Archive for August, 2014

New Law to Aid in Criminal Offenders’ Employment

August 28th, 2014 at 9:50 am

criminal offender, Chicago criminal defense attorney, Christopher M. Cosley, criminal defendants’ employment, criminal justice, new Illinois law, criminal record, jobs for ex-offendersIt seems criminal justice and related reform is on the minds of many Illinois officials as of late. According to a recent news article, Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a new law into effect in the state of Illinois that is aimed at helping criminal offenders obtain employment. On July 19th, he signed the Best Candidate for the Job Act, which reflected his latest efforts addressing issues that many prior defendants run into long after their criminal cases have concluded.

The New Law

Governor Quinn said the legislation is meant to help ex-offenders obtain jobs with private employers, which is essential to them becoming more productive members within the community. The new law requires job applicants to be seen as qualified for a job and selected for an interview before a potential employer can run a criminal background check. This act comes about a year after a similar measure was passed, offering the same protections to those applying for state employment.

The news article reported Governor Quinn as stating that everyone should get a second chance when it comes to getting a job. Further, he touted the new law as ensuring that people in Illinois will get a fair chance at reaching their full potential, taking into account their skills and other qualifications, and not their past history. Additional benefits are expected to include reducing recidivism, fighting poverty, and preventing violence by helping people find work.

By requiring applicants to have an interview with a potential employer before their background is called into question, it gives them a better chance of not being labeled as a poor match for employment due solely to their criminal history. Helping this particular group of individuals to gain employment will go a long way in making them more responsible, and even giving them an opportunity to further their education. Overall, it will better the lives of a significant population, reaching not only defendants but their families, and will give them opportunities that may have previously been out of reach.

The new law will not apply to all jobs, as some require employers to exclude those with a criminal history from the pool of applicants. The legislation is expected to take effect on January 1st.

The Latest Effort

This new law is just one of multiple pieces of legislation that has been signed into effect recently regarding the state of criminal law in Illinois. Governor Quinn also signed a law to automatically clear the records of arrest for less serious non-violent matters involving juveniles. In addition, he also furthered a law that allows a broader range of felonies for which records may be sealed, and includes criteria for courts to consider when deciding to issue an expungement. Last year, other efforts were taken that included “ban the box” prohibitions, second chance probation options, and the streamlining of the criminal record sealing and expungement process.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal matter in Illinois, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney. Contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

Chicago Arrest Warrants to be Executed

August 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am

arrest warrants, Chicago arrest warrants, Chicago criminal defense attorney, felony crimes, Cook County, electronic monitoringAccording to a news article by the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cook County sheriff’s office will be focusing its efforts on executing arrest warrants in Chicago. The media outlet reported that Cook County sheriff Tom Dart wants to ramp up efforts to catch individuals wanted on arrest warrants in connection with violent crimes that occurred in the city. It is law enforcement’s latest effort to address the problem of gun violence in Chicago.

Shift in Focus

In addition to executing arrest warrants in Chicago, the sheriff’s office is also said to be increasing its supervision of criminal defendants who have been released from prison and are currently on electronic monitoring. Previously, many sheriff’s officers were assigned to the area of south suburban Robbins to concentrate on reducing gun violence. Now, those efforts will be shifted to the city of Chicago. The office will be focused on Chicago warrants for a period of time in order to respond to recent crime trends. The sheriff’s officers who were deployed to Robbins reportedly made a difference, with crime in that area improving.

While sheriff’s officers being present in the city of Chicago is nothing new, the sheriff wants to ensure that the crime in the area is being responded to with the proper attention and resources. The sheriff’s decision comes in the wake of a violent holiday weekend, when 13 people were fatally shot and dozens more wounded over the Fourth of July. The violence in the city made national headlines.

Chicago Warrants

Although the sheriff’s office does not plan on sending its officers on patrol alongside Chicago police officers, it is planning on executing some of the warrants with Chicago Police Department teams, and will begin to do so more frequently. The Chicago Police Department has said it has been working closely with the Cook County sheriff’s office in its effort. So far, Governor Quinn’s offer to send Illinois State Police troopers to assist the sheriff’s office has gone unanswered. The governor made a similar offer last year after a shooting that left 13 people wounded, but that offer was also rejected by local government officials.

Criminal Law Attorney

With the increased police efforts aimed at making arrests within the city of Chicago, more individuals are likely to be arrested and charged with crimes. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the city of Chicago, hiring an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney is imperative. The defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have experience representing clients in various criminal matters, including felony crimes. Contact us today to discuss your case and protect your rights. We serve clients in Cook and DuPage counties as well as the surrounding areas.

