Convictions That Bar You from a Gun Owner’s Card in Illinois

A gun owner’s card in Chicago is officially called an owner's identification (FOID) card. It is issued by the Illinois State Police. You can’t legally possess a firearm or ammunition in Illinois without one.

Basically, three types of criminal records bar you from being given a FOID card. They are:

·         A conviction for any felony

·         A domestic violence conviction

·         A conviction within the last five years for battery or assault with a firearm.

Guns themselves are not registered under the system. A FOID card licenses the gun owner or the user of the firearm. The guns themselves are not licensed or registered at all.


Regulation of gun ownership is mandated under federal and state law. Illinois has some of the strictest controls in the country. Nevertheless, demand for firearms is rising in Chicago as it falls in much of the rest of the country.

The Gun Control Act was passed in 1968 following the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It imposed stricter licensing and regulation on the firearms industry including new categories of firearms offenses. The act bans the sale of firearms and ammunition to felons and certain other prohibited Individuals. 

However, the Illinois law requiring a FOID card dates back to 1967, even before the federal regulations were passed.

As well as banning mail-order firearm sales, the federal law lists characteristics the disqualify you for gun ownership.  The Illinois law is even more stringent. You cannot carry a weapon

1.    If you are under 18 years old even if concealed;

2.    You are under 21 years old and you have been convicted of a misdemeanor other than a traffic offense or are adjudged delinquent;

3.    You are a drug addict

4.    You have been a patient in a mental hospital within the past five years;

5.    You suffer from mental retardation;

6.    You are confined in penal institution; and

7.    You are a convicted felon.

Two of the federal prohibitions deal with criminal records. It’s a federal crime for anyone with any kind of felony, or any misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, to possess a gun or ammunition.

Federal law makes it an offense to have a firearm if someone has taken out an order of protection against you that prohibits you from having a gun.

Violating the federal firearms law can lead to large fines, and land you in prison for up to 10 years.

In Illinois, it’s a crime to possess a firearm or ammunition without a FOID card. The circumstances depend whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor. Illinois law is in line with federal law in stating you can’t get a FOID card if you have either a felony conviction or a domestic violence offense on your record.

You must be an Illinois resident to receive a card and to be at least 21 years old. If you are under the age of 21, you need written consent from a parent or legal guardian, who must be eligible for a FOID card.

Illinois is also in line with federal law by stating you can't get a card if you are the subject of an order of protection that specifically prohibits having guns.

In Illinois, you can’t get a card if you were convicted of an offense like an assault, a battery, aggravated assault or violation of an order of protection, in which a gun was used or possessed in the last five years.

Nobody under 21 can get a FOID card, even with potential permission if they have been convicted of any misdemeanor outside a traffic offense or is an adjudged delinquent.

If you fall foul of the strict firearms possession laws in Illinois, you can end up facing serious consequences. Call our Chicago criminal defense firm at (312) 229-0008.

Outrage over Federal Plans to Increase Asset Forfeiture

Asset forfeiture is one of the most controversial aspects of the criminal justice system. It allows property to be seized before a defendant is convicted or even charged in some cases.

After a retreat from use of the practice in recent years, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised the Department of Justice will seek to increase the use of asset forfeiture by state and local police forces.

Asset forfeiture means police can seize cash and property. Critics of the system claim it represents policing for profit and some state legislatures have sought to rein it in.


However, in remarks to the National District Attorneys Association meeting, Sessions said he wants to use asset forfeiture more.

In his prepared remarks he promised a new directive on asset forfeiture. He singled out drug traffickers.

He said the federal government plans to develop policies to increase forfeitures, stating no criminal should be allowed to “keep the proceeds of their crime.”

Some of the shortcomings of these proposals were highlighted in Salon magazine.

The article pointed out it’s not just criminals who become victims of asset forfeiture.

The terms of federal laws and many U.S. states allow the seizure of property or cash without the authorities convicting or even charging anyone with a crime.

This procedure is known as civil asset forfeiture. Large amounts of money are collected by police forces which often use the procedure to fill their coffers.

The Washington Post reports the federal government is taking more money from citizens than burglars.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General has found that since 2007, the DEA seized more than $3 billion in cases in which owners were never even charged with crimes.

Despite the efforts to widen asset forfeiture at a federal level, a bill recently passed in Illinois aimed to restrict it.

This June the Illinois legislature passed a bill that tightened the state's civil asset forfeiture laws and shifted the burden of proof onto the government to show why it should be permitted to keep the seized property.

The vote followed an investigative report from Reason earlier this year showing lower-income neighborhoods of Chicago were hit hardest by asset forfeiture by law enforcement.

If you have been arrested for a crime and subjected to asset forfeiture you should contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer at (312) 229-0008.

Chicago Lyft Driver is Latest Ride Sharing Driver to be Charged with Rape

Ride hailing services have expanded rapidly across the country in recent years. However, concerns about the behavior of drivers have also come to the fore following sexual assault prosecutions.

Recently in Chicago, a Lyft driver was arrested on July 19 on charges of zip-tying and raping a 25-year-old woman at knifepoint in his vehicle.

A report on NBC noted Angelo McCoy, a 48-year-old driver from South Sawyer Avenue, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and unlawful restraint. McCoy had a bond hearing. He was held in lieu of $90,000, according to reports.

Ride hailing services are linked to rapes

Ride hailing services are linked to rapes

In many alleged sexual assault cases, a victim was reported to be intoxicated.

