Criminal Defense Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

When you are accused of a crime, it is a frightening and uncertain time. You may have many questions, whether you are accused of petty theft, a DUI charge or a serious drug felony. At Gene Ognibene Associates, we offer free initial consultations to discuss the unique questions of your case. Attorney Gene Ognebene offers experience and insight as a former DuPage County prosecutor and former supervisor of the domestic county courtroom. He has helped thousands in your situation make it out of the courtroom without a conviction.

Our office is in Clarendon Hills near Hinsdale and Oak Brook and has served Illinois since 1998. Below are answers to common criminal defense questions — if you have any other questions on your case, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm by calling 630-984-5636.

Why do I need a criminal defense attorney? Can't I just represent myself?

Never accept the charges, plead guilty or otherwise attempt to defend yourself without counsel from an experienced criminal lawyer. Prosecutors will easily take advantage of those who do not have knowledgeable legal representation, and your future is well worth the investment in an attorney. You will often receive a more serious penalty on your own than you would with legal representation.

Can the police search my home or vehicle without my permission?

The easiest way for law enforcement officers to search your property is to gain your permission. They will often trick you into giving verbal permission by making it seem as though you must do so. That is why when you are asked, you should always say no until you speak to an attorney.

Police do have other methods to gain access to search and seize your property. If they have probable cause, such as if they smell marijuana and see paraphernalia in your vehicle when they pull you over, they may conduct a search. They also may perform a limited search if you are arrested. Otherwise, they need a warrant to perform a full search.

Your privacy rights should never be infringed upon. If you believe police performed a search and seizure unlawfully, do not wait to contact our office. You may be able to get your charges dropped if police violated your rights.

I received a notice of summary suspension at the time of my DUI arrest. What does this mean?

Illinois law provides for an automatic license suspension beginning 46 days after your arrest if you refuse to submit to chemical testing (like a Breathalyzer or blood test), OR if you submit to testing and fail.

A failure results in the suspension of driving privileges for six months for first offenders, with eligibility for an MDDP from the first day of suspension. The MDDP (Monitoring Device Driving Permit) allows you to drive with a device installed in your vehicle that blocks the vehicle from operating if alcohol is detected on your breath.

On a second offense, failure results in an automatic one-year suspension and you are not eligible for the MDDP.

If you refused chemical testing, your license will be suspended for one year for a first offense, with MDDP eligibility from the first day of suspension. A second or subsequent offense will suspend your license for three years with NO eligibility for the MDDP. There is a process by which we can help you contest this type of suspension and possibly preserve your driving privileges.

I have a CDL (commercial driver's license) and received a summary suspension. Will I lose my CDL?

Yes, for CDL holders, a first offense for refusal to take a chemical test or failure of a chemical test will result in loss of your CDL for one year. You will face a lifetime disqualification from obtaining a CDL on a second offense.

I heard you can drive with a revoked license. Is this true?

An RDP (restricted driving permit) may be available to some offenders after the statutory summary suspension is completed. To obtain this permit from the secretary of state, you must prove that a hardship exists, provide a current drug/alcohol evaluation and provide proof of treatment and/or remedial education. It is not an easy or inexpensive process. The permit has significant restrictions, and you may be subject to felony charges if you attempt to drive with your RDP for purposes not expressly authorized.

I have a driver's license from another state. Does it matter if I get a DUI in Illinois?

Yes, an Illinois arrest or conviction for DUI can impact your out-of-state driver's license. You may especially be at risk if you are a CDL holder driving through Illinois.