Archive for September, 2014

Measuring Recidivism Rate in Juvenile Cases

September 29th, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Rolling Meadows defense lawyer, juvenile delinquincy, juvenile crime rate, In many ways, juvenile cases are treated differently than criminal cases in adult court. As a general rule, the court’s focus in juvenile cases should be on providing treatment to minor offenders and focusing on their rehabilitation in an attempt to steer them away from becoming lifetime criminal offenders. Sometimes, this works. Other times, it does not. One way officials have attempted to determine how successfully a juvenile has been rehabilitated is to study recidivism rates, or whether they have repeated criminal conduct. As one study points out, states measure recidivism differently, which could lead to inaccurate information.

Differences in Measuring Recidivism

Whether or not a juvenile has successfully rehabilitated after having a run-in with the law is often determined according to whether or not they have re-offended. The problem with this method is that different agencies in different states use different factors to determine rates of recidivism, which often leads to unreliable data, according to the study. For example, some may or may not use an adult arrest as a variable to calculate the rate of recidivism while others may or may not use a juvenile arrest. In addition, the study found that other varying factors include taking a type of juvenile facility into account, as opposed to the length of a juvenile’s stay in that facility. These differences make comparisons among states and agencies virtually useless.

However, tracking individual progress is still worthwhile as long as there is a consistent measure of recidivism within an agency. If states do so, they can use the information gathered to improve their performance, enforce accountability, and use resources more efficiently.

Beyond Recidivism

Tracking recidivism is not the only thing to focus on in determining the success of a juvenile’s rehabilitation. Factors such as education, employment, and health are equally important. However, many of these factors are left out of agencies’ calculations completely. The study encouraged policymakers and juvenile justice agency leaders to include such factors in their measures for success, to help determine not only whether a juvenile is staying out of the criminal system but also on positive outcomes, including whether he or she is becoming a productive adult.

The danger in keeping the focus solely on recidivism is that it assumes offenders need correcting but that society does not, and that correcting offenders will surely lead to reduced rates in crime. In addition, only considering recidivism in determining a juvenile’s success may indicate the juvenile justice process was effective when in fact, the juvenile can actually have had a negative outcome.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing juveniles who have been charged with crimes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

New Law Takes Aim at Domestic Violence Offenders

September 19th, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Illinois legistlation, domestic assault, battered spouse, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Domestic violence cases often are troubling situations that bring up serious issues. These charges are not limited to one group or a specific type of offender; anyone from any socioeconomic, racial, or ethnic background can be involved in such a scenario. This is further evidenced by a news story that has become popular as of late. Since the official start of the 2014-2015 National Football League (NFL) season, news and other media outlets have been consistently reporting on a notorious domestic violence incident that became public knowledge in February of 2014, but has garnered new and deserving attention since more details of the incident surfaced recently.

Illinois Domestic Violence Law Signed

Even before this news story concerning the professional football player garnered renewed attention, officials in the state of Illinois had their attention turned to the topic of domestic violence. At the end of August, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation known as “Diane’s Law” into effect. The law is meant to provide protection to survivors of domestic violence by allowing courts to order risk assessment evaluations as a condition of bails and to require electronic surveillance via GPS monitoring of those charged with the crime in order to enforce restraining orders. Charges covered by the new law will include domestic battery, kidnapping, stalking, harassment, and attempted murder.

The Governor reported that this action is part of a larger focus on promoting public safety, and that specifically, he intends for the law to protect victims and prevent future tragedies. The law goes a step further by being focused on prevention and not just protection of victims. It is purportedly named after a domestic violence victim who was murdered by a former boyfriend just three days after renewing a protective order against him. The purpose of the law is to strengthen protective orders and give police additional tools in their enforcement, as well as providing for increased penalties for domestic violence offenders. The law, known as House Bill 3744, will become effective January 1, 2015.

The law is one of several signed into effect by Governor Quinn since 2012 regarding domestic violence in Illinois. Other initiatives included classifying domestic violence crimes as a felony if a defendant has a prior conviction, requiring that school boards adopt a policy regarding teen dating violence, protecting victims who may be covered by their abuser’s insurance policies, and allowing prosecutors to use prior domestic violence conditions as evidence in certain murder cases which involve the crime.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Domestic violence cases deserve professional attention. The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are familiar with the recent changes to domestic violence law in the state of Illinois and are prepared to advise their clients accordingly. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Illinois Prosecutors Taking Aim at Truancy

September 17th, 2014 at 7:33 am

truant juvenile, truancy prosecution, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Chicago juvenile crime attorney, Cases involving juvenile criminal offenses deserve special consideration, especially since many of these cases present an important opportunity to get a child or adolescent back on track. Truancy cases involve a particular set of concerns, mainly because they not only implicate a juvenile and his or her actions, but could implicate the juvenile’s parents or guardians in criminal liability as well. Prosecutors in several counties  in the state of Illinois are charging an increasing number of parents with the crime of truancy.

