Archive for October, 2014

Federal Action Renews Privacy Questions

October 29th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, police privacy issue, DEA, An recent report discussed federal action in a drug case involving the use of a fake social media account seemingly belonging to a criminal defendant who had been charged with numerous drug crimes. Allegedly, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent set up a false account using photos and other personal information taken from a criminal defendant’s cell phone in order to get others to reveal incriminating information. Although the Justice Department is purportedly reviewing the case, a federal lawsuit ensued and the case was set to be heard in a New York Court in mid-October, but may now be mediated.

Privacy Considerations

This case is just one example of the privacy concerns that have been raised in different states across the country – including Illinois – specifically regarding the protection of privacy in light of developing technology. The law is clearly struggling to keep up with the changing world of social media, cell phones, and other technological developments. While the use of some of these technologies may be acceptable and legal within the context of a criminal investigation, it seems the line can easily be crossed into raising important privacy issues that both courts and law enforcement may find difficult to address.

Legal experts, too, seem to be struggling with the privacy in the age of evolving technology issue. Many of the rules of law regarding privacy protections are severely outdated compared to the technologies that are readily available to average members of the public in today’s society. The problem arises when trying to make new technologies fit these older rules. These technological advancements are prompting those in the legal field to question how they see items such as a phone and social media profiles.

Case at Hand

The case at hand presents an interesting set of facts for the court to consider in making a decision, if it comes to that. While law enforcement officials may routinely set up false social media accounts and profiles in their investigations, this case reportedly involves an agent using another person’s identity and information to do so without her consent. In addition, the defendant is arguing that she cooperated with law enforcement by turning her cell phone over, but not with the understanding that they would use the information they obtained in a different context other than looking for evidence of a crime.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Issues with police procedure can arise in any type of criminal case. It is important to enlist the representation of an attorney who can identify legal issues in your case and advocate for your rights. The dedicated Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing clients in many types of criminal matters. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

High Juvenile Arrest Rates in Local Illinois Counties

October 24th, 2014 at 3:12 pm

juvenile arrest rates, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois juvenile crime lawyer,Juvenile cases, like all other criminal cases, vary in severity depending on the charges and the circumstances surrounding the offense. Most of the time, juvenile cases differ from adult criminal cases mainly in the focus on rehabilitation over punishment in sentencing. There is an intense aim to intervene with juvenile offenders at a young age in order to give the minor his or her best chance at avoiding a life of crime.

Counties with High Arrest Rates

According to a recent report, some local Illinois counties are addressing the problem of juvenile arrests much more often than others. The Illinois Criminal justice Information Authority looked at data gathered from 2012 regarding juvenile arrests in the state of Illinois. In that year, approximately 30,000 minors between ages 10 and 16 were arrested in the state.

Despite the fact that the data also revealed an overall decrease in juvenile arrests across the state since 2005, there were 18 Illinois counties named that were considered to have high arrest rates in 2012. Cook County was among them and had the highest juvenile arrest rate across the state. Interestingly, another 11 counties in the state did not report a single juvenile arrest in that same year.

Other Statistics

The same data from 2012 also showed that males in the age range of 10 to 16 were four times as likely to be arrested in the state of Illinois as female minors in the same age group. Females were found to be more likely to commit crimes against persons, while their male counterparts were more likely to commit crimes involving property. Sex crimes were the least common type of cases for both genders.

Risk Factors

The report also was able to identify whether or not a juvenile is likely to become a delinquent offender based on several risk factors. They include individual, environmental, and social considerations. It found that minors who exhibit certain types of behavior such as aggression, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, anxiety, and substance abuse are more likely to commit a criminal offense and end up in the juvenile justice system in Illinois. In addition, the offenders that end up in the juvenile system are also more likely to have poor relationships with their parents, not many friends on the social level, and perform poorly in school. Environmental factors that can contribute to a child’s likelihood of becoming a juvenile offender include availability of drugs, being exposed to high levels of adult criminality and violence, and the existence of racial prejudice in their community.

