Thanksgiving Day Massacre: If Turkeys Had Legal Rights

Web Admin - Friday, November 21, 2014
turkey Thanksgiving criminal charges, Schaumburg personal injury lawyer

Thanksgiving is just around the corner now, so it seems like a good time to engage in an educational hypothetical: “what if turkeys had legal rights?” Suppose Chris Carver is just about to start preparing Tom Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, when Governor Rauner, taking his cue from the annual presidential turkey pardon, decrees that all turkeys are protected and have the same rights as people. The police break down Chris's door, taking him away in handcuffs and saving Tom. This leads to two questions: “what, undoubtedly delicious, crimes could Chris be charged with?” and “what civil claims could Tom bring against him?"

Criminal Charges

There are a variety of crimes that Chris may be guilty of. The two major ones are kidnapping and attempted murder. Kidnapping is defined under Illinois law as “secretly confining someone against their will.” Chris was clearly confining Tom. Assuming it was done secretly, Chris may actually be guilty of aggravated kidnapping, a more serious version of the crime, because he had a carving knife, which would be a deadly weapon for purposes of the law. Aggravated kidnapping is a Class X felony in Illinois, which carries a sentence of between six and 30 years in prison.

However, Chris was doing more than just confining the turkey; he was preparing to cook him, which would be first-degree murder in Illinois. The different degrees of murder in Illinois are based on what the offender was attempting to do. Chris's qualifies for first-degree, the most serious, because he was intentionally trying to kill Tom. The fact that Chris did not succeed in killing Tom Turkey does not matter because he took a “substantial step” towards the murder when he kidnapped Tom. This means that the state could still charge him with attempted first-degree murder, also a Class X felony.

Civil Claims

While the criminal charges would take care of punishing Chris for his crimes, they do not provide Tom with any restitution for his ordeal. Fortunately, Tom can also sue Chris in civil court for several different claims. For instance, Tom can sue Chris for false imprisonment, the civil version of kidnapping, because he held Tom against his will. Tom could also sue Chris for assaulting him, since Chris intentionally acted in a way that put Tom in fear of an immediate harmful contact. Assuming Tom succeeds on these claims he can recover a variety of damages including payment of any medical bills, any wages he lost from his job during his confinement and recover, and compensation for the emotional pain and suffering of almost becoming Thanksgiving dinner.

If you believe you have been a victim of harms like Tom's, or you want to learn more about your criminal rights if you have been charged, contact the Schaumburg personal injury and criminal attorneys at Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC today. We assist clients in Rolling Meadows, Buffalo Grove, Barrington, and throughout the Chicago suburbs. Call 847-934-6000 for a free consultation.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Department of Justice Expands Clemency Opportunities

Web Admin - Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently released changes to the rules that govern which offenders are eligible for clemency. The changes are targeted at federal drug offenders who may have received particularly harsh sentences based on mandatory minimum sentences or other sentencing procedures that are now deemed unfair. The changes affect the 216,000 inmates currently in federal prisons, though preliminary estimates suggest that only approximately 2,000 inmates would be eligible for clemency under the new rules.

What Is Clemency?

Clemency is a power granted to the President under the Constitution that allows him to affect the sentences of federal inmates. Ordinarily, the Office of the Pardon Attorney, a branch of the DOJ, examines the applications initially, and makes a recommendation to the Deputy Attorney General. The Deputy Attorney General then passes their own recommendation on to the President who makes the final decision.

Clemency comes in two forms, a pardon or a commutation of a sentence. A pardon represents the President’s forgiveness of the offender for the crime, and often signifies reform or good behavior. This type of clemency will also remove many civil disabilities that come along with a conviction, such as loss of the right to vote or hold state office. Conversely, a commutation is a lesser type of clemency, which can reduce or eliminate a person’s sentence, but will not remove civil disabilities. Importantly, neither type of clemency reverses a conviction or in any way implies that the pardoned offender is innocent.

The New Rules

The new rules released by the DOJ do not replace the old clemency standards, but instead expand on them. They are mainly targeted at drug offenders, but could apply to any inmate with a conviction for any low-level nonviolent offense. The six criteria that the DOJ will examine are:

  • - The inmate must be serving a federal sentence that would be substantially lower if the inmate were convicted of that same offense today;
  • - The inmate must be a “non-violent, low-level” offender with no strong connections to serious criminal organizations, gangs, or cartels;
  • - The individual must have served at least 10 years of their term in prison;
  • - The inmate must not have a large history of criminal activity;
  • - The inmate must have had good behavior while incarcerated; and
  • - The inmate must not have a history of violence either prior to their incarceration or during it.