Criminal Charges for Parents

Both St. Clair County and Madison County in Illinois have been focusing on charging a juvenile’s parents with the crime of truancy if their children are offenders. This is apparently part of a larger movement across the country to address the issue of truancy. According statistics, officials in St. Clair County have charged 13 parents so far this year with truancy because their children are chronically absent from school. This number has increased from eight in 2013, and just one parent in 2012. Madison County has charged a surprising 30 parents so far this calendar year with the crime, up significantly from 10 last year and seven parents in 2012. The offense is graded as a misdemeanor and can result in imprisonment of up to 30 days, imposition of a fine, or both. According to Illinois law, a child is considered truant if he or she has nine days of unexcused absences in the previous 180-day period.

The Focus on Truancy

Prosecutors are saying that the renewed efforts at truancy offenders are part of a larger plan of combating crime. In addressing truancy issues, they believe they are taking a step in crime prevention since truancy is often the first step in a pattern of later criminal activity, often resulting in prison time when such truant juveniles become adults.

Most times, there is an effort to intervene in the truancy process long before any criminal charges are filed. This includes communication to parents after just a few absences, and implementation of a corrective action plan if the truancies continue. A hearing is scheduled if a student reaches nine unexcused absences. If such a problem remains uncorrected, the case is referred to a Regional Office. If a truancy problem persists at this stage, a state attorney is likely to get involved. Some offices even have a policy of criminally charging both the student and the parent if the child is in middle or high school.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The knowledgeable Illinois criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have vast experience in representing juveniles who are charged with crimes. If you or your child needs representation in a juvenile matter, do not hesitate to contact our office to schedule a consultation and learn how we can help you.

Do Risk Assessments Have a Place in the Criminal Justice System?

September 11th, 2014 at 7:55 am

assessment of criminal risk, Illinois defense lawyer, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, recidivismAccording to a recent article published by the Pekin Daily Times, predicting future risk within the context of the criminal justice system has gotten significant attention lately. As described in the article, the concept of predictive analytics involves taking information from a large amount of data in order to identify patterns and make future predictions. While not always 100 percent accurate, the process does reveal information about the future that is somewhat reliable. The practice of predictive analysis is typically used in the business world, in making military decisions, and in scientific study. Now, it seems to also be leaking into the criminal justice system, which may not be a good thing.

Risk Assessments at Sentencing

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently gave a speech in which he stated his position on using risk assessments at the sentencing of criminal defendants: he does not think it is a good idea. Holder went so far as to caution against such use, saying his concern is that doing so has the potential of seriously undermining efforts at individualized and equal justice. Equal justice, he said, can only be achieved using an individualized approach that takes the particular defendant, along with the crime committed, into consideration.

While risk assessments may not be commonly used in the context of criminal sentencing, similar models have been used for a long time when making parole decisions. Using reductive analytics in the context of the later part of punishment, Holder says, is not as dangerous as using it in front-end applications like in initial sentencing decisions. There is a need to ensure that doing so will not have unintended consequences.

Despite the warnings, several states, including the state of Illinois, have begun employing the use of risk assessment tools within their criminal justice systems. One of the supposed benefits some states say they are gleaning from sentencing defendants based on risk factors is to decrease their prison population. However, the danger in doing so remains that these states risk imposing very different sentences on defendants for similar crimes. Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice reportedly requested the U.S. Sentencing Commission to take an in-depth look at the use of predictive analysis in sentencing and to issue policy recommendations based on their findings.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, it is important to consult with an experienced Cook County defense attorney about your case as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to represent clients in many types of criminal matters in both DuPage and Cook County, including through the sentencing phase of the criminal process. Please feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

Tickets Issued as Result of Red Light Cameras in Chicago

September 9th, 2014 at 7:44 am

traffic violations, Illinois traffic laws, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Almost every driver will tell you that receiving a ticket for a driving infraction is a hassle. According to a recent article published online though, many Illinois motorists may have more to complain about than the average driver. The article reported that potentially thousands of Chicago drivers may have been issued undeserved tickets in connection with red light cameras used within the city. Apparently there has been a series of sudden spikes in such traffic citations that city officials have been unable to explain.

The Investigation

The Tribune conducted an investigation into the over four million tickets issued to drivers since 2007. They found that deviations in the city’s network of 380 red light cameras were caused by both faulty equipment and human adjustment. Many of the spikes in ticketing reportedly lasted weeks, despite the fact that ticketing patterns were supposed to be monitored every day. Transportation officials in Chicago claimed they had no knowledge of such significant deviations associated with ticketing and the equipment. Now, questions are being raised about the traffic enforcement program in Chicago. A federal corruption probe is allegedly underway. To be clear, the true cause of the influx in tickets has not yet been determined. Potential sources being suggested include everything from corruption and bribery, to technological issues and malfunctions, to something that was purely an oversight and accidental.

Ticketed Drivers

No matter the cause of the erroneous tickets, one other issue undoubtedly needs to be addressed: refunding the drivers who were unjustly fined. The investigation identified questionable tickets that reached the tens of thousands. Some cameras that averaged just one ticket per day were found to have spiked up to 56 per day over a two-week period, before returning to normal. Other cameras were found to have issued over 500 tickets in 12 days for an infraction that should have represented a significant change in enforcement; this same type of infraction generated only a dozen tickets over a six-month period previously.

