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swat team

Here’s some jumbled up thoughts for you this Labor Day Weekend

 

Labor Day in the United States is a holiday to celebrate the American Labor movement.  As it turns out my great Aunts were part of the Great Sit Down Strike of 1937, so that explains a bit of my lefty leanings.  Many people will spend Labor Day with their local police departments after a DUI arrest, it turns out that in our area it is much more likely that you will spend time with the Bull Valley Police Department (statistically) than other departments for reasons I don’t understand.

Which brings me to a topic that I don’t often see written about, except here.  Are the police, and the justice system more hassle than they are worth?  I know, radical concept.  Let’s see if I can walk you through it and see what you think.

Police Departments were first formed in London, as an alternative to the military being the police.  The thought was, when the military came into ‘take care of a problem” back in those days, you could usually count their effectiveness with dead bodies and severed limbs of rioters or gang members.  Because that was thought to be a bit uncivilized they invented police departments.  Police would wear blue rather than military red to try to distinguish themselves from the police.  It is interesting that the police of today now try to look MORE like the military.

But what do the police departments accomplish?  Well, they make us wear seatbelts, stop at stop signs and slow down out driving.  They keep us safe, except of course for the times when they are the problem:

Here’s a video clip of the police harassing someone because that’s what the police do.

Nobody ever asks do we have too many police.  Our local budget for the police at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office is 29 million dollars.  And the 400 or more Sheriff’s Deputies do not include the 27 other entities that have law enforcement officers in our county.  In our county if you call the police they come.  Sometimes they come 5 or 10 at a time.  It is not really a matter of having too few officers.

But, do they really help?  Let’s talk about the average case, not the extreme case.  The average cop interaction with the police is a seat belt ticket.  What was accomplished?  I was safer?  What did it cost me?  $65-$320 depending on which court costs were added. Where would we be without seatbelt/speeding/stop sign tickets?  Arguably richer, but what was gained by having the police stop me?

Let’s look at the extreme case.  Without the police we could imagine that there would be gangs who stopped cars on the highway and take $500 payments from them to allow them on their way.  Compare that with roadside safety checks. A municipality will collect a $500 administrative fee (using the police) if a persons license is suspended because at some point they didn’t have insurance. This payment is taken regardless of whether the person knew about the suspension.  Do the $500 payments being taken from the driver differ, from the point of the driver?  In either case he is out the $500 bucks.

Lastly, while it’s hard for a whitey like me to explain, without police there would be fewer “persons of color” expected by the police to “Respect Ma Authority.”  And fewer things for the people of Ferguson to protest or riot against.

If we didn’t have police would the world be all that different?  The answer is of course yes.  The landlords and the rich corporations wouldn’t have an essentially free force to remove people from their property, they would have to hire their own thugs, and you could argue they would be more brutal.

I hope everyone has a great Labor Day.  I wonder when we will have a Police Day?

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. He is one of those lawyers.

How $500 ended the world

The City of McHenry has vowed to use $150,000 to prosecute (take to trial) DUI cases this year. (THIS IS A BRAND NEW IDEA THIS YEAR). This seems like it might be silly for several reasons:

1.  The number of DUIs that The City of McHenry, Illiinois has written has gone down for the last five years EVERY YEAR

2013:  63 DUI arrests,

2012  91 DUI Arrrests;

2011  97 DUI Arrests;

2009 144 DUI Arrests.

Why exactly would you want to spend more money prosecutiing FEWER DUI charges?

2.  The City has just changed attorneys representing the City in DUI cases.  Are the newer attorneys more expensive?

I wonder if it costs more to take a DUI case to trial, or to negotiate it?  I wonder if the attorney who has the contract with The City of McHenry makes more money if the case goes to trial?

I wonder if there is a little moral hazard paying an attorney more for taking DUI cases to trial.  I wonder if there is even more problems with announcing that you are going to spend $150,000 on DUIs … when there are fewer DUIs.

When do you think someone will suggest that maybe we should save some money and lower the number of police patrols because there are fewer DUIs out there?

My guess would be never.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. He is one of those lawyers.

video camera

You can video record the police. It had been in Illinois that if you video recorded the police it could have been charged as a Class 1 Felony.

“Until 2012, Illinois had the toughest eavesdropping law in the country. It barred recording all or part of any conversation unless the person doing the recording obtained the consent of all parties to the conversation.

If a police officer was one of the parties, the offense was elevated to a Class 1 felony with a possible sentence of four to 15 years in prison.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged that portion of the law, arguing that citizens have a right to record police officers in public, including what they say in public.

A federal appeals court agreed and issued an injunction in 2012 blocking the portion of the Illinois law that dealt with police officers. Then last March, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the entire eavesdropping statute, ruling that it was overly broad because it could be applied to a range of recorded conversations never intended to be private, like a loud argument on the street or fans cheering at an athletic event.”

Why? you ask.  Why could it be charged like that.  Well it’s kind of a simple reason.  Illinoisians are content with their lives.  They are disinterested in their right to be free individuals, unless of course it is the right to get HBO or Cinemax on cable.  They inexplicably allow the government to run over their right to be left alone in almost every possible situation.  They have said that the police may stop their cars because they are not wearing seat belts.  The police may stop them for talking on a cell phone.  The police may stop them for tossing a cigarette butt out of the window.  Literally any infraction of the totally made up laws of Illinois will allow the police to intervene in a citizen’s life.

You will hear Illinoisians telling you how they are glad they don’t live in Nazi Germany, or Communist Russia, because they are free in Illinois.  Free to follow the rules.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. He is one of those lawyers.

