Criminal Law

Criminal Law

Criminal Law deals with behaviors that are illegal and punishable by imprisonment and/or fines. Criminal charges are brought by the state against individuals for conduct that is against the law because it is damaging or harmful to property, and/or the safety, well-being, and moral-welfare of people. Crimes are usually categorized as felonies or misdemeanors based on their nature and the maximum punishment that can be imposed.

JEP lawyers working on Criminal Law provide services that may include:

  • Felonies, including assault, aggravated battery, burglaries and murder
  • Misdemeanors, including disorderly conduct, public intoxication, theft and trespassing
  • DUI
  • Sussethe Renteria

    Renteria Legal, LLC

    Serves in Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will Counties

    Sussethe Renteria is the Founder and Principal attorney of Renteria Law Group. Her previous experience as a substance abuse counselor and clerkship with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office allows her to uniquely approach the cases she works on. Her background allows her to proceed her cases with empathy and begin with an advantage in negotiations for her clients.
    Sussethe does not only assist in the legal field, but engages in community outreach during her free time. Most of her community work is done through her partnership with a local high school to advocate for minority students in her goal to sever the school-to-prison pipeline. Sussethe also takes on the role of a mentor to students in high school, undergraduate universities, and law school. She believes greatly in giving back to her community and has proven so by providing countless hours of pro bono services to asylum seekers in Matamoros, Mexico.
    Sussethe can be reached at (708)669-9969 or This firm charges $100 for an in-person consultation.

  • Courtney Kelledes

    Rights and Restoration Law Group, LLC

    Serves in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, McHenry, and Lake Counties

    Courtney Kelledes fights for individuals with past records and criminal justice system involvement to restore their rights and opportunities. Before co-founding Rights and Restoration Law Group LLC, Courtney was the Director of Employment Training at Growing Home in Englewood. There she led a multidisciplinary team in providing holistic employment support to motivated job seekers. Prior to Growing Home, Courtney was Cabrini Green Legal Aid’s Lead Attorney of Collaborative Partnerships where she successfully represented hundreds of individuals in petitions for Sealing and Expungement, Certificates of Rehabilitation, Health Care Worker Waivers, Executive Clemency, and Professional Licensing. Courtney currently volunteers with the Chicago Community Bond Fund, John Howard Association C-Number Project, Cabrini Green Legal Aid, CARPLS, and DePaul’s Neighborhood Legal Assistance Project. Courtney graduated from DePaul University College of Law cum laude, with a certificate in public interest law, and earned her bachelor’s degree cum laude from Eastern Michigan University.

    Courtney can be reached at (312)672-9967 or This firm does not charge a consultation fee.

  • Garrett Thomas

    The Law Office of Garrett Thomas, LLC

    Serves in Cook County

    Garrett is an experienced litigator and trial attorney. His practice focuses primarily on criminal defense, civil rights, protective orders, and select civil litigation. Garrett has appeared in courts across the Chicago area and has a track record of resolving complex proceedings with best-case outcomes. He maintains an extensive network of corporate, nonprofit, and community partners to provide services to a wide range of clients. He studied Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis and attended law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.


    Garrett can be reached at 872-256-1228 or This firm charges a $300 consultation fee.

  • Robert Alexander

    Vanguard Advocates, LLP

    Serves in Cook, DuPage, and Lake Counties

    Rob is a fighter and guide for people facing the criminal prosecution system in Chicagoland. He is a founder and partner at Vanguard Advocates, LLP, a law practice focused on people and problem-solving. Vanguard Advocates, LLP is driven by a mission to provide legal services that are affordable, with clear and predictable pricing, so that your focus can be on your criminal, traffic, or juvenile justice issue. If your case is over, Vanguard Advocates, LLP stands ready to help you with criminal records relief, including adult records sealing and expungements. Rob earned a BA at Morehouse College and his JD at DePaul University College of Law. He is licensed in Illinois and a member of the Chicago Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.

    Rob can be reached at or 312-219-5931. This firm charges a consultation fee ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the type of the case.

  • Nikki Donnelley

    Rights and Restoration Law Group, LLC

    Serves in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Will, McHenry, and Lake Counties

    Nikki Donnelley is a zealous advocate for individuals coping with the impact of their criminal records, as well as those who are still behind bars. Her passion for working with people impacted by the criminal legal system began while studying public policy at DePaul University, where she studied the implications of local laws on Chicago’s residents. Since this time,Nikki has continued to fight against systemic injustice in her role as a staff attorney at Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA). At CGLA, she represented hundreds of clients in successfully mitigating their criminal records through sealing and expungement, executive clemency, healthcare waivers, certificates of good conduct, and at hearings in front of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  Notably, in 2017, Nikki successfully argued and won a petition to seal her  client’s conviction for murder- one of the first of such convictions to be sealed in Illinois history.  While at CGLA, Nikki co-launched a project assisting over twenty-five incarcerated survivors of domestic violence file motions to reduce their sentences after there was a change in sentencing laws, allowing domestic battery to be considered by Judges in sentencing. In addition to directly representing clients, Nikki has trained and supervised hundreds of pro bono attorneys representing clients in their petitions for executive clemency.

    Nikki can be reached at (872)239-4533 or This firm does not charge a consultation fee.

