Archive for June, 2014

Assault and Battery Law in Illinois

June 28th, 2014 at 6:49 am

battery, Assault & Battery, Chicago criminal defense attorney, Christopher M. Cosley, Cook County criminal defense lawyer, Rolling Meadows, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, Class C misdemeanor, assault crime, aggravated assault, Class 4 felony, aggravated batteryAssault and battery are two serious offenses that are treated as such in criminal courts in the state of Illinois. Those charged with such crimes are advised to immediately seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights. Below are some of the basics regarding relevant assault and battery laws in Illinois.

Assault

In the state of Illinois, an assault charge is usually graded as a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties associated with such an offense are a maximum of 30 days incarceration and up to $1,500 in fines. Typically, the facts that give rise to such a charge involve engaging in conduct or acting in a way that places another in fear of harm. It is important to note that the crime of assault does not necessarily involve physical contact with the victim; a verbal threat or threat of physical harm is enough to meet the law’s requirements.

Certain circumstances warrant a charge to be elevated to an aggravated assault. This usually happens when a deadly weapon is involved, the defendant is disguised when committing the crime, or the alleged victim is within a certain class of individuals, including but not limited to teachers, law enforcement officials, and firemen. Aggravated assaults are graded as Class A misdemeanors, which carry a maximum one-year jail sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. If the victim falls within the designated class of individuals, the crime becomes a Class 4 felony and carries a maximum three-year prison term and a maximum $25,000 fine.

Battery

Under Illinois law, it is considered battery if a person causes bodily harm to another or makes insulting or provoking contact with another. Pushing someone could be the basis for a battery charge. Because the crime invokes physical harm, it is generally treated more seriously than assault. Battery is graded as a Class A misdemeanor and can invoke a maximum jail term of one year or a fine of up to $2,500.

Aggravated battery is charged when the victim suffers significant bodily harm or permanent disability. The use of a firearm could also support a charge of aggravated battery. This crime is graded as a Class 3 felony and carries a maximum five-year prison term as well as fines that could reach up to $25,000.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Depending on the circumstances, assault or battery charges could have serious consequences for those accused of them. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully defended a number of clients charged with assault and battery. Contact us today for a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office. We can listen to the facts of your specific case, advise you of your options, and protect your rights.

Drug Testing as Part of the War on Drugs

June 26th, 2014 at 6:38 am

Christopher M. Cosley, drug crimes, drug screening, drug testing, employer drug testing, Rolling Meadows criminal attorney, violation of rights, war on drugsDrug abuse and addiction is a problem affecting virtually every geographical location across the country to some extent. In an effort to combat drug use, the government has declared a “war on drugs” in the past, seeking to charge individuals with drug crimes that carry harsh penalties as a way to remedy the problem. While intentions may have been noble, a recent article discusses drug testing as one of the byproducts of the war on drugs and its unintended consequences.

Employer Drug Testing

One of the scenarios most common for drug testing is in the workplace. Whether it is in applying for a job, or before officially starting a new job, many candidates are forced to submit to drug testing in order to be considered for a position. The problem, some employers are pointing out, is that the requirement of passing a drug test may be automatically screening out the best candidates for a given position. On the other hand, the testing requirement may have benefitted others, particularly minorities, by allowing them to prove they were not using drugs to potential employers. While drug testing is only necessary for government employees, other well-known employers are following suit across the nation.

Acceptable Requirement or Violation of Rights?

While there are some obvious benefits to the practice, opponents of employer drug testing argue that the requirement is an infringement on Fourth Amendment rights. They say that blanket testing equates to a search of the individual submitting to the test without probable cause. Further problems with the testing requirement include a low efficacy rate, the failure to detect certain types of new synthetic drugs, and the lack of proof that it actually curbs drug use. It is important to note that despite repeated Fourth Amendment challenges in past decades, the Supreme Court has ruled that drug testing is not a violation of constitutional rights. Congress followed with legislation in line with the Court’s opinion which provided the basis for widespread use of drug testing in employment.

Statistics

As a result of the legal precedent, companies took advantage of drug testing. It is estimated that today, approximately 57 percent of U.S. employers rely on drug testing as part of their employment practices. Some point out that the cost of $50.00 per screen is a hefty one to pay for virtually no benefit to justify it.

The Fight Continues

The American Civil Liberties Union continues to fight against the practice of drug testing in the workplace, as it has done for the last three decades. The ACLU argues that testing infringes on privacy rights and disproportionately affects the underprivileged. They say it is a procedure that does nothing to address the problem it seeks to solve, and actually may cause more harm than good for the individuals who are forced to submit to the testing in order to maintain employment.