While meeting these criteria does not necessarily qualify an inmate for clemency, the DOJ has stated that they would “prioritize” clemency applications from people in these categories since they believe that they may be “especially meritorious.”

If you believe that you or a loved one could qualify under these new, expanded clemency standards, seek advice from a skilled Illinois criminal defense attorney. Our team has experience handling cases from across the northwest suburbs, including in Rolling Meadows, Palatine, and Schaumburg.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

Murder in the Mushroom Kingdom: Is Mario a Knight in Shining Armor or a Dangerous Fugitive?

Web Admin - Tuesday, March 25, 2014

illinois criminal defense lawyer mario murderSuper Mario Bros. is one of the best-selling video games of all time, and its story presents an interesting issue of criminal law. In the game, Bowser invades the Mushroom Kingdom, turns all of its inhabitants into inanimate objects, and kidnaps the princess in order to prevent her from undoing the spell. Then, Mario sets off on his quest to free the princess and the kingdom. At the end of the game Mario confronts Bowser, pushing him into a pit of lava to free the princess. This raises the question of whether Mario’s killing of Bowser was a crime or whether it was done out of necessity or self-defense.

The Crimes

After killing Bowser, Mario would likely be charged with some form of homicide. Illinois law breaks homicide down into four categories: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, reckless homicide, and involuntary manslaughter. Of these types of killing, Bowser’s would probably fall into either first or second-degree murder. First-degree murder occurs when a person kills someone either with the intent to kill them or do them serious bodily harm, or when a person kills someone by taking some action that they know will kill or seriously injure the person. Second-degree murder is the same, except that the killing is mitigated by the fact that the killer is either acting under extreme emotional provocation or that the killer has an unreasonable but sincere belief that they have a legal justification for the killing, such as self-defense.

In Mario’s case, it seems most likely that he would be charged with second-degree murder since Bowser had just turned everyone he knew into inanimate objects, which would definitely fall into the serious provocation version of second-degree murder. Furthermore, Mario probably has a strong legal defense to the killing, which he no doubt sincerely believed.

The Defenses

Mario could raise two defenses in his case that would probably allow him to escape with a not guilty verdict: self-defense and necessity. Both of these are covered by the justifiable use of force section of the Illinois Criminal Code. For the purposes of self-defense, a person is allowed to use deadly force only if they reasonably believe it is necessary to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm” to themselves or another person. Since Bowser had kidnapped the princess and stolen her kingdom that would probably be grounds for reasonable belief that he was going to kill or seriously harm her.

Mario could also use a defense of necessity for the murder, and it would probably succeed. The concept of necessity allows a person to do something that would be criminal if the harm that arises from it is less that the harm that they prevent with the act. Since Mario’s killing Bowser freed the kingdom, and there were no members of law enforcement left, a court would likely find what he did to be necessary.

If, like Mario, you have recently been the subject of criminal charges, seek help from a criminal defense lawyer in Illinois today. We represent accused citizens in the northwest suburban area, including in Rolling Meadows, Arlington Heights, and Schaumburg.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, civil litigation, real estate law, and corporate law. Colin is an active member of the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association and the Illinois Creditors Bar Association. He is currently Vice President of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce, and is a Commissioner for the Village of Arlington Heights. Colin has a 10.0 Attorney rating on Avvo, and was named one of the 2014 “Top 40 Under 40” Trial Lawyers in Illinois by the National Trial Lawyers Association.

The Case of Bear v. Goldilocks

Web Admin - Thursday, February 27, 2014

illinois criminal civil lawyerWhile people often see the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears as nothing more than a children’s story, it can also act as a simple overview of the legal system. After all, Goldilocks commits a variety of different offenses, both civil and criminal, throughout the story. 

The difference between a civil case and a criminal case is that a civil case involves a dispute between two private parties, the Bears and Goldilocks, while the criminal case involves the state pursuing Goldilocks for her illegal actions. Of course, many of Goldilocks’ actions can give rise to both civil liability and criminal charges.