  • Kimber Russell

    Vanguard Advocates, LLP

    Serves in Cook County

    Kimber is a criminal defense attorney who prioritizes protecting her client’s rights. The criminal justice system, especially in Illinois, can be a terrifying and disorienting experience, and Kimber excels in helping clients understand and navigate the court system. Kimber is a fighter with a keen sense of justice who will stand up and not back down when the case is challenging. Having a clear criminal record is key to accessing employment, housing, and so many other core human necessities, which is why one of Kimber’s core practice areas is in Criminal Records Relief. 2020 brings with it a huge opportunity for many people who have been arrested and convicted for cannabis possession to have their records cleared and to get a fresh start, and Kimber is ready to help. Kimber is an active member of the Chicago legal community, taking on many leadership roles within the Chicago Bar Association and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois. Kimber’s focus is on diversifying the legal profession, especially by supporting women and people of color in accessing, navigating and succeeding in law school, the bar exam, and the legal profession at large. As the incumbent Co-Chair of the Alliance for Women (the largest sub-committee of the Chicago Bar Association), Kimber spearheaded programming, Continuing Legal Education, and events to empower women attorneys to continue to break barriers in the field of law.

    Kimber can be reached via email or phone at (312) 344-3804. This firm charges a consultation fee ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the type of the case.

  • Mark Almanza

    Almanza Law LLC

    Serves in Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties

    Mark Almanza is an alumnus of University of Chicago Law School and a veteran of the United States Air Force. Mark is committed to working with clients to obtain affordable access to the legal representation they deserve. Prior to founding Almanza Law, Mark worked at Lawndale Christian Legal Center, a non-profit law office representing youth in juvenile and criminal court, and has handled numerous felony, misdemeanor, and traffic cases ranging from DUI through First Degree Murder. Mark currently works with First Defense Legal Aid providing representation during arrest and investigations by the Chicago Police Department. As a child of immigrant parents, Mark understands the difficulties the immigrant community faces and is dedicated to helping clients navigate the complexities of the immigration system. Additionally, Mark has experience in real estate issues including handling mortgage foreclosures during the housing crisis and landlord/tenant issues. Mark focuses his practice on criminal defense, immigration, and residential real estate.

    Mark can be reached at (312) 380-9012 or This firm charges a $100 consultation fee. You can book a consultation here.

  • Amanda Carey

    The Carey Center for Justice

    Serves in Cook County, Kane, Will, and DuPage

    We are the Carey Center: Where you can find solutions and support for problems facing everyday Americans.  Amanda, our founder and Attorney at the Carey Center for Justice, has a deep passion for helping people and has been doing so for well over 20 years.  Amanda started her career in assisting others by working in higher education as a Lecturer at Washington State University where she taught Public Speaking, Linguistics, and Diversity courses.  Ultimately, Amanda became a President of multiple colleges across the State of Illinois and Indiana before deciding to go to law school.  Amanda holds a bachelors and master’s degree in Communication from Washington State University, a Doctorate of Higher Education from Northern Illinois University and a Juris Doctorate from Mitchell Hamline University.  Amanda strives to create a welcoming environment at the Carey Center where client needs are at the center of everything we do.

    Amanda can be reached via email at or 312-870-0098. This firm charges $150 for consultations that will be credited toward the bill if the firm accepts your case.

  • Lee A. Ayers

    The Law Office of Lee A. Ayers

    Serves in Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties

    Lee is a criminal defense attorney with an interest in social justice. His practice is solely concentrated in criminal defense representation. He is a dedicated advocate who helps people maintain their freedom as well as reducing or eliminating their criminal charges. He makes the police and prosecutors do their jobs and to follow the law. He handles every case as if it were his own liberty at stake and provides affordable pricing.
    He has volunteered his services to the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy providing assistance with expunging and sealing of criminal records. Also, the Illinois Prison Project (IPP) writing clemency petitions and appearing before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board. Additionally, the Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA) providing criminal defense representation. He earned a BS from Rush University, MA from Governors State University, and a JD from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
    Lee can be reached via phone at (312)816-4548 or email This firm charges consultation fees ranging from $35.00 – $250.00.

  • Paul Lytle

    The Lytle Law Group, LLC

    Serves in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, and Will Counties

    Paul Lytle is a partner at Lytle & Milan, LLC. Paul’s mission is to provide legal representation that is accessible, responsive, and accountable to the unique needs of individuals and families throughout the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area. In a divergence from traditional billing practices, Paul seeks to fulfill his commitment to accessibility by offering clients a range of customizable solutions that includes flat rate fees, unbundled services, and limited scope representation. Paul provides clients with comprehensive representation in the areas of Criminal Defense Law and Family Law. Paul also provides limited representation in matters of Consumer Law. As an active member of the community, Paul is extremely proud to provide pro bono services in conjunction with such notable non-profit organizations as CARPLS, LAF, and Universidad Popular.

    Paul can be reached at (312) 690-4111 or This firm does not charge a consultation fee.

  • Ashley Rodriguez

    Second Chance Law LLC

    Serves in Cook, Lake, and DuPage Counties

    Ashley N. Rodriguez is a social justice advocate fighting to protect the rights and preserve the futures of her clients. Ashley is the Founder of Second Chance Law — a law firm dedicated to providing its clients access to justice in an unjust system. She is committed to bringing justice to her clients through holistic legal representation by connecting them to community resources and hosting educational workshops about one’s rights. Ashley earned her Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Texas State University and Juris Doctor from The John Marshall Law School. She currently volunteers as a pro bono attorney at First Defense Legal Aid.

    Ashley can be reached at or 312.971.6673. This firm charges a consultation fee ranging from $100 to $500 depending on location. All consultation fees will be credited towards the legal fee if the client engages the firm.