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Washington State Bans NRA Insurance: Will Illinois be Next?

Following in the footsteps of New York, Washington recently became the second state to prohibit an insurance product offered by the National Rifle Association (NRA), Carry Guard, which provides monetary benefits to legal gun owners who are arrested in connection with gun crimes. In a January 16, 2019 statement, the Washington Insurance Commissioner announced that the insurance product violates state law barring policies that protect criminal activity. According to the Chicago-Sun Times, California has also taken similar action, prompting many Illinois gun owners to wonder if our state is next.

Despite the speculation, it is important to understand how the Carry Guard insurance works. While the policy insures against the legal costs you may incur in defending yourself against gun crimes, the criminal fees section of the policy does not insure against the act itself. It only guarantees your constitutionally protected right to have the attorney of your own choosing defend you. You will still need a skilled Illinois firearms and weapons crimes lawyer to advocate on your behalf.

Overview of NRA’s “Carry Guard” Program

The insurance coverage works in much the same way as homeowners or auto insurance. You pay premiums for the policy, and then you can file a claim if you are accused of violating gun laws. The funds can be used to pay any and all legal costs arising out of your criminal case, including the fees of the attorney you choose for your defense. Plus, you are allowed to have your legal defense paid for even if you are convicted in court or plead guilty to the charges.

In those states that have banned or are considering prohibiting Carry Guard, the position is that people should not be able to insure against criminal activity. The position of the NRA is that the insurance provides legal assistance to individuals who have only been accused of a crime and should not have to suffer financially when accused of exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Effect on Illinois’ Concealed Carry Laws

Even if Illinois does follow New York, California, Washington State, the effect on state concealed carry laws should be minimal. Applicants who are 21 years of age or older can still apply to the Illinois State Police to obtain a concealed carry license, after passing a 16-hour training course. You can not carry a firearm in certain restricted areas, including schools, government buildings, hospitals, playgrounds, and other designated locations. Note that you can not conceal carry in places that serve alcohol, such as a bar, if more than 50% of the establishment’s sales are from alcohol.

Penalties for Violating Illinois’ Firearms Statutes

Your sentence for a violation of state gun laws depends upon the specifics of your case. A concealed carry license allows you to have a gun in your possession, but you are not authorized to use it in any way that violates state laws. Carrying a gun in a restricted area is a Class B Misdemeanor, though serious felony charges may apply for using a firearm in commission of a crime. Some of these felony charges carry sentences that can include imprisonment for the rest of your life.

Illinois Firearms and Weapons Crimes Lawyer

For more information on Illinois gun laws, please contact Glasgow & Olsson at 847-577-8700 or via our website. Our firearms and weapons crimes attorney represent clients in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and McHenry Counties in all types of criminal matters. We can schedule a consultation to discuss your defense options when faced with gun charges.

(image courtesy of Velizar Ivanov)

Permissible Searches in the School Setting: An Administrator’s Perspective

Today, students from kindergarten up to college face safety threats that were unimaginable a generation ago. School shootings, bullying, beatings, and other issues have prompted many administrators to take a hard stance against criminal activity on school grounds. As part of their strategy to make the premises safe, many administrators resort to conducting searches of their students – either individually or as part of a systematic approach. These searches prompt many questions about the scope of school searches, particularly what types of investigations are permissible under the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions.

If you feel you or your child were searched in violation of your constitutional rights, you should discuss your circumstances with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. You may also find it helpful to read an overview of searches in a school setting.

Synopsis of New Jersey v. TLO

The key case regarding school searches came to the Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS) out of New Jersey, where a teacher caught two students smoking in a restroom. One student, TLO, was searched by the principal after she denied smoking. In her purse, administrators found marijuana and evidence that she was selling it at school. TLO argued that her Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure were violated, and the case rose through the state courts up to the US Supreme Court in 1985.

