The Law Offices of Marnie M. Slavin P.C.
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Judged By the Company You Keep…

Written by Marnie Slavin

Not intended as legal advice.

Here is a hypothetical scenario for you…

Three men decide they are going to rob a bank. They create a plan where they are
going to use toy guns that look real, just to scare the teller into giving them the
money. They don’t actually want to hurt anyone.

Guy #1 and Guy #2 go into the bank, while Guy #3 stays in the car so they can make
a quick getaway. Unbeknownst to Guy #2 and Guy #3, Guy #1 takes a real gun, just
for protection, but he doesn’t plan to use it. While at the bank, Guy #1 panics when
sees a security guard there that they didn’t plan for, so he takes out his gun and
shoots. The guard later dies. When all three guys get arrested, all three are charged
with murder. All three men are later found guilty of murder

How is it that the Guy #2 and Guy #3 are guilty of murder? They didn’t know Guy
#1’s plan, and in fact, they had a different plan already in place. This may seem
especially wrong when Guy #3 never entered the bank and certainly appears less
culpable than the other two men.

In Illinois, as in most states, if you plan to commit an illegal act and you take steps
towards committing that act, anything your accomplices do falls on your shoulders
as well. We all have heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together”. This is its
application under the law.

This theory in the law becomes especially scary when dealing with teenagers.
Sadly, teenagers are often easily influenced by their peers. This can be especially
dangerous when they are influenced to participate in illegal activities.

In my career, I have seen a scenario like the one I am about to describe on a frequent
basis. Three teenagers decide to rob a friend of theirs house. Kid #1 and Kid #2
go into the house to take video games and jewelry. Kid #3 stays outside, as he
doesn’t feel comfortable participating. He doesn’t tell his friends he doesn’t want
to participate, he just hangs out outside, thinking if he doesn’t enter, he isn’t really
involved the wrongdoing. When the police arrest Kid #1, he confesses everything,
including that Kid #3 was outside the house waiting for the other two kids. The
police arrest Kid #3 as the “lookout”.

Even scarier is that in Illinois, when you are seventeen, you are, in the eyes of the
law, both a juvenile and an adult. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you
remain a juvenile, with the ability to receive juvenile consequences that are geared
more towards rehabilitating the minor than strictly punishing the minor. However,

if you are seventeen and commit a felony, you will be charged as an adult and face
adult consequences.

So in the situation of our kids above, if Kid #1 is seventeen and Kid #2 is sixteen,
they could receive very different consequences. Unless Kid #1 received an
amended charge, he would be looking at a mandatory prison sentence to the
Illinois Department of Corrections,, Adult Division whereas the court would have
the discretion to sentence Kid #2, for the exact same charge, to probation with
rehabilitative services.

The law has many facets to it and the paths are sometimes unclear to the untrained
eye. This is the reason it is imperative to have an attorney help you navigate these
muddy waters.

If you have questions or need representation, please call me at (847) 208-7959.

Lessons Learned from Reese Whitherspoon’s Arrest

Written by Marnie Slavin

Not intended as legal advice.

Reese Whitherspoon and her husband, James Toth, were arrested in Atlanta on April 19th.   Supposedly, Reese hung out of the car yelling at the police officer arresting her husband.  When instructed by the officer to sit down and be quiet, she got out of the car screaming, resulting in her being arrested for Disorderly Conduct.  America’s sweetheart did everything wrong and is now facing criminal charges and humiliation.

What should Reese have done?  Well to start will, never “piss off” a cop!  A good rule of thumb is to always be polite to the guy or gal who holds the handcuffs.

Even if you disagree with the officer’s judgment, do not be disrespectful.  And NEVER try to pull away from the officer.  This is true even if the officer is completely 100% wrong in arresting you.  CNN says that Reese struggled with the officer as he tried to cuff her.  If this officer really wanted, he could have charged her with Resisting Arrest.  Resisting arrest is extremely hard to beat – there is almost never a defense for resisting the officer.  If an officer arrests you, you MUST go willingly and cooperate with the arrest.

