Truth in Sentencing: Receiving Credit for Time Served Outside of Jail-EHM v. Pretrial Services

When an individual is charged with a crime and awaiting trial, they are subject to pretrial detention. While most people perceive the notion of pretrial detention as being in custody at the county jail, there are other forms of pretrial detention that don’t require an individual to necessarily be incarcerated.

While someone is in custody in jail awaiting disposition of their case, they receive credit for time served in jail for any sentence of prison time imposed by a plea of guilty or finding of guilty. (Ex. A person who serves one year in jail would have that time subtracted from a prison sentence of 2 years thus leaving 1 year).  The calculation should be made from the day of the individual’s arrest to the day of the disposition of their case.  All individuals in custody of Cook County Jail are eligible for time served credit with a few exceptions ranging from committing a crime while in custody to receiving a natural life sentence.

However, time served can be extended to another form of pretrial detention outside of Cook County Jail. Another form of pretrial detention where an individual could receive credit for time served is known as EHM (Electronic Home Monitoring).  EHM is sometimes known to the general public as “House Arrest” or “Home Confinement.” This form of pretrial detention requires an individual to wear an ankle bracelet that monitors their movements.  Typically, the individual is confined to their home for the duration of their case. In some instances, the individual is allowed movement outside of the home for limited purposes including going to work, church, doctor’s appointments, ect. This form of pretrial detention is typically governed under the control of the Sheriff’s Department.  Being under the supervision of the Sheriff’s Department considers the individual to be “in custody” for the purposes of time served.

This form for pretrial detention should not be confused with GPS monitoring through pretrial services. GPS monitoring requires an individual to wear a GPS monitor on their ankle.  The purpose of the GPS monitor allows pretrial to monitor the individual’s movements.  A GPS is typically fitted to keep an individual away from a specific person or place that is the subject of the charged offense.  The individual however would not be eligible for time served in this situation.  Since the GPS monitor is governed by pretrial services, a person is not considered to be “in custody” for these purposes.  Since an individual on a GPS is free from any actual detention and their freedom is not “restricted” under the supervision of pretrial services, they are not considered in custody for the purposes of time served.

However, it should be noted that being on EHM does not necessarily guarantee an individual will receive credit for time served. There are exceptions that disqualify an individual from receiving credit for time served on EHM.  The main exception to the specific offense the individual is on EHM for.  If an offense falls under 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3, then the offense would not qualify for time served credit under EHM.  For example, a person on EHM for a pending charge of Criminal Sexual Assault would NOT be eligible for sentencing credit due to the nature of the offense enumerated under 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.

When someone is on EHM while awaiting trial, they should consult with their experienced criminal defense attorney regarding the issue of time served. This is an important aspect that should be analyzed when evaluating the issue of time served when an individual is considering entering a plea of guilty or evaluating the amount of time a person is facing if they lose at trial.  This analysis is critical when determining the course of action to take in that individual’s case and should be conducted in a meticulous and detailed manner.

Truth in Sentencing: Ways to Reduce Prison Sentences

When an individual has been either convicted of a crime or pleads guilty to a crime and receives a sentence of prison time, the sentence imposed does not necessarily mean that the individual will do the entirety of the imposed sentence. When someone is sentenced to a term of imprisonment, that individual may have options and opportunities to have their sentence reduced while in IDOC (Illinois Department of Corrections).

There are three typical methods than an individual can receive sentencing credit to ultimately have their sentences reduced while serving time in IDOC. The three ways inmates can receive additional sentencing credit at IDOC is through statutory sentencing credit, program sentence credit and supplemental sentence credit.  The opportunities for credit are as follows:

Statutory Sentencing Credit: Statutory sentencing credit is credit that is awarded for most types of offenses pursuant to Illinois sentencing Statute.  For example, some felony offenses offer day for day credit which basically means a person will serve only 50% of their sentence if they do not have any behavioral or disciplinary issues while incarcerated in IDOC.  Other sentences require an individual to serve 75%, 85% or even 100% of their sentence based on good behavior.