Criminal Defense Attorney

It will be interesting to see if the use of drug testing by employers will dramatically change in the future. For now, the problem of drug use is an ongoing one. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime, contact the experienced defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Chicago and the surrounding area.

Proposed Legislation to Ease Penalties for Drunk Drivers

June 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am

penalties, ease penalties, anti-drunk-driving groups, Chicago DUI lawyer, Christopher M. Cosley, drunk drivers, DUI laws, DUI offenses, DUI penalties, redemption bill, repeat DUI offendersAccording to an article recently published by the Chicago Tribune, one Illinois lawmaker is going against past trends of increasing penalties provided for by state law associated with driving under the influence (DUI) offenses. Instead, the representative is attempting to build support for a measure that would somewhat ease penalties faced by repeat DUI offenders.

Redemption Bill

The representative decided to sponsor what is known as the “redemption bill” after being confronted by an individual from her district. The man told his story, and the representative took a first hand look at his treatment, which proved to her that the man had turned his life around since his offense. Her measure would change the existing DUI laws in a limited way. The proposal would apply to those people found guilty of a fourth DUI offense who would have otherwise permanently lost their licenses and allow them a limited permit to only drive to and from work.

In addition, the proposal would carry various conditions. In order to get driving privileges restored, offenders would have to go through a five-year waiting period since their last conviction. Offenders would also have to successfully complete rehabilitation, pass three years worth of screenings, and request the permit from the Secretary of State. If approved for the permit, the offender would be required to equip his or her vehicle with a breath-testing device that would lock the steering wheel if attempted to operate while intoxicated.

Opposition

There are those who have voiced opposition to the measure. They argue that being charged with a fourth DUI indicates a serious problem, and allowing such a person to get behind the wheel poses a threat to society. Others, including anti-drunk-driving groups, are split on their support of the measure.

Although repeat DUI offenders pose a serious risk to the community, the ultimate goal is to rehabilitate offenders and the legislation gives them the opportunity to prove themselves. Some point out that a portion of repeat offenders do change and learn from their mistakes. The ones that are able to turn their lives around should not be punished for the rest of their lives for past mistakes.

Criminal Defense Attorney

It remains to be seen whether this measure will garner enough support to make it into law. However, old DUI penalties remain in effect while it is pending. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have experience representing many clients who have been charged with various levels of DUI offenses. Contact us today to schedule a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office. We have represented clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

Racial Profiling by Police

June 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Chicago criminal defense attorney, constitutional protection, Fourth Amendment, racial profiling, search and seizure, stop-and-frisk policy, racial bias, Christopher M. Cosley, illegal police behaviorCitizens are bound by constitutional protection, courtesy of the Fourth Amendment, in almost all encounters with police and law enforcement. The specific protections and relevant law of Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues are broad and potentially complex. One such issue addressed in the media recently involved an incident in the Chicago area of Illinois that included allegations of racial profiling by police.

The Incident

In March of this year, two workers were arrested while doing community outreach work on behalf of an organization. On that day, their work involved going door-to-door in a predominantly white southwest Chicago neighborhood in an effort to inform city residents about the then looming deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. While doing so, they were stopped and frisked by Chicago Police Officers and later charged with misdemeanor offenses.

The area had been experiencing a high number of door-to-door scams and one of the residents called 911. When police arrived on scene in response, the men allegedly did not produce identification or other information linking them to their organization. Their charges were dismissed by a judge, but the two Latino men are alleging they were being racially profiled by police at the time of their detention and arrest. Now, some are calling for reform of the stop-and-frisk policies of the Chicago PD, arguing the need for increased police accountability by collecting more information about an officer’s use of the policy of stop-and-frisk.

Reform

One of the problems with the current system, regarding the stop-and-frisk policy that advocates of reform argue needs changing, involves contact cards or forms filled out by police officers when making stops on the street. They say that Chicago PD’s contact cards are vague and not easily searched. If this problem was corrected, more information about each incident of stop-and-frisk would be known. Further, the current lack of information, they say, means that communities do not know what is really happening.

Similar reform is occurring in the state of New York, and on the federal level to collect data about stops, searches, and arrests across the country. These efforts are meant to analyze the criminal justice system and reduce any associated effects of racial bias. The concern is that racial disparities contribute to growing tension on both the national and community level, which creates resentment toward law enforcement, and ultimately works against the goal of reducing crime.

In Chicago

The contact cards used by Chicago PD are arguably flawed in several ways: they are not specific enough and not exclusively used during stops. Thus, it makes data difficult to analyze. The data that is available in Chicago tends to show that communities of color are disproportionately targeted for stop-and-frisk activity.

