Archive for January, 2015

Body Armor: What Seems Like a Good Idea Can Land You in Prison

January 30th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer,Gun crimes are a reality in our society. Otherwise law abiding citizens find themselves carrying guns or other weapons for self-defense when they themselves would never want to hurt a fly. Others resort to protective measures like bullet-proof vests or bullet-proof backpacks to protect themselves. While combining both measures may seem like an excellent self-defense strategy, doing so in Illinois could wind you up in some hot water.

What is Body Armor?

Illinois has a statute that defines body armor. Body armor can be any of the following:

  • Military-Style Vests and Jackets. These include flack jackets, military surveillance vests, and other types of protective armor designed to be worn by military personnel. They are made of Kevlar or similar materials which are designed to prevent bullets from penetrating the chest.  Usually these vests or jackets are designed to be worn over your clothing.

  • Soft body armor. Unlike flack jackets, these vests are softer, but they still contain Kevlar. These are designed to be worn under a shirt. In movies and on television when characters are shot and then get back up to reveal they had a “bullet-proof vest” on under their shirts, this is the type of body armor they are portraying.

  • Undercover body armor. Unlike the vest/jacket types mentioned above, this type of body armor can take many forms. While it still includes bullet-resistant material like Kevlar, it can take the form of a jacket, coat, raincoat, quilted vest,  or three piece suit vests. The key part of this portion of the statute is that the prohibited body armor was designed to be used by undercover police officers. Since that is a requirement, it is unlikely that things designed for use by school children like bulletproof backpacks would be covered.

Wearing Body Armor Can be a Crime

There is a crime in Illinois called “unlawful use of body armor.” If a person knowingly wears body armor and is in possession of a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, in the commission or attempted commission of any offense, then he or she is guilty of this crime. This means that committing a crime while possessing a weapon that is not a gun and wearing body armor at the same time is a crime.

Interestingly, one does not commit this crime if he or she is carrying a gun as opposed to a different dangerous weapon. However, there is a different crime one has to be concerned about when a gun is involved. If a person commits the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm while wearing or in possession of body armor, then he or she is guilty of a class X felony punishable by at least 10 and no more than 40 years in prison. Additionally, if one wears or possesses body armor while possessing a gun and not having been issued a valid Firearms Owner’s Identification Card, then he or she is guilty of a class X felony.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with a weapons crime or any criminal offense, you will need an experienced and passionate lawyer on your side. That is why you should call the law offices of experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we can schedule a consultation to discuss your case and see if we can be of help.

What You Should Know About Vehicle Impoundment

January 28th, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Illinois defense attorney, proprty seizure, Illinois criminal lawyer, your rightsBeing charged with a crime is always a very difficult situation. You may be worried about potential jail or prison time, fines and fees, the effect on your reputation, the possibility of losing or job, immigration or professional licensing consequences, or any of about a thousand other potential consequences. One thing you need to be aware of is that when you are charged with certain crimes, another possible issue you may have to deal with is having your car impounded by police.

Illinois Vehicle Impoundment Statute

Illinois has a statute that allows the police to impound your vehicle if you are arrested for certain crimes. These crimes include:

The police can also impound your car if you are arrested for violating any city ordinance that is related to these crimes. The law enforcement agency is then allowed to charge you a $1,000 fee, and you are not allowed to pick up your vehicle for at least two hours. Half of the fee goes to the police agency that arrested you and the other half of the fee goes to the “Specialized Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking Fund.”

What Happens if You are Found Not Guilty?

If you are found not guilty of an offense for which you are arrested, some consequences go away and some do not. Obviously you do not have to concern yourself with further jail time or fines in these cases, but the impact on your public reputation can be permanent. As for the vehicle-impounding consequences, you do have some recourse. While there is no way to undo the hassle of dealing with the impounding process, a signed court order can get you your $1,000 back.

Potential Forfeiture

Of course, the impoundment statute is not the only way that law enforcement can take your car. The seizure and forfeiture statute allows the police to take your car permanently if it is used in the course of committing certain crimes. Asset seizure law is complicated and in most cases the burden falls on you to prove that the property was not used to commit a crime. Seizure law also involves strict time limits. That is why it is extremely important to get an attorney involved in your case as soon as possible.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime, the list of potentially life-changes consequences is huge. That is why you need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. You should call our office at (847)394-3200 so we can schedule a consultation to discuss your case and see if we can be of help.

I Wasn’t The Shooter” is Not a Defense: Principles of Criminal Liability

January 23rd, 2015 at 10:59 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, conspiracy to commit a crime, While every criminal case is different, some situations happen over and over again. One thing we see all too often is the situation where a person tries to get him or herself out of trouble by telling the police that he or she was at the scene of the crime but was not the primary culprit, thinking this partially absolves them of criminal liability. It is totally reasonable that people would think this would decrease the amount of trouble they are in — after all, the lookout at the bank robbery doesn’t seem like she is nearly as bad as the co-defendant who shot the bank guard. Unfortunately, while that may make sense, it is not the law. Instead, that lookout will be in just as much trouble as the person who shot the guard.

Accountability for the Conduct of Another

This situation presents an issue of accountability. Under Illinois statute, a person is accountable for another person’s actions under various circumstances. The part of the statute that comes up most often, however, says:

When two or more persons engage in a common criminal design or agreement, any acts in the furtherance of that common design committed by one party are considered to be the acts of all parties to the common design or agreement and all are equally responsible for the consequences of those further acts.

