New App is Here

New App is Here!!!

WScreen Shot 2014-08-25 at 4.24.27 PM (1)e at Laura Law are excited to announce the launch of our new app, which is  available  right now for free install for anyone using Android devices, and coming very shortly for install for all IOS devices. For all you Android lovers, either click above or find us on the Google Play Store or on Amazon! For all of you Apple fans, I promise it is coming within the next few days. Still, if you can’t wait, click above! So far we have had people from around the world checking out this app. Anyone interested in our firm will be able to meet our staff, follow the blog, or submit a request for a free consultation through the app.

This process has been so much fun and actually taught me quite a lot about law and technology, which will be the subject of an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!

Friday Feature aka, The Law Offices blowing off steam!

khjhfgdfUsually once a week, I like to do a roundup of everything that’s been going on for the week with all of us at the office but today everyone was tired, cranky, and wired from all the Starbucks we drank to keep awake since all of us were blown out of a sound sleep at 3:30am by the Flood Alert! As an aside, while I commend the National Weather Service or the Emergency System or whoever does these alerts, I had to wonder what the heck they think we are all going to do with this information at 3:30 AM. If you, like we usually are, were in the flood zone areas you most likely knew you were flooding and if you weren’t you most likely were not running out at 3:30AM! I could be wrong on this.
Anyways, I digress… After hitting Rolling Meadows and 26th and California and back to the office by 2, Tim felt the need for caffeine and a new toy. So he disappeared and came back with this…
While he was gone, Maddy and I needed to take a few candid pics…!
Hope you enjoy! Have a flood free weekend and stay cool.
And, as always, despite this feature, we are an actual hard working Criminal Defense law firm and if you have any legal needs please feel free to contact us at
PS. We are not planning to go into Aviation Law anytime soon!!!

New law allows defendants who pled guilty access to DNA testing

DNA_Double_HelixA new bill was signed into law by Governor Quinn last Saturday which allows defendants who have pled guilty, or will plead guilty, access to DNA testing that could exonerate them. The law took effect immediately, but to qualify for the testing, the results of the test must not have been available prior to the Defendant’s guilty plea, and must be materially relevant to the Defendant’s claim that they are innocent.

The amendment was introduced by State Senator Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago. According to the Chicago Tribune, Raoule said that “…[E]ven when somebody implicates themselves and there’s a lack of other compelling evidence, there’s a possibility that they didn’t commit the crime.”

Academics have long criticized the plea bargaining process for it’s potential to coerce guilty pleas out of innocent Defendants. The Chicago Tribune reports that the National Registry of Exonerations has found 145 defendants that pled guilty who have later been exonerated, 29 of which were exonerated through DNA testing.

If you, or someone you know, has pled guilty to a crime you did not commit, contact the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask.

New law excuses drivers from handing over their license as bail for traffic offenses

Effective January 1, 2015, motorists who are pulled over and charged with traffic citations will no longer have to give up their license in exchange for the citation. Instead, motorists will be allowed to sign the citation promising to appear in court, or pay the fine.

The new law, Public Act 098-0870, is designed to reduce the inconvenience of being charged with a traffic offense. It was introduced by State Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, along with State Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, and signed into law by Governor Quinn on August 9, 2014.

Losing a driver’s license for even a few weeks can put a serious hamper on a person’s routine. Those whose only form of picture ID is their license to operate a motor vehicle would have trouble traveling, purchasing alcohol, or using an unsigned credit card, without their driver’s license. The new law is meant to correct that, but it still allows the Secretary of State to suspend the driving privileges of those who fail to comply with the citation.

If you, or someone you know, has been charged with a traffic offense, or if you have any questions or comments about the new law, contact the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask.

Blogging Blitz and Office Update!

Greetings from the Law Offices of Laura J. Morask!  As you may have noticed, we have been on a bit of a blogging blitz this week!  We want to hear from you!  What would you like to know about criminal law?  We welcome and strongly encourage any questions or comments!image

What’s Happening at the Law Offices?  Last time we checked in, Laura was prepping for a trial at the end of July and Tim was in Michigan on a federal trial. Since then we have resolved several cases to our client’s satisfaction and look forward to providing the best possible service to all of our clients and the community.  Since Tim has returned, Laura and Tim are prepping for another trial at the end of August.

Last Friday, with good friends, food, and of course champagne, Laura celebrated her birthday!  It’s always important to let loose, enjoy time with friends and family, and most importantly, slow down and enjoy life.

imageBack to school in less than three weeks!  Our summer intern, Jessica, leaves at then end of the week to embark on her summer trip to Colorado.  She will continue to work with Laura and the team during her final year in law school.  Our legal assistant Michael will be starting college in a few weeks.  We wish both of them the best of luck!  We know you will make us proud.