While the normal percentage of drivers who are successful in challenging red light tickets in Chicago hovers at about 10 percent, drivers who were ticketed during spikes have been successful in their challenges as often as 45 percent of the time. This could suggest that many cases where drivers were ticketed during spikes were bad cases or weak to begin with.

System Failure

The sudden increase in tickets, whether due to a change in ticketing procedure or a system malfunction, is undermining the goal of fair and consistent traffic enforcement. Experts seem to agree that one remedial measure should be for the city to consider refunding drivers who were ticketed unfairly. Others went so far as to say there is an ethical obligation to do so, including those cases where drivers may have deserved the tickets due to a clear violation of the law.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been issued a traffic citation in the city of Chicago or the surrounding area, the Illinois defense attorneys at the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

Retail Theft: First-Time Offender Information

September 4th, 2014 at 7:37 am

first-time offender, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Class A misdemeanor, theft, Being charged with the crime of retail theft in the state of Illinois is a serious matter. Not only can such charges have criminal penalties, but they can have consequences that can affect other areas of the offender’s life, as well. These consequences often include the ability to obtain employment, qualify for housing, and be approved for a loan, among other things. Taking all of this into account, it is clearly important to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for those who are charged with the crime of retail theft.

Grading of Charges

The severity of the charges an offender will face depends on both the value of the item or items stolen, as well as any prior criminal history of the defendant. The crime of retail theft can be graded as a misdemeanor or a felony, and the potential jail time and fines an offender may face varies with the severity of the charges. First-time offenders for retail theft, whose case does not exceed a value of $300, will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of one year and up to a $2,500 fine. If the value exceeds $300, the offense will be considered a Class 4 felony, even if it is just a first offense. Such a graded offense is punishable by a maximum jail term of three years and a fine of up to $25,000.

Options

Those arrested for retail theft may have several options available to them by which to resolve their case. What options available, if any, are largely dependent on the specific facts and circumstances of each individual case. Some courses of action to consider, particularly for a first-time offender, include:

  • A supervisory sentence. This means that the defendant will be placed on a period of court supervision with certain conditions in place. If the offender abides by the terms and conditions of his or her supervision and is not arrested again, the charges may be dismissed.

  • First offender programs. This would include diversionary programs, as well as deferred prosecution. Through discussion and negotiations between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, an agreement may be able to be reached by which the charges are held open while the defendant completes certain classes or programs aimed at rehabilitation. With proof of the program’s completion, the prosecution may be willing to dismiss the charges. In addition to, or in lieu of, this type of program, an offender may be required to complete a certain amount of community service before the prosecution will agree to dismiss the case.

  • Plea bargaining. This is usually an option by which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for a reduction in charges or a lighter sentence. Such agreements hinge on the discretion of the prosecutor, and must be approved by the judge before they become final.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of retail theft or shoplifting, the experienced Illinois criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley can assist you with your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

Chicago Suburbs Lead in DUI Arrests

September 2nd, 2014 at 7:11 am

DUI, breathalyzer tests, Chicago criminal defense attorney, driving under the influence, Although it may seem like more people recently are being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), it should still be considered a serious offense that deserves the proper attention. Depending on the circumstances, an individual convicted of a DUI can face a substantial prison term, in addition to subsequent supervision and related costs and fines. Considering these potentially harsh penalties, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who is experienced in handling various types of DUI matters for those who are charged with the offense.

DUI Penalties

The sentencing guidelines for DUI offenses increase in severity depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. The penalties are more severe for those convicted of multiple DUIs in the past than they are for a defendant who has been charged for the first time. Still, even those convicted of DUI for the first time can face a maximum of one year of incarceration and an additional six months if a child was in the car while the offender was operating it. Other factors, such as an accident, or the injury or death of another as the result of the DUI, would enhance sentencing structures, as well as lead to additional criminal charges.

 Popularity of DUI

According to a news article recently published, four suburbs just west of Chicago are in the top ten Illinois communities for most DUI arrests in 2013. It found the community of Rockford was first, with a total of 556 DUI arrests last year. The suburb of Naperville was a close second, with 553 arrests for DUI, which was actually a four percent decrease from the 576 that occurred in Naperville in 2012.  The remainder of the suburbs were Carol Stream, which was number five on the list with 392 arrests, Elmhurst ranked sixth with 300, and Aurora, with a total of 256 individuals arrested for DUI, came in tenth place across the state.

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists completed the survey and compiled the data related to Illinois’ DUI arrests, which it does annually. The purpose of the survey, in part, is to determine how many DUI-related arrests are made by law enforcement in the state of Illinois and to recognize the police departments and officers who are the most productive in combating drinking and driving. Almost 700 police agencies were surveyed, and about 84 percent of those responded. Other suburbs were notably ranked in the top 25 for DUI arrests, including Wheaton and Lombard.

Criminal Defense Attorney

DUI cases call for expert guidance from an experienced Illinois defense attorney. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI in the Chicago area of Illinois, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation to discuss your matter. We have experience representing clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.