Archive for November, 2014
November 28th, 2014 at 12:14 pm
Everyday citizens are not the only ones whose behavior must conform to certain standards set by law. Police, too, are supposed to follow a set of provisions, many of them put in place by the U.S. Constitution, in carrying out their duties as representatives of the government. Failure to do so, in either case, could result in different consequences. One of the most extreme examples of police action in the context of carrying out their duties is the use of deadly force and the circumstances in which it can and should be used. A shooting death which occurred over the summer has brought this issue to the forefront of media discussions.
License to Kill
There is little doubt that police officers and law enforcement are allowed, in certain limited circumstances, to use deadly force when necessary. These situations include, but are not limited to, ones in which the police officer’s lives are in clear and obvious danger, or are facing a threat of significant harm or death themselves. The problem that the referenced report points out is that there is very little tracking of fatalities caused by officers’ use of deadly force and investigation into the matter to determine whether the use of force in a given case should be met with any consequences.
Usually, reports submitted to the FBI from police agencies only make it optional to include cases of justifiable homicide. This data also does not usually include how often police officers are criminally prosecuted for using deadly force. These cases are likely included within the other criminal killings reported by the agency without distinguishing it as an officer perpetrated crime.
Incomplete Data a Problem
Considering the recent shooting in Ferguson, officials are being reminded just how much this under reporting poses a problem in addressing the issue of police use of force. When there is such a lack of data and corresponding lack of evidence, it becomes difficult to distinguish situations in which rights were violated from those where action was justified. It also invited the public to a wide interpretation of facts, some of which are likely not true.
Congress has acted in the past to correct the lack of data issue, but a lack of federal funding caused the program to suffer over 10 years ago. Now, organizations are concentrating on the use of better databases as well as officer training and education to ensure proper procedures are being followed. Still, the system leaves much to be desired. Several major cities have reported no justifiable homicides in recent years, and some for several years in a row. It is unclear whether this is due to such homicides not occurring, or the fact they were not reported. The ultimate goal is transparency and information being readily available to the public.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys.
November 25th, 2014 at 9:44 pm
Juvenile crimes generally get special and specific considerations when they are prosecuted in the court system. Many times, juvenile offenders participate in criminal activity merely as a result of immaturity or inexperience. One bad judgment call can have significant effects if the action results in an illegal act. Of course, there are certainly other juvenile cases that are much more serious and involve significant crimes and associated penalties depending on the facts of the case. Determining how to address issues and handle juvenile offenders in light of their crime and personal history is a main challenge of the juvenile justice system.
The Crime of Sexting
Sexting is an offense that has made headlines in Chicago several times in 2014. It is one such juvenile offense that may be handled differently according to the facts and circumstances of a case and the particular offender or offenders involved. There are likely cases in which the offense was the result of poor judgment, and other cases may have more intentional actions, leading to more serious consequences. According to a recently published report, law enforcement in Chicago are currently dealing with a high-profile sexting case, allegedly involving at least three juveniles. It is the sixth such juvenile case that officials have had to address this year alone.
Law enforcement officials are saying that the issue of sexting extends far beyond Chicago and Illinois, and that it is a national epidemic. Some police departments deal with a new sexting case every week. With the crime being so prevalent, many are asking why teens and others continue to engage in such behavior. Law enforcement officials with experience dealing with such cases seem to think that juveniles who engage in such behavior often lack the capacity to think about the consequences of their actions when it comes to sexting. When choosing to engage in such behavior, they are often driven by hormones and emotions and fail to realize the effect that sexting can have on them down the road.
In light of this, the relevant sexting laws were specifically written in order to account for such situations in which minors simply exhibited poor judgment and deserve a second chance. The law allows law enforcement officials to consider alternatives to filing criminal charges against juveniles who participate in sexting, when doing so is appropriate in light of the circumstances. This gives deserving juveniles the opportunity to move on from an incident with little effect on their lives in the long term. Law enforcement stresses the importance of parent’s as well as school official’s involvement in such cases in order to be successful in combating such behavior.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime as a juvenile, speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative. The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have represented juvenile clients in a variety of matters. Contact us today to discuss your case.