Now what does cooperate with the arrest mean?  That means you must provide the officer basic information about yourself.  You cannot refuse to tell the officer your name, address, and birth date; additionally provide license, registration and insurance if you are pulled over when driving.  You also cannot lie.  So you cannot give your brother’s name in an effort to avoid arrest or prosecution.  This is Obstructing Justice and there is almost no defense to that either.

Now with this being said, this is all you really have to say.  You do not need to, nor is it typically a good idea, to tell the officer any information regarding the incident for which you are being arrested.  Police officers may legally lie to you in order to get you to confess.  Typically, these lies come in the form of:

“If you tell me what happened, I will let you go home.  Otherwise, you will go to jail.”

“If you tell the truth, I will go easier on you.”

“If you tell me what happened, I will charge you with a misdemeanor instead of a felony.”

“I am a juvenile officer, my job is to protect your rights.  You can trust me.”

As a general rule, you are better off spending a night in jail than admitting to a crime.  Once you give up your Fifth Amendment right to say nothing, it is very hard for an attorney to take back what you said.  It is usually best if you contact an attorney, prior to making any statement.  And the police must allow you to contact your attorney.

Response to Police Questioning Wallet Card:

Click on the image below and print:

Affordable Lawyer Police Questioning Response

 

More than Getting Out of Jail–A Social Worker’s Thoughts on Criminal Defense

Written by Maria Campos, a Social Worker not affiliated with The Law Offices of Marnie Slavin.

Not intended as legal advice.

As a graduate student, I was offered two tracks in my social work program–clinical or administration.  I chose the clinical route because I wanted to counsel people directly.  However, I became a social worker for criminal defense lawyers. I imagined I would be doing all administrative work and none of the clinical.  I was wrong.  I actually do a hybrid of the two.  My job definitely involves paperwork and lots of it.  But it also involves counseling, court appearances, evaluations, assessments and a plethora of other things.  I assist the attorneys at my office with whatever they need in regards to their clients’ well-being.  Most of the time this means finding treatment. Treatment is the catch all word for any kind of rehabilitation services that our clients might need in order to mitigate their sentences.  To be honest, some clients actually want the treatment but other just want to avoid jail. This also means I spend a great deal of time on the phone, writing letters, sending faxes and trying to get in communication with intake coordinators who could potentially accept my clients into their treatment facilities.  In addition to intake coordinators, there are probation officers, court services, clerks at magistrate and district courts, officers and staff at the jail and countless other people who work behind the scenes that you have to coordinate with in order for everything to run smoothly.  It’s a hectic job to be sure but no two days are even remotely the same so things are never boring.  One day I might be doing counseling at the jail and the next day testifying in a juvenile bench trial. Another day I might be coordinating competency evaluations and meeting with clients at the courts.  You never know.

One of the most important, if not THE most important thing I have learned at my job is our clients are not criminals. Well, legally speaking the state may consider them criminals, however, the overwhelming majority are decent people who started life with the odds stacked against them.  More often than not, when talking to my clients, I hear real life stories of abuse and neglect stemming from childhood which led to substance abuse as adolescents and adults.  Never have I been so aware of how lucky I have been in my own life to have two caring parents and a roof over my head.  My job gives me the opportunity to work with people in such a way that is hard to describe.  It is incredibly fulfilling in so many different ways and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a highly human experience.

Free Lawyer if in Chicago Police Custody

Written by Ari Mathew, an attorney not affiliated with The Law Offices of Marnie Slavin.

Not intended as legal advice.

First Defense Legal Aid– A Resource Every Chicagoan Should Know

(800) LAW-REP-4
(800) 529-7374

Free lawyer: Twenty four hours a day, every single days of the year. If you, a friend or a family member is arrested and taken into Chicago police custody First Defense will send an attorney to the police station, help you assert your rights and document any police misconduct.

Young or Old, Rich or Poor: First Defense only screens its calls as to whether you are in Chicago Police custody. Your age and income level are not factors as to whether First Defense provides you a free lawyer.