The NBC report said the 25-year-old victim had consumed a large amount of alcohol on July 7. She was out with friends in the River North neighborhood. The report said she ordered a ride home from Lyft on North Clark Street and fell asleep in the vehicle.

The NBC report said when she woke up, the young woman realized the car she was in was heading away from her home. She asked the rider to get out. McCoy is accused of driving her into an alley and holding her captive for two hours, according to prosecutors.

They alleged McCoy was wielding a knife. He got in the backseat, grabbed the woman by the throat and tied her hands behind her back using zip ties. The victim said three people down the alley did not respond to her screams. Prosecutors said McCoy took the woman’s phone and driver’s license, and later demanded cash.

Prosecutors say McCoy drove away with the woman in the car but she was able to escape from the moving vehicle.

Scott Coriell, a spokesman for Lyft, said of the sexual assault allegations:

These allegations are sickening and horrifying. As soon as we were made aware of this incident, we deactivated the driver’s account and did everything we could to assist law enforcement.”

The alleged crime is the latest in a list of incidents involving ride-hailing drivers in Chicago.

In 2016, Alexander Marrero, an Uber driver was charged with the sexual assault of a 23-year-old passenger. 

When prosecutors set out their case against Marrero, claiming he undressed and raped an unconscious woman, he became the third Uber driver to face sexual assault charges in Chicago since late in 2014.

Also last year, Jason Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver was charged over a shooting spree that left six people dead in Michigan.

If you have been charged with a serious offense like sexual assault, it’s important to hire an experienced Cook County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

Man Sentenced to 10 Years Over Shooting At Correctional Officer in River West Bar

A man who fired at least twice at a now deceased Cook County correctional officer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mario “Booty” Orta pleaded guilty to the shooting in River West in 2015, reported the Sun Times.

The media report showed surveillance video played a major part in the prosecution. The video showed he fired at least twice at the correctional officer. The bullets did not hit the officer.

Orta changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced in July to 10 years in prison, according to court records.

Bar shooting led to charges

Bar shooting led to charges

The 30-year-old defendant was charged with attempted first-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a gang member.

Prosecutors said Orta was one of three men who were part of a shooting outside the now closed down Funky Buddha Lounge in the 700 block of West Grand.

Correctional officer Michael Raines did not die as a direct result of the shooting incident. However, his family claimed his death from an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin was linked to stress from the shooting.

The shooting highlights gang activity in Cook County. According to reports, Raines and his girlfriend left Richard’s Bar just north of downtown. As they were walking on to Milwaukee Avenue to their car they heard gunshots. Raines ran toward the shooting. He had a Ruger LCP .380 semiautomatic pistol in his back pocket.

Police said Orta and Fernando “Fern” Lopez, both 27 — were part of a street gang. They left the Funky Buddha, with friends, according to police records.

They attempted to escape from an accident scene. Raines drew his Ruger and identified himself as a police officer. He ordered Lopez to drop his gun. Instead, prosecutors said, Lopez turned toward the officer, and Raines shot him.

In a subsequent struggle surveillance footage showed Orta shooting at Raines at least twice. The Sun Times report said Raines was not hit. Lopez ended up with 10 gunshot wounds.

Raines suffered problems after the incident. He was reprimanded for using a handgun that was not qualified with through the Cook County Sheriff’s Training Institute.

After the shooting his parents told detectives he developed serious emotional problems and aggravated an old back injury in the struggle. They said these issues were a catalyst for his fatal drug overdose.

The sentence reveals the tough stance Chicago takes on gun crimes and street gang members. If you have been charged with an offense of this nature, please call our Chicago criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.

Report Finds New Technology is Failing Criminal Defendants

New technology has had an impact on the criminal justice system as much as every other walk of life. However, the impact of automation has not always been positive for the defendant.

In a recent article, the New York Times reported on how computer programs are keeping some defendants in jail.

The private ownership of many of the systems used in the criminal justice system is the root of the problem.

New technology poses issues for defendants

New technology poses issues for defendants

The article said many of these automated criminal justice technologies are largely privately owned and are sold for profit.

Because of the commercial nature of the system, the developers view the products as trade secrets. They routinely refuse to disclose details about how their systems work, even to criminal defendants and their attorneys in the legal process - under a protective order or during criminal proceedings or parole hearings.

It can be a massive uphill battle for the defendants and their attorneys to find out how these systems work in order to prove innocence.

The Times cited the case of Glen Rodriguez, an inmate in New York State. Rodriguez was denied parole despite having an almost flawless record of rehabilitation. The decision was based on a reading on a computer system called Compass.

Rodriguez carried out his own research and proved the Compass system returned an erroneous result.

Very few defendants have the expertise to carry out this kind of research.

Another alarming case is that of Billy Ray Johnson from California. He was sentenced to life without parole for sexual assaults and burglaries he did not commit.

In the case, the prosecution relied on the results of a software program called TrueAllele that analyzed traces of DNA from the crime scenes.

When a defense team expert attempted to examine the source code in court he was told it was a trade secret. The court would not allow the code to be disclosed to Johnson’s attorney.

The case was heard before the California Court of Appeals. It upheld the trade secret privilege ruling by the lower court. The decision is being used across the country to prevent defendants discovering details about automated systems that could prove their innocence.

The Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case, Wisconsin v. Loomis, that raises similar issues about new technology. If the justices decide to hear the case, they will get the opportunity to rule on whether sentencing a defendant based on a risk-assessment system that has been ruled a secret, violates a defendant’s rights.

Automation may make the administration of justice easier but it is also penalizing defendants in some cases.