November 20th, 2014 at 2:57 pm
Many involved in the criminal justice system as the result of drug charges are battling a serious addiction. But for the drug dependency of these offenders, they most likely would not participate in illegal or criminal activity. In instances such as these, courts and law enforcement usually recognize the unique needs of these defendants and attempt to address them. Often times, this may involve the defendant participating in an alternative program known as drug court.
Drug Court FAQs
A recent news article touting the crime-reducing benefits of drug court in some counties goes on to explain some basic information regarding the program. Many counties in Illinois have formed drug court as a division of the Circuit Court. The eligible participants are ideally nonviolent drug-dependent offenders who are willing to submit to intensive treatment and accountability-based supervision in order to address their criminal charges and get a new chance at life. They are closely monitored by a judge and a larger drug court team.
The benefits of drug court are not limited to treatment. A relatively high percentage of participants who successfully complete the program have remained crime-free two years after completion. Some counties in Illinois boast a higher success rate than the 75 percent national average. Only one-third of similar defendants sentenced to traditional forms of punishment enjoy the same success. In short, well-run drug courts seem to be effective in bringing about higher rates of recovery from addiction as well as lower rates of drug-related crime.
Each drug court may operate under a slightly different set of rules and regulations decided by the chief judge within a particular county. In general, and in addition to the drug court judge, the rest of the team is made up of representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, drug counselors, and probation officers. In order to qualify to participate in drug court, an offender must meet certain criteria including the absence of any disqualifying offenses (usually violent crimes), a finding that the offender is drug dependent, and final approval from the drug court team. If approved, the defendant will be required to enter a guilty plea and be placed on probation for a specified amount of time, as well as receive a jail term that is held open in the event the participant violates the rules of the program. If successful in the participation and completion of the program, the offender may be able to avoid a prison term altogether.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Drug court may be a viable alternative for drug-dependent criminal defendants. The experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley can discuss your case with you and advise you of your rights if you have been charged with a drug offense. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding areas.
November 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am
It should go without saying that sex crimes are serious offenses that have severe consequences associated with them. These cases present many issues that need to be addressed, but some cases involve special circumstances that deserve extra consideration. As one report points out, one type of sex offense case that involves additional issues are those in which an elderly defendant is charged with a crime stemming from facts that allegedly occurred decades ago.
In addition to the myriad of other issues inherently involved in sex crime cases, those in which an elderly defendant is charged usually have an additional set of unique factors to consider. Not only can these cases involve displacing a criminal defendant from his or her place of residence, but can also involve extradition issues, which may be more common the further back in time the facts supporting the charges supposedly occurred. All of this is compounded by any health concerns elderly defendants have, which can also vary in severity. In some cases, an elderly defendant’s life could be placed at serious risk before they are even tried for their crime.
Not Only Sex Cases
Of course, these same concerns may be present in any criminal case involving an elderly defendant and may be particularly apparent in cases that involve the potential for extradition, the transportation of the defendant from one jurisdiction to another to face charges where the crime allegedly occurred. According to some experts, the cost of transporting and housing criminal defendants in this scenario can not only be dangerous, but is likely to also be expensive. These defendants would need to be treated and cared for while in custody, something many prisons are not equipped to do. Even if the defendant is treated at an outpatient hospital, it takes additional prison staff to accompany him or her. Another argument experts raise involves the acknowledgment that the purpose of incarceration in many criminal cases is to protect the public and ensure the defendant will not re-offend, something that may be less of a concern when dealing with an elderly defendant.
More Appropriate Sentences
The high cost of imprisoning elderly defendants coupled with the fact that most of them no longer pose a threat is leading many to argue that other methods of punishment may be more suitable for this population. One such alternative form of punishment is home confinement, which may be able to fulfill many of the goals of incarceration without the need for a prison sentence.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to discuss the facts of your case with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your rights. The experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to listen to the facts of your case and defend your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.