New Crime Free Housing Ordinance in Pekin

August 22nd, 2014 at 8:13 am

Cook County criminal attorney, crime free housing, Crime Free Housing Ordinance, educate landlords, rental unit crimes, criminal defense attorney, commit crime, criminal behavior, crime chargesA new housing ordinance was recently passed in the city of Pekin in an effort to help landlords address issues with problem tenants, as well as to deal with irresponsible landlords who ignore illegal activities that occur on their property. According to the new ordinance, renters in Pekin who commit crimes risk being kicked out of their rentals if they continue to engage in criminal behavior. Pekin is just one of several other communities in Illinois with similar ordinances.

Requirements

The new Crime Free Housing Ordinance requires a payment from landlords of $10, which will be used to help fund the program. The fee will reportedly help pay for educational classes and other costs associated with the program. It is not meant to generate a new funding source for the city. The fee will be a single fee per landlord, regardless of how many properties he or she owns. Other communities with similar ordinances charge landlords per housing unit.

The ordinance will also require landlords to attend a four-hour long seminar put on by the city. Its aim is to educate landlords on the new ordinance, give tips for screening rental unit applicants, and share information on state landlord-tenant laws as well as other relevant information. A copy of the ordinance must be attached to any future rental agreement and will apply to all crimes committed in the rental unit, on the lot of the unit, or in common areas of a complex. It will also include crimes committed by visitors while on the property.

In Effect

While the ordinance gives landlords some discretion to deal with offenses as they deem appropriate, it also gives them the tools they need to have good renters. The crime free ordinance allows the landlord to evict a tenant for any crime committed. According to the ordinance though, landlords will be notified by police if they have been called to an incident on their property for a criminal matter. The landlord must then address the issue with the tenant, either through eviction or by other means, or risk being fined anywhere from $250 to $750 for each unit per day the violation exists. After that, the landlord’s license to operate a rental property within the city can be suspended or revoked. The local police department said it plans on working with landlords to achieve compliance before revocation occurs.

Criminal Law Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is beneficial to discuss your case with an experienced Cook County criminal attorney who can protect your rights. The team of criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in a variety of criminal matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Our office is located in Rolling Meadows.

Concealed Carry Applications being Rejected by Illinois Police

August 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am

concealed carry, Chicago criminal defense attorney, concealed carry applications, concealed carry permits, gun charges, Illinois gun crime, Illinois gun laws, person’s arrest recordWe previously discussed Illinois’ new law on concealed carry permits in a past blog post. Since the law went into effect at the beginning of 2014, there has been a significant amount of controversy surrounding it. As a recent news article reported, there are now questions being raised and lawsuits being filed over the denial of applications for concealed carry permits.

Denying Applications

Some Illinois citizens who have applied for concealed carry permits and were subsequently denied are filing lawsuits against local law enforcement agencies. The reasons the applications were denied were allegedly not clear, but rather came in the form of objections from police that were reportedly kept relatively secret. As a result, the Illinois State Police announced that it plans to task a state review board with producing more information about why applications were rejected. Part of the board’s job will be to notify an applicant if it is likely their applications will be rejected so they have an opportunity to argue against the objection. Specifically, they will be notified of a credible objection and the basis of it, and will be notified of the agency that brought it. Their response is required within 10 days. These new rules have already taken effect in Illinois.

Previously, the system was made up of a seven-person review board, which considered concealed carry permit applications in private. They took into account any objections to an application that were raised by local law enforcement, which may have included a person’s arrest record or history with police that did not end in a criminal conviction. If the review board agreed with law enforcement and sustained the objection, they notified the applicant of the denial by mail. The denial did not include any further explanation of the board’s decision. Applicants had no other recourse but to take the matter up in court if they chose to do so, which resulted in over 200 denied applicants filing suit. In addition to the changes mentioned above in connection with the new system, the board’s hearings will also now be recorded and applicants will have the opportunity to obtain transcripts of the hearings.

Skepticism

Despite the new rules going into effect relatively quickly after the lawsuits being filed, many remain skeptical about their effects on the process overall. Previous proposed fixes to the process have not been successful, so many gun rights activists are reserving judgment on whether these new rules will have a positive effect until they have been in place for a little while. Further, it remains unclear as to how the new rules will affect cases that are currently in the courts as a result of already having been denied permits. Others continue to voice concern that the new rules fail to address a more serious problem: law enforcement’s consideration of information outside an applicant’s criminal record.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, hiring an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney is critical. At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we have successfully represented clients in a variety of criminal cases, including those charged with gun crimes.