If you believe your prosecution was based on flawed automation you should contact our Illinois criminal defense lawyers at (312) 229-0008 or see our case results.

Fraudster is Sentenced to 70 Months for Scam on Girlfriend’s Family

Scams can involve big businesses or they can occur closer to home when victims don’t suspect it.

Recently in Chicago, a fraudster was sentenced to 70 months in jail for a massive scam on his girlfriend’s family.

The Sun Times reported Randall Rye won the trust and heart of his girlfriend and her family for more than two years.

The California-based family of Jacqueline Dittrich believed she had met her future husband. They had no reason to disbelieve him when he told them about a successful trading algorithm. The family and some of their friends invested $1.72 million into his firm, Faster than Light Trading LLC.

Fraudster is jailed for 70 months

Fraudster is jailed for 70 months

However, the enterprise proved to be a scam. Rye spent the money on trips to exotic locations and sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Masters golf tournament.

He blew $110,000 on 14 tickets to see the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

Dittrich said she only realized her boyfriend had duped her and her parents out of their life savings when she received a call from the FBI. She didn’t even get the chance to break up with him.

Rye escaped overseas but was picked up when he returned to the United States for a brief visit.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman sentenced the 26-year-old scammer to 70 months in prison. He accused him of a “mammoth betrayal of trust” in a Chicago courtroom.

Rye was ordered to pay back the $1.72 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud.

Rye’s defense attorney said he was not sure why the fraudster committed his crimes.

He was described in court as a “mini-Madoff” who moved to Illinois from California in 2013 by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani. The statement was a reference to Bernard Madoff who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The feds said Rye read a few books on trading but had no formal knowledge. His algorithm was pure fiction.

As the Madoff case highlighted, scams and white collar frauds can attract very heavy sentences and are often prosecuted on a federal level. If you have been charged with a serious crime of this nature, call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

Former Melrose Park Cop is Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison

Drug trafficking is a not a rare offense in Chicago, but it’s unusual for police officers to be involved in the drug trade. However, in a recent case, a decorated former police officer was convicted of selling drugs stolen from the evidence room.

A report in the Sun Times noted Gregory Salvi, once a decorated Melrose Park police officer, sold drugs he stole from the evidence room.

The indictment said he offered to illegally carry narcotics in his patrol car and wore his badge as he accepted what he believed was 5 kilograms of cocaine.

A federal prosecutor alleged in a hearing in July that Salvi offered to sell cocaine to a child. No further details were given in court. A memo from the prosecution suggested he bragged about making $4,800 by selling six ounces of cocaine to a kid.


The Sun Times reported U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve viewed details of that sale as the most disturbing of Salvi’s numerous betrayals of the public trust.

The former cop was sentenced to 11 years in prison by the judge. Salvi told the court he lost his way. He apologized to the judge.

Salvi pleaded guilty this spring to trying to sell 500 or more grams of cocaine as well as carrying a Glock .45 caliber handgun at the time of the transaction. The federal authorities accused him of seeking to make money ahead of retirement in 2015.

The Sun Times detailed the scheme that began in the spring of 2014. The Melrose Park police seized a kilogram of cocaine stated Salvi’s 21-page plea agreement. The officer got his hands on it and later sold it for cash.

In November of the same year, Salvi sold more than two grams of heroin that he stole from the evidence room in Melrose Park. He also sold baking soda that appeared to be cocaine to federal informants for $500.

The next month, he sold another four grams of cocaine and 1.3 grams of heroin to the informants for $300.

In early 2015, Salvi offered to move cocaine for the same informants. He also said he would use a vehicle with law enforcement plates to move drugs for $2,000.

In April 2015, Salvi showed up in a police car at a storage locker facility in Hanover Park. He accepted five packages he believed were five kilograms of cocaine. He took them into his vehicle. He was then arrested. The FBI investigators said he was wearing his police badge at the time of his arrest. He planned to deliver the drugs to a condo in the South Loop.

Federal crimes typically carry higher sentences, we explain in our blog. The federal authorities take drug crimes extremely seriously, particularly when they involve someone in a position of responsibility.

If you have been charged with a crime of this nature, please call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

Trump Resumes Attack on Escalating Chicago Crime

President Donald Trump has resumed his attack over escalating Chicago crime accusing the city’s officials of not doing enough to fight it.

Trump criticized Chicago in a speech in Ohio in July. After not mentioning crime in the city for a month, he returned to the offensive in Youngstown.

Trump told a crowd at the event.

“This month in Chicago, there have been more than two homicide victims per day — what the hell is going on in Chicago? Better tell that mayor to get tough because it's not working what they're doing.”

Trump has regularly criticized Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In June, he referred to an "epidemic" of murder in the city, which recorded 323 homicides in the first half of the year.

He also criticized Chicago’s protections of undocumented immigrants by attacking its sanctuary city status.

However, the Tribune article pointed out that six months into his presidency, Trump has failed to name the "top police officer" who he claimed on the campaign trail last year could sort out Chicago's crime problem over the course of a week.

Emanuel hit back saying the solution to violent crime in the city was not about being tough but strategic.  

He touted policies like community investment, employment and cracking down on access to guns.

Recently, we noted how Chicago police say smart crime techniques may be driving down violent offenses in the city.

However, hopes that gun crime in 2017 is falling compared to the previous year were dented during a violent July 4 weekend.

The police department announced a sweeping review after the city saw at least 102 people shot between late Friday afternoon and early Wednesday over the July 4 holiday period.