Juvenile Crimes Attorney

Being charged with a crime as a juvenile is a very serious matter. Having an experienced, professional attorney can make all the difference to the minor involved in the case. The dedicated Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing clients in juvenile matters in Cook and DuPage County. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Criminal Justice Reform: New Law Regarding Trial Procedure in Illinois

October 21st, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Illinois law, new law, Illinois criminal defense attorney,Among many other responsibilities, it is the duty of attorneys to stay up to date in any change in law or procedural rules that affect their area of practice. This is necessary not only to maintain up to date knowledge on the area of law that they practice, but also to provide competent representation to every one of their clients when bringing a case in court. Especially in criminal matters, staying abreast of any change in the relevant law, rules of criminal procedure, or any other criminal justice reforms is of the utmost importance, as even the slightest change can affect the outcome of a case.

New Law in Criminal Trials

There has been much talk about reforming the criminal justice system in Illinois recently, something this blog has discussed many times in the recent past. This interest in criminal justice reform is not isolated to the state of Illinois, but rather, is an issue being addressed in many states across the country, and even on the federal level. With all of this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that a new law is going into effect that reportedly reflects a landmark in criminal justice reform. The new law requires that forensic psychiatric reviews of defendants must be disclosed in order for judges to evaluate the facts behind an opinion regarding a defendant’s mental fitness to stand trial.

It is said that the new law aims to promote fairness and transparency in determining whether a defendant is competent to stand trial. Proponents of the new law are saying it is an improvement to the criminal justice system. They say that, in situations where each side’s respective experts disagree as to a defendant’s fitness to stand trial, the law’s requirements allow a judge to review the basis of each expert’s opinion in ultimately making a determination.

The law will also require the disclosure of notes and other evaluations that were performed. It was enacted in late September in the state of Illinois. Some are saying it could serve as the basis for other states to enact similar laws across the country.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney who can consult with you about your case, advise you of your options, and protect your rights. The experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have represented clients in many different types of criminal matters ranging in severity throughout Chicago and the greater surrounding area. Please feel free to contact us today in order to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter.

2014 Marks Decrease in Federal Prison Population

October 16th, 2014 at 10:50 am

 Illinois defense lawyer, prison population, federal prisons, White collar crime is often not considered as serious as other types of criminal conduct, but it is often punished just as harshly. Depending on the type of crime and the severity of the offense, the defendant could be looking at a substantial amount in prison. In many cases, white collar crimes may be prosecuted at the federal level in federal court. Such cases involve slightly different laws and procedure, plus the imposition of a federal prison term.

There has been discussion in Illinois and across the country recently about sentencing reform, decriminalization of certain criminal acts, and shorter prison terms. All of this is likely in an effort to achieve both fair and practical effects by both reforming the criminal justice system and decreasing prison populations. According to recent report, there has been an important shift in the federal prison population toward those ends.

First Drop in Decades

The federal prison population has decreased by about 4,800 inmates in the last year. The Justice Department reports that this marks the first time the number has gone down in several decades. In addition, the Justice Department reportedly projects that the prison population will be about 215,000 inmates at the end of the current budget year, which would reflect a total decrease of about 5,000 from the same count taken just one year ago. If that happens, it would mark the first time since 1980 that the federal prison population has actually declined over the course of a year.

Going forward, it seems as though the trend will continue. The Bureau of Prisons released internal figures that show an expected decrease of over 2,000 prisoners to happen in the next year, and almost another 10,000-inmate decrease the year after that.

What is Causing the Shift?

In commenting on what factors have contributed to the decline in federal inmates, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a decrease in crime rates has had an effect on prison populations.

Holder has been working to reduce prison populations across the country over the course of the past year. His efforts included taking actions such as discouraging prosecutors from charging nonviolent offenders with crimes that would carry mandatory minimum sentences, to encouraging certain prisoners to apply for clemency, to supporting reduced sentencing guidelines. He is also encouraging the government to measure the success of its criminal justice policies by how many people are prosecuted and sentenced to prison. He is purportedly of the opinion that the idea of using enforcement as the measure of success is outdated and that a holistic approach is preferable and more useful.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorney to advocate for your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We have successful experience representing clients in Cook County and surrounding areas.

Discussions on Decriminalization of Marijuana Ongoing in Illinois

October 14th, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Marijuana plantAccording to a recent report, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed the decriminalization marijuana in certain circumstances. While similar suggestions have been voiced in the past, it seems that not everyone in the state of Illinois is on the same page regarding the proposal. In fact, some very opposite opinions have been raised about reforming drug charges from officials in the state.