Give us a call or stop in and say hello!  We are here to assist you in your criminal defense, DUI defense, and administrative law needs.  Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!

Mental Health Crisis #2: The Cost to Taxpayers and Alternative Remedies Implemented by Local Courts

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

The astronomical cost to taxpayers for the treatment of mentally ill patients in prisons is about to skyrocket.  The Quad-Cities Dispatched obtained state documents which show Illinois taxpayers “will be billed more than $17.8 million to turn existing prison space into mental health care facilities.”

Closed prisons, such as the juvenile prison in Joliet, will be converted to facilities suitable for seriously mentally ill inmates.  The cost to convert 48 cells at the maximum security Pontiac prison is $800,000.

In an effort to combat the mental health crisis, Cook County established the Felony Mental Health Court Program which “seeks to address the disproportionate involvement of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system.”  The program was implemented in 2004 and “assists individuals arrested for nonviolent, nonsexual felonies who have some level of mental health issues and problems with alcohol or other drugs.”  However, there are strict eligibility requirements: offenders must have “an identifiable diagnosed mental illness” and “be charged with a felony, generally non-violent, offense.”  Click here for information on the program from the Cook County Court website.

Joe McMahon, the Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney, plans to follow in the steps of Cook County and take action to do what he can with his office to divert the number of mentally ill patients ending up in jail.  McMahon stressed to the Tribune that there is a high correlation between mentally ill individuals and involvement with the criminal justice system.  McMahon wants to hire an additional attorney to work in Kane County’s treatment alternative court.  These alternative courts allow selected non-violent offenders the opportunity to address their mental health issues, hopefully reducing their run-ins with the law.  McMahon defined a “typical candidate would be someone with a borderline personality disorder” that has had negative experience with law enforcement and is “self-medicating with illegal drugs.”

If you or someone you know suffers from mental illness and has had a run-in with law enforcement, call LauraLaw for a free consultation.  Even if you do not qualify for the Felony Mental Health Court Program, there may be other options for you.  It is important to hire an attorney knowledgeable in the different treatment options and potential case disposition outcomes that will resolve your case to your satisfaction.

National Night Huge Out Success!

National Night Out was a great success and we want to thank all of those who came out to participate!  This nationwide community events aims to provide preventive information, safety tips, games and activities as an alternative to children hanging around town aimlessly.  We also provide a partnership with our local police where community members interact with them, getting to know them personally so they have a contact to call if they spot trouble in their neighborhood.  This year’s new event was a dunk tank where the sheriff’s police graciously volunteered to be, in good fun, dunked!  Everyone loved it!nno2012_068

As is our custom, the Law Offices of Laura Morask again sponsored the balloon booth game where kids using helium tanks blow up balloons and whichever pops first wins a prize.  Hugely popular!  Our office also donated to the Park Ridge National Night Out Celebration.  It’s important to us to give back and be actively engaged in our local community.

Stay Off Soldier Field! Bears Fan Charged With Felony Criminal Trespass

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

This past weekend, an over-zealous Bears fan ran onto Soldier Field during a pre-season training camp practice. The man was charged with felony criminal trespass in a place of public amusement and held on a $10,000 bond. This incident raises a good question: what exactly is felony criminal trespass? Are there different subparts to the statute for different circumstances giving rise to the charge? What should you do if you have been charged?

Chapter 720 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 5/21 outlines the law on trespass including: criminal trespass to vehicles, real property, state supported land, safe school zones, restricted areas and restricted landing areas at airports, nuclear facility, and places of public amusement.

Criminal trespass to a place of public amusement occurs when an individual “knowingly and without lawful authority enters or remains on any … place of public amusement after having received notice that the general public is restricted from access to that portion of the place of public amusement.”

What is a place of public amusement? The legislature defined public amusement as “a stadium, a theater, or any other facility of any kind, whether licensed or not, where a live performance, a sporting event, or any other activity takes place” for entertainment purpose and access is open to the pubic, “regardless of whether admission is charged.”

Examples of places of public amusement include, Soldier Field, U.S. Cellular Field, Grant Park during Lollapalooza, the United Center, summer plays in parks, and so forth.

Criminal trespass to a place of public amusement is a Class 4 felony punishable, in addition to any jail sentence, by a fine of $1,000.