People who commit gun crimes in Chicago face very serious consequences. If you have been charged with an offense of this nature, you should call a criminal defense lawyer at Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

Hate Crimes Hit a High in Chicago

Hate crimes are rising in Chicago but the official figures may only represent the tip of the iceberg, according to experts.

Chicago police charged people with 39 hate crimes in the first half of 2017, putting the city on course to surpass a previous high of 73 in 2016, reported DNAInfo.

Information obtained via the Freedom of Information Act revealed the Chicago Police Department classified 362 offenses as hate crimes from 2012 to June 2017. The department started keeping electronic records in 2012.

Hate crimes rise in Chicago

Hate crimes rise in Chicago

Hate crimes are felonies in Illinois. A conviction for a hate crime for a first offense may be charged with a Class 4 felony carrying a prison term of up to three years and a fine of up to $25,000. A second offense may result in a conviction of a Class 2 felony carrying a prison term of three to seven years.

Hate crimes under Illinois law are committed "by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin."

Hate crimes also allow victims to file civil lawsuits for damages.

In January, police charged four African-American adults with hate crimes after an alleged attack on a white man with mental disabilities, reported the Washington Post.

In Chicago, a determination on whether an offense represents a hate crime is made by the police department or the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. The federal authorities can also bring hate crime charges.

Hate crimes go underreported in Chicago, according to Betsy Shuman-Moore, director of the hate crime project for the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.  She said:

“We do live with the fact that most hate crimes are underreported. We think that they have been more underreported now than ever.”

She said in many cases the victims are not reporting the crimes. In other cases, police are not necessarily pursuing a hate based motive.

However, dealing with possible hate crimes is part of the curriculum for Police Department recruits who attend an event every year at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.

Police detectives are given a two-hour course on how to investigate hate crimes. Sergeants and lieutenants attend a session related to the rights or minorities.

Chicago police officers who deal with a possible hate crime must notify their supervisors, a regular detectives unit and detectives in the Civil Rights Unit.

If you have been charged with a hate crime you should contact Abdallah Law for a free evaluation. Call us at (312) 229-0008.

Outlining Child Pornography Laws in Illinois

The rapid expansion of the Internet in recent years has seen a proliferation in child pornography. There has also been a massive expansion in child pornography offenses both at a state and a federal level to deal with offenders.

If you are charged with an offense of this nature, you could face a long sentence as well as seeing family members and friends desert you. However, prosecutions can be over zealous and flawed. It’s vital to hire an experienced Chicago child pornography defense lawyer who can provide vigorous representation.

Illinois has strict child pornography laws

Illinois has strict child pornography laws

Child pornography can include photos, video or other media of children under 18 involved in sexual acts.

Under Illinois law, a person can be charged with an offense if he or she portrays or depicts on a computer any child who he or she knows is under 18 or reasonably should know to be under that age. The offense also applies to people with severe or profound intellectual abilities.

It is a crime in Illinois to knowingly possess, produce, manufacture, or distribute films, photographs or any other material that is considered child pornography.

It’s also a crime to solicit, use, entice, induce or force a person under the age of 18 or a person who is severely or profoundly intellectually disabled to perform in child pornography.

Child pornography offenses are charged as felonies. The degree of seriousness depends on what act the defendant has engaged in.

The production or distribution of child pornography that’s not a film, video or moving image, such as a photograph may be charged as a Class 1 felony carrying a prison term of 4-15 years.

However, a video or other moving depiction may be charged as a Class X felony, the most serious category in Illinois.

This offense carries a possibility of up to 60 years’ imprisonment.

When children depicted in pornographic material are under the age of 13, a charge of production, dissemination or solicitation for child porn is a Class X felony whether or not it depicts moving images.

There is a lesser sentence for the possession of child pornography that is not film which is charged as a Class 3 felony, carrying a prison term of 2-5 years.

If moving images are involved, you will face a Class 2 felony for between 3-7 years behind bars.

Possession child pornography depicting kids under 13 is a Class 2 felony. However, if the accused has previous convictions for sex crimes, the charge is a Class 1 felony.

Child pornography felonies carry a possible fine of between $1,000 and $100,000.

Child pornography offenses can land you behind bars for a long time. In some cases, federal charges are brought, particularly if a ring is being investigated and offenses cross state lines. Federal crimes often involve even more severe sentences.

There are defenses to this crime such as if the defendant was mistaken about the age of a child and made a reasonable attempt to find out. Call Abdallah Law today at (312) 229-0008 for a free consultation and read about our past cases successes here.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions Proposes Stricter Sentences for Crimes

Attorney General Jeff Session has proposed stricter sentences for a wide range of crimes. It’s a call that has attracted criticism from his predecessor.

A report on CNN noted Sessions has issued a new directive for federal prosecutors across the country to charge offenders with the most serious offense that can be proved.

The announcement in May was the latest in a series of major departures from Obama-era policies at the Department of Justice.

Sessions described charging and sentencing recommendations as a bedrock responsibility of any prosecutor and he said they should be allowed to exercise good judgment rather than having their hands tied by Washington D.C.

Attorney General Sessions proposes more incarceration

Attorney General Sessions proposes more incarceration

In a memo issued on May 10, Sessions outlined new instructions for charging decisions in federal cases. He said the first and underlying principle is that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious offense that’s readily provable.

He said the most serious offenses carry the most substantial guidelines sentences including mandatory minimum sentences.

 Longtime Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder blasted Sessions' "unwise and ill-informed" move, claiming the decision would "take this nation back."