The Mayor’s Position

Mayor Emanuel is reportedly arguing that some drug possession charges should be reduced in severity. Specifically, he is allegedly advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana possession in small amounts across the state of Illinois and for the reduction of the criminal grading of possessing less than one gram of any controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor. He said that doing so would make the criminal justice system more available to address more serious challenges to public safety and further the progress that has already been made.

The Mayor’s proposals would not only change the criminal justice system by saving time and money, but it also has the potential to make real changes to people’s lives. Mainly, the Mayor pointed out that those defendants who are trying to move forward with their lives after a drug charge would face many more challenges with a felony on their record than they would with a misdemeanor charge. This is especially relevant in employment settings.

Law Enforcement’s Position

It seems that the consensus among local law enforcement officials is that the Mayor’s proposal sends the wrong message regarding criminal behavior and fails to accomplish anything that is not already provided for within the context of the current court system. Regarding the grading of the drug crimes mentioned, representatives from the State’s Attorney’s Office in Peoria County have voiced the opinion that people charged with such felonies now can potentially erase their conviction by successfully completing probation or other specialized programs such as drug court. Their point is that alternatives are available to defendants who deserve them and such alternatives are regularly made available which allow the person to avoid having a felony conviction on their record.

Police officers also raised concerns that changing the grading of these criminal offenses from felonies to misdemeanors may not only send the wrong message, but may actually end up benefiting drug dealers by making it easier to sell controlled substances in smaller quantities. In addition, other law enforcement officials have voiced the opinion that decriminalizing drug charges as outlined by the Mayor would convey the message that it is acceptable to use drugs as long as they are being used in smaller quantities. This may not only signal to some users that some narcotics are less dangerous, but also that some drugs are considered “better” in the eyes of the law.

These concerns are of particular importance, officers are saying, as Illinois is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. Lowering penalties and hoping for a better result, they say, does not make sense. Instead, some are calling for a treatment component to be advanced with the decriminalization proposal it is advances. It is important to note that, in general, police seemed less concerned about the decriminalization of marijuana, in small amounts, where they would be allowed to issue citations for the offense.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today. We can schedule a consultation to meet with you in our Rolling Meadows or Chicago office to discuss your case.

Legal Issues Surrounding DUI Checkpoints

October 9th, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Illinios criminal defense attorney, Illinois DUI attorney, driving while intoxiated, DWI, Driving under the influence (DUI) cases are some of the more common cases in criminal court. While many cases may be relatively straightforward, there are certain issues that can pop up concerning police procedure in bringing these charges. Of course, each criminal case involving a DUI or other criminal charges should be evaluated in light of the particular facts surrounding the case in order to determine any issues present, as well as options the specific defendant has in addressing the charges.

One such issue that may become relevant in a DUI case is the context in which the defendant was pulled over. Some of those charged with DUI may be observed to be driving in a reckless manner by law enforcement; others may have committed a traffic infraction giving the officer pretext for the stop. Still others may have been charged with a DUI as the result of passing through a DUI checkpoint. A recent report looks at DUI checkpoints and the potential legal issues that result from them in some states, including Illinois.

No Refusal

In some states across the country, including Illinois, law enforcement officials are allowed to conduct what are known as “no-refusal” DUI checkpoints. While the legality of DUI checkpoints in general has been established for quite some time, these specific types of checkpoints are raising concerns in states that conduct them. No-refusal checkpoints involve ordering drivers who are suspected of DUI to submit to a blood test if they first refuse a standard field sobriety test.

The blood test is generally conducted after probable cause for commission of the crime is found, but some defense attorneys are saying the procedure is just a way to get around other laws in place. One problem is that the search warrants claiming probable cause to administer a blood test against the person’s wishes are reportedly mass-produced, something that goes against the general requirements of specificity and narrow scope that such documents should have. At least 30 states, counting Illinois, either have conducted no-refusal initiatives, or have the authority to do so.

On the other hand, law enforcement officials cite staggering statistics about drunk drivers and the need to get them off the road as support for no-refusal initiatives. They say that no-refusal checkpoints do not use procedure that is any different than what would otherwise be used in a DUI stop. In some states, the only difference would be the site at which the blood is drawn – normally, suspects are taken to a hospital for a blood draw after a warrant is issued for the test, while during no-refusal initiatives, there may be nurses at a jail to draw blood there. It is notable that in some states, law enforcement and judges have declined to take part in no-refusal initiative because of concerns over their legality.

DUI Lawyer

If you have been charged with a DUI, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation.

