PASSING A SCHOOL BUS IN ILLINOIS

You saw the school bus, but you honestly didn’t see the stop sign extending from it. So you drove past the bus, and next thing you know, a police car signaled you to pull over. You would never intentionally disobey a school bus sign, and the whole thing is extremely upsetting.

What is the law? What can you do?

In Illinois, you must stop before passing a school bus from either direction when the bus is signaling a stop by either a stop sign or flashing lights. You may not drive forward until the school bus proceeds, the bus driver signals to you, or the visual signals are no longer activated. See 625 ILCS 5/11-1414.

There are exceptions to this rule: You need not stop for a school bus on the opposite side of a highway that has four or more lanes with at least two lanes of traffic in opposite directions. You also do not need to stop for a bus on either side of the road if the bus is in a paved loading zone adjacent to a controlled access highway where pedestrians are not permitted to cross.

Apart from fines, you may lose your license for three months if convicted on a first offense, and for one year on a second or later offense that occurred within five years of a prior conviction. You may, however, be able to get a restricted driving permit to travel to work.

If you have been charged with overtaking a school bus or similar offense, contact an experienced traffic law attorney immediately. Was the bus signaling a stop? What was the nature of the roadway? Even if the evidence is clear, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to persuade the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a less damaging offense.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN MY CHILD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH STATUTORY RAPE IN ILLINOIS?

Your son has been dating a16-year-old girl from his high school for several months. Although you cautioned him about premarital sex, everything you said went in one ear and out the other. To make matters worse, her father found out right after your son turned 18. Now he is facing criminal charges for statutory rape and expulsion from school.

What is statutory rape? What are the penalties? What can you do?

In Illinois, statutory rape means sexual penetration or conduct with someone at least 13 and less than 17 years old if you are no more than 5 years older than your partner. It is also statutory rape if you are under age 17 and have sex with someone at least 9 but under 17 years of age. Statutory rape is not the same as forcible rape. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-1.50(b) and (c)).

Your child could also be subject to expulsion from school. If you receive a disciplinary notice from your school, contact an attorney immediately. Do not try to talk to the school yourself as this can often work against your child and may provide evidence that the state can later use to prosecute your child.

Statutory rape is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Crazy though it may seem, your high school student could also end up on the sex offender registry, although a recent court decision indicated this punishment might be excessive.

In People v Kochevar, the defendant, then 16, met a girl, then 14, through high school track. The two had sex after he turned 18. The girl’s parents called the police. The defendant was convicted of one count of criminal sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (all but 10 were suspended) and 24 months of probation. Further, he had to register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender treatment and aftercare, provide a DNA sample and pay various fines. Despite Illinois case law stating that the registry is not actually punishment, the Kochevar court held that the registry was disproportionately punitive to defendant. As a result, the court vacated that part of defendant’s sentence.

If your child has been charged with statutory rape or a similar crime, contact a qualified attorney immediately. An attorney can review your child’s case for his or her best possible defense. An attorney can also help you navigate through school procedures and possibly negotiate a more favorable outcome for your child’s education.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

ILLINOIS EASES LAW ON DELIVERING DRUGS NEAR SCHOOL GROUNDS

As of January 1, 2018, the Illinois law on delivering cannabis or other controlled substances near school grounds has become just a little less strict.

The old law penalized manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver cannabis or other controlled or look-alike substances within 1000 feet of school property, which also applied to school-owned transportation. It did not matter if no students were nearby or the school no longer operated as a school.

Under the new law, the distance has been reduced to 500 feet. Further, the fact a school is or was a school is no longer enough. The amended law requires that persons under 18 are present or are reasonably expected to be present when the offense occurs, or that the offense be committed during school hours, including after-school activities.

The law’s changes also apply to buildings used for religious worship or to senior citizen centers, when people are present or are reasonably expected to be present or the buildings are open for such activities.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you were more than 500 feet from the school or the school was empty. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school, criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

For further information, see:

  • Illinois Delivery of Cannabis on School Grounds Statute
  • Manufacture or Delivery, or Possession with Intent to Manufacture or Deliver, a Controlled Substance, a Counterfeit Substance, or Controlled Substance Analog
  • Participation in Methamphetamine Manufacturing.
  • (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    DEALING BY A SCHOOL UNDER ILLINOIS DRUG LAW

    If you are in school, getting caught with illegal drugs can lead to your expulsion, and you could also be charged with a felony. The criminal penalties can be greater if you knowingly manufactured, delivered or possessed with intent to deliver a controlled substance such as heroin or cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school building.

