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Episode 17

Criminal Law with Mark Galler

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Mike: Welcome to the Agruss Law Firm video podcast. We are a different kind of law firm and that’s on purpose. At Agruss Law Firm, we see you as a person and not just a client and that makes us better at what we do. We’re not just lawyers and you’re not just a client. We’re friends, neighbors and family. This is a show about all things legalish that friends, neighbors and family want to know. This is season one episode two and today we’re talking criminal law. Today’s guest is Mark Galler, the owner of Mark Galler Law. Founded in November 2018, Mark focuses on criminal defense and civil litigation, primarily contract disputes and fraud. Mark, how are you?Mark Galler: Great, Mike. Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate the invite here and this is a really wonderful setup you have.Mike: Yeah, thanks. Absolutely. I just started doing this video podcast and when I was thinking about doing it, I knew for sure, I would have someone on early on to talk criminal law. When I was in law school, I loved criminal law. I love criminal procedure. My wife and I are total junkies for Law and Order, Dateline. I love the documentary series, Making a Murderer and the Aaron Hernandez Show that also recently came out. Tell me a little bit about what you do at your firm.Mark Galler: Yeah, thank you Mike. My firm has been in existence since November 2018. I primarily practice and I’d say about 80% of my practice is criminal defense. I handle everything from simple traffic violations up into, including homicide and class acts offenses, everything in between. I’d say the real nuts and bolts of my practice would involve cases of possession of firearms, illegal possession of a firearm, drug cases and also, DUI practice as well.Mike: Okay, and I think you’d agree with me that I think criminal law and family law and I’m sure there’s other areas of law that are sort of their own separate animal, right? Tell me the difference between a criminal case and a civil case, what’s the difference?Mark Galler: That’s a great question and a lot of times, I get that even from my clients or people that don’t really understand how criminal law works. Criminal law is initiated by a victim of a criminal offense. Someone that they were either harmed by and they felt that they have been wronged so they go to the police, they file a report or complaints with their local police departments and then the police from there will initiate the proper procedure of filing a formal report. Maybe if it’s a felony level, they’ll reach out to the local states attorney’s department.Mark Galler: They will look to see if the assistant states attorney, that’s in charge of maybe felony review, thinks that there is enough evidence or proper procedure to bring in a case in front of either a grand jury or a preliminary hearing which is where the officers or other victims would come in to testify or witnesses would testify if there’s enough probable cause to bring a case. It’s really, where the government comes in and steps in to protect individuals who have been harmed and they try to set an example for anyone else looking to commit a crime and saying, “Hey, if you do this, these are going to be the repercussions and we’re going to protect the citizens of our state or our government.”Mike: Okay, and you just briefly touched on it as far as like the process from the time someone is arrested until trial. Walk me through all of the stages from what happens from day one until trial.Mark Galler: Exactly, so there’s a couple of ways that the criminal case can be initiated. The crime could have already occurred and the individual might not have been caught yet, okay? What often happens is, if the victim has some idea of the identity of that individual or maybe there is a video recording at a store location or from someone’s cellphone, they will then try to track that individual down. Try to look at the person’s identity. If they can identify the person through visual quality or if they have a name and then they’ll issue an arrest warrant and that is to bring in that individual to face the charges against them. If they were arrested on the spot of committing the crime, say, they were trying to break into a phone store and the police were nearby, somebody saw them breaking in and they arrested them on the spot, then formal charges would start at that point.Mark Galler: Now, the way that the next step works is once you’re arrested, they have a certain amount of time to bring you in for a bond hearing. Typically, it’s the next day. If it’s in the morning hours, they’ll bring you in, in the afternoon at the same day, where you’ll go in front of a judge and try to get a bond set and hopefully be released from custody. Custody is where you remain in the protection of the police. That’s the first step. The second step then is, they have to bring you in front of either a grand jury which is roughly 16 members of the community that’ll hear evidence and testimony from witnesses from police officers who will basically explain to the jury, under oath, what they saw.Mark Galler: Try to prove that there is problem … the government is trying to prove then through question that there’s probably cause to bring a formal case against that individual.Mike: Let me jump in there because I’ve got a quick question about that. Is there always a grand jury depending on what type of charge, whether it’s state or federal or if it’s like a minor DUI or I don’t know if you would consider that minor but is there always a grand jury?Mark Galler: Great question, no, it really only applies to felony level cases which is anything … class four felony is the lowest level of felony in Illinois and that’s because you can spend at least 366 days in jail or longer. What separates a misdemeanor from a felony is simply that. The highest level of misdemeanor is misdemeanor A and you could spend up to 365 days in jail there. What Cook County did specifically for the longest time was, they would go through a preliminary hearing, which affords criminal defense attorneys like myself the opportunity to go into court, with my client and then question the officer or witness, under oath.Mark Galler: Then ultimately be able to argue to the judge that there is no probable cause to bring the case and try to get it dismissed at that point but it’s easier for the state now to just skip that step, bring the evidence and the officers into court and essentially, feed them the questions that they need without opposition from somebody like me and their chances of getting the grand jury to indict the individual is extremely high.Mike: When someone is indicted, what is the next step?Mark Galler: After they’re indicted, then if the individuals are already in custody, then they have to go through an arraignment process and that’s where they are brought into court. They’re formally read the charges that are being brought against them. They’re told the possible punishment and jail time that they could face and from there, after that arraignment takes place, now, you’re in a full-fledged case.Mike: Got it, and during the full-fledged case, I know what it’s like in a civil case when you go through the discovery process, you answer interrogatories or questions, you turn over documents, parties sit for depositions and I want to know what’s the difference in that discovery phase in a criminal case, right, like are there depositions, do you answer written discovery? How does that work?Mark Galler: Yes, absolutely, the very first thing at least I do and most … I would say most attorneys do in the criminal setting is they file right away a motion for discover…

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