SCOTUS ruled against TLO by a 6-3 margin, based upon the Fourth Amendment’s “reasonableness” standard. The question centers on whether the student being searched has a reasonable expectation of privacy under the circumstances. In the majority opinion, the Justices found that students have a reduced expectation of privacy while on school grounds.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy Versus Reasonable Suspicion

The court’s holding in TLO provided some guidelines on school administrators’ rights and responsibilities in conducting searches. SCOTUS recognized that the search was conducted by a public official – the principal – under circumstances that would normally trigger Fourth Amendment rights. However, the Justices held that the school environment is slightly different, so officials do not need probable cause or a warrant to search students.

Instead, school searches are subject to a reasonable suspicion standard. If two factors are met, the search does not violate subject’s civil rights:

  • The search was justified when it began, such that the school official had reasonable grounds to believe that there was evidence of criminal activity or violation of school code; and,
  • The search was reasonable in scope according to what the official was looking to find, and is not excessively intrusive to the student.

For purposes of both factors, it is necessary to take into account the student’s sex and age in determining “reasonableness.”

Discuss Constitutional Search Issues with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have concerns about a school search that did not comply with the “reasonableness” standard, it is important to consult with a lawyer about any administrative or criminal charges that followed it. Our attorneys at Glasgow & Olsson can answer your questions and explain your rights, so please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can reach our firm by calling 847-577-8700 or visiting us online.

(image courtesy of Ava Dickson)

What Happens if You Fail to Register as a Sex Offender in Illinois?

Even after serving her sentence of probation, Jane was not allowed to go to her church, was forced out of the urban area where she grew up and lived her whole life. She was not allowed to visit her family, go to school plays for her children or attend their soccer games at the local park district. Every year she had to provide the police her name, address, current photo, employment status and to provide a DNA sample. Her employer was contacted by the police and as a result she became unemployed. All of this because late at night on the way home from a bar in her 20s she chose to relieve herself in a park, she was charged with public indecency and classified as a sex offender.

Even after you serve your time and complete your sentence for a sex crimes conviction, you will still be required to follow the requirements of the Illinois Sex Offender Registration Act. Generally, this law requires you to register as a sex offender, and there are serious consequences for failing to do so. Any violation of the law, whether it is a mistake or not, is itself a crime that is separate from the previous offense. A conviction for failure to register or follow other requirements could mean more jail time, fines, and other penalties. You should consult with an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney about your situation, but an overview of the laws may also help.

Illinois Laws on Registration: Like other states, Illinois’ sex crimes laws are meant to protect the public from sex offenders or predators. Anyone convicted of a qualifying crime, including the attempt to commit a listed offense, must follow registration requirements. For example, the following crimes are subject to registration:

  • Child pornography and other offenses related to juveniles;
  • Criminal sexual abuse;
  • Aggravated criminal sexual assault;
  • Sexual misconduct with a disabled person;
  • Traveling to meet a minor; and,
  • Many more.

Registration as a sex offender means you must provide certain information to officials in the city where you live. The law requires you to give:

  • A current picture;
  • Your address and all contact information;
  • Details of your employment or school;
  • All online profiles, social media details, identities, email addresses, and electronic forms of communication;
  • Additional details regarding your online usage;
  • Information about the sex crime, such as the county, age of the victim, and other details;
  • License plate numbers; and,
  • Other information stated by law.

Sanctions for Failure to Register

Any violation of sex offender registration laws in Illinois carries significant penalties. Your parole or conditional release may be revoked, putting you back in jail. You could be convicted of a Class 3 Felony for failure to register according to the relevant time limits, which means you could be imprisoned for two to five years. For purposes of the law, you must register within three days after relocation and annually if you have not moved.

A second offense for failure to register is a Class 2 Felony, with a mandatory minimum of three years in jail and maximum of seven. Plus, your registration period could be extended. By law, you must register annually for 10 years, which a judge could increase for a violation of registration requirements.

Call an Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Options

Regardless of an arrest for failing to register or other alleged violations of law, you are entitled to your day in court. With the help of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer, you can work out a solid defense strategy and obtain the best possible outcome. For more information, please call 847-577-8700 to reach the offices of Glasgow & Olsson. You can also schedule a consultation by going online to fill out a contact form. Our legal team can review your case and tell you more about options to fight charges of failure to register as a sex offender.

(image courtesy of Jack Finnigan)