    This is true even if school was not in session and no children were in sight. Now, a new Illinois Appellate case has held that even a school that is no longer operating can be considered a school.

    In People v Toliver, the defendant argued that his charges for unlawful possession of heroin with intent to deliver should not be upgraded because the Chicago Public Schools had closed the school in question. The Court disagreed. Even though the school was closed, the building still had the identity of a school and could still draw neighborhood children to its premises.

    The court looked at the following factors: (i) ownership and maintaince by Chicago Public Schools, (ii) purpose, (iii) design, (iv) site characteristics (including school grounds), and (iv) its recognized place within the surrounding neighborhood. Based on these factors, you could be convicted of an aggravated offense.

    If you are charged with a drug-related crime at court or at school, contact an experienced criminal and/or school law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. Trying to talk your way out of the situation might end up giving the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

    If you are facing disciplinary proceedings at your school, an attorney can represent you in the hearing and present the evidence in your favor before the school. Parents often cannot properly evalute the documents or witnesses needed to best show their child’s good character. Generally, it is well worth having an objective professional to assist you given what is at stake.

    In a criminal case, an attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search leading to the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed.

    Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. Likewise, an attorney can attempt to present your situation to the school in its best light in hopes of getting a more lenient sanction.

    If you have questions about this or another criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    PAYING TAXES IS NOT ENOUGH: ILLINOIS SCHOOL RESIDENCY

    The city where you live does not have good schools. You really want to send your child to a neighboring school district, but you do not live there. You do, however, own some rental property. Or maybe, you are thinking of purchasing rental property in that district. You figure, you pay the taxes, shouldn’t your child be allowed to attend the schools?

    In Illinois, the answer is no. While it may not seem fair, paying real estate taxes is not enough to establish residency for school purposes.

    The Illinois Supreme Court dealt squarely with this issue in Connelly by Connelly v Gibbs. A Chicago family wanted to obtain the improved special education services available to Skokie’s District 219 residents. Therefore, the family bought a condo in Skokie. The father and son lived in the condo during the week, but returned home on weekends. The Court specifically rejected this arrangement. Even though the family owned real estate in Skokie and paid real estate taxes for Skokie schools, the Court said that the Skokie residence was not the student’s “regular fixed, nighttime abode.” Furthermore, the family could not live in the condo for the sole purpose of going to school. Therefore, the son could not attend the schools and the family could be charged tuition.

    Based on this case, Illinois residents can only send their children tuition free to the district where they intend to make a permanent home with a fixed nighttime abode, but not solely for the purpose of going to school. Owning real estate or even leasing an apartment in another community is not enough to establish school residency.

    If you receive notice from your child’s school disputing your residency, do not attempt to handle this matter yourself. Parents often make incriminating statements that could cost them thousands of dollars in tuition money. While we never advise any client to lie or perpetuate a fraud on the school district, which is a criminal act, an experienced school law attorney can help you present your case in the best light. If you are a legitimate resident, an attorney can help establish that with the school district. If you are not, the attorney may be able to help minimize the costs to you.

    If you have questions about this or another related school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CURFEW LAW IN ILLINOIS

    Your son was out at a school party. After the party, he and some friends went to the park and hung around until after midnight. That’s when the police arrived. Now your son is charged with violating curfew, and you may be penalized as a result.

    In Illinois, a child under the age of 17 violates curfew when he or she lingers or stays in a public place or even a private business during curfew hours. Curfew hours are from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12:01 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. Violating curfew is a petty offense carrying a fine up to $500, and a judge can order the parent to perform community service. A parent or guardian can also be charged with a curfew violation if they knowingly allow a minor to violate curfew.

    Fortunately, there are many exceptions to this rule. Your child can be out during curfew hours if they are with you. Your child can stand on the sidewalk next to your or your neighbor’s house (provided the neighbor doesn’t call the police if it’s by their house). You can send your child to the store or on another errand and your child can keep a job, provided they do not detour in route. Other defenses include riding in a motor vehicle in interstate travel; being involved in an emergency; attending an official school, religious, civic or recreational function supervised by adults or exercising First Amendment rights.

    When it comes to driving, curfew applies to licensed drivers under the age of 18 (rather than 17). You are not allowed to drive between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights or between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. on weeknights. However, many of the same exceptions to curfew apply to your driver’s license as well. You may drive if 1) you are accompanied by your parent or guardian or running an errand at their request, 2) involved in an emergency, 3) driving to or from a religious, recreational or school activity without making stops, 4) driving on the interstate, 5) going to or from work, 6) you are married or otherwise emancipated, or 7) you are exercising First Amendment rights.

