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Naperville Criminal Defense Blog

The weight of eyewitness testimony in a criminal trial

Eyewitness testimony is a critical part of many criminal trials in Illinois and across the country. People who were present at the scene of the crime often tell their accounts of what happened when the crime occurred. The judges and juries listening to these eyewitness accounts place heavy weight on the details of their stories. In fact, testimonies may sway the jury to declare the defendant guilty or not guilty, simply based on the account of one or more people. What many people don't realize, however, is that many of these accounts are not accurate and are often unreliable when it comes to giving solid facts regarding the crime. Eyewitness misidentification, environmental influences and limitations of the human memory can all cause errors and potentially send an innocent person to prison.

One study looked at the influence that eyewitness testimony has on jurors and their decisions regarding a crime. In one case, jurors were presented with circumstantial evidence of a robbery-murder. Approximately 18 percent of these jurors came back with a guilty verdict. During the second case, the same circumstantial evidence of the same crime was presented to the jury, with a single eyewitness testimony added to the case. A clerk who was at the scene of the crime named the suspect as the perpetrator. A surprising 72 percent of the jurors came back with a guilty verdict in this instance.

Ignition interlock devices: How do they work?

If you have been pulled over by a law enforcement officer on suspicion of drinking and driving, you may be charged with a DUI. If convicted, you may be faced with a range of penalties, including fines, loss of driver's license and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. Illinois law requires even first-time DUI offenders to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicles. According to the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State, approximately 12,000 drivers are using IIDs at any given time in Illinois. These devices are designed to keep people from committing another drunk driving offense while allowing them to get to where they need to go.

Once you have obtained a monitoring device driving permit and have had the IID installed in your vehicle, you must blow into a tube connected to the device in order for your car to start. A camera attached to the dashboard monitor is required, and will alert officers to any potential violations. As you are driving, you will be alerted to blow random breath samples into the device to keep the car going. If at any time your blood alcohol content level reads over the preset limit, an alarm will sound giving you time to pull over and turn off the car. All information regarding failed attempts to start the vehicle, failed rolling retests and any other violations are recorded within the device and are sent to officials during your maintenance appointments.

Can a police officer search my car?

If you have ever had a law enforcement officer in Illinois ask to search your vehicle, you may have been confused about what your rights were. Any request, whether made casually by an officer asking to "take a quick look in your car" or forcefully with your removal from the vehicle, must be backed by certain guidelines in order to be considered a legal move. Here is everything you need to know about car searches.

How common are weapons crimes in Chicago?

While the state has developed programs and enforced laws in an attempt to reduce violence, Illinois, and specifically the city of Chicago, is still experiencing a large number of weapons crimes. The University of Chicago Crime Lab created a study to determine just how common these incidents are.

Misdemeanors, felonies and petty offenses explained

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Illinois, you may be confused by the many terms used in court documents. We at Jim Ryan and Associates not only fight for your rights, but also work to make sure you understand exactly what these complicated terms mean.


Could auto-brewery syndrome be responsible for your DUI?

If you have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Chicago but do not believe you were drunk, you may be surprised to learn that a condition may be responsible for your ticket. Experts are finding that there are some people who produce alcohol in their gut and can become drunk without ever touching a drop of alcohol.


How can I expunge a battery charge?

A criminal record can have a major effect on several aspects of your life for years to come, including the jobs you can apply for. For this reason, many citizens in Illinois seek to have their records expunged and the charges erased. The first step in knowing if this is a possibility for you is knowing who qualifies for this action.


How are drug penalties determined in Illinois?

Like most, you likely understand that there are a wide range of drugs and controlled substances out there in Chicago that may be being used both with and without medical authorization. Given that each varies in its potency and effect, it should be anticipated that if you are arrested on drug charges, the potential penalties that you may face will vary depending on the substances linked to your case. Illinois law breaks different types of controlled substances down into drug schedules. These schedules help to determine what level of offense accompanies a drug charge.

Officials factor in several different elements when determining how to classify a drug. These include its scientifically proven pharmacological effect, its potential to produce long-term impairments and/or addiction, and its potential for abuse. The differing drug schedules and their classification criteria are defined as follows:

  •          Schedule I: High potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use
  •          Schedule II: High potential for abuse, defined medical use under severe restrictions
  •          Schedule III: Less potential for abuse than Schedule I or II substances, defined medical use, high potential for psychological dependency, moderate to low potential for physiological dependency
  •          Schedule IV: Low potential for abuse relative to Schedule III, defined medical use, limited potential for psychological or physiological dependency relative to Schedule III substances
  •          Schedule V: Defined medical use, low potential for abuse as well as psychological and physiological dependency relative to substances included in other schedules

How can a DUI affect my career?

For those facing a potential DUI conviction in Illinois, there are numerous legal penalties that can be highly concerning. However, the damage to one’s ability to find gainful employment can also be a factor, one that can last much longer than the initial conviction. This illustrates the importance of a solid DUI defense, which will hopefully mitigate some of the ill-effects.

According to AOLFinance.com, there are a number of ways a DUI can impact your career. For instance, some jobs have a mandatory firing policy for those convicted of DUI. These policies will usually be included in employee handbooks, and the information will be presented to you at the time of firing. Additionally, you may be obligated to inform your employer as soon as the arrest happens, and failure to do so will only delay your inevitable termination.

What are the laws against air rifles?

Being charged with a weapons crime can mean hefty fines and penalties, but you may not even realize you are committing a crime in the first place. When it comes to air rifles, the laws are not as well-known and can be confusing to some. Municode.com details the laws concerning air rifles in Ohio and how you can legally use them.


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The Naperville, Illinois, law firm of Jim Ryan & Associates is available to serve people throughout the Chicago metropolitan area with a focus in DuPage County, the western suburbs and Naperville, in communities such Downers Grove, Wheaton, Carol Stream, Bloomingdale, Addison, Itasca, Warrenville, Woodridge, Oswego, Yorkville, Roselle, Aurora and Elmhurst. We also represent students and parents of students who attend any of the area schools and universities, including Naperville North High School, Naperville Central High School, Neuqua Valley High School, Waubonsie Valley and North Central College.

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