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Program Offers Alternative for Veterans in Criminal CasesPast and present members of the U.S. military who are facing criminal charges can utilize an Illinois judicial program that may help them avoid serious criminal punishment. A Veterans and Servicemembers Court may allow a defendant to go through a rehabilitation program instead of the possible jail time that comes with a conviction. At the end of the program, the defendant is eligible to have the charges removed from his or her record. 

Reasons for the Program

Illinois lawmakers passed the Veterans and Servicemembers Court Treatment Act as a way to show compassion to people who are struggling with the effects of their military service. Military members are recognized to be at increased risk of:

When Your Employer Accuses You of a CrimeIt is frightening to be accused of committing a crime. When it is your employer making the allegation, you are particularly worried about whether you will:

  • Lose your job;
  • Face criminal charges; and
  • Be unable to continue your career.

Employers can accuse you of serious offenses, such as theft, drug use or assaulting another employee. However, your employer is not a legal authority, and workplace allegations are not the same as criminal charges. As an employee, you have a right to defend yourself against criminal accusations in order to save your job, or at least your reputation.

Right to Review

Error in Jury Instructions Leads to RetrialA simple matter of semantics can greatly impact the outcome of a trial. Such was the case in a recent Illinois Supreme Court decision, which remanded a criminal case for retrial due to an error in the instructions given to the jury. The decision recognized that the possibility of jury bias is enough reason to question the outcome of a trial, especially when both sides present compelling cases. The court said it must err on the side of caution to ensure that a defendant receives a fair trial.

The Case

The People of the State of Illinois v. Montana Sebby concerned a man charged with resisting a peace officer, which is a class 4 felony. A jury found the defendant guilty of the charge, and the court sentenced him to two years in prison. The defense appealed the decision, citing court error in its instructions to the jury. When questioning potential jurors, a trial court is required to inform them of the standards of innocence applied to the defendant. Illinois calls these the Zehr Principles, named after a 1984 Illinois Supreme Court case. They include that:

Carelessness Can Cause Driving Without License ChargesDriving without a valid license is one of the most common offenses that police officers charge Illinois drivers with, and potentially one of the most difficult to contest. Asking to see a driver's license is standard procedure for any road stop. If you cannot present a valid license during the stop, you may be arrested and charged. Those convicted may face fines, probation and prison time, depending on the severity of the offense. Some offenders know they are violating the law when they are caught. However, incidents of driving without a license can occur when people are careless.

Suspended or Revoked License

When Illinois suspends or revokes your driver's license, you are allowed to apply for reinstatement after a designated period of time. Because the process can be complex, you must be certain that the reinstatement has finished before you start driving again:

Legal Defenses Against Assault and Battery ChargesA conviction on assault or battery charges can cause serious consequences for an offender in Illinois. Simple assault or battery is a misdemeanor, but some aggravated offenses lead to felony charges. According to Illinois law, battery occurs when an offender causes unwanted physical contact with a victim, while assault occurs when the victim believes that the offender is threatening physical harm. Either charge can become aggravated if:

  • A weapon is used;
  • The offender is concealing his or her identity;
  • The victim is a police officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, senior citizen or person with a disability; or
  • In instances of battery, the victim is injured.

If you have been charged, it is the prosecution's responsibility to prove that you intentionally or knowingly committed the offense. Depending on the circumstances of the incident, there are several arguments you can use to bolster your defense against assault or battery charges.


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