Influx of Mentally Ill Being Imprisoned

August 15th, 2014 at 7:21 am

Cook County criminal lawyers, illegal street drugs, mental health hospital, mental health prison, mental health system, mental illness, mental illness treatment, mentally ill imprisoned, non-violent crime, The Law Offices of Christopher M. CosleySome may be aware of the problem that links mental illness with crime in this country, but many likely do not realize the significance of the problem. The seemingly constant rise in the number of mentally ill individuals who are arrested for non-violent crimes poses a multitude of problems. On the societal level, jails are becoming more overcrowded as taxes are spent to house countless inmates, some of whom arguably are improperly imprisoned. On the individual level, mentally ill people are being punished for committing acts that they may not have otherwise committed if they were well. They often are not getting proper treatment for their condition in prison. A recent news article examined this problem further as it exists in Cook County.

The Statistics

The Cook County Sheriff’s website supposedly posts numbers regarding new arrivals daily on their website. In one week, a single day saw 36 percent of all new arrivals reporting a mental illness. Two days later, that number jumped to 54 percent. Many argue that these numbers are more reflective of a mental health hospital than a prison. The fact remains that the jail has become an accidental treatment center for the many prisoners it houses with a mental illness. This problem is not one that is isolated in Cook County, but rather one that plagues jails across the country. The unfortunate part is that these jails and their staff are not equipped to handle the huge task placed upon them.

The Prisoners

The mentally ill who are imprisoned suffer from anything from bipolar to post-traumatic stress disorder. They may participate in criminal activity when off of their medication, or they may self-medicate with illegal street drugs in an effort to cope with their condition. No matter the path they take, they end up in jail for their offense. Jails have seen a rise in this type of prisoner in cities across the United States, and usually the inmates suffer from serious mental illnesses but have been arrested for non-violent crimes.

Many of the prisoners are housed at jails for relatively short amounts of time, either awaiting trial or to serve shorter prison sentences. However, these short stays further complicate the effort in properly screening and treating those with a mental illness as it limits the time within which to manage medications and provide care. In that way, longer prison terms may be more beneficial for providing better treatment. However, the fact remains that there is a shortage of mental hospitals equipped to handle the mentally ill population in the U.S., and so the job is being improperly left to prisons to handle.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The experienced Cook County criminal lawyers at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in a wide range of criminal matters. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We serve clients in Cook and DuPage counties, as well as the surrounding area.

Status of Anti-Violence Program Questioned

August 12th, 2014 at 7:00 am

anti-violence program, Chicago criminal defense attorneys, CeaseFire program, ex-felons, combat violence, report crime tips, target violent offenders, curb violenceThe state of Illinois has frequently been in the news as of late regarding numerous programs and efforts regarding criminal justice that are in various stages of development and implementation. In fact, our law firm’s blog has featured many articles related to these efforts, including expungement seminars and attempts at sentencing revision. Now, a recent news article is highlighting an anti-violence program, in light of information that was discovered about it, as the result of a new study that was performed by researchers.

CeaseFire

CeaseFire is a program that furthers anti-violence efforts among the criminal population. Now, the program itself is under scrutiny as a new study is now underway regarding its effectiveness. Northwestern University previously conducted a study, which found that CeaseFire acts to reduce crime as participants, called “interrupters,” hit the streets in the most dangerous neighborhoods and attempt to settle conflicts before guns are used in shooting wars. Those who participate as interrupters are often ex-felons themselves. The new study being conducted by the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago is being performed in an effort to reveal some additional information about the true impact of the program CeaseFire, and many are saying that the questions being studied are ones that need answers.

As mentioned, some of the interrupters who participate in CeaseFire have been charged and convicted of serious crimes. This fact brings up an urgent issue about the use of ex-felons within the program. In one recent example, a man working as an interrupter for about one year was arrested and charged with sexual assault and kidnapping of a teen girl. The offenses are alleged to have occurred while the man was working for the program. His charges are pending, and no decision about his guilt has been made in connection with this most recent case. He is among at least nine other individuals who have faced serious criminal charges during the time they were CeaseFire employees.

Police Opinion

Many officers, particularly in Chicago, are at best skeptical of the CeaseFire program and its use of ex-felons as interrupters. However, it may be foreseeable that a program such as CeaseFire, attempting to combat violence on the street level, will encounter similar problems. Part of the rationale behind CeaseFire employing criminals is due to their credibility with young men on the street who may be following in the same path. However, it may be inevitable that some will return to a life of crime.

Police would reportedly like the program to report crime tips to law enforcement, which program directors will not agree to since it would compromise the program’s effectiveness. Ironically, police are supposedly using some of the same techniques as CeaseFire in an effort to de-escalate violent situations before they occur, with the thought that targeting a small number of known violent offenders could have a big impact on decreasing violence overall. The study referenced above is attempting to determine whether CeaseFire or police are more effective in curbing violence on the street level.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can protect your rights. Contact us today in our Rolling Meadows office for a consultation.