Although federal sentencing guidelines are advisory and take into account a wide range of factors from a defendant's criminal history to his or her level of cooperation with authorities, some judges have felt handcuffed by mandatory minimums which give a statutory sentencing minimum of months below which a judge cannot depart from.

Sessions withdrew a portion of former Attorney General Eric Holder's "Smart on Crime" initiative.

The Obama-era policy targeted the most serious crimes and cut down on the number of defendants charged with non-violent drug offenses that would otherwise have triggered mandatory minimum sentences.

Holder was scathing in his condemnation of the Sessions announcement.

He said the policy was not tough on crime but dumb on crime. He added:

“It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.”

If you are charged with a federal crime, you are likely to be facing a stiff sentence from the outset. Following Sessions’ announcement, it can only get more Draconian. Even possession of drugs is likely to carry a severe sentence.

Call our Chicago criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.


Man is Accused of the Kidnapping of Chinese University of Illinois Student

Kidnapping is a crime that shocks society and is treated with the full force of the law. In recent weeks the kidnapping and disappearance of a University of Illinois scholar from China has made headlines.

Yingying Zhang has been missing since June 9. Police have arrested Brendt Christensen over her disappearance.

Recently, the Sun-Times reported the suspect marched in a vigil for the victim.

Federal prosecutors said Christensen spoke about the characteristics of what makes an ideal victim and said he talked about how Zhang fought and resisted.

Fears rise over 'kidnapping' of Chinese student

Fears rise over 'kidnapping' of Chinese student

New details concerning the disappearance of the 26-year-old came to light at a detention hearing for Christensen at U.S. District Court in Urbana close to the central Illinois school.

 Judge Eric Long, a U.S. Magistrate, ordered that Christensen, 28, remain incarcerated pending trial. It was his opinion that the recent graduate student at the university’s physics department was a risk to the community and a flight risk.

Just a day before Christensen was arrested he was at a gathering on campus when people walked to the place the Chinese student was last seen.

Prosecutors said Christensen formed part of the vigil group that included Zhang’s father.

Zhang was abducted as she headed out to sign an apartment lease off campus in Urbana. Christensen is accused of luring her into his car after she got off one bus and attempted to flag down another bus. The Sun-Times report stated in April, his phone was allegedly used to view a forum called “Abduction 101.”

Kidnapping in Illinois is a Class 2 felony. Aggravated kidnapping is a Class X felony.

Under 720 ILCS 5/10-1, this crime occurs when a defendant knowingly and secretly confines another person against their will through the use of force, threat of force, enticement or deceit.  Kidnapping includes the confinement of someone who is mentally impaired and the confinement of a child less than 13 years of age without the consent of his or her parent.

Under Illinois law, a kidnapping becomes an aggravated kidnapping, if the perpetrator holds another person to obtain a ransom, inflicts body harm with a dangerous weapon and armed with firearms.  The kidnapping of a child under 13 years or a mentally retarded person also constitutes the offense of aggravated kidnapping.

If you have been charged with a kidnapping offense the consequences may be very serious. Call our Illinois criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.

Woman Convicted in Fatal Palos Park Home Invasion

Home invasions are crimes that instill deep fear in the community. People who commit them often receive long prison sentences.

Recently, a 21-year-old woman from Indiana was convicted of first-degree murder for her role in a home invasion in Palos Park in Cook County.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Sarah Risner was held accountable for the death of Anthony Dalton in a home invasion that went badly wrong. Dalton was one of the assailants in the crime. He was shot dead by the homeowner.

The Tribune reported three other people are facing first-degree murder charges over the shooting death on July 5, 2016, on West 118th Street.

The courts hand out stiff penalties for home invasions

The courts hand out stiff penalties for home invasions

While the four did not directly kill Dalton, they are charged with murder due to someone dying in the commission of a forcible felony.

The Tribune reported prosecutors in the murder case presented sufficient evidence during a trial to prove Risner was accountable for the shooting death of Dalton.

He was shot dead when he entered through the victim's front door, said Cook County Judge Stephen Connolly.

A video shown at Risner’s trial proved to be important evidence leading to her eventual conviction.

The three-hour video shown at the trial showed Risner being interviewed by police. She outlined “substantial steps toward commission of an offense,” the judge said.

Risner along with fellow defendant Brandy Marshall, 20, had agreed to have sex with the homeowner, an older man, in exchange for cash, Connolly said. The judge said in the ruling they had no intention of going through with the act.

The two women planned instead to run off with the money, according to reports. They allowed Dalton, Tyler Gulli, and Brandy Marshall's 21-year-old sister Paige Marshall into the residence to beat up the occupant and take whatever they could, the judge said.

The girls opened the door but the homeowner saw someone outside and had time to grab his gun.

Risner also faced lesser charges of home invasion and residential burglary. They were dropped before the trial. She faces 20 to 60 years for first-degree murder.

The case highlights how home invasions can lead to extremely serious charges. If you have been charged with offenses of this nature, please contact our Cook County criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation.

5 Ways Police Find And Arrest Gun Owners in Chicago

Chicago police say they are feeling pressure to keep illegal guns off the streets, and they have been coming up with new ways to detect and seize guns from citizens.  

People who carry guns in Chicago should be aware of these practices and make sure to have the required permits before carrying firearms on the streets.

1. Shot Spotter

ShotSpotter is a system used by officers to locate the source of a gunshot within 10 feet.  Police officers have set up microphones in areas of the city that are statistically prone to gun violence.

When a gun is fired, the microphone picks up the shot and immediately sends a signal to officers, who typically respond within 30 seconds.  Many of the microphones are set up in buildings and on rooftops, but the police will not release their exact locations.  