Program Sentencing Credit: Program sentencing credit is credit an individual can accrue while serving time in IDOC.  Specifically, an individual can obtain additional credit towards their sentence by participating in classes and programs offered by IDOC.  These classes can range from cooking classes, GED classes to trade classes.  There are also eligibility requirements to qualify for receiving additional sentencing credit from these classes which are classified into three levels:

  • Certain offenders are eligible to have 0.5 days of credit per day of classes taken (Ex. 30 days of class =15 days of sentencing credit).
  • Other offenders can be eligible for 0.25 days of credit if they don’t meet the requirements of the 0.5 days of credit (Ex. 28 days of class = 7 days of sentencing credit).
  • Then certain offenders are ineligible to receive credit for participating in classes but are usually not prohibited from taking the classes.

Eligibility criteria is usually based upon the individual’s disciplinary history and the nature of the offense for which they were either convicted of or plead guilty to. If the individual has a history of disciplinary issues, then they may be disqualified from receiving sentencing credit.  If an individual has been convicted of a specific offense, for example first degree murder, then they would not be eligible for any program credit.

Supplemental Sentence Credit: Supplemental Sentence Credit is sentencing credit that an individual could receive at the end of their sentence.  This credit is not mandatory and it is at the discretion of IDOC to award this credit to an offender.  An individual could be eligible for either 90 days or 180 days off their sentence.  The amount of days awarded are based upon the nature of the offense the individual is serving time for.  For example, a sentence for Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault only allows an individual a possible 90 days credit at the end of their sentence due to the nature of the offense.  While most offenses are eligible for the supplemental sentence credit, certain offenses may not be eligible such as convictions for first degree murder and domestic terrorism.  An offender must have at least served a minimum time of 60 days or as close to 60 days the sentence would allow to be eligible for the credit.

When an individual is imprisoned in IDOC, they should make every attempt to utilize all the opportunities available to reduce their prison sentence. This also gives the individual not only the opportunity for an early release to get back to their loved ones sooner, but it also allows the opportunity for an individual to better themselves in prison.  It gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and trades that could be beneficial when re-entering society after release.  After the individual is assigned to a prison in IDOC, they should immediately consult with their assigned counselor to determine their eligibility and opportunities for additional sentencing credit.

Truth in Sentencing: Consecutive vs. Concurrent Sentencing

In Illinois, when someone is either convicted or pleads guilty to a crime, they are subject to the sentencing parameters of that specific crime. When someone is either convicted or pleads guilty, their attorney should make them the aware of the possible sentences and penalties of their specific charge.  One concept an individual should be made aware of in regards to sentencing is the concept of consecutive versus concurrent sentencing.  When someone is charged with more than one offense or has multiple counts of the same offense, an analysis must be made whether those sentences would run consecutively or concurrently.

Section 730 ILCS 5/5-8-4 in the Illinois Unified Code of Corrections outline all of the offenses in Illinois as to what sentences run consecutive and concurrent. Consecutive and Concurrent are defined as follows:

CONCURRENT sentencing is when someone is convicted of either multiple offenses or counts, that the sentences imposed on each separate charge or count would run AT THE SAME TIME. For example, if someone is convicted of Armed Robbery and Aggravated Kidnapping and receives a sentence for six years on each offense, those sentences would run AT THE SAME TIME.  This concept also applies to a person serving a term for a felony and misdemeanor offense at the same time, as well as if the individual is already imprisoned in Illinois or another jurisdiction for another offense unless the offense is consecutive under Illinois law.

CONSECUTIVE sentencing is when someone is convicted of either multiple offenses or counts, that the sentences imposed on each separate charge or count would run one after another. For Example, if an individual is convicted on five counts of Predatory Criminal Sexual Assault and received a sentence for 6 years on each count, those sentences would run one after another thus resulting in the individual serving 30 years in The Illinois Department of Corrections.

Most of the time, consecutive sentencing is mandated by statute and the Judge cannot deviate from mandatory consecutive sentencing. There is also a concept known as permissive consecutive sentencing.  The court has discretion impose permissive consecutive sentencing under limited circumstances.  Those limited circumstances are as follows:

(c) Consecutive terms; permissive. The court may impose consecutive sentences in any of the   following circumstances:

(1) If, having regard to the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and character of the defendant, it is the opinion of the court that consecutive sentences are required to protect the public from further criminal conduct by the defendant, the basis for which the court shall set forth in the record.

(2) If one of the offenses for which a defendant was convicted was a violation of Section 32-5.2 (aggravated false personation of a peace officer) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/32-5.2) or a violation of subdivision (b)(5) or (b)(6) of Section 17-2 of the Criminal Code of 1961 or the Criminal Code of 2012 (720 ILCS 5/17-2) and the offense was committed in attempting or committing a forcible felony.