The Civil Case: Bear v. Goldilocks

The Bears have three claims for which they may be able to sue Goldilocks: trespassing on their land, conversion of the porridge, and conversion of the chair. The Bears can easily show that Goldilocks trespassed on their land, but they will likely not receive any money for doing so, since her act of trespassing did not appear to cause any actual damage on its own. 

As for the claims of conversion, the Bears must show three things: that they owned the porridge and chair, that Goldilocks took some act inconsistent with that ownership, and that their property was damaged by Goldilocks’ acts. Since Goldilocks ate the porridge, and then sat in and broke the chair, the Bears can show that she converted those items and recover their value from Goldilocks.

The Criminal Case: The People v. Goldilocks

The state could also bring criminal charges against Goldilocks for all three of those same actions. These charges would be criminal trespass to land, petty theft of the porridge, and criminal damage to property for breaking the chair. However, the state would not have as easy a case as the Bears did suing for those same actions.

Trespassing is a crime in Illinois punishable by up to a $500 fine and six months in jail, but in order to be guilty of trespassing, a person must enter the land after being warned not to, or they must stay on the land after being told to leave. Unless the Bears had posted a sign warning trespassers, it would only be a civil offense. On the other hand, if Goldilocks had entered the house with a plan to commit a crime, she would be guilty of burglary, a class 2 felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The petty theft of the porridge is an easier case. She clearly steals the porridge by eating it, and in Illinois the seriousness of the theft is determined by the value of the item. Since the porridge was probably worth less than $500, it would be petty theft, a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a $2500 fine and one year in prison.

The state could also press charges against her for criminal damage to property for her breaking the chair, but this would likely fail. In Illinois, a person must knowingly damage the property to be guilty of the criminal offense. Because Goldilocks did not know she would break the chair if she sat in it, that charge would probably fail.

If you have recently found yourself involved with criminal charges or civil litigation, contact an attorney today. A Rolling Meadows criminal defense or civil litigation attorney can put their knowledge and legal experience to work for you. Our team serves clients across the northwest suburbs, in areas such as Schaumburg, Palatine, Barrington, and Inverness.

About the Author: Founding partner of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, Colin Gilbert, received his J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of law in 2005. Colin argues cases across many practice areas including criminal defense, collections, real estate law, and corporate law. He is involved in his local Illinois community as an active member of the DuPage County Bar Association, Northwest Suburban Bar Association, and the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, Colin was nominated for 2012 Business Leader of the Year by the Chamber.

Legally Possessing Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Web Admin - Friday, December 06, 2013

On August 1st, 2013, the Illinois legislature passed The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, which allows the use of medical marijuana in Illinois. This bill, which goes into effect on January 1st of next year, expands access to marijuana for those with certain medical conditions. However, the law keeps it illegal for recreational purposes, and tries to maintain public safety by carefully regulating who uses the drug and how much is allowed.

Rules on Marijuana Use

The state legislature placed several restrictions on the legality of medical marijuana. The law allows people to obtain marijuana only if they have one of 33 illnesses listed in the Act. However, the law also gives the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) the authority to add new diseases to the list as they see fit. The Act further limits the use of medical marijuana to people over the age of 18 who do not have a prior felony conviction. The legislature also attempted to control the spread of marijuana by requiring an Illinois ID card or driver’s license, so that people cannot travel to Illinois from other states just to get marijuana. Additionally, the Act forbids the use of marijuana in front of minor children.

How to Obtain Medical Marijuana

The process for acquiring medical marijuana eligibility contains three steps. First, a doctor must diagnose the patient with one of the 33 listed conditions, which include, among other diseases, cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS, MS, and various pain disorders. Once the doctor diagnoses a patient with an eligible disorder, the patient can go to a medical marijuana clinic or other specialist to acquire a doctor’s recommendation for medical marijuana. The patient then takes that recommendation to the IDPH who will issue them an ID card that allows them to purchase medical marijuana.

Once the patient becomes eligible for medical marijuana, they can take their ID card to one of 60 state-regulated dispensaries, and use it to purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Patients should keep in mind that the state heavily controls the supply of medical marijuana, which means that it may take a few months after the bill goes into effect before the medical marijuana actually becomes available.

Legal Help

If you have questions about the legality of medical marijuana, or have been charged with a crime related to medical marijuana, contact an experienced Chicago drug defense attorney today. We serve many areas in the northwest suburbs including Schaumburg, Barrington, Des Plaines, Deer Park, Buffalo Grove, and more.

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