A Former Prosecutor’s Do’s and Dont’s When Interacting With Police and the Court System

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This is a guide from the perspective of an experienced former prosecutor to explain to you in a straight-forward, common sense manner how to obtain the best results with your criminal case from your interactions with police, lawyers, sheriffs to coming to the courtroom and beyond sentencing.
INITIAL CONTACT WITH THE POLICE
Every criminal or traffic case begins with a police encounter from a simple traffic ticket to the most serious felonies but the same rules still apply. Most people may not recognize that their initial interaction with the police can largely shape the entire criminal case against them going forward. Always maintain a polite and non-aggressive attitude and demeanor with the police. Police are trained to recognize and control confrontations at all costs. Realize that police officers are human beings with emotions regardless of however strict or even confrontational they may appear to you. The key to remember here is NO PERSON WINS A CONFRONTATION WITH POLICE IN THE SHORT OR LONG RUN. The police determine what to charge you with or what to recommend to the prosecutors. The police will document in their reports your demeanor, attitude, their opinions of what happened including EVERYTHING you say. Please keep in mind the police will largely shape and influence your case from the beginning to the end. While you should request an attorney in all misdemeanor and felony situations do so in a respectful manner and do not make admissions to anything that may come back to haunt you later.

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR ATTORNEY OR A PROSECUTOR

The success of your attorney in court has alot to do with you. Once you have hired an attorney you should tell your attorney every relevant fact concerning your case including how you were stopped or arrested, what potential witnesses there may be to the incident, what you told the police and what the police said to you, and your personal traffic and criminal history. Armed with this information your attorney will be in a position of strength when speaking to a Prosecutor even before the Prosecutor has given your attorney the police reports concerning your case. If you have an attorney you should not be speaking to a Prosecutor but perhaps your attorney is running late or a Prosecutor may ask you who you are in court. You should always remain polite and professional in even these minimal interactions as there is no need to give a Prosecutor a reason to have a negative impression of you that sets you apart from other defendants on the court call in a negative way. Please be polite.

INTERACTING WITH JUDGES IN COURT

Perhaps the most important player in the criminal court process the judge may determine what evidence is heard in your case, whether you are found innocent or guilty, and what your potential sentence is. If you are to appear in court you should dress as formal and appropriate as possible. As a rule I would recommend wearing clothes you would wear to a funeral. The judge will be observing your dress and conduct in court and dressing appropriately demonstrates your respect for the court and that you care about your case. Your conduct in court is equally important. While you are sitting in court waiting for your case to be called turn off your cell phone, don’t read anything, talk, laugh, create distractions, or fall asleep in court. When your case is called let your attorney do the talking because the court reporter writes down everything that everyone says and your statements can come back to haunt you in later court proceedings. Only speak if the judge speaks to you directly.

INTERACTING WITH COURTHOUSE SECURITY, SHERIFFS, PROBATION OFFICERS, AND OTHER COURT PERSONNEL

People start forming impressions the second you walk into a courthouse. The deputies at the entrance may tell you you have to bring your pocketknife, camera phone or nail file back to your car after you waited in line for twenty minutes to get up there. Do not argue with these deputies as they have direct contact with the Prosecutors as well as the deputies in your courtroom. Bring in only essential items and stay polite. Sheriffs in the courtroom also may reprimand you for talking, sleeping, reading, cell phones, etc. and it is important to maintain your cool with them. Many work with the same Judge and Prosecutor every day and they are respected for protecting the courtroom staff, thus there is no need to cause them to speak against you to Judge or others. Probation or Compliance officers are paid to report to the Judge and Prosecutor your progress and status. Be polite as their words very often mean the difference between you being in jail, prison or free during your sentence.

I hope you enjoyed this informative post. Please contact the Richard Albanese Law Office for more information on your case today at (312) 882-1973 or at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.com

Is There Really Such a Thing as a Second Chance in the Criminal Justice System? An Illinois and Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney and Former Prosecutor Discusses Deferred Prosecution Options

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Many people contact the Richard Albanese Law Office and ask if a lawyer here can get their speeding ticket or criminal case  “thrown out” or “taken care of”. Perhaps these ideas come from movies or TV, but in reality generally speaking the only way a case is dismissed is if a motion to quash an arrest is argued successfully and the State has insufficient evidence to proceed or if the case falls into a category of deferred prosecution.