Sentencing is a very complex legal concept. An individual and their attorney must be aware of all sentencing concepts and parameters in their case.  Because the knowledge of consecutive and concurrent sentencing is imperative to how to approach a criminal case.  Not having the knowledge of consecutive and concurrent sentencing concepts can have devastating results upon a client’s case.  Wigell Criminal Defense has handled many cases involving consecutive and concurrent sentencing for over 40 years.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us regarding your case.  We are here to help.

 

My Loved One’s Bail is Too High; Can It Be Reduced?

In many criminal cases, and certainly with regard to felony cases, a judge will set a bond. In Illinois, ten percent of the stated bond amount must be posted in order for a person to be released from custody. That is, if the judge orders a person held on a $500,000 D-bond (where the D stands for “deposit”), that means that the person must post $50,000 or remain in jail awaiting trial.

 

For many people, $50,000 is a significant amount of money that cannot be obtained easily or quickly. For some people, $5,000 is a significant amount of money to gather in a short period of time. And for some, $500 is a significant amount of money to come up with. Money is relative, and it all depends on the individual defendant and his or her support group that is marshaling the resources to get these funds together for the purpose of bond.

 

If your loved one is in custody on a bond that is too high for you to post on their behalf, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to do what is called a Motion to Reduce Bond, or a Motion for Bond Reduction.

 

725 ILCS 5/110-6 states in part, “Upon verified application by the State or the defendant or on its own motion, the Court before which the proceeding is pending may increase or reduce the amount of bail or may alter the conditions of bail bond or grant bail where it has been previously revoked or denied.”

 

What this means is that bond, once set, is not written in stone. The State may do a motion (that is, make a request) for the bond to be increased or decreased. It is extremely rare for the State to ask for bond to be decreased; they almost always ask for a bond increase. The Judge may examine the bond and increase or decrease it on his or her own motion. The Defendant may also ask for the bond to be increased or decreased – although it would be very rare for a defendant to ask that it be increased, as most defendants in custody are eager to be released.

 

An experienced criminal defense attorney will make a proper request for the bond to be reduced in a case where it is set too high for the person to be able to post. A proper Motion to Reduce Bond requires a detailed mitigation intake, either with the defendant himself or, if that is not feasible, with a family member or friend that knows the defendant, and is aware of important information about his or her life. Common factors in mitigation, which are used for the Motion to Reduce Bond, include things like education, work history, family, and other community involvement.

 

Another way to make a strong argument to reduce bond is to make the Court aware of new information that was not made available to the Court during the first bond hearing, when the bond was initially set.

 

The Motion to Reduce Bond should be written in the proper format and timely filed with the court, allowing for three days’ notice to the State before it can be heard by the Judge. The Judge will typically hear arguments, from both the Defendant and the State, and then make a decision as to whether or not bond should be decreased, or kept the same.

 

It is very unusual to get the bond reduced by more than half of the initial bond amount. That is, if the bond was originally set at $50,000, it would be very unlikely to get it reduced to less than $25,000.

 

If a Motion to Reduce Bond has been heard and denied, that does not mean that it cannot be done again. A second Motion to Reduce Bond can be drafted, filed, and heard. However, with each successive Motion to Reduce Bond, its likelihood of success becomes less and less. What is most helpful to additional motions to reduce bond is new information, or a change in the defendant’s circumstances.

 

So if your loved one is in custody and the bond is too high for him or her to afford, do not lose hope. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney and request that they file a Motion to Reduce Bond to try to convince the judge to reduce the amount that must be posted.

New Law Regarding How Persons Pleading Guilty Are Admonished, Effective January 1, 2017.

Last week, Illinois’ Governor signed into law a change in how persons pleading guilty to criminal offenses are admonished. Public Act 82-553 amends 725 ILCS 5/113-4 to require that the court must admonish a defendant pleading guilty to many of the collateral consequences attendant to that plea.