It Could Happen to Anyone: Here is a hypothetical. Your son is waiting for you to pick him up from the playground where he is playing basketball with his friends.  His friend asks your son to hold his backpack. The police come by and ask your son to see inside the backpack. Your son gives the bag to the police. In the bag they find a large amount of marijuana and arrest your son. You arrive at the playground only to find your son is arrested. You panic. What should you do?  The answer, every time, is to call (800) LAW-REP-4. [(800)529-7374].

Don’t Try to Talk Your Way Out: I cannot stress enough how important it is to have lawyer present instead of trying to handle the police on your own. The average person on the street does not understand his or her rights when it comes to interacting with the police. The police are trained to take advantage of this fact.  Often, a parent will try to resolve the situation without a lawyer; perhaps encouraging the child to own up to his actions. They assume if they play fair then the police will play fair; however, the police are legally allowed to lie to you.  Only a trained attorney will know how to deal with the police in this situation.

Let First Defense do the Legwork: First Defense also provides another valuable service. If your friend or family member is arrested often the police refuse to release whether your loved one has been charged or their next court date. As attorneys, it is easier for us to get this information to you. Again, someone will be available to help you whether it is right this instant or 3am on New Years.

 

How Good Parenting Makes Police Work Easy

Written by Ari Mathew, an attorney not affiliated with The Law Offices of Marnie Slavin.

Not intended as legal advice.

“Did you brush your teeth?” my mother asked me.

“Yes” I replied meekly.

My father looked cross while my mother left the room.  “You have been watching TV in the living room for an hour, correct”

“Yes, Dad.”

“Before that you were playing basketball, right?”

“Uh huh”

“And before that was dinner?”

“I guess.”

“You brushed your teeth after dinner right? Because if you brushed them before dinner then you would have to brush them again. You realize that?”

“Uhhh…”

My mother comes back from the bathroom with my toothbrush. Her fingers are lightly tapping the bristles. “The toothbrush—it’s dry; no one has used it for hours.”  She shoots me a long cold stare. “Just tell us the truth son. It will be okay.”

“Well, I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth but I guess if the brush is dry…”

“Son” my father interjected “You should not lie to us, but brush your teeth now and go straight to bed.”

I had disappointed my parents and received the minor punishment of an early bedtime. However, I was the better for it. I did not want to disappoint my parents, thus, I was less likely to lie to them in the future.  They also used this opportunity to educate me on the importance of brushing my teeth. My father opened his mouth to show me a mess of metal from past cavities he had filled. This was good parenting. They did not let me off the hook but there was no severe punishment either. When they told me it would be okay if I told them the truth they were not lying.

Similar scenarios surely occur with parents and children regardless of economic status, race or geography. A child messed up and a parent sets him straight.

So how do good parents get us in trouble later in life? Well we learn to trust authority. We learn that if we admit our faults and own our mistakes the punishment will not be so harsh. It is a good lesson for our personal lives.

However, legally it could be nightmare. Police officers know this and use it against us. Though, it is a crime to lie to the police, the police may lie to us. They tell us if we admit to a crime it will be okay. If we fess up the penalty will be less harsh. The vast majority of the time this is not true. They just get the confession and it becomes ammunition in court.  If failing to brush teeth were a crime and my parents were police officers I would have two marks on my record. One for failing to brush my teeth and another for lying to the police.  If I had remained silent and objected to the search of my toothbrush, I could have gotten away with it.

This is true even for something as simple as a speeding ticket. Do you know how fast you were going? “Yes, 70 MPH.” An admission of guilt. “Yes, 55 MPH” A lie and a crime. “No.” An admission of ignorance.  “Are you permitted to give warnings officer?”  That is a good one.

A crime any more serious and “I won’t talk without my lawyer,” will usually be the best answer you can give.

The best of us want to own up to our mistakes. We want to confess when we slip up morally. Our family, many of our religions, and our instincts tell us it’s the right thing to do.  Do not worry; you will get a chance to do so. Usually, the best time to do this is after we have been charged with a crime, when we have a lawyer to negotiate the terms of our admission.  Rarely is it in our best interest to confess to the police.