2. Neighborhood Watches

According to local officers, several arrests come from reports from fellow citizens.  Neighbors who are uncomfortable with guns or those who see what they believe to be illegal activity call the police to report what they observe around the neighborhood.  

These tips are used by police as justification to ride through neighborhoods and approach individuals they believe look suspicious, and if the tips are specific enough and involve serious crime, they can even be used to obtain a warrant to search a home.

3. “Stop and Frisk”

Stop and Frisk practices have had a controversial history in Chicago.  The term “stop and frisk” originated from a U.S. Supreme Court case, Terry v. Ohio, 3952 U.S. 1 (1968).  

In the case, the court held that police officers may stop individuals and perform a frisk to check for weapons if the police have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual might be armed and dangerous.  

Historically, many police used this as a free pass to stop people arbitrarily and search for weapons.  Because of overuse, new laws were put into place that require police to fill out a two-page report every time they conduct a warrantless frisk.  

This law helped reduce the amount of frisks conducted, but it did not outlaw these types of searches.  If police have good reason to suspect an individual has a gun, they can stop them and pat them down even without a warrant.

4.  Partnership with the ATF

In early 2017, twenty agents from the Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms (ATF) agency joined forces with the Chicago police.  The goal of the partnership is to seize illegal firearms and prevent the entry of guns into the state.  

The ATF agents have access to registries for guns as well as a National Integrated Ballistic Identification Network, which means the agents are able to easily match shell casings to guns.  This can lead to arrests, and it can also link several crimes to the same person or group of people.  

For example, if the ATF agent can match a shell casing to a particular gun, and the same shell casings were found in two other places in the city, the agent may use that evidence to try to convince officials that the same person or people were involved in the crimes that occurred where other shell casings were found.  

The ATF also tracks shipments of guns from neighboring states, and tries to find the ways illegal guns are smuggled into Chicago.  If the agents discover a link between the traffickers and Chicago residents, serious weapon trafficking charges can be added to existing sentences.

5. Exceptions to Warrant Requirements

Police are supposed to have a warrant before searching a citizen’s home or vehicle.  The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.  

Despite these rules, police have many ways of searching people, their homes, and their cars without a warrant.  If police pull someone over and that stop leads to an arrest, police are allowed to search that individual’s vehicle, including areas that may be closed such as glove compartments and consoles.  

If police arrest an individual for any reason, they can search his or her clothing, bag, wallet, or purse.  Even if someone is arrested for a crime unrelated to firearms, like an unpaid warrant, they can still be busted by the police if they are carrying an illegal firearm. In addition, if the police are called to a home for a complaint, such as a report of domestic violence or a medical emergency, they will most likely enter the home.  

If guns are visible to the officers (like if they are laying on the coffee table), the police can seize them if it is obvious the guns are illegal or if the homeowner is not allowed to have a gun due to a prior conviction or other reason.

Call Abdallah Law Today

Police have many ways to take guns from their owners.  Police in Chicago are especially interested in catching and punishing those with illegal guns.  

Those who wish to carry a gun in Chicago should make sure to be up to date with all licensing and permit requirements, and avoid taking firearms into places where they are not allowed.

Contact the offices of Abdallah Law at 312-854-2677 for a free consultation to discuss your rights today.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Laws To Keep Sex Offenders off Social Media

Laws that prevent sex offenders from accessing social media sites have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled social media networking sites have become such an important source of information that sex offenders should not be barred.

A law in North Carolina classified social media sites in the same way as places like schools which are no go areas for sex offenders. The Supreme Court ruled the ban was too broad.

Ban on sex offenders and social media is overturned

Ban on sex offenders and social media is overturned

The case concerned a sex offender called Lester Gerard Packingham who made a posting on a Facebook page after escaping a traffic ticket and committed a felony at the same time under North Carolina law.

The Supreme Court justices said laws like the one in North Carolina and other states that restrict sex offenders’ access to sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat violated the First Amendment, reported USA Today.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

"To foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights. Even convicted criminals — and in some instances, especially convicted criminals — might receive legitimate benefits from these means for access to the world of ideas, in particular, if they seek to reform and to pursue lawful and rewarding lives.”

Although North Carolina's was more restrictive than the laws applying to sex offenders in most states, Packingham's victory represented a strong victory for free speech rights for some of the nation's most unpopular citizens.

America has about 850,000 registered sex offenders. Kennedy said the case was significant because it was one of the first times the nation’s highest court has addressed the relationship between the First Amendment and the modern Internet.

USA Today reported 13 states defended the controversial North Carolina law in legal papers. They claimed the illicit use of social networking sites like Facebook is involved in one-third of Internet-related sex crimes that result in an arrest.

North Carolina passed its law in 2008. It claimed it was adding “virtual” neighborhoods to physical locations in which sex offenders are barred from like schools and playgrounds. The justices disagreed.

If you have been charged with a sex offense you will likely be facing a serious sentence. Your family and friends may shun you if you are convicted and your ability to hold a job in the future will be impacted. Call our Illinois criminal defense team today for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.

Chicago Man is Accused of Stabbing his Parents to Death

The majority of homicides in Illinois occur between people who know each other.  Often there appears to be no obvious motive and they shock communities.

Last month, a man was charged with the fatal stabbing of his elderly parents in the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago, reported CBS Chicago.

Chicago police said 47-year-old Dexter Barnes, faces two felony counts of first-degree murder. Police said the victims were his elderly parents.