The new law states that “(i)f the defendant pleads guilty such plea shall not be accepted until the court shall have fully explained to the defendant the following: (1) the maximum and minimum penalty provided by law for the offense which may be imposed by the court; (2) as a consequence of a conviction or a plea of guilty, the sentence for any future conviction may be increased or there may be a higher possibility of the imposition of consecutive sentences; (3) as a consequence of a conviction or a plea of guilty, there may be registration requirements that restrict where the defendant may work, live or be present; and (4) as a consequence of a conviction or a plea of guilty, there may be an impact upon the defendant’s ability to, among others (A) retain or obtain housing in the public or private market; (B) retain or obtain employment; and (c) retain or obtain a firearm, an occupational license, or a driver’s license.”

Public Act 82-553 is effective January 1, 2017 and will help eliminate future surprises for those who plea guilty to an Illinois criminal offense.

How Does a Judge Decide My Loved One’s Bail Amount?

When someone is arrested for a crime, and a bond amount is not set at a police station, the person will appear in court within approximately 48 hours so that a judge may set bond. 48 hours is rather soon after an arrest, and for this reason many people are not able to secure a private attorney for their loved one; in these cases, a public defender appears on behalf of the defendant and represents them at what is called a bond hearing.

 

A bond hearing is a hearing for the purpose of setting a bond. At a bond hearing, the defendant appears before the bond judge for the first time. The prosecution, represented by an assistant state’s attorney, informs the judge of the charges the defendant is facing, and the factual basis for those charges. The factual basis is, in most cases, read directly from police reports.

 

For example, a prosecutor would tell the judge that a defendant was being charged with Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault, and then read aloud a police report in which an officer describes interviewing an adult woman who told the officer that the defendant introduced himself to her at a gas station, lured her into the alley under the pretense of helping him with something, and then raped her. Aggravated Criminal Sexual Assault is the name of the criminal offense; the content’s of the report is the factual basis supporting the charge. The prosecution may ask that no bond be granted, or it may ask for a specific number in relation to a bond, or it may ask for a high bond in more general terms.

 

It is important to note that the factual basis presented at the bond hearing is presented only for the purposes of the bond hearing. It is preliminary information based on preliminary investigation. For example, if the prosecutor at the bond hearing states that the defendant was wearing a red baseball cap, but further investigation reveals surveillance footage that shows the defendant was wearing a blue baseball cap, that does not affect the bond hearing, the case, or the defendant’s constitutional rights, in most situations.

 

The prosecutor also reads aloud the criminal background of the defendant, including convictions for felonies and misdemeanors, as well as all arrests, even if they did not result in a conviction. Important factors for the prosecution to present to the court are the nature of the crime, any criminal background, any previous bond forfeitures (where a person does not show up for court), any bond forfeiture warrants or other warrants, and whether or not the defendant is a danger to the public.

 

The defense attorney then presents to the judge factors in mitigation. A bond hearing is not the appropriate time for the defense attorney to present theories of defense. That is, after the prosecution presents the factual basis and asks for a bond amount, the defense attorney is restrained from telling the judge that the defendant has an alibi, and that at the time that he was accused of being at the gas station, he was actually watching The Price is Right with his grandmother. Theories of defense are not to be presented at bond hearings.

 

Rather, the defense attorney is to focus on 725 ILCS 5/110-5(a), which focuses on mitigating factors that can be considered for the purpose of setting a bond. At a bond hearing, the defense attorney should first do a detailed mitigation intake with either the defendant or a friend or family member of the defendant who knows information about the defendant’s life.

 

The judge is primarily focused on information that tells him whether or not the defendant is a flight risk, what ties to the community the defendant has, and what his or her criminal background is. A defense attorney should be able to discuss all of this and more, including whether or not the defendant is a citizen of the United States, how old the defendant is, if he is married or single, if he has children and if so their general ages, if he works, and if so where and how long he has held that job, his general employment history for the purposes of showing consistent and steady work, his highest level of education, which and how many of his family members live in the general area of the jurisdiction for the purpose of showing a support system that will assure the defendant’s presence in court, any health concerns the defendant may have, any medication the defendant is on, any history of drug abuse or mental health concerns, and more.

 

It is important that a criminal defendant have a criminal defense attorney that is willing to do a detailed intake with the defendant in order to gather all of this information, and present it properly to the judge.

 

The judge will then know all about the charges and the nature of the offense from the prosecution, and all about the defendant’s life and history from the defense attorney, and thus be in a position to make an informed decision regarding the bond.

