Invasion of privacy and the new laws against so called “revenge porn.”

Over the weekend, a hacker posted nude photos of actresses Jennifer Lawrence and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, which were believed to be stolen from their i-Cloud accounts. Lawrence contacted authorities regarding the photos, and the FBI says it is investigating the claims.

This is not the first time that revealing photos of a celebrity have been hacked, and posted to the internet. In December of 2012, Christopher Chaney was sentenced to ten years in prison after he hacked into the email accounts of various celebrities and co-workers, stole nude photographs from those email accounts, and posted them onto the internet.

Lawrence’s publicist told the Huffington Post that “The authorities have been contacted and will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence.”

It may surprise some that simply re-posting the photographs could constitute a criminal offense. A growing number of States are now criminalizing ‘revenge porn,’ which is generally defined as posting nude, or sexually explicit photographs of someone without their consent, even when the photograph was originally taken with the person’s consent. Illinois does not currently criminalize revenge porn, but that is likely to be short lived. In the last nine months, three such Bills have been introduced to the Illinois House and Senate. invasion of privacy

If you have questions regarding the proposed legislation, give us a call at LauraLaw.

Keep An Eye On Your Speedometer! Maximum Speed on Illinois Tollways Remains at 65 mph

speed limit 65 graphic-page-001Speed limits on Illinois tollways will not increase from 65 mph to 70 mph. Citing safety concerns and the tendency for Illinois’ drivers to exceed the speed limit by 15 mph or more, Governor Quinn noted “the convenience of increased speeds for drivers on Illinois tollways does not outweigh the safety risks to children, families and our dedicated public servants.” Interestingly, last year Quinn signed a bill raising the speed limit to 70 mph on rural interstates, finding that doing so brought “Illinois’ rural interstate speed limits in line with our neighbors’ and the majority of states across America, while preventing an increase in excessive speeding.”

With this recent rejection of increased speed limits, it is a good time to remind our readers of general speed restrictions which can be found in 625 ILCS 5/11-601.

Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed in an urban area for all vehicles is 30 mph and 15 miles per hour in an alley. The Illinois legislature defined urban area as any incorporated or unincorporated area developed primarily for residential and/or business purposes.” The maximum speed in a non-urban area is 65 miles per hour for all highways operated by the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority and for all highways that have at least 4 lanes of traffic. The speed limit is 55 mph for all other highways, roads, and streets.

Remember Julie’s Law! Julie’s law prohibited judges from ordering court supervision for drivers issued tickets for traveling 25 mph over the speed limit in an urban district, or 30 mph over the speed limit in a rural area. Click here to check out our previous blog post discussing Julie’s Law.

Be extra cautious when traveling through school and park zones, as well as highway construction areas. If you have any questions regarding Julie’s Law, a traffic citation, or any other criminal defense matter, give us a call at LauraLaw!

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…
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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 www.lauralaw.org
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 everystockphoto.com

Image courtesy of everystockphoto.com

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 www.freeimages.com

Image courtesy of www.freeimages.com

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.