The Law Offices of Marnie M. Slavin P.C.

Judged By the Company You Keep…

By Zachary Belinsky • May 9, 2013 • Filed in: Criminal Law Ranting

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.

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