 

Illinois is a ten percent state, so that means that when the judge sets a D-bond, or a deposit bond, the person needs to have 10% of that amount posted in order to be released from custody. If the judge orders an I-bond, the person needs to only sign a piece of paper promising to appear in court on all court dates. Under rare circumstances, a judge will order a C-bond, or a cash bond, which means that 100% of the stated bond amount needs to be posted.

 

The following is an example of different bonds and how much must be posted:

 

$15,000 I-Bond = requires $0 to be posted

$15,000 D-Bond = requires $1,500 to be posted

$15,000 C-bond = requires $15,000 to be posted.

 

Illinois also allows for property to be posted instead of currency, but the value of the property must be twice the amount of the bond set. That is, in order to post property on a $15,000 D-bond, the property would need to be worth $3,000, which is 2×1500. In order to post property on a $15,000 C-bond, however, the property would need to be worth $30,000.

 

This post applies to Illinois state cases, not federal cases. Federal bond hearings, known as detention hearings, are quite different from state bond hearings, and will be explained further in an upcoming post.

 

Illinois state bond hearings and bond considerations are complex and nuanced, and can affect the criminal case in many different ways. It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you and your loved one navigate these concerns.

My Case Is Taking Too Long; Should I Do a Speedy Trial Demand?

A speedy trial demand is an important constitutional right afforded to all criminal defendants. The exercise of this right, however, is very serious and complex, and one should not go about this alone but should instead consult with – and follow the recommendation of – an experienced criminal defense attorney.

 

Speedy trial demands are governed by 725 ILCS 5/103-5. Every person in custody in Illinois shall proceed to trial within 120 days of filing the speedy trial demand. The 120-day term must be one continuous period of incarceration. For a person who is out on bond, they must proceed to trial within 160 days of filing a speedy trial demand. The legislature’s rationale with this difference in the number of days is that people who are in custody should be brought to trial sooner because they are incarcerated, while people out on bond are at least able to live a semblance of their normal lives and will not be greatly prejudiced by an extra 40 days on their speedy trial demand.

 

It is generally not a good idea to file a demand early in the criminal case. It is generally not a good idea to file a speedy trial demand before your attorney has received all of the discovery. It is generally not a good idea to demand that your attorney file the speedy trial demand, when he or she recommends that it not be filed.

 

All of these warnings are to reinforce the idea that the speedy trial demand is a powerful and complex strategy with significant ramifications. An experienced criminal defense attorney understands the nuances and the ramifications of filing the speedy trial demand, and whether or not it will harm or benefit their client. When an experienced criminal defense attorney makes a recommendation for or against filing the speedy trial demand, it should be strongly considered by the defendant, as the attorney is better aware of how the demand will affect the positioning of the case.

 

The term of the speedy trial demand can be broken if the defendant agrees to another continuance; if the defendant does not agree to the continuance, then the demand will continue to run.

 

Additionally, there is often a period of time between the bond hearing or preliminary hearing and the arraignment in which the speedy trial demand runs. This is because typically, judges at a bond hearing might enter a trial demand on behalf of the defendant, or an attorney might strategically ask for the demand to run knowing that it will soon be broken at the arraignment. At arraignments, the next continuance is typically by agreement, which breaks the term. However, the period of time between the bond hearing and the arraignment can be approximately four weeks, which means that if a defendant in custody later decides, upon advice of counsel, to demand a speedy trial, 30 days have already run on his demand, which means that his case must proceed to trial within 90 days.

 

There are many considerations that must be taken into account before filing a demand. Most criminal defendants are not aware of these multi-faceted considerations with far-reaching effects on the case, and as such are not qualified to decide on their own whether it is in their best interest to demand or not. An experienced criminal defense attorney, who is aware of and can meaningfully consider all of the factors, should be consulted regarding the decision to file a speedy trial demand.

 

 

White Collar Crime-Client Sentencing Exposure: Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise-Class 1 Felony-4-15 Years IDOC Misappropriation of Financial Institution Property-Class 2 Felony 3-7 Years IDOC Theft-Class 2 Felony-3-7 Years IDOC Forgery-Class 3 Felony-2-5 Years IDOC Result: NO JAIL TIME-24 Months Probation, $50,000.00 Restitution

Our client was accused of stealing nearly $100,000.00 from her employer over the course of 4 years.  An internal audit at the company revealed multiple inconsistencies in various accountings which showed a significant amount of money missing.  Further investigation revealed evidence that suggested our client falsified invoices that resulted in money being diverted to her instead of the employer.  As a result, the company terminated our client’s employment and referred the matter to the Chicago Police Department.