Road side body cavity search

I was looking at videos on YouTube and I searched How to Beat a Bull Valley DUI.  I like to look at the latest DUI attorney advertising, just to see what is being said out there.  And Bull Valley is very near the city where my office is located in Woodstock, IL.

It occurred to me that the general public might not understand a basic fact of the law of Illinois (or insert your state here).  When a person “beats” a DUI, it doesn’t mean that they weren’t driving under the influence.  Recently one of my clients was pulled over because a “white car” had left the scene of a disturbance.  They stopped her car (because it was white) and discovered that she was figuratively drunk out of her mind.  But the police officers did not have a valid reason to stop the car.  (I don’t believe I have to explain to you here that police officers can’t pull over cars just because they are white).  So the municipality dismissed the case on the date we had the case set for hearing.

However, when I look at these … “We can “beat” the DUI sites” they really fail to mention what happens if the police officer had a good reason to stop the car.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with taking a case to trial and putting the state to its evidence (provided that you don’t have to pay a “trial tax*”).  A local high volume attorney took two such cases to trial and lost thus the drivers received convictions (that the judges later changed) for first time DUI cases.  When a driver gets a conviction in Illinois their license gets revoked.  So I am pretty sure the tensions ran high at the high volume place until the judge relented and changed his mind about convicting the drivers who chose to go to trial on their DUI cases.

But how many DUIs can be beat?  I know from time to time our local state’s attorney loses his mind and insists that there be “no deals” in DUI cases.  Of course he ends up losing a lot of cases when he does that.  He begins to rethink that “no deals” position just as the newspaper discovers that the state’s attorney seemingly can’t win any DUI cases.  It is during those times when many DUI cases are sent to trial that it is exposed how many DUI cases would fail at trial.  And it turns out that a surprising number do fail at trial when taken to trial.

But the question that I a most interested in, because I am a lawyer, how many DUI case results are changed by a lawyer?  If you ask the lawyers the answer is all of them.  However, if that is true, “Then, Why do we run a DUI system that is so gamey, that it matters what attorney you choose?”  And, “Why do we allow the criminal justice system to operate in such a way that it matters what attorney you hire?’ (Or what 5 attorneys you hire if you are O.J. Simpson).

It would be interesting to do some scientific analysis to see if judges impose trial taxes, and whether it makes a difference which attorney you hire for a particular DUI.

 

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.  He is one of those lawyers.

 

*A trial tax, is an addition to the sentence by a judge of a defendant who took their case to trial, rather than enter a negotiated plea.  The term is mostly theoretical because we can never know what they would have been sentenced to if they had not went to trial because that was before the judge knew fully about the case.

crystal ball 1

1984 DUI

Illinois law says that if you have had a prior DUI that you received supervision for you may not receive supervision for your next DUI.  There is no limit for the amount of time between the DUI.  This causes a little consternation for those who have DUIs that are thirty years old.  It also causes lawyers to become wealthy fighting DUI charges that carry hefty penalties.

You would be fair to ask, what difference would it make if a person received a DUI over thirty years ago.  Let’s think about that DUI.

The year is 1984.  Who was in the White House?  What happened in 1984 of any conseqence?  Why would the fact that a person received a DUI charge thirty years ago have any bearing on that person today?

Often you heard DUI advocates (those who think tougher laws are the answer to all of life’s little problems) say, “We can’t have drivers that have had DUIs on the road.  It’s a public safety issue!”  Why?  Isn’t the problem having impaired drivers on the road rather than having those who have been charged with an old DUI?  Does having an old DUI make the person a greater danger?  Are we missing the point?  Have we confused having an old DUI with actually driving while impaired?  Have we made an illogical jump?

No we haven’t.  There are literally hundreds and maybe thousands of lawyers, Secretary of State officials, DUI evaluators, and non-profit “against” DUI executives that are making far too much money on the bad law being enforced to allow anyone to challenge the horrible logic behind the system.

You will never convince anyone to change this system, when so many people make a living off it being illogical and backward.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.  He is one of those lawyers.

 

 

 

finger to nose

No evidence for DUI arrest

A client recently approached me and told me that he received a DUI and there was “no evidence” for his DUI so therefore the DUI should be dismissed.  I told him that after practicing DUI law for 22 years that it was unlikely that there was “no evidence.”

He told me that he had been arrested for DUI while in a parking lot, so because he was not driving on the road, he was not driving under the influence.  I had to tell him that according to 11-501 (DUI Law) that a person could be arrested for being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle anywhere in Illinois.  That means that if you are driving a golf cart on a golf course you could be arrested for DUI.

He then explained that they had “no evidence for DUI arrest.”  I obtained a copy of his police reports and they indicated that he had taken three field sobriety tests and had admitted to taking prescription medication.   He also took a breathalyzer and scored 0.0.   I felt funny explaining to him how field sobriety tests are evidence.  Personally, I think field sobriety tests are total BS, but they are evidence that the judge or jury can consider.  The 0.0 breathalyzer will just ensure that they will charge him with a drug DUI rather than an alcohol DUI.

Lastly, in the report the officer recorded that the client had made a statement to his girlfriend (who had called the police), “Thanks babe, another DUI.”  That statement would be heard by the judge or jury when considering whether to find him guilty of DUI.

I am not sure whether it is television or the incomprehensibility of the law, but people need to understand that the State is going to take whatever evidence they have and try to make a case.  Can the jury find you guilty on that amount of evidence?  Sure, it’s entirely up to them.  Could they find you not guilty?  Once again, sure, that’s their job.

But thinking that there is no evidence, therefore they have to dismiss the case is just silly.

Law Dude, Ray Flavin, represents drivers that have been charged with DUI in McHenry County Illinois. His law offices are located across the street from the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock.

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