What this means is that when two people agree to go commit a crime, each of them becomes completely criminally responsible for everything the other one does in the furtherance of that crime. For example, imagine two cousins who decide to break into a house to steal some marijuana. Someone sees them and calls the police. One of the cousins gets into a high-speed chase with the police and winds up almost hitting an officer. That other cousin, who never intended to do anything other than steal and smoke some pot, is now on the hook for attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

Mere Presence at the Scene Is Not Enough, but It Is Still a Bad Idea

The statute also says that mere presence at the scene of a crime in and of itself does not make one accountable for that offense. But, being at the scene can be considered with other circumstances in order to determine whether one should be held accountable. One common theory of accountability for those at the scene is the theory that they are a part of a “show of force.” Prosecutors argue that the person at the scene was helping the primary actor commit a crime by adding to his or her intimidation factor by being present. And unfortunately, sometimes this argument works.

The Special Case of Felony Murder

Another related common misconception is that in order to be guilty of first-degree murder, one has to have premeditated a killing. That may be the case in some states, but it is not the case in Illinois. In Illinois the murder statute says it is first-degree murder when one person kills another person while attempting or committing a forcible felony. This, combined with the accountability laws, means that in our bank robbery example the lookout can be convicted of first-degree murder even though she was not even in the bank where the killing occurred.

Call a Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a crime can be scary, stressful, and confusing. It can be even more confusing if you are charged as having “acted with” someone else to commit a crime. If this happens to you, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200.

Burglary: It Is Not Just Breaking and Entering

January 21st, 2015 at 10:41 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal law statutes, Illinois criminal lawyer,Thanks to police procedural shows and courtroom dramas, the public has a lot of ideas about what the law is and what it is not. Unfortunately, since every state has different laws and television writers are not bound to accurately represent any of them, sometimes these ideas about the law can be mistaken. This can be particularly problematic when it comes to criminal law. One example of a crime that is often misconstrued is burglary.

So What is Burglary?

Most people think of burglary as breaking into a house or business to steal something. And this is, in fact, correct: that would be a burglary. But in Illinois, the crime of burglary includes much more than those two possibilities. Like all state crimes in Illinois, burglary is defined by statute. According to the state statute:

A person commits burglary when without authority he or she knowingly enters or without authority remains within a building, housetrailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car, or any part thereof, with intent to commit therein a felony or a theft.

This means two things. First of all, burglary is not just about breaking into buildings. In Illinois one can commit burglary in planes, trains, automobiles, and a whole host of other areas. The other important thing that most people do not realize is that burglary does not have to be about stealing something. While intent to commit a theft is sufficient to make the crime a burglary, it is not the only way. An intent to commit a felony while one is unlawfully in one of the covered areas is also sufficient to make the crime a burglary. What, then, is a felony? A different Illinois statute defines a felony as “an offense for which a sentence to death or to a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary for one year or more is provided.” Thus, an intent to commit a serious crime is enough. For example, breaking into someone’s airplane to commit an aggravated battery would count as a burglary. It is important to note, however, that if the underlying crime is theft, the theft does not have to be a felony theft. Any sort of theft is enough to constitute a burglary.

Residential Burglary

There is a crime in Illinois called “residential burglary” that is closer to what people may commonly think of as burglary. This crime requires the unlawful entry into or remaining in the dwelling place of another in order to commit the theft or felony. One type of residential burglary occurs when a person falsely represents him or herself to be a government representative or utility worker to gain access to someone’s dwelling in order to commit a theft or a felony.

Call us Today

If you or a loved one is charged with burglary, or any other criminal offense, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. That is why you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Our phone number is (847)394-3200

Right to Bear Arms: Illinois Rules Age Restriction on Gun Possession Does Not Violate the Second Amendment

January 16th, 2015 at 7:31 am

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer, gun lawsGun crimes are one of the most contentious types of crimes there are in our society. On one hand gun, violence kills far too many members of our society, particularly young people. On the other hand, our constitution give us the right to bear arms. Issues of gun control seem to come up on both the state and federal level each year. Now the Illinois court of appeals has issued an important decision that seems to prioritize the need for gun control over the constitutional right to possess a gun.

Illinois Court Rules Against 18-Year Old’s Right to Bear Arms

The Illinois Court of Appeals recently addressed whether an 18-year-old has a right to bear arms that is protected by the Second Amendment. The case is called People v. Fields. The State charged Demonte Fields with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW). Ultimately the trial court convicted Fields after a bench trial and sentenced him to probation. Fields appealed, arguing that his conviction should be vacated because the statute prohibiting the possession of a handgun while under 21 years of age is unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals did not agree, and it upheld his conviction.

Fields was charged with AUUW because he was alleged to have, while not on his own land or in his own abode or fixed place of business, knowingly carried a firearm while he was under 21 years of age. In a previous case, People v. Aguilar, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Illinois’ flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside of the home was unconstitutional on its face because it violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Fields used this case to argue that the statute under which is was convicted is also unconstitutional. He claimed that as an 18-year-old at the time of the offense, he is a member of the community and guaranteed rights under the second amendment.

Court Compares 18-Year Olds to Felons and the Mentally Ill

The Court disagreed with Fields. In its opinion it explained that the courts have long said that the right to bear arms is subject to long-standing categorical prohibitions like prohibitions on the rights of felons and the mentally ill when it comes to possessing guns. It then wrote, “[D]efendant contends 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old adults are part of the virtuous citizenry and cannot be categorically disarmed like convicted felons, children, or the mentally ill. We disagree.” It went on to explain that the 21-year