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Resisting Police: How it Happens and What to Do

Joliet resisting arrest attorney

Movies like The Fugitive, Con Air, and U.S. Marshalls lend an air of glamour to the idea of being an innocent fugitive from justice. But, like most things glamorized in the movies, the reality is generally harsher, and fleeing the police fleeing the police rarely leads to a happy ending.

Resisting Law Enforcement in Illinois is a Serious Matter

Illinois law makes it a Class A misdemeanor to knowingly resist or obstruct a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee who is acting within their official capacity. The maximum punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. In addition to any other sentence, there is a minimum statutory punishment of 48 hours in jail or 100 hours of community service. If the violation results in injury to the officer, the violation becomes a Class 4 felony. Court supervision is not an option for this crime, so a conviction results in a permanent blot on your record.

The Definition of Resisting Arrest

Illinois law does not provide a clear and simple definition of resisting or obstructing a police officer. Some examples of behavior that might lead to a charge of resisting arrest include:

• A police officer tells someone they are under arrest and to put their hands behind their back to be handcuffed, but the person refuses to comply, tries to pull away, hits or wrestles with the officer, or runs away.

• An officer asks someone to clear the area of a crime scene, and that person refuses to leave.

• A group of people get into a fight at a large gathering. Police arrive and try to break up the fight. As a police officer grabs one individual from behind, the individual struggles, and the police officer suffers a sprained wrist. Even if no one gets ticketed or arrested as a result of the brawl, the person who injured the police officer could still end up with a charge of resisting/obstructing.

• A large political protest becomes unruly. Police begin citing some of the protesters for offenses such as criminal trespass and obstructing traffic. One protester carrying a large sign on a hefty pole refuses to back off when ordered to do so and his sign makes solid contact with a police officer.

What to Do if You Find Yourself Charged with Resisting Arrest

First, keep a tight rein on your mouth. To the police, say only, “I wish to remain silent. I wish to speak to an attorney.” Do not talk about your case to anyone other than your attorney.

Second, try to remember and write down everything you can about the incident, including anyone who might be able to serve as a witness. Remember, the State must still prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Your attorney can conduct a full investigation, including review of any video recordings that may have been made by police dash cameras or body cameras, citizen smartphones, or business security cameras. Your attorney may be able to show that your behavior fell short of “resisting or obstructing” or that the identity of the police officer was not clear. Whatever the evidence, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a better deal than you could on your own.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

When the police show up, the human “fight or flight” instinct often kicks in. It is a common mistake, but nonetheless serious. If you are charged with resisting arrest, contact a Will County criminal defense lawyer immediately. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.

Avoiding Fleeing and Eluding Charges During a Traffic Stop

Joliet fleeing and eluding attorney

If a police officer begins to follow you while you are driving, you may be unsure how to react. Once you see the flashing lights behind you, it may be tempting to keep driving, especially if you do not believe that you have committed a traffic crime . However, if an officer is attempting to pull you over, one of the worst things you can do is try to elude them.

Signs that You Should Stay Put

Police officers may give visual or audible indications that a driver needs to stop moving. These can include:

• Hand signals

• Verbal orders

• Sirens

• Red or blue lights

Failure to stop after a police officer has given these signals can lead to criminal charges.

What You Should Not Do

If a police officer has given you any of the above signals to stop driving, you should pull over to a safe location and wait for further instruction. Failing to stop begins as a misdemeanor charge, but can be increased to a felony if the driver breaks certain laws or causes injury. If you are asked to stop, you should avoid doing the following:

• Speeding up - Driving faster can indicate to police officers that you are aware that you are being asked to pull over, and are purposely trying to evade them. In Illinois, driving 21 miles or more over the speed limit after an officer has indicated that a person must stop is considered aggravated fleeing or aggravated attempting to elude , which is a felony charge.

• Turning off car lights - Dimming or turning off the lights of a vehicle upon an officer’s approach can signal intent to flee. Driving without headlights can be dangerous for both the driver and other drivers on the road and can result in crashes. When driving with dimmed lights, you will not be able to clearly see what is in front of you, and other drivers may not be able to see your car as well. Drivers who injure another person while eluding a police officer can be charged with felony aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude.

• Modifying your license plate - Altering or concealing a license plate in any way while driving is illegal, and, when combined with evasion, can result in a felony charge.

Contact a Joliet Traffic Violations Defense Attorney

Evading a police officer can escalate a traffic stop situation, resulting in more serious charges than you would have received if you had complied with the officer’s directions. At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, we are well-versed in strategies that can be used to avoid a conviction or reduce your sentence. To schedule a free consultation with a Will county traffic offenses lawyer , call 815-740-4025.

What Rights Do Witnesses Have in Criminal Cases?

Joliet criminal attorney

You probably already know many of the rights a defendant in a criminal court case has. Things like the right to counsel, the right to remain silent, or the right to a prompt trial are guaranteed to everyone regardless of the charges brought against them. Witnesses in a criminal case also have certain rights and responsibilities.

Types of Subpoenas

If you have received a subpoena or witness summons, you are required to either provide information or be present for some type of legal proceeding. A “subpoena ad testificandum” is a witness summons that orders an individual to testify during legal proceedings. On the other hand, a “subpoena duces tecum” orders an organization or individual to bring physical evidence before the ordering authority. Often, this is subpoena is used for requesting copies of documents important to the case.

Can Witnesses Decline to Speak?

If you have received a subpoena to either testify or provide evidence, you are required to show up and/or provide the information needed. However, the Fifth Amendment gives you the right to refuse to answer questions which will incriminate you. This is colloquially called “pleading the Fifth.” The husband-wife privilege also gives witnesses the right to refuse to testify against their spouses. It is important to note that if you do choose to testify, you are required by law to tell the truth. Anyone answering questions in front of a grand jury, on the witness stand at trial, or during a deposition is under oath, so lying could be considered perjury.

Victim Witnesses Have Additional Rights

Witnesses who have been victims of crime have added rights. Victims have the right to be informed about the status of the investigation, any relevant court proceedings, and regarding the release or detention of the alleged offender. Unlike other witnesses who are only allowed in certain parts of a trial, victims are welcome at all public court proceedings related to the crime.

Witnesses Can and Should Have an Attorney

If you are or will be a witness in a criminal case, it is smart to have your own attorney. A criminal defense attorney can help you avoid incriminating testimony and understand which questions you do not have to answer. If you need a criminal defense lawyer in Joliet , Grundy County, or Will County, Illinois, contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. for a free consultation. Call (815) 740-4025 to speak with a member of our team today.

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