Palatine Punching Death Leads to Murder Charge

Web Admin - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

palatine criminal defense lawyerA recent death in Palatine, Illinois highlights the ease with which a person can find themselves charged with first degree murder. The incident in question relates to the punching death of a 26-year-old man on July 18th. According to police, another man confronted the victim out in front of a local bar. The assailant allegedly threw a single punch and knocked the victim to the ground. Upon falling, the victim struck his head on the sidewalk, and he was rushed to Lutheran General Hospital. The state initially charged the assailant with aggravated battery, but when the victim died, the charges were upgraded to first degree murder.

Understanding First Degree Murder

When people hear the charge of first degree murder they often focus on concepts like wantonness or premeditation, but in reality the requirements for first degree murder are much simpler. The Illinois criminal code states that a person commits first degree murder when they perform an act that causes a person’s death and they either intend to cause the person’s death or great bodily harm, or they know that their actions will cause the person’s death or great bodily harm, or they know that there is a high probability that their act will cause death or great bodily harm to another person. In this case, even the single punch thrown by the assailant could rise to the level of intent to cause great bodily harm.

However, simply having the intent to do great bodily harm does not necessarily, on its own, tell the full story. This is because the law also contains mitigating factors, circumstances that make the crime less serious because of their existence.

Possible Defenses

The law in Illinois codifies two specific circumstances that can reduce a first degree murder charge down to second degree murder. First, the charge can be reduced if the assailant, at the time of the killing, is “acting under a sudden and intense provocation” that was caused by the victim. Importantly, the provocation in such instances must be quite serious, and merely being insulted would not rise to the level of a mitigating factor. Instead, things like watching someone attack a loved one or being involved in a barroom brawl are often cited as possible scenarios that may count as provocation.

The other scenario that can result in a reduction to second degree murder is when a person commits first degree murder, but does so believing that they have a legal justification for doing so. For instance, if the person believes that they are acting in self-defense when they kill someone, but that belief is not reasonable, they still may have their first degree murder charge reduced to second degree murder.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a criminal offense, seek the help of an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today. Our firm can analyze your case, and help ensure that you and your interests are fairly represented in court. We represent clients in towns across the northwest suburbs including in Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, and Palatine.

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.

9 Tips on the Rights and Safety of Bicyclists in Illinois

Web Admin - Monday, October 14, 2013

Motorists may not respect bicyclists on the road, but there are steps bicycle riders can take in order to gain esteem. According to the “Bicycle Rules of the Road,” in Illinois, the best way to avoid harm on a bike is by being prepared for danger and obeying traffic laws.

It is important to note the specific laws directed toward bicyclists riding on the road with other motorists in cars, trucks, and semi-trucks. The following knowledge can help bicyclists avoid a personal injury accident:

  1. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic. Riding in the opposite direction is illegal.
  2. When riding on a sidewalk, bicyclists must obey all pedestrian signs and yield to the right-of-way rule for pedestrians.
  3. Bicyclists must stop for school buses dropping off children.

As a bicyclist, your on-the-road rights include:

  1. Motorists must provide at least three feet of space between them and a bicyclist when passing.
  2. Bicycles may be parked on the road at any angle to the curb where parking is allowed.
  3. At a traffic light, a bicyclist may proceed after yielding to oncoming traffic through a red light that fails to turn green after waiting at least 120 seconds.

Safety is a key factor a bicyclist has to remember. A few proactive protection measures to contemplate are:

  1. Make sure the bicycle is working properly, such as brakes, reflectors, seat and handlebars. A helmet may be considered an essential part of a bicycle, so also be aware of a helmet’s functionality.
  2. Ride as close to the edge of the road as safely possible to maintain distance from motorists, but be mindful of broken glass, grates and parked cars.
  3. Avoid riding at night. If you do ride at night, Illinois law requires that a bicycle must be have front light visible from at least 500 feet and a rear reflector visible for up to 600 feet. Wearing white or reflective clothing can also aid in safe riding.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, the law offices of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, are standing by to assist you. Contact our Illinois personal injury attorneys by calling 847-934-6000 or by visiting our Chicago office located at 233 S. Wacker, Suite 8400.

What Do I Do if I'm Injured in a Texting-and-Driving Accident?