Law to Require Videotaped Interrogations a Plus for Police

August 8th, 2014 at 7:13 am

Christopher M. Cosley, criminal defense, Illinois laws, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, videotape police interrogations, videotaped interrogations, record interrogations, digital interrogationA proposal to legally require videotaped interrogations of offenders who are suspected of certain crimes has been passed. A recent news article reports that even though the proposal was originally intended to focus, at least in part, on suspects’ rights, police are seeing it as a positive change for them, as well.

Momentous Change

Cook County has seen about 100 wrongfully convicted criminal offenders be exculpated in the previous approximately 25 years. The most recent examples of this came fairly recently when the convictions of two men for a double murder in 1992 were thrown out and a $40 million settlement was revealed to the public in the case of five men who were wrongfully convicted of a 1991 rape and murder. Both of these cases were tried before a 2003 law made it mandatory to videotape police interrogations of homicide suspects. This and other reforms since have acted to reduce the risk of false confessions by criminal suspects. Other factors, such as a cultural shift in police behavior and improved technology, are also credited with ensuring the correct person is prosecuted for a particular crime.

The Effects

Police practices have changed since the early 1990s, and the state’s attorney reported that that is a good thing. She said that the reforms that have been put in place are working and that a difference is visible. Others, including defense attorneys and civil rights lawyers, say it is too early to determine whether the measures that have been put in place are working, but believe the measures are a positive step in the right direction. They say that it often takes decades for wrongful convictions to emerge and it takes time for inmates to further claims of innocence. According to this group, perhaps false confessions are still being taken and just have not yet been revealed. National statistics support the claim that there is often a lag of 10 years between a false confession and wrongful conviction being overturned.

Years Past

In years past, before any measures were signed into law regarding videotaping confessions, false confessions were not only the product of unethical police tactics, but some say that the high crime levels of the 1980s and 1990s also contributed. Detective units were spread thin because of the high number of crimes, and police tactics were less sophisticated and at times heavy-handed, while forensics were not as reliable as they are today.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can discuss your case with you and advise you of your rights. Contact a Cook County criminal defense attorney today to schedule a consultation.

Navigating a Traffic Stop

August 5th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Rolling Meadows traffic violations defense attorneys, traffic stop, traffic stop violations, traffic violations, traffic lawyer, vehicle search, officer safetyPolice can use any number of possible violations as a reason to pull over a vehicle, from an expired registration or broken tail light to erratic driving or speeding. Sometimes, these actions alone constitute violations of an applicable traffic safety law. Other times, law enforcement may use these violations as a pretext to stop a vehicle and determine if another crime has been or is being committed. It is important for citizens to be aware of their rights when being pulled over by a police officer. Read on for advice on what to do if you are pulled over by law enforcement.

Conducting Yourself

If you see an officer attempting to pull you over, drive your car to the nearest safe spot on the side of the road. It is likely in your best interest to be as polite and courteous to the officer as possible at this point. Show you are willing to cooperate by rolling down your window and placing your hands on your steering wheel. Cooperate with any requests to see your driver’s license and registration.

It is important to remain in your vehicle unless the officer asks you to exit it. The officer is within his rights to ask you or your passengers to exit the car and stand on the side of the road, but you should not do so unless it is requested of you. While you should maintain a respectful demeanor in communicating with the officer, avoid sharing too much information or making admissions in the course of the conversation. Brief, straightforward answers are advised, as the officer may attempt to use anything you say against you later in court.

Search of Your Vehicle

There are certain circumstances under which an officer is permitted to further search you or your vehicle in connection with a traffic stop. One such circumstance includes a situation in which the officer reasonably suspects his or her safety to be compromised. In this scenario, an officer may be legally permitted to perform a pat-down of the vehicle’s driver. In addition, any clearly illegal object that are easily viewed by the officer upon the traffic stop may be seized. This may include empty beer or wine bottles, illegal drugs, or drug paraphernalia. If these objects are enough to constitute a criminal arrest, the officer may pat you down after placing you in custody to ensure there are no weapons or other items that can compromise officer safety.

Performing further searches of the vehicle, its contents, or any of the passengers in it usually requires probable cause, a higher standard that involves officers having a more definite justification that a vehicle’s occupants are involved in criminal activity. Police officers, too, can perform a more thorough search of a vehicle if given permission by the driver or possibly in connection with the driver’s arrest.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have experience defending clients who have been charged with traffic offenses in both Cook and DuPage County. Contact our Rolling Meadows traffic violations defense attorneys today to schedule a consultation.