Cases are not just “thrown out” as police, prosecutors and the criminal justice system have a great deal of resources invested in a case coming into the court system. The success of a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence depends on whether the police committed a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution by conducting an unlawful search and seizure. This type of motion will often not be feasible to file unless the evidence supports it and the skilled defense attorney believes it will have a high rate of success. There is another option available in both Wisconsin and Illinois for the dismissal of cases known as deferred prosecution. Although the specific deferred prosecution programs vary state to state, county to county, and even village to village across Wisconsin and Illinois the overriding concept is the same, giving first offenders a second chance to keep a clean criminal record. There are generally written guidelines outlining the criteria for what crimes can be considered for deferred prosecution but the discretion whether to offer deferred prosecution always rests with the Prosecutor handling the case as they are the party bringing the charges forward. Deferred prosecution is never an automatic disposition and generally requires a knowledgeable defense attorney to negotiate for it. In both Illinois and Wisconsin there are statutory categories of cases including Felonies, Misdemeanors and Ordinance Violations that are eligible for deferred prosecution. Although not an exhaustive list, the types of cases covered include: Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Cannabis, Prostitution, Domestic Violence, Underage Consumption/Drinking of Alcohol, Retail Theft, and even Speeding Tickets for younger offenders. Generally speaking, when a deferred prosecution is offered to a defendant there is a requirement that the defendant complete remedial educational classes depending on the offense, treatment for drug or alcohol abuse, and in some instances community service will be required as well. If the defendant successfully completes the terms of what the Prosecutor asks for the case will then be dismissed with no further repercussions.

This type of disposition is very favorable to first offenders who made a mistake and don’t want it to follow them as they enter the workforce applying for jobs. This disposition may also be invaluable to immigrants who are trying to become citizens of the United States as many criminal case dispositions can interfere with this process or result in deportation.

The criminal justice system recognizes people often make foolish mistakes, not realizing the consequences of their actions and Prosecutors are not out to punish every citizen with the maximum penalties available in every case. Deferred Prosecution alleviates the number of cases a court has to deal with and truly gives defendants a second chance in the Criminal Justice System. Contact the Richard Albanese Law Office today to determine if deferred prosecution is available in your case or what other defenses you may have. A free consultation is available by calling (312) 882-1973.

Lake County Criminal Defense Attorney Richard Albanese and a Guide to Lake County Speeding Tickets or Traffic Tickets

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Pictured above: Park City Branch Court – Lake County Illinois

Lake County, Illinois is different than other jurisdictions in some ways when it comes to handling speeding and traffic tickets. In Lake County there are three branch courts that handle all minor traffic matters including speeding tickets, suspended licenses, traffic accident tickets and other traffic matters. These branch courts have only one or two courtrooms each, but feature large, ample seating for the often heavy court calls, and free parking is also available at each location. The three branch courts are located in Mundelein, Park City, and Round Lake Beach respectively. Cases are assigned geographically to each of these courts based on where the offense took place. The cases at each location are handled by Assistant State’s Attorney’s from Lake County as well as Village Prosecutors that vary from town to town. A scan of the ticket should show the location, date and time for the first appearance. Lake County courts run all day with several start times at 9:00am, 10:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:00pm. Depending on the day you may spend quite a long time in court if you don’ have an attorney. The cases in which people do have an attorney are handled first as the attorneys often have to make other appearances in other locations and then the rest of the case are called. If you want a continuance to hire an attorney tell the judge that and the request will generally be honored one or twice, until you retain an attorney. It is always the best practice to consult with an attorney right from the start though to avoid unnecessary court appearances.

Drivers who may have gone to court before in other counties may have had the experience of getting a case dismissed when they went to court the first time because an officer was not in court to proceed with the case. This is not how things work in Lake County. The first court date after the ticket offers a chance to plea guilty tot he charge but nothing else. The case must be set for trial and the person must return to see if the officer will be present to proceed with the case the next court date.

Often a Lawyer may make court appearances on a client’s behalf with proper authorization and the case may be resolved with the client not having to take time off work, school or family. Each court session also begins with a judge generally informing the crowd that the court costs in Lake County can often exceed the fine imposed by 2-3 times. To minimize the financial costs of speeding tickets and other offenses it is often wise to retain an attorney to give you a voice in court. A premature plea of guilty or sending in money to pay a ticket in the mail can often have unseen disastrous results, depending on the offense and priors, such as the loss of driving privileges, increased insurance premiums or other unnecessary increased financial burdens. A lawyer is essential for misdemeanor traffic offenses such as speeding 30 miles or more over the speed limit, passing a school bus or school zone violations, suspended license or accident cases that may have additional consequences of civil liability. The misdemeanor traffic offense will result in a criminal record in addition to the fines and costs but can often be amended or mitigated by the negotiations of a skilled traffic attorney. Call the Richard Albanese Law Office today at 312-882-1973 or visit our office on the Web at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.com for a free consultation on your speeding ticket in Lake County or elsewhere.

One Lawyer, Two States and a Promise of Exceptional Representation in Illinois and Wisconsin.

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People often ask me: Richard, Why do you practice law in the states of Wisconsin and Illinois? 

There are always two important parts to my answer: The first deals with geography and the second has to do with my knowledge of laws that have interstate ramifications. As to the first point concerning geography I am perfectly situated for interstate representation with an office near the shores of Lake Michigan in Waukegan, Illinois. I can travel directly to many Wisconsin courthouses in less than an hour and represent client interests across Cook County, Lake County, Wisconsin and other areas as well. 