Man was accused of stabbing his parents to death

Man was accused of stabbing his parents to death

The crime was discovered when one of the couple’s three sons returned to the home in North LeClaire. Police said he found his parents 69-year-old Shirley Ervin and 67-year-old Johnnie Ervin dead with multiple stab wounds.

 Subsequent autopsies revealed both of them died of multiple sharp force injuries and their deaths were ruled as homicides.

Barnes reportedly returned to the home and was later identified as the alleged attacker, police said. He lives on the same block as the victims.

Additional details on the crime emerged at a bond hearing for Barnes.

Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr denied him bail, according to reports. The judge said:

“These unimaginable facts speak for themselves.”

A report revealed Shirley Ervin previously obtained a protection order against her son.

However, it expired in November. Barnes was said to be living with his parents when he allegedly killed them.

Prosecutors said Barnes is on probation for an aggravated battery case in 2015. He was convicted of attacking a nurse who was treating him for an allergic reaction to a bee sting, prosecutors said. From November 2014 to late last year, Barnes' mother took out an order of protection against him for a domestic-battery case.

His public defender said Barnes suffers from a medical condition and has seizures.

Domestic violence against family members is a major problem in Illinois and the issue is hampered by a state budget crisis, we noted in our blog.

At Abdallah Law, we defend people who are charged with serious crimes like murder. Read about our case results here or call us at (312) 229-0008.

The Penalties for Armed Robbery in Illinois

Armed robbery is a very serious offense in Illinois which has some of the toughest anti-gun laws in the nation.

Depending on the circumstances of the offense, a convicted robber can face 3 to 7 years or up to 30 years in jail for armed robbery.

Armed robbery is defined as an offense in which the perpetrator is armed with or carrying a dangerous weapon.

A dangerous weapon is usually a firearm. In Illinois, you must have a Firearm Owner's Identification Card (FOID) card to carry a gun. Knives, razors, metal knuckles and a broken bottle are also defined as dangerous weapons under the Illinois criminal code.

Armed robbery is a Class X felony. Depending on the nature of the armed robbery, the sentence ranges from between six years in prison to 55 years to life in prison.

The main factor that determines how heavy the sentence will be is the extent of force or threat of force used and/or if the weapon was just carried, or used and if an injury or death occurred. The offense of armed robbery carries a maximum fine of $25,00. On release, the mandatory parole period is three years.

Armed Robbery is a Common Offense in Chicago

Despite the severe sentences for armed robbery in Chicago, these offenses make headlines on a very regular basis.

A report in Oak Park Patch noted how five teens from Chicago were charged with two separate robberies in Oak Park in early June.

A 15-year-old and 16-year-old were arrested and charged with robbery and attempted robbery. One of the juveniles was accused of hitting the victim in the face while demanding his phone. A second victim reportedly ended up on the ground as the other suspect demanded his phone. Both suspects were located shortly after fleeing the scene.

Police reported a second incident in North Maple. Three juveniles approached a victim and one teen pulled out a semi-automatic weapon when demanding money and an iPhone.

The Chicago Tribune reported the three teens were charged with armed robbery and detained at the juvenile detention center.

Particular businesses are regular targets of robberies. We recently noted how pharmacy robberies are fueling America’s opioid crisis.

If you have been charged with armed robbery, you should speak to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call the Abdallah Law Firm at (312) 229-0008.

Is Smart Policing Driving Down Crime in Chicago?

Advances in technology have led to claims that smart policing is having an impact in reducing gun crime in Chicago.

That point of view was put forward in an article by Police Superintended Eddie Johnson in the Sun-Times in June.

Johnson was in Springfield for the signing of the Safe Neighborhoods Reform Act. The new state law promises stricter prison sentences for repeat gun offenders in Illinois.

Johnson said the bill is an “important component of the broader public safety strategy we have implemented throughout the first six months of 2017.”

Officers discuss the impact of smart policing in Chicago

Officers discuss the impact of smart policing in Chicago

The police superintendent said during the first six months of 2017 the Chicago Police Department implemented a smart policing strategy that shows early signs of progress.

Chicago Police made a conscious decision to make “district-level intelligence” the driver of its crime fight, Johnson said.

He pointed out five of the traditionally most violent police districts on the West and South sides of the city were given new strategic nerve centers, gunshot detection technology, and more robust integrated camera networks.

At the same time, analysts from the University of Chicago Crime Lab started working closely with police officers in the new nerve centers.

Johnson said this created actionable intelligence that not only helped police respond to crime but prevents crime from occurring in the first place.

He noted some dramatic declines in parts of the city, namely.

  • Englewood which saw a 30 percent reduction in murders, and a 32 percent reduction in shootings.
  • ·An 18 percent reduction in murders, and a 35 percent reduction in shootings in North Lawndale.

Johnson said Chicago Police Department is on course to meet Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s aim of 1,000 new police officers and detectives. They are being trained to use body cameras, Tasers and given de-escalation and mental health awareness training.

The senior police officer’s opinion piece was written before a violent July 4 holiday in Chicago. The police department was reported to be conducting “a very comprehensive review” after the city saw at least 102 people shot between late Friday afternoon and early Wednesday over the July 4 holiday.

This year, the violence was mainly confined to the south and west sides of the city where hundreds of officers on overtime were deployed over the July 4 holiday. 

Firearms offenses are taken very seriously in Chicago. If you have been charged, please request a free case evaluation with the Abdallah Law Firm.

5 Things To Know About Police Home Searches In Illinois


Citizens have a right to protect their homes from unjustified invasion by the government.  A person’s home is one arguably the most protected areas under the United States constitution and most state statutes.  