In an effort to address this perceived problem, some are suggesting that Chicago PD be required to provide two key pieces of information regarding stop-and-frisks: why the person is being stopped and why he or she is being searched by police. This increase in information will provide more data and a more accurate picture of the number of people being stopped and frisked, as well as who they are. In addition, the Chicago PD is being asked to maintain a separate database with this information publicly accessible so that any patterns can be tracked.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While it has not been proven that racial profiling existed in the incident recounted above, it does appear to be a problem in Illinois and across the country. If you have been charged with a crime as the result of illegal police behavior, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately who can protect your rights. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can defend your case. Contact us today for a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

Gun Crime in Chicago

June 12th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Chicago criminal defense attorney, Chicago Police Department, Cook County criminal attorney, Cook County criminal defense lawyer, gun crime, gun violence, Illinois gun controlA recent news article discussed the overwhelming problem of gun crime in the city of Chicago, especially in light of the violence that occurred throughout the city over Easter weekend. That weekend, nine people were killed and at least 36 were wounded. Among the 36 wounded were six children. Now, Chicago law enforcement officials are taking a closer look at the problem.

Gun Violence

Representatives from the Chicago Police Department are saying that part of the problem of overwhelming gun violence is that there is a new trend among young men who believe the only way to solve conflict is to use a gun. They are likening the problem to a social disease and health issue, particularly in communities where the problem is especially prevalent and results in a high number of lives being lost. In addition, the authorities have reason to believe at least some of the shootings were gang related, or in retaliation for previous shooting incidents. Investigations are ongoing.

Perhaps most troubling is the number of young people involved in the violent crimes as victims. Five of the child victims were shot while walking home from a park. They suffered injuries that varied in severity. That same shooting took place not even one mile from the home where a 17-year-old girl was fatally shot the weekend beforehand. Those who were shot and killed Easter weekend included a 16 and 18-year-old who were both found dead in an apartment on Chicago’s south side.

Solutions

Authorities are trying to take action to improve the situation of gun violence in the city, but they feel it is mostly a losing battle until there is a change in gun laws in Illinois. The fact remains, however, that the law in Illinois has actually moved toward less strict gun control, as is evidenced by the state’s new law on concealed carry permits, which went into effect at the beginning of this year. Other measures that would go a long way in reducing gun violence include a denunciation of gang violence by the rap and hip-hop industry as part of a larger problem, since there is also speculation that a portion of the shootings that recently occurred in Chicago may be linked to a feud between local rival rappers.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Crimes involving guns and other weapons offenses are serious charges often involving felonies, the most serious types of crimes. These cases require immediate attention. If you have been charged with a gun crime, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can help you obtain the result you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your matter. We serve clients in Cook, DuPage, and surrounding counties.

Domestic Violence in Illinois

June 10th, 2014 at 7:00 am

domestic abuse, domestic violence, domestic violence in Illinois, psychological harassment, Rolling Meadows criminal attorney, victims of domestic abuseThere is no shortage of statistics on the incidence of domestic violence across the United States, though the accuracy of the numbers is questioned due to incidents of domestic violence often being unreported.

According to the Illinois State Police, it is currently estimated that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds across the country. Domestic abuse can happen among all classes and races, and does not discriminate between income level or education. Domestic violence often occurs in a pattern of threats, insults, jealous rages, and temper-fueled outbursts that are aimed at isolating and overpowering the victim.

Illinois Law

At law, domestic violence is defined as any act of abuse committed by a family or household member. The term “family member” includes spouses and former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren, persons who formerly shared a home, persons formerly involved in a romantic relationship, parents of a child in common, and disabled persons and their assistants. Of course, there is a broad range of actions that can fall under the law, including everything from physical assaults to causing psychological harm through harassment or threatening behavior.

The Domestic Violence Cycle

Domestic violence is a repeating cycle that occurs when one person tries to control another. It often involves repeating stages of the victim trying to please the abuser, the victim blaming themselves, and the victim believing the abuser’s apologies and forgiving them. It is a fact that once a violent act occurs in the context of a relationship, it is very likely that it will happen again and even get more severe.