Another important piece of the criminal trespass statute is the trespass to real property section. An individual may be charged with criminal trespass to real property when he knowingly and without lawful authority (1) enters another’s property after receiving notice entry is forbidden, (2) remains on another’s property after receiving notice to depart, (3) falsely identifies himself as owner/occupant to gain admission, (4) enters a field used for farming/cattle purposes.

This young man’s decision could jeopardize his future. Regardless of whether he is convicted, he has been arrested and charged with a crime: he has a record. Depending on the resolution of the case, he may face many of the challenges discussed in our expungement and sealing blog series. A criminal record is a serious matter. If you have been charged with felony criminal trespass or any other crime, or if you have questions regarding the intricacies, ambiguities, and exceptions of the statute, give us a call at Laura Law.

Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record: Governor Quinn Expands Qualified Sealable Offenses to Include Orders of Supervision or Convictions Resulting From Municipal Ordinance Violations

This past June, Governor Quinn quietly signed legislation clarifying an ambiguity in the Illinois sealing statute.  20 ILCS 2630/5.2.  The changes made to the statute includes fixing a loophole in Section 5/2(c)(2) which lists the offenses that may qualify for sealing.

Note the following changes: Section 5/2(c)(2)(C) now provides “Arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in orders of supervision, including orders of supervision for municipal ordinance violations, successfully completed by the petitioner, unless excluded ….  Section 5/2(c)(2)(D) now provides “Arrests or charges not initiated by arrest resulting in convictions, including convictions on municipal ordinance violations, unless excluded ….

The new law, Illinois House Bill 5815, will go into effect January 1, 2015.  After that date individuals can start filing petitions to seal their criminal records if he or she has been convicted or issued an order of supervision for violation of a municipal ordinance.

What’s the difference between the old statute and the new statute?  The new statute is designed to eliminate ambiguity to change an unfair system.  Under the old laws, only minor offenses prosecuted by the Office of the State’s Attorney were sealable, but under the new law, minor “ordinance violations” offenses prosecuted by Local Village/City Prosecutor are also sealable.

Here are links including a press release issued by the Oak Brook criminal defense attorneys who recommended the legislation and their discussion of the history of the bill.

If you have questions about expunging or sealing your criminal record, contact Laura Law for a free consultation.  Also check out our previous blog posts discussing the expungement and sealing process in Illinois:

Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record Part 1

Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record Part 2

Expunging and Sealing Your Criminal Record Part 3

Mental Health Crisis in the Cook County Jail and Across the Nation

Of the ten thousand inmates at Cook County Jail, at any given time, at least 3,000 of those individuals suffer from a mental illness.  Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart, sat down with WGN news to discuss the ever-pressing issue of mentally ill inmates.  The Sheriff said Cook County Jail is the largest mental health provider in the state, and maybe the nation.

The crisis is coming to a head, and something needs to be done now.

Sheriff Dart, a history major, is responsible for overseeing the mental health care at the Cook County Jail and, as noted by Rick Pearson of WGN’s Sunday Spin, he is the “leader in providing mental health care to Chicagoans.”  Something is wrong with this picture.

Within the last several years, society has increasingly accepted mental illness as a serious, debilitating condition affecting thousands in Cook County, but those suffering from incapacitating mental illness struggle the most with finding medical assistance. Sheriff Dart argued that with the closure of clinics citywide, inmates have nowhere to go.  They can’t make it to the next clinic because of transportation woes, money problems, etc.  As a result, the Cook County Jail has become a leading provider in mental health services because these individuals who, more often than not, are homeless and jobless, commit non-violent petty crimes landing them in jail.

Correctional officers at the jail are given advanced mental health training in order to provide the inmates with the best care possible.  This comes at a cost: it is three times more expensive to take care of the mentally ill in jail.  This problem is not limited to Cook County or Illinois.  Overall, the number of mentally ill inmates has steadily risen since the closing of mental health institutions in the 1970s.

Untreated mental health issues can masquerade as criminal behavior.  We have had clients charged with various misdemeanor and/or drug type offenses whose cases stemmed from deeper untreated mental health diagnosis.  In this economy, for a person with a mental health disease who may have lost their job and insurance, access to their stabilizing medication is often the first thing to go.  This can lead to decompensation or self-medicating with illegal substances, which can lead to being arrested and charged with a crime.  These types of cases an clients are some of the most challenging to handle because the criminal practitioner must become a multifaceted problem solver; including having familiarity and contacts with low cost or free mental health programs, and be open to not only acting as your client’s attorney but basically as a coordinator of services and programs that you may be able to get your client into and increase your chances of convincing a judge to give your client probation or some type of alternative sentence to prison time.

If you or a close friend or family member is suffering from a situation similar to that described above, give us a call at Laura Law.