On Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, after Douglas Johnson’s strategic delay in jury selection, the State dismissed all five counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse with prejudice. As charged, these were class 2 felony offenses that carried a possible sentence of up to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Moreover, a person convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse is required to register as a sex-offender.
In our case, Johnson Law Group not only believed in his innocence, but we fought for our client. Before trial, the State maintained that they had a “strong case,” and only on the morning of jury selection did the State provide an offer to resolve the case by way of a plea agreement. However, that agreement would have entailed our client going to prison and registering as a sex-offender, an outcome that was unjust for an innocent man. Accordingly, we declined the offer and proceeded to trial.
Jury selection (known as "voir dire") began on the morning of April 25th, 2018, where a number of individuals were excused “for cause” because they were not capable of rendering a fair and impartial verdict, while others were excused by preemptory challenges, which both parties have a right to do in selecting a jury without stating a reason.
It was not until the morning of jury selection that the State handed over a written statement authored by the alleged victim in the case. The written statement revealed that the alleged victim had previously lied about sexual conduct taking place, and disclosed that the State’s Attorney and his office pressured her into lying on the stand. Now when a victim makes a statement it can create several potential problems, but when a victim makes a statement that involves the State’s Attorney himself or his office, the complexities grow exponentially.
Under Illinois law, if an attorney becomes a witness in a case, generally a special prosecutor must be appointed, because it gives rise to a conflict for the State’s Attorney’s Office as a whole. Once that conflict arises, another person or agency needs to take over the case. However, and also under Illinois law, a special witness exception exists that allows the evidence to come into trial by way of another individual that was present during the alleged meeting that creates the conflict. In our case, the State’s Attorney was worried how the letter would be introduced into evidence and whether or not he would be called to the stand to admit or deny the statements made by the alleged victim.
Attorney Douglas Johnson, like any good defense attorney, discerned the weakness in the case and the vulnerability of the State, and knowing that if the jury was selected the trial would begin immediately. As a result, a strategic decision was made in order to create more time to press the State’s Attorney into a dismissal of the case. This left open the door of being able to either convince the State to dismiss the case, or get the judge to appoint a special prosecutor.
Instead, Attorney Johnson convinced the State to dismiss the case entirely! The State could have moved to dismiss without prejudice, and since jeopardy had not yet attached, the State could re-file the charges if they wished after getting a special prosecutor appointed. However, Mr. Johnson was able to convince the State Attorney into a dismissal with prejudice. This is important, because when a case is dismissed with prejudice, it means that charges could not be brought against our client for the alleged incident ever again.
Trial can be complex, and having the right attorney, who knows the law and is willing to fight for you is essential to getting the best possible outcome. Here, Johnson Law Group formulated a strategy for trial, implemented that strategy, and was successful in getting all 5 felony counts dismissed entirely—and with prejudice. Our results speak for themselves, and this is only one of them. We are on call help 24 hours a day to help.