Fearful of the potential charges and knowing she needed an experienced criminal defense attorney who was versed in complex financial crimes, client immediately contacted and retained Wigell Criminal Defense to represent her.

The first step Wigell Criminal Defense took to protect the client during the investigation phase was to provide her with what is called an assertion of rights letter.  An assertion of rights letter is a document that the client provides the police or investigating law enforcement agency who wish to question her regarding her involvement in a crime.  The document puts the police on notice that the client is invoking her 5th amendment right to remain silent and her 6th amendment right to refuse police questioning without an attorney present.  The assertion of rights essentially acts a shield that puts the attorneys of Wigell Criminal Defense between the client and law enforcement.

After several months of investigation, the police charged the client with multiple financial crimes that carried significant penitentiary time.  The sentencing structure of these crimes is follows:

  • Continuing Financial Crimes Enterprise is a Class 1 felony.

o    A Class 1 felony is punishable from 4-15 years in the penitentiary.

o   Restitution also is typically a component of a conviction

  •  Misappropriation of Financial Institution Property is a Class 2 Felony

o   A Class 2 felony is punishable from 3-7 Years in the penitentiary

  • Theft is a Class 2 Felony

o   A Class 2 felony is punishable from 3-7 Years in the penitentiary

  • Forgery is a Class 3 Felony

o   A Class 3 felony is punishable from 2-5 Years in the penitentiary

None of this was the sentence our client received.

After conducting a meticulous & detailed review of the complex financial discovery in this matter, Wigell Criminal Defense determined that there were some weaknesses in the case but the strengths of the case outweighed the weaknesses.  After making this determination, the prosecutor approached the attorneys of WCD and made an initial offer of felony probation and an amount of restitution equivalent to the amount which was allegedly to have been taken by the client.

After consulting with the client, the attorneys at Wigell Criminal Defense continued in meaningful negotiations with the prosecutor in an attempt to obtain the best possible outcome for the client.  After further negotiations, the prosecutor reduced the amount of restitution to nearly half of the alleged amount taken.  The client was happy with the result which ultimately kept her out of prison and required an amount of restitution that she was able to afford.

White Collar Crimes Felony Theft Potential Sentence (4-15 Years IDOC) Result: NO JAIL TIME -Reduced to a Misdemeanor

Client was accused of stealing a significant amount of property from his employer valued at approximately $75,000.00.  Client was subsequently terminated from his position and charged with felony theft (Class 1 Felony, 4-15 Years).  When charged with a class 1 Felony Theft, it is alleged that the charged individual unlawfully took property valued between $10,000-100,000.  

When determining the level of misdemeanor or felony to charge the offense at, the Prosecutor typically evaluates the amount of money that is alleged to have been unlawfully taken by the individual charged.  In some circumstances, the nature of the institution where the theft occurred also plays a role in charging decisions.  This type of crime can be charged as low as a Class A misdemeanor and as high as a Class X Felony. *See Footnote 1, Classes of Illinois Felonies.

The client in this situation was charged with a Class 1 Felony which is punishable from 4-15 years in the penitentiary plus fines of up to $25,000.00 plus restitution.  Client and his wife were fearful of the potential lengthy prison sentence that the client was facing.  After being retained, Wigell Criminal Defense immediately began to work on the case.  After consulting with the client on several occasions and conducting a thorough analysis of the discovery, it was determined that the best approach was to negotiate a resolution.

After having detailed discussions with the client, he authorized the attorneys of Wigell Criminal Defense to negotiate with the prosecutor for a possible plea in his case.  The prosecutor initially offered felony probation with the condition of restitution.  The client was very concerned (and rightfully so) to plead guilty to a felony charge due to the fact that it would impact his ability to obtain future employment.

Determined to fight for the client, Wigell Criminal Defense engaged in aggressive negotiations with the prosecutor to attempt to obtain an offer where the client could plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft.  The prosecutor was initially resistant to the idea of offering of a plea to a misdemeanor.  As part of Wigell Criminal Defense’s strategy for negotiations to counter the prosecutor’s position, a mitigation letter was prepared and tendered to the prosecutor.