Because of the interest citizens have in protecting their home, police need to have a good reason to come in.

1. Police should have a warrant

Generally, in order to search a home, the police must have a warrant supported by evidence, signed by a judge.  That means police can’t barge in on a hunch. If police ask to search someone’s home, the person at the door should demand to see a warrant.

If they don’t have one – simple, they can’t come in.  Though the general rule requires a warrant, there are some exceptions which can be used by police to bypass the warrant requirement.

2. Consenting to a home search destroys the requirement for a warrant

If someone at the home consents to a search, there is no longer a need for a warrant. Consent to search the home can be given not only by the homeowner, but anyone who lives there or otherwise has the authority to consent to the search.  

If the police get consent from someone who they believe lives in the home, but who actually does not have the authority to consent to a search, the police can still use any items obtained in the search at trial.  

For example, if an aggrieved ex-boyfriend still has the keys to his former girlfriend’s apartment, and the police think he lives there, they can use his consent to search the home even though this is an unfair result.  

Therefore, it is in every homeowner or renter’s best interest to make sure that former roommates, partners, or anyone else who lived in the home returns the keys.  People with roommates or other living partners should make sure that they know to refuse consent to a search.

3. The “plain view doctrine” is a big exception to the warrant requirement

The plain view doctrine is a legal term that means if police can see something without digging around, it can be used as evidence.  

If police are in a home for any valid reason, or if they are outside of a home and can see through an open window, opened garage door, or something similar, contraband that is in plain view can be seized.  

This means that if police are called to a home after receiving a call about, for example, a domestic dispute, and they step through the front door and see drugs, paraphernalia, or other contraband, they can seize it without a warrant.  

The plain view doctrine does not allow police to open drawers or otherwise tamper with an item to determine if it is illegal (e.g. police can’t read the serial number on a TV and check it with the stolen property registry).  

The plain view doctrine usually applies when the police are in the home because of an emergency call.

4. Home searches can be limited

Even if the police have a warrant to search a home, the warrant doesn’t mean they can look through everything.  They are limited to searching for whatever is listed in the warrant.

For example, if the warrant says that police can search the house for a stolen TV, they can only look in places where the TV could be.  A TV would obviously not fit in a kitchen drawer, so if the police open a kitchen drawer and find drugs, the drugs could be excluded from trial didn’t have a right to search the drawer.  

Also, if the police are given consent to search a home, they are only allowed to search the areas consented to.  So, if one roommate gives the police consent to search an apartment, but lets police know that the master bedroom belongs to his roommate and his roommate is not home, the police should not search the master bedroom because they don’t have the consent to do so.

5. Evidence obtained in home searches can be fought against and excluded

Some people believe that if police find something inside one’s house, the evidence will show up in trial.  However, a good attorney can fight against that evidence ever being presented in trial.  

For example, he can examine the warrant to make sure police didn’t exceed their authority, he can determine whether the search was carried out legally, and he can argue that evidence obtained should be excluded because it was not included in the warrant and not in plain view.

Contact Abdallah Law Today

The team at Abdallah Law is experienced in cases involving home searches and are ready and able to fight against police invasion.  

Contact us at 312-854-2677 for a free consultation to discuss how bankruptcy may help you manage your debt and obtain a “fresh start” to your financial life.  

Feds Step In To Help Gun Crime Fight in Chicago

Escalating gun violence in Chicago has made headlines over the last two years. Politicians have spoken about federal assistance. The Chicago Police Department is now receiving some help from federal law enforcement to investigate gun violence.

A report in Chicago Tonight revealed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is lending Chicago access to technology that police believe will help close thousands of gun cases opened every year.

The new technology is called the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN).

Feds help gun crime initiative in Chicago

Feds help gun crime initiative in Chicago

According to the ATF, the system was set up in 1999. It provides state, federal, and local partners with an automated ballistic imaging network. NIBIN is the only national network that facilitates the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence to assist in investigations and the prevention of violent crimes involving firearms. ATF states on its website:

“NIBIN is vital to any violent crime reduction strategy, because it provides investigators the ability to compare their ballistics evidence against evidence from other violent crimes on a national, regional and local level, thus generating investigative links that would rarely be revealed absent the technology.”

ATF has rolled out a new $300,000 van that operates as a hub for the technology. Every time a firearm is fired, it leaves markings on the shell casings like a fingerprint. The technology allows investigators to analyze the markings and compare them to casings found at other shooting scenes.

When a weapon is fired, it leaves several sorts of markings on the shell casings, like a fingerprint. This technology allows police to analyze those markings, and compare them to casings found at other shootings.

Although the network isn’t new, the speed of results is. The Chicago Police Department at present has access to this information in its own crime lab in Homan Square. Use of the van will allow police to get access to the information much faster: two to six hours, as opposed three weeks.

In late June, Sen. Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Eddie Johnson took tour of the van.

Johnson explained when a shooting incident occurs in the city, the police notify ATF to meet them at the crime scene.

The unit will recover casings from the scene and test fire a gun if a weapon is recovered.  Casings will be put into the national system. Johnson said each casing is like a fingerprint. The system allows the cartridges to be associated with other shootings and hence offenders.

We recently noted how Chicago Police have enlisted predictive technology in the fight against crime in the city. The technology being used after shootings includes ShotSpotter, described as an “ear in the sky.”

Our experienced Chicago criminal defense attorneys are well versed in the new technology being used by the police and how it may affect your rights. Call us at (312) 229-0008.