells us, we need to begin with the end in mind. Since the jury will use these instructions at the end of the case — and the State must prove what is contained in the instructions — our focus as defense attorneys and defendants must be on them too. If we are not considering the end at the beginning, we are less likely to reach a two-word (not guilty) verdict.
Published November 29, 2008
Clarence grabbed a soda from his buddy’s refrigerator and then returned to the living room where he caught the middle of a conversation.
“Allen is clever, but crazy,” said George. “It’s too bad he never put his smarts to good use.”
“He has struck me as being a little on the dumb side, what makes you think he’s smart?” asked Josh.
“I saw in the paper where the State’s Attorney convicted him of Escape. You don’t break out of jail without having a certain amount of street smarts,” said George.
Clarence let out a deep and slightly arrogant laugh. “Is that what you think he did? You’ve watched too many episodes of Prison Break. It’s a good thing you hang out with me. Typically, when the State charges someone like Allen with Escape, it is because the person failed to show up to the jail to serve his time.”
“Why would a person sentenced to jail be out and about running free?” asked George.
“Often when a defendant agrees to serve a small amount of jail time, the prosecutor will agree to a future date for the jail sentence to begin,” said Clarence.
“What if he doesn’t show up when he is supposed to?” asked Josh.
“Then the State’s Attorney will file an Escape charge against the person and a judge will sign an arrest warrant. The person will end up serving back to back sentences: one for the first case and one for the Escape case,” said Clarence.
“Oh,” said George. “I guess Allen isn’t so bright after all.”
Published May 26, 2008
In Illinois, what is the difference between assault and battery?
According to the Illinois Compiles Statutes, “[a] person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” 720 ILCS 5/12-1. Battery, on the other hand, occurs when a person “intentionally or knowingly without legal justification and by any means, (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.” 720 ILCS 5/12-3.
Here is an example how this might work. Let’s assume that you decide to punch me and I haven’t given you authority to punch me. Let’s further assume that you act on your decision and take a swing at me. Finally, let’s assume that you don’t land the punch because I see it coming and duck. Since you don’t land the punch, you neither cause me to suffer bodily harm nor make physical contact of any kind — let alone insulting or provoking contact. Thus, you do not batter me. But, I see you swing at me — and I duck so you won’t hit me. So, you assault me because you place me “in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”
If your punch hits me, regardless of whether I get hurt, that is insulting or provoking contact. As a matter of fact, I might direct a nasty word or two in your direction.
So, in summary, assault is where you swing and miss; battery is where you swing and hit.