Domestic Violence Defined: What Does Illinois State Consider Abuse?

Joliet Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic violence is among one of the most controversial topics in both public and private arenas and is a serious matter throughout the world of criminal law. Every state enforces different laws to address domestic abuse, but there are certain circumstances that are considered to be criminal offenses across the United States, regardless of where you live. All are direct threats to a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Is It Really Abuse?

The state of Illinois recognizes that domestic violence comes in many forms. Words hurt, as does mental agitation, manipulation, and any act that forces a person to experience something against their will. Any of the following circumstances are considered by the state to be valid, serious cases of abuse:

• Harassment - Stalking, following, or watching someone to the point where they are uncomfortable, unable to function, or go about their day normally are all forms of harassment. If it interferes with someone’s personal space, distracts them from work or other important obligations, or negatively impacts them emotionally or physically, it is a crime.
• Physical Acts - Physically restraining someone from entering or leaving a space, hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, or forcing someone to have sexual intercourse through coaxing or physical force are all valid domestic violence offenses.
• Forced Will - If someone forces you, a child, or other family member to witness any form of abuse, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, then it is considered domestic violence. These actions invoke terror using intimidation and fear tactics in order to exert power and control over an individual.

Other serious domestic violence criminal offenses include the mistreatment of the disabled and elderly. If someone denies a disabled person access to the care they need or prevents an ill family member from getting the help they need to manage their symptoms or take care of their health, they are abusing that individual.

Does It Count?

If a family or household member has initiated or engaged in domestic abuse, then Illinois law considers it a crime. Spouses, former spouses, parents, siblings, or anyone who at one point shared a home together or might potentially share a child together are considered to be a part of the “household.” Even two people who are dating and not married are considered by law to be a part of a “household” if one of the partners commits an act of violence against the other.
Domestic violence is a crime that has far-reaching consequences and long-lasting effects on its victims, but Illinois criminal law has evolved since the enactment of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The law has made it possible for police officers to better protect victims, their family members, and anyone else impacted by the abuse at the scene of the crime.

Facing Domestic Violence Charges?

If you have been accused of domestic battery or any other criminal offense related to domestic violence, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba understands the justice system and is prepared to provide you with an aggressive, responsible defense against any and all charges. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

Charges Dismissed Against Man Convicted of 1957 Murder

Joliet Lawyer

A legal process consisting of several steps led to the dismissal of murder charges against the man previously convicted of what had once been the nation’s oldest cold case. According to the law, the man could potentially face similar charges in the future, but prosecutors close to the case claim that further prosecution is highly unlikely.

Cold Case “Solved”

In December of 1957, a 7-year-old girl was abducted near her home in Sycamore, then a farming town in DeKalb County. Her body was found some five months later. The case remained open for more than five decades. In 2012, a man who had been questioned by the FBI in 1957 was suddenly back in the spotlight, despite apparent evidence that he had not been in Sycamore at the time of the abduction. Based on a photo lineup using a 50-year old image of the man, an eyewitness—who was with the victim the night of her disappearance—identified him as the person who approached them. The man was subsequently convicted in a bench trial and was sentenced to life in prison.

Vacated Conviction and Dismissal

Dekalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack began reviewing the conviction last year. He believed that his predecessor was wrong in the decision to prosecute, and that the case and evidence did not truly support the conviction. He filed a motion to vacate the conviction, which was controversially granted by Dekalb County Judge William Brady. In his decision, Judge Brady overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial for the previously-convicted man. The man was then released from prison on his own recognizance.

Schmack, however, was not done. Further investigation prompted him to file a second motion, this one asking for full dismissal of the murder charges. This week, Judge Brady agreed and dismissed the murder charges without prejudice. The family of the victim has expressed outrage at the judge’s ruling and has requested the appointment of a special prosecutor. A hearing on that request is scheduled for June.
Without Prejudice

The dismissal without prejudice means that the charges against the man are no longer outstanding, but could potentially be refiled without constituting double jeopardy. While the U.S. Constitution guarantees that a defendant cannot be tried twice on the same charges, the vacated conviction and dismissal of the charges effectively means that, in the eyes of the law, the charges never existed. A dismissal with prejudice means that the judge would have been ruling on the man’s innocence or guilt rather than the procedure, thereby barring future prosecution. Judge Brady refused to do so, saying that it was not his role in this instance. Thus, if supported by evidence, new charges for murder could be legally possible. State’s Attorney Schmack has expressed no intention of prosecuting the man again.

Faced With a Confusion Situation?

If you have been charged with a crime that you did not commit, an experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your future and your rights. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba fully understands the law and the lengths to which some will go to secure a conviction, no matter how thin the evidence against you may be. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free, confidential consultation today.

State Senator Claims Chicago Is “False Confession Capital of the Whole United States”

Joliet Juvenile Lawyer

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, a compendium maintained by the University of Michigan Law School, nearly 150 convicted criminals were fully exonerated in 2015, the highest number in a single year ever. The list included 13 individuals convicted in Illinois of murder and sex crimes. While any wrongful conviction is a matter of great concern, the high rate of false confessions in such cases is alarming, with 27 reported nationwide and eight of 13 here in Illinois. False confessions—while a problem for any defendant—are especially likely when the suspect is a juvenile, as younger individuals are often unsure of their rights and are unable to maintain composure during interrogation.

Based on these concerns, State Senator Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, has introduced legislation to ensure that all juvenile suspects have legal counsel present for entire interrogation process. Sen. Van Pelt says she is looking to protect the rights of young suspects in the state and in her home city. “The one thing about Chicago,” she said. “It is the false confession of the whole United States.”

Current Law and Proposed Changes

Illinois law currently requires counsel to be present for juvenile suspects under the age of 13 who have been accused of murder or sex crimes. Those who are 13 and older, however, can waive the right to an attorney during questioning. Many are concerned that suspects can be talked into waiving these rights without understanding them, thereby increasing the risk for false confessions.

Sen. Van Pelt’s bill would require legal counsel to be present for custodial interrogations of a juvenile suspected of committing any offense. Any statements made without an attorney present would be inadmissible in court. Public defenders would, for the most part, be expected to provide counsel in such situations. The court could then decide if the public defender should be removed from the case based on the family’s ability to pay for private representation.

Opposing Views

Critics of the measure, in its current form, say that vague language may present challenges for law enforcement. Some maintain that police procedures may just need to be improved so that juvenile suspects more clearly understand their existing rights. Others claim that a police conversation with a juvenile does not always begin as an interrogation of a suspect. An officer may just be developing information on a case, but, in the process, the juvenile becomes a suspect. How is the officer supposed to know where exactly to draw the line before statements become inadmissible?

The bill—likely an amended version—is expected to be put to a vote sometime in the current legislative session.

If your child has been charged with a crime and you are concerned about the implications of a false confession, contact an experienced Joliet juvenile defense lawyer right away. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who understands the lengths that some authorities will go to in securing a conviction, and he is ready to fight for your child’s rights. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.


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