A mitigation letter is a letter that essentially outlines the positive factors of an individual’s background.  Typically presented in a narrative format, the letter entails the individual’s personal background, work history, educational achievements, family connections and in our client’s case, his lack of criminal background and suggestion of alternative sentences.

But after months of aggressive negotiations and the prosecutor’s detailed review of the mitigation letter submitted by Wigell Criminal Defense, an agreement was reached by all parties.  Specifically, the client would plead guilty to an amended charge of misdemeanor theft and pay an agreed amount of restitution.    

The client was ecstatic with the result and was overjoyed that he would not have a felony on his record for the rest of his life.  Since this case, the client was able to find meaningful employment and move forward from the terrible impact the case had upon his life.  The client will also have the opportunity to seal the misdemeanor conviction after the requisite waiting period has passed.

*Footnote 1

Theft can be charged as either a Class A misdemeanor or a felony in Illinois.  A Class A Misdemeanor is an offense that is punishable by 364 days in jail, up to a $2500 fine, possible restitution and up to 24 months of probation.

Illinois Felonies are classified as follows:

Class 4 Felony: 1-3 Years IDOC

Class 3 Felony: 2-5 Years IDOC

Class 2 Felony: 3-7 Years IDOC

Class 1 Felony: 4-15 Years IDOC

Class X Felony: 6-30 Years IDOC

Murder: 20 years to Life in Prison

ONE DAY, THREE VICTORIES IN COOK COUNTY – MAYWOOD

On May 12, 2016, Wigell Criminal Defense was at the Circuit Court of Cook County in Maywood to finalize dispositions and secure victories in three serious felony cases.

Our first client was charged with Violation of the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act, a Class 3 felony that carries a potential sentence of 2-5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The State’s offer after their review of the discovery was 2 years in prison. Due to our hard work analyzing the file and preparing for trial, while negotiating aggressively with the State, we secured a conference with the Judge pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402. After presenting a full mitigation report, the Judge agreed with our position that our client was not worthy of prison time, and sentenced him to 24 months of felony probation and minimal court fines.

Based on the charges, the Sentencing Range           –>           2-5 years IDOC

State’s Offer                      –>           2 years IDOC

WCD Result                       –>           No Prison – 24 months’ Probation

Our second client was charged with Failure to Register on the Illinois Murder Registry, a Class 3 felony that carries a potential sentence of 2-5 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, in addition to a mandatory 7 days in Cook County Department of Corrections. We spent almost a year fully analyzing the file and continuing negotiations with the State. At a conference with the Judge pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402, we presented a full mitigation report to Judge Kull of the Cook County Circuit Court, sitting in Maywood. Judge Kull agreed that, based on the totality of the facts and argument, this client was not worthy of prison time, either. He sentenced our client to only twelve months of felony probation. As to the matter of the 7 days of jail time, we negotiated with the State to have our client placed on Electronic Home Monitoring, also referred to as house arrest, for 7 days instead of having to be placed in custody at the Cook County Department of Corrections. Our client served his 7 days on house arrest and was thereafter sentenced.

Sentencing Range           –>           2-5 years IDOC

State’s Offer                      –>           2 years IDOC

WCD Result                       –>           No Prison – 12 months’ Probation; 7 days house arrest

Our third client was charged with Continued Financial Crimes Enterprise, as well as other charges including Theft, Financial Institution Fraud, and Conduct Transaction. The most serious charge was a Class 1 felony carrying a potential sentence of 4-15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. After aggressive negotiations and trial preparation, we negotiated an agreement with the State that met with our client’s approval. Our client was sentenced to 24 months of felony probation, with an order of restitution, and minimal court fines.

Sentencing Range           –>           4-15 years IDOC

State’s Offer                      –>          IDOC Prison Time – duration unspecified

WCD Result                       –>           No Prison – 24 months’ Probation

Due to our meticulous preparation of these case files, in addition to some exercises in creativity, Wigell Criminal Defense was able to secure three victories in one day at the Cook County Circuit Court courthouse located in Maywood, Illinois. When defending serious felony matters, it is important to take a holistic approach to the case, which means analyzing the facts, studying the statute and the sentencing parameters, and preparing a detailed mitigation report of all of the important facts and details of a person’s life. Using this approach, we are able to aggressively fight for our clients.

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