Enforcing Illinois Law

According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 and later Illinois Supreme Court rulings, domestic violence laws are enforced now more than ever. It is mandated that law enforcement acts to protect the victims of domestic abuse. This means that police officers must take steps to protect a victim of domestic abuse whenever a family or household member has committed such an act against them. The action taken by police officers includes:

  • Making an arrest when they have enough information to prove a crime has been committed;

  • Accompanying the victim to retrieve personal belongings from a shared home and transporting the victim to a safe place;

  • Informing the victim of the procedures and relief available to them, including their right to file criminal charges against the abuser; and

  • Completing a police report and providing their contact information to victims.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Domestic violence is a serious crime that deserves serious attention. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving domestic violence in the Chicago area, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can provide you with the expert guidance you need. Contact us today to schedule a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

Funding Approved for Meth Treatment Program

June 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am

drug charges, drug treatment programs, drug users, effective treatment programs, Illinois and meth, juvenile offenses, Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, meth treatment program, Rolling Meadows criminal attorney, Rolling Meadows criminal lawyer, use of methamphetamineDrug use and addiction is a problem that runs rampant in the state of Illinois and across the country. The use of methamphetamine (meth) is a particular concern for residents of Illinois. In recent years, Illinois reported rising meth use along with an increased number of meth labs seized by police. Now more than ever, the importance of an effective meth treatment program for drug users is clear.

Treatment Program

There is hope for drug, and specifically meth, users in the state of Illinois. According to a recent news article, a nationally recognized meth treatment program based in Benton, Illinois, has secured continued funding. The funding includes a $1.2 million grant for the treatment program, which is geared towards serving the needs of juveniles who range in age from 10 to 18 years old.

Those participants are court ordered into the program, having been charged with juvenile offenses and, likely, often drug charges. Many of these juveniles have already attempted traditional treatment programs but still continue to use. This one-of-a-kind meth treatment program is seen as their last chance for success in recovery. Participants in this particular program have a higher success rate than the national average, with their recidivism rate at 40 percent as compared to 90 percent nationwide.

The program is part of a pilot project based in Franklin County. The secured funding is seen as a particular success given the state of the economy in Illinois. However, many are seeing it as money well spent. The results of successful treatment and the fact that many juveniles are getting a second chance at life are factors that make continuing the program worth it. This coupled with the creation of 35 jobs through the program will act as motivation to continue securing funding for the facility in the future.

Good News for Law Enforcement

Law enforcement is considering the continued funding for the program good news, since meth use is on the rise. Around the year 2000, police reportedly saw a sharp decline in use and meth related activity when many cookers were arrested and sent to prison and an ingredient used to manufacture meth was made more difficult to obtain by law. Now, a new method of cooking is producing more activity and increasing the incidence of meth use.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether you have been charged with a crime as a juvenile or with a drug offense, it is important to consult with an experienced defense attorney who can protect your rights and get you a desirable result. This often involves exploring treatment options for those who are struggling with addiction. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have experience doing just that. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter. We serve clients in Rolling Meadows, Cook County, and the surrounding area.

Medical Marijuana Legal, but Not Available in Illinois

June 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am

Cook County criminal defense lawyer, drug crimes, for medicinal use, Illinois criminal law, Illinois medical marijuana, marijuana dispensaries, Medical marijuanaOne of the many recent and significant changes to the criminal laws in the state of Illinois involved legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. At the time, many saw this as an important step in Illinois criminal law. However, months after the law was enacted, ABC Local reported that the law may not have any real effect on the public in the timeframe originally expected.

Availability of Medical Marijuana

A signed bill legalized medical marijuana in Illinois nine months ago. At that time, the plan was to make medical marijuana available to eligible patients beginning in the fall of 2014. Since then, there has been one of two planned public hearings to discuss rule proposals. That hearing made clear that the original timeframe by which to have the substance available is not realistic.

Objections to Proposed Rules

Advocates of the law pointed out numerous flaws to the hundreds of pages of rules proposed by state departments. One rule will require qualifying patients to purchase a $100 patient card and submit to fingerprints and criminal background checks. Advocates object to such background checks, as other patients who are prescribed more powerful drugs are not required to give fingerprints. Advocates also argue that such a requirement is an indignity to patients and shows a total lack of compassion. However, it is important to note that the requirement was part of the original law signed by the governor in 2013. If it is changed, the issue may have to be revisited by the General Assembly or challenged in court.

Other Roadblocks

Illinois also needs to choose 60 approved marijuana dispensaries and 22 growing sites before the substance will be available for medicinal use. The selection will likely take months. Once the state’s selections are made, the growers and dispensaries will have to fulfill further requirements to qualify, and the winners will still have to be determined and the growing season will have to be waited out. The new estimates project that perhaps spring or early summer of 2015 may be more realistic in having medical marijuana legally available.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While medical marijuana is technically legal in Illinois, the fact that it is not yet available by approved means presents a unique legal scenario in which medical marijuana users may still be prosecuted. While the law may have changed regarding certain types of marijuana use, other drug laws remain the same.

Drug crimes are serious offenses that deserve significant attention. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing clients charged with drug offenses and are prepared to discuss your case with you. Contact us today for a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office. We serve clients in Chicago and the greater surrounding area.