The second reason I mentioned is the ramifications of interstate laws. In representing non-residents in Illinois or Wisconsin a working knowledge of the interplay of laws is indispensable. A good lawyer knows the consequences an offense may have in the defendant’s home state as well as the state of the offense. This knowledge often comes to play a huge role in the decisions for drivers charged with OWI or DUI offenses as well as speeding tickets and other traffic violations. The wrong lawyer from either state giving the wrong advice or incomplete information can have severe consequences such as increased insurance premiums, revocation of driving privileges and other penalties that may have been avoidable by consulting a lawyer familiar with both states laws and how they interact.

Call the Richard Albanese Law Office today at (312) 882-1973 for a free consultation and to learn more about the consequences you may be facing on your Illinois or Wisconsin case and make an informed decision about how to proceed. 

Criminal Defense Attorney explains that if you live In Illinois and got a speeding ticket in Wisconsin, how that ticket will affect your insurance premiums and Illinois Driver’s License

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Wisconsin is a beautiful state offering many wonderful year round vacationing opportunities for Illinois residents and families. Wisconsin towns such as Kenosha, Racine, Lake Geneva, Alpine Valley, Wisconsin Dells, Milwaukee and Madison are all popular destinations for Illinois travelers, but what happens when things go wrong and you get pulled over for speeding in Wisconsin as an Illinois Driver? What are the consequences you face? What are your options?

Illinois and Wisconsin handle speeding tickets differently and Illinois drivers stand to suffer expensive penalties and consequences if they do not handle their Wisconsin ticket properly. The purpose of this blog post is to educate Illinois drivers how to save their Illinois licenses and mitigate insurance consequences. If a Illinois driver simply ignores a Wisconsin Speeding ticket and does not pay it it will become a judgment and will be reported to Illinois as a conviction for a moving violation. As three moving violation convictions in a year result in a suspension of driving privileges in Illinois this is the worst thing an Illinois driver could do. The next worst choice is paying the ticket by mail or in person. Again the speeding conviction will be reported to Illinois and have the same negative effect on the Illinois driver. Unlike Illinois, Wisconsin does not recognize the concept of “supervision” in which a first time offender does not receive a conviction. Every guilty or no contest disposition for a moving violation in Wisconsin is reported to Illinois as a conviction.

Many states, including Illinois, belong to the Driver License Compact (DLC), and exchange driver information regarding tickets and accidents. When you receive a ticket in a member state, the citation is put into a database available to all other member states. When insurance companies pull your motor vehicle record they will receive violations in your home state as well as any DLC member states.

When an insurance company pulls your license for a renewal or other risk assessment checks, the ticket you received in Wisconsin will appear, and could result in an increase in your premiums. There are many factors involved in this, including your previous driving history, how far over the speed limit you were traveling, and any other infractions recorded in the incident.

The best choice is to hire an attorney who knows how to handle these Wisconsin tickets. Often with the assistance of an attorney’s representation, a charge can be amended so that it would not be reported to Illinois and thus have no ill effect on the Illinois Driver’s insurance premiums or driving record.

The Richard Albanese Law office regularly handles tickets for Illinois drivers that are stopped in Wisconsin and can often handle these matters without the Illinois client having to travel to Wisconsin. Let Richard Albanese help protect your Illinois drivers license as well as your insurance premiums. Contact Richard today for a free consultation of your Wisconsin or Illinois traffic matter at (312) 882-1973 or on the web at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.com.

The Border and Beyond: Illinois and Wisconsin Criminal Defense, DUI and Traffic Lawyer

Greetings Readers,

Today I am blogging about my interstate law practice and types of cases I handle beyond my practice in Cook County. My office is conveniently geograpically located near the Illinois-Wisconsin border in the City of Waukegan across the street from the main Courthouse. I handle all criminal matters in Lake County including traffic matters at the branch courts in Mundelein, Round Lake Beach and Park City. In addition to my practice across Cook and Lake County I have also frequently handled OWI, Felony, Misdemeanor, Ordinance and traffic matters across the entire state of Wisconsin with great success and can often help defend Wisconsin residents facing criminal charges and Illinois residents who may have been accused of a crime in Wisconsin. My specialized interstate practice and knowledge of Illinois law can be particularly valuable to an Illinois driver who is arrested in Wisconsin for a OWI charge and will be the subject of a more detailed blog post. I have also successfully represented younger Illinois residents charged with underage consumption of alcohol ordinance violations in the Lake Delton and Wisconsin Dells area as well as Illinois licensed drivers, including CDL drivers, who have picked up speeding tickets in Wisconsin. I am always happy to provide a free initial consultation on all matters and can be contacted at (312) 882-1973 or on the Web at http://www.criminalandtrafficdefenseattorney.comImage

Pictured Above: Attorney Richard Albanese signing the Wisconsin Roll of Attorneys in the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Madison after being sworn in as a Wisconsin Attorney.