    Municipalities are allowed to enact their own regulations. The Village of Winnetka simply adopted the state’s law. In Evanston, however, the fine can be as much as $750. Curfew hours have also been tightened by one hour from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Evanston law allows a parent to delegate someone over age 21 to accompany their child. In Kenilworth, the parent-approved companion need only be 18. Glencoe allows a minor to attend any assembly activity “for which a permit has been lawfully issued.”

    While under Illinois law, the parent commits an offense if they knowingly allow a minor to violate the law, the Village of Wilmette also penalizes a parent or guardian who “knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows,” the minor to violate the law. Furthermore, if you are the owner or an employee of a business and you knowingly allow a minor to remain on your premises during curfew hours, you can be charged with a curfew violation. However, it is a defense if you notified the police when a minor is refusing to leave your premises.

    If you are approached by police for a curfew violation, the officer must first ask your age and why you are out. Think carefully before responding. If you have a legitimate defense, the officer might not charge you. An officer may only charge you if they reasonably believe, based on your response, that you have no defense. However, without a defense, it may be better if you do not answer. An experienced attorney can better assist you if you have not already made admissions of guilt. Even if you have committed a curfew violation, an experienced criminal law attorney can help navigate the best strategy for your defense. If you are the parent, did you “knowingly” allow your child to violate curfew? At worst, an attorney may help negotiate a more beneficial plea agreement.

    If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    ‘IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!”: WHEN VISITING AN INAPPROPRIATE WEBSITE CAUSES YOU TROUBLE.

    You are a dedicated public school teacher. Your students adore you. You have even received awards for your innovative teaching techniques. So it is with great dismay that you find yourself hauled into the principal’s office. It appears you have been visiting some websites on school time that your district deems inappropriate, even pornographic.

    You know it looks funny, but you really do have a legitimate explanation for visiting those sites. You are afraid if you say anything, however, you could still lose your job. You may even face criminal charges.

    In Illinois, anyone who knowingly possesses any film, videotape, photograph or computer depiction of any child engaged in a sexual act, or in a “lewd exhibition of the unclothed or transparently clothed” private regions or partially or fully clothed female breast, is guilty of a Class 3 felony with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 and a maximum fine of $100,000.

    What can you do?

    If you find yourself in this or a similar situation, you should consult an attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can evaluate your options and present your defense in the best light possible. Swift action on your attorney’s part may prevent you from losing your job and may even lessen the risk of criminal charges being brought.

    Was the site truly indecent? The definition of obscenity can be somewhat vague. At one time, even birth control literature violated indecency laws. Maybe your employer is unduly sensitive and finds material that is legally acceptable to be offensive. Maybe you were unaware that you were in possession of these materials. Perhaps someone with access to your computer had visited these locations. Even if you knowingly visited the site and it does look bad, however, you might really have a legitimate and believable reason for visiting there.

    Should you find yourself accused of accessing indecent materials, it is imperative that you not speak to anyone except your attorney about your case. Comments or emails to friends could come back to haunt you and could undermine any defense you may later choose to make. You should remove any Facebook or similar pages that might contain comments about your situation. If you have questions, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160. While my email address is matt@mattkeenanlaw.com, it may not be advisable to email in case your computer files should become subject to a search.

    BUT I WASN’T AT SCHOOL: WHEN YOU ARE DISCIPLINED FOR SOMETHING YOU DID OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL GROUNDS

    You were at a party at your friend’s house, while his parents were out of town You were swigging on some beer having a blast, when someone took a picture. Next thing you know, someone emailed that picture to your high school principal, and now the school is threatening to suspend you.

    How is that possible? What are your options?

    The reality is that schools have a lot of leeway in disciplining someone for violating their rules, even if the student is off school grounds. If the event is somehow school sanctioned or initiated, like a parade or a club, you can be held responsible even though you weren’t at school. One important Supreme Court decision upheld the disclipline of an Alaska student for marching in a school parade with the sign “Bong Hits for Jesus.” The Supreme Court felt that since it was a school parade, the school had a valid interest in preventing the promotion of drug use. Therefore, the student did not have First Amendment rights and could be punished.

    While usually there is some connection between the school and the student’s actions, that is not always the case. The party in the example above is not connected to the school in any way. However, some school officials take the position that once the picture is sent to them, the illegal drinking has come into the school and is now open to discipline. This can be true even when the person only sent the photo to get you in trouble.

