Whenever a judge sentences a person to prison for multiple crimes, the law may require the sentences to run back to back. When this happens, it is said that the sentences are mandatory-consecutive sentences. If the law does not require consecutive sentences (in other words the sentences can run at the same time — concurrently), if appropriate, a judge can still choose to make the sentences run one after another under 730 ILCS 5/5-8-4(c). This is known as a court’s discretionary or permissive authority to impose consecutive sentences.
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Most DUI cases are misdemeanor offenses. A misdemeanor is usually less serious than a felony, and a person can go to county jail for a misdemeanor in Illinois, but not to prison. When an aggravating factor is present, however, a regular DUI can be elevated to a felony offense. Common ways for a DUI to become a felony are as follows:
- A person did not have insurance when committing the DUI.
- A person did not have a driver’s license when committing the DUI.
- Great bodily harm occurred because of the DUI.
- The DUI was the person’s third DUI.
In Illinois, it is illegal to both operate cars and boats while under the influence of alcohol. But, these crimes are listed in separate places in the Illinois Compiled Statutes. The law that applies to boats is located in the Boat Registration and Safety Act. The exact citation is 625 ILCS 45/5-16. The law that applies to cars is in the Illinois Vehicle Code. The exact citation is 625 ILCS 5/11-501.
With either offense, a normal first offense is a Class A misdemeanor. An OUI under the Boat Registration and Safety Act will not affect a person’s driver’s license, but it may affect a person’s ability to operate a watercraft.
“Can I drive now?” During DUI consultations, this is a question I often get from potential clients. The person’s driver’s license suspension will not start until the 46th day after the police issue the sworn report for the case (the sworn report date is usually the date of arrest). This means that, as long as the person’s license is otherwise valid, he can continue to drive until the date his statutory summary suspension begins.
On a related note, a person should not rely on his math skills for the 46th day date. The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office will mail the person the exact date and time the person’s suspension will begin. That is information the person can rely on.
Lawyers put some thought-provoking quotes in their emails — often in a signature block. Here are a few favorites of mine that I have seen. I have not verified the accuracy of the attributed sources or the quotes, but I still like the ideas these quotes convey.
- “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly, one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.” — Sherlock Holmes (A Scandal in Bohemia)
- “If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.” — Red Adair
- “If you want to converse with me, first define your terms.” — Voltaire
- “I […] never could make a good impromptu speech without several hours to prepare it.” — Mark Twain
To the uninitiated, the citation form for Illinois statutes can be mystifying. For example, the citation for the per se DUI offense in Illinois is 625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(1).
But, after you understand the parts of the citation, it is easy to use the information in it to locate the statutory text on Illinois General Assembly website.
Let’s break down our example citation.
625: This is the chapter of the Illinois Compiled Statutes that we start looking in. Lawyers, police officers, and frequent speeders will recognize this chapter as the vehicle chapter.
ILCS: Illinois Compiled Statutes
5: This signifies Act 5 of the chapter. After we locate the proper chapter, we next look for the act that our statutory text resides in. This particular act is also known as the Illinois Vehicle Code.
11: This is the chapter of the act. If you are wondering, this is the second time we have used the word “chapter.” This is part of the citation is also called a chapter. I wouldn’t worry about this label, however. We don’t really need to worry about it since it is also part of the section number (see below).
11-501. Section 11-501. This is the precise section of the text we are looking for.
(a): This is the subsection of the section where the per se law is located.
(1): This is the paragraph of the subsection. It is also the home of our per se DUI law.
So, if you are on the Illinois General Assembly website and trying to find the per se DUI law, you will click on the link for the Illinois Compiled Statutes and then use the numbers of the per se citation to navigate to the text that you are looking for.
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.