November 13th, 2014 at 7:56 pm
According to recent report, law enforcement officials in communities across the country, in small towns and big cities alike, are using increasingly sophisticated technology for police surveillance purposes. Some of that technology includes ultra high definition cameras, programs that are able to read license plates and recognize faces, as well as systems that can alert police to suspicious behavior. With such access into the lives of citizens, some are saying that such monitoring is a serious threat to privacy and strict guidelines need to be in place regarding how police use this technology.
The Need for Regulations
When invasive technology is used for police surveillance, private citizens often have a number of concerns. These range from rules regarding how the technology can legally be used to the disposal of the recorded footage that does not relate to criminal charges or the investigation of a crime. The main problem, and likely a substantial part of the reason such rules and guidelines have not been advanced, is that technology is developing at a faster pace than laws can keep pace with.
The reality is that few laws actually exist governing how police can use much of the technology already in place. A small percentage of states have laws regarding some of the technology, and the rest usually leave it up to police departments to create rules, but most fail to do so. Of those that do have such policies, they are often not thorough or effectively address many of the privacy concerns raised.
The fear is that although such technology is intended for legitimate use by police, it can also be subject to abuse either for personal tracking or random investigations that have no clear purpose. These secondary uses can pose a significant threat to protections afforded by the First Amendment. Still, some argue that the potential for abuse should not demean the use of the same technology for legitimate purposes.
Law enforcement officials in Chicago certainly use the latest technology in surveillance tools, and some say the networks they use are among the most sophisticated in the country. The technology used includes modern cameras that can view a subject from all angles at a high resolution, the collection and storage of large amount of information, and the analysis and identification of a specific activity. The databases used to store all of this information are virtually limitless. In fact, Chicago is known to have the country’s most extensive and connected network of cameras, at approximately 25,000.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to advise you of your rights in light of the facts of your specific matter. Please feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation. We have successful experience serving clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.
November 12th, 2014 at 11:27 am
The United States Supreme Court has decided to review a criminal case that contains issues of hearsay and related Sixth Amendment considerations. In the case, the defendant was charged and convicted of physically abusing two minor children. The trial court allowed testimony from one of the child’s teachers who repeated the victim’s out of court statement to them, even though the older child was deemed incompetent to testify. The statements related to the identification of the defendant. The case was appealed to the appropriate state appellate court, which reversed the conviction, and then to the State Supreme Court, which affirmed the appellate court’s decision.
Defendant’s argument on appeal was that the introduction of the above mentioned witness’s testimony violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser. At trial, the jury was exposed to testimony and the defendant was not given the chance to properly cross examine the individual who actually made the statements. Now that the case has reached the Supreme Court, they are expected to address issues about the statements that include whether the teachers were effectively acting as law enforcement officers conducting an interrogation since they are mandatory reporters of child abuse, and whether the child’s statements to the teachers can be considered testimonial.
The issues of hearsay and Sixth Amendment concerns have been addressed by the Court in the past. This case provides an opportunity for the Court to apply previously decided legal standards to a new set of facts. Much of the Court’s decision seems to rest on whether the child’s original statements to the teachers can be considered testimonial. If so, they likely should have been excluded from the trial as the defendant did not have the opportunity to cross-examine the declarant, the child. The Supreme Court will likely use legal precedent to decide whether the statements were testimonial in nature or not.
The mandatory reporting law presents another interesting issue to be decided in this case. If it were not for this law, teachers would likely have a valid reason for inquiring about injuries observed on a student. However, since teachers are required to report suspected child abuse to appropriate authorities, the teacher questioning the student was legally considered to be an interrogation for the purpose of gathering evidence of a crime, as was found by the State Supreme Court on appeal. The reason the interaction is considered to be such is that in this role, the teacher is acting as an agent of law enforcement and gathering information for them.
On the other hand, the argument can be furthered that despite the mandatory reporting requirement, her primary purpose in asking about a student’s injuries could be unrelated to aiding law enforcement. The reporting requirement simply affirms the teacher’s ordinary obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of students. It will be interesting to see which line of reasoning the Supreme Court identifies with.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to seek the representation of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the facts of your case and protect your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation. We have successful experience serving clients in Cook County as well as the surrounding area.