    The Glenbrook Powder Puff case is a locally famous example. At a “powder puff” football game, some seniors bullied junior students in several ways including kicking, beating and spraying them with animal urine. While the acts did not take place on school grounds nor at a school-sanctioned event, the district suspended the girls under its hazing policy.

    If you should find yourself in one of these situations, the best thing to do is contact an attorney immediately for advice. Maybe there is some question about whether you actually committed the acts being disciplined. Or maybe the school has failed to follow its own discipline procedures. A careful review of school policy can sometimes yield a solid avenue for a defense. A skilled attorney can help you navigate through this minefield and help improve the outcome.

    BUT I JUST TEXTED: HOW SEXTING CAN GET YOU IN TROUBLE

    You just broke up with your girlfriend from school, and you’re upset. You don’t think she treated you right, so to get even with her, you’ve texted those nude photos you took on your cell phone in better days to ten of your friends.

    Or maybe, you think your steady looks fantastic, and you just were showing off. Or you thought if that special someone saw what they were missing, you might get that first date.

    If you sent nude pictures via texting, there’s a new name for what you did: Sexting. Maybe sexting made you feel better about that girlfriend or proud of your steady for the moment. But the consequences of sexting, such as a conviction for child pornography, can follow you around for the rest of your life.

    Concerned with the rising tide of sexting, prosecutors and school officials are looking to set examples, not without some reason. Some offenders have used sexting to solicit nude photos of young people. In one Ohio case, the sexting victim was harassed and committed suicide. Because of cases like these, the Illinois Attorney General has asked victims of sexting to call its Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

    But in the absence of laws tailored to this new technology, prosecutors are relying on the more severe child pornography laws even against defendants, who are themselves high school students. In Illinois, you may have committed a Class 1 felony if you 1) filmed, videotaped or photographed any one that you should have known was under the age of 18 in lewd exhibitions of nudity or 2) knowing the contents of those pictures, you distributed them, i.e. via texting.

    If found guilty, you may face a prison term ranging from 15 to 30 years along with fines between $1,000 and $100,000 dollars for each offense. You may also land on the sex offender registry. As a student, you may be expelled. Today, more schools are disciplining students for offenses, even if the activity took place off school grounds. In this case, sexting technology can cause something that took place outside the school to enter the school’s domain.

    Even if the victim is over the age of 18, you could still be charged for harassment or for an obscenity offense.

    If you think you might be charged because of sexting, contact an attorney immediately. Don’t speak to anyone about your case because those statements could be used against you. Sometimes an attorney can even help prevent charges from being brought. Even if you are charged, your case may not be hopeless. You might reasonably have believed the victim was over the age of 18. You may not have been the one who sent the text. Maybe you forwarded something without knowing the contents. If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com for advice.

    I Didn’t Cheat: When you are charged with Academic Dishonesty.

    You are writing a paper for a college or high school course. You are overworked and haven’t slept in days. Your friend, who took the same course last year, helpfully offers you their A paper. Or maybe you find exactly what you are looking for in an article. You use a lot of the same language from the article, but through oversight or otherwise, neglect to attribute your source. In either case, you make a few adjustments and submit the paper as your own work.

    Or perhaps you are taking an open book exam in class. You open your Blackberry only to discover you have inadvertently broken the school’s rules. Or the proctor has caught you peeking at someone else’s paper.

    Whatever the circumstances, you find your school career is threatened with a charge of academic dishonesty. What can you do?

    A charge of academic dishonesty can be difficult to fight, but there may be some hope. A good attorney will start with a careful reading of the school’s student manuals. These manuals are like a contract between you and the school. They spell out the procedures the school should follow. Maybe you were notified of your offense, but were not given an opportunity for a hearing as promised in the manual. Maybe the nature of your offense is ambiguous and the school rules do not prohibit the conduct.

    A skillful lawyer can help you determine whether you have a basis to fight the charge. Even if you were knowingly dishonest and have already confessed, an attorney may work to reduce the punishment. Maybe you were suffering from excessively traumatic personally circumstances at the time and have an otherwise stellar record for honesty. Maybe the punishment is unduly severe.

    If you do receive notice that you are charged with dishonesty, consult an attorney who specializes in school law right away. It is important to act quickly to preserve all your rights. Do not attempt to handle the matter yourself without counsel. You may inadvertently cut yourself off from a valid defense if you should say the wrong thing. If you have questions about your situation, feel free to contact me at 847-568-0160 or email me at matt@mattkeenanlaw.com for advice.