Web Admin - Saturday, October 05, 2013

What Do I Do if I'm Injured in a Texting-and-Driving Accident?

A car accident of any type can be traumatic regardless of who is at fault. In Illinois, there are some important steps to take to make sure you follow the legal and responsible measures after an auto accident, especially a texting-while-driving collision. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, state laws protect your safety. A knowledgeable Illinois personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

After the Car Accident

First, make sure that you do not need immediate medical care. If you do, call 9-1-1 and wait for an ambulance. If you only have slight pains, it is still crucial to see a doctor. If you do not seek medical attention after an accident, you may not be able to receive coverage for future health care costs.

Second, if you are safely able to, gather as much information as you can on the scene. Make contact with the other driver and write down everything, such as their insurance provider, policy number, license plate number, and driver’s license number. Also, take pictures of both vehicles and your injuries on your cell phone.

Next, contact your insurance agency and report the accident. Some providers require you report an accident within a certain period of time, so make sure to contact them as soon as possible. If law enforcement responded to the accident, you can request and send a copy of the police report.

Finally, seek out a committed personal injury lawyer with experience in Illinois traffic accidents. A knowledgeable attorney will successfully represent you by seeking positive results for your car accident case.

Texting-While-Driving Laws in Illinois

Under certain circumstances, if a driver hits you while texting and driving, it is against Illinois law. According to Distraction.gov, the U.S. Government website for distracted driving, the cell phone driving laws for Illinois are:

  1. Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (primary law)
  2. Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers under the age of 19 (primary law)
  3. Ban on texting for all drivers (primary law)
  4. Ban on handheld cell phone use while driving in school or highway construction zone

Generally, handheld and hands-free devices are permitted in Illinois, except while texting. In Chicago, however, all handheld devices are banned while driving. Since the Illinois cell phone driving laws are considered “primary” ones, a police officer can pull you over for the offense without witnessing another violation (as opposed to secondary laws which only allow an officer to pull you over after witnessing another violation).

If you have been injured in a texting-while-driving car accident, contact an experienced Illinois personal injury law firm. The attorneys of Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC, are committed to serving clients throughout Cook, DuPage, McHenry, Lake and Will Counties. Contact DGAA online or call the Chicago and Palatine offices at 847-934-6000.

License Reinstatement After Suspension or Revocation

Web Admin - Friday, October 04, 2013

License Reinstatement After Suspension or Revocation

The most common reason for having your driver’s license suspended is driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and as reported by the Illinois DUI Factbook 2013, “an average of one alcohol-impaired driving fatality occurs every 53 minutes”

across the country. In recent years, many states have initiated extremely strict penalties for driving under the influence, and Illinois is no exception. If a person is convicted of a DUI, even if it is his first conviction of the sort, his vehicle registration is automatically suspended.

Additionally, according to the Factbook, Illinois is one of 32 states

 that require a “first-time DUI offender to have a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) installed on his/her vehicle.” Only once the BAIID is installed on the offender’s vehicle can the driver then be eligible for relief from licensesuspension. If a person is caught driving with a suspended license after receiving a DUI conviction, he or she is guilty of a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony can carry heavy sentences such as a revocation of driving privileges for up to two full years. At a minimum (if the license was suspended for reasons other than DUI), according to the Illinois DMV, driving with a suspended license is “considered a Class A misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $2,500 and up to 364 days in jail.”

If your license has been suspended or revoked, understanding the reinstatement process is the first step toward recovery. The most important part of the process is to enlist the assistance of a qualified attorney. He will be able to help you determine if you qualify for Driver Relief, or Restricted Driving privileges (RDP). According to the Illinois DMV, “RDP usually only covers driving to work or school; sometimes exceptions are made for driving yourself or relatives to medical appointments.” Other types of restricted driving permits include a Judicial Driving Permit, a Probationary License, or a Family Responsibility Driving Permit. To determine if you qualify for any of these, work with your attorney and your local SOS Office.

After the period of license revocation is over, you’ll need to pay to have it reinstated. Reinstating a license after suspension in Illinois isn’t cheap. “These mandatory fees vary according to the reason your license was suspended or revoked,” according to the DMV. You’ll also have to pay for a new license. Your best bet is to work with a qualified attorney.

If you or someone you know has had her license suspended or revoked, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area attorney today.

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