Sovereign citizen defense fails in McHenry County criminal trespass after eviction case

An article in the Daily Herald describes a McHenry County man who now faces jail time for moving back into the real estate he occupied before being evicted.  According to the article, a jury found the man guilty of criminal trespass.  He will be sentenced soon and faces “up to 364 days in jail, up to two years probation, and a maximum $2,500 fine.”

During the trial, the article points out, “McGinley told the deputies all McHenry County judges were not doing their jobs and should be arrested.” and “He also claimed that he was a “sovereign citizen,” that the members of the trial jury were not his peers, and that he didn’t have to abide by his court ordered eviction”.

While original, the sovereign citizen defense, usually employed by people seeking to avoid their taxes, seems to be as effective at avoiding the enforcement of an eviction order as it is in avoiding the IRS.  After a circuit court issues an Order for Possession and that Order is enforced by the county Sheriff, any former tenant who re-takes possession is a trespasser.

This is one of the few times that the local police will assist a property owner in removing a “tenant” as a trespasser!

Customarily, in Cook County evictions, the Sheriff will leave the property owner with a letter indicating that the eviction has taken place and will post a similar not on the property.  With this letter (and a little luck), the local authorities should help a property owner remove a tenant who tries to regain possession after being evicted.

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2 Responses to Sovereign citizen defense fails in McHenry County criminal trespass after eviction case

  1. noneya says:

    With this tenant (a different tenant & situation from the first thread), I have gone through the whole eviction process. I was awarded back rent and possession. The judge awarded the tenant a one week stay (until Jan. 24th). They have moved to their new apartment (I witnessed them moving the big stuff; furniture appliances, etc., in the big moving truck) but they are still coming in and out removing small things in their car. Does this stay mean that after Jan. 24th I can change the locks and take possession or do I have to do some other process to take possession and change the locks?

    • Richard Magnone says:

      If a tenant has not tendered possession (for example, by way of turning over keys or writing you a note indicating that they have vacated) back to you, the only lawful way to get possession back after the stay expires is to place the order for possession with the Sheriff for execution.

      I don’t have enough facts from your message to know if possession is transferred, although, from the facts you gave, I would not assume possession was transferred. That is not legal advice because I don’t know enough of the situation and because you have not engaged us to represent you. You should talk to an attorney to advise you of your rights. Please feel free to contact us to see if we are a match to represent you.

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