National Prescription Drug Addiction Epidemic Out of Control

October 8th, 2014 at 8:21 am

drug laws, opiate addiction, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Some drug cases involve not only legal issues, but deeper issues that some may even argue are more serious than the resulting criminal charges. Many defendants who have been charged with a drug crime are suffering from a prescription drug addiction that is out of control. While they may have their fair share of legal problems to deal with, treating the underlying addiction should also top their priority list. A recent report examined the problem of drug overdoses specifically related to prescription drugs and what obstacles are in the way of trying to stop them.

Doctor Shopping

Abuse of prescription drugs seems to be on the rise, and efforts to stop it are falling short. While many drugs are considered by law to be illegal, prescription drug abuse involves using otherwise legal drugs in an illegal way. Sometimes this may involve taking more than the prescribed dose of a drug, while other times it involves “doctor shopping” to obtain a prescription for a certain type of drug. This practice by drug addicts is known to lead directly to drug overdoses, particularly by those addicted to opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 17,000 fatal overdoses from pain medications in the year 2011. This was more than the amount of overdoses that resulted from heroin and cocaine combined. This is the latest year for which such numbers are available.

Federal Response

About 12 years ago, there was an effort made to launch a federal program that was aimed at preventing practices of doctor shopping. It involved encouraging states to share information about patient prescription histories. However, there currently is no national database in place to curb this practice. Complicating matters further is the fact that different states follow different rules in their prescription drug monitoring programs. In some states, doctors are not even required to check the program before writing a patient a prescription for opioids.

Obviously, as medical professionals are pointing out, failing to use the systems that are in place will surely cause a failure to detect any misuse. Some are advocating for using prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) across state lines to be truly effective. While most states have PDMPs, each state’s rules regarding them vary and even doctor participation is not always required. Another setback for the programs is human error with inputting a patient’s information, causing inaccessibility to prescription history in certain situations.

The main problem, however, is that PDMPs from different states do not always have access to one another’s databases. At a result, action is being taken at different levels. Some states and other groups are taking steps to form a national database, and some states are enforcing stricter rules about reporting prescriptions. But many agree that the most effective step would be to create a national registry.

Criminal Defense Attorney

The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in drug cases. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter.

Illinois Officials to Focus on Criminal Justice System

October 2nd, 2014 at 10:58 am

criminal justice reform, prison reform, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois legal system, It seems officials in the state of Illinois are taking steps to revamp the criminal justice system in a number of ways. Media outlets have reported on the reform, revaluation, and modification of different parts of the criminal justice system, from police procedure to sentencing guidelines to reintroducing criminal defendants back into society after their release from prison. According to a recent reports, efforts to ultimately improve the state’s criminal justice system are continuing with a focus on procedures used by the police and prosecutors in criminal cases.

The Committee

For the first time in Illinois, a committee is being established to recommend the best practices for police departments and prosecutors to use while investigating and collecting evidence in criminal cases in the state of Illinois. The General Assembly enacted legislation to allow the formation of the committee, which will operate out of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office. Joe McMahon, Kane County’s State’s Attorney, is said to be tasked with leading the committee.

Committee’s Focus

The stated goal of forming the committee is to perform these procedures correctly the first time and to re-emphasize to law enforcement officials what their responsibility is in criminal cases. More specifically, McMahon reported that the committee will focus mostly on ethics, interviews of criminal suspects, and collection of evidence related to criminal cases. Evidence collection will include a concentration on social media postings, surveillance video recordings, cellphone tower pings, and DNA swabs. Many aspects of this evidence collection has developed or changed drastically in the last decade or two and deserved renewed attention.

Another area the committee will focus on is lineups of criminal suspects. This may include both live lineups of suspects and photo arrays, though photo lineups are more commonly shown to a victim for identification purposes. Many argue that how the photos are shown for purposes of identification matter, whether the lineup is shown all at once, one at a time, as well as who shows the photos to the victim.

McMahon has expressed a desire to use the committee as an opportunity to develop the best practices in criminal prosecution to avoid some of the problems encountered by criminal defendants in Illinois in the past. Wrongful convictions have been an especially large problem in the state of Illinois, and McMahon acknowledged the same. In addition, he hopes that the committee can offer insight and suggestions to the General Assembly to inspire new legislation in Illinois.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to secure expert representation. The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in Cook County and the surrounding area. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.