November 6th, 2014 at 1:27 pm
The continued imprisonment coupled with lack of treatment of some criminal defendants who suffer from a mental illness continues to be a problem in the state of Illinois and across the country. The issue of the mentally in in the criminal justice system has been getting media attention recently, and with good reason. In fact, this firm has featured several blog posts concerning this topic in the recent past. Now, there is a renewed call for additional treatment of inmates with serious mental illnesses. According to a recent report, new research is bolstering the argument for treatment even further.
More than Mental Health Services
The report finds that in order to appropriately respond to the high number of mentally ill in the criminal justice system, the system needs to offer more by the way of treatment than just mental health services. The need for mental health treatment within the context of the criminal justice system stems largely from the fact that there is a relatively high number of defendants who suffer from such illnesses, some very serious, and this results in the justice system being the largest provider of treatment in the U.S. despite the fact that it is not equipped for the task.
Researchers are saying that the idea that untreated symptoms of mental illness cause criminal behavior may not be true. They are calling for new interventions for people with serious mental illnesses, beyond treatment courts and diversionary programs that have been developed and implemented over the last couple of decades. These efforts would specifically be aimed at those involved in any aspect of the criminal justice system who suffer from more serious conditions, as research has shown many of the same risk factors apply to them as to people who do not suffer from such conditions.
These researchers recently completed a study and published their findings in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry. The study calls for more potent interventions for those who are mentally ill in the criminal justice system. This will include effective and accessible mental health treatment in addition to an understanding of the additional factors that place such a person at risk for criminal behavior. That way, certain risk factors can be identified as modifiable through intervention.
Risk factors identified by the researchers for criminal involvement in addition to mental illness included antisocial behavior, a tendency for criminal thinking, substance abuse and addiction, and exposure to trauma. Additional factors that come into play for these criminal defendant is whether they are unemployed or homeless. It is not uncommon for those in these situations to act out in response to stress, as they usually do not have good coping skills or support systems.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Overall, one of the main points of the study was that attributing criminal behavior solely to mental illness is an oversimplification of the problem and additional factors must be taken into account for an effective solution. Criminal behavior can often be attributed to a number of factors. If you have been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to seek the representation of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation about your matter.
November 4th, 2014 at 7:08 pm
There has been much focus in the recent past on criminal justice reform and addressing issues within the system that may unduly prejudice criminal defendants. However, another key player in the criminal justice system is the victim of a particular crime, who is also granted certain rights according to the system. However, not every privilege afforded to victims within the context of the prosecution of a criminal case is always enforceable.
For example, at a defendant’s sentencing, the victim is usually granted the opportunity to speak through a victim impact statement that is presented to the court. Nevertheless, some courts have decided not to take such a statement and proceed to sentencing without hearing from the victim. As a recent report points out, victim advocates are calling for a change in the rules of criminal procedure in this area, making it a right to deliver a victim impact statement. The change will be left in the hands of Illinois voters on today’s ballot.
Strengthening Victim Rights
For many victims, addressing the court at a defendant’s sentencing with a victim impact statement goes beyond attempting to affect the sentence the judge will hand down. Many victims simply want their voice to be heard. In a more practical sense, the statement would also go on the record and be available to others who may be reviewing the case down the road on potential appeal. Supporters of this and other victims’ rights are advocating for the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights to take effect in the state of Illinois. The proposal would ensure an enforceable right for crime victims who want to participate and have a voice in the criminal process as a result of the crime perpetrated upon them.
According to the article mentioned, a victim rights group known as Marsy’s Law of Illinois is advocating for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would guarantee that a victim or his or her surviving family members would have an opportunity to address the court if his or her rights have been violated. The amendment is included on today’s ballot and voters can choose to afford additional protections to crime victims by voting yes to the proposal. This amendment would strengthen victim rights by creating a method by which to enforce them, not just acknowledge them. It gives victims who have been denied certain rights a way to remedy the situation.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Not only can an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney advise you of your rights, but they can also advise you of what to expect from the other side in a criminal case. A change to victim rights in Illinois could represent important considerations for every criminal defendant to be aware of and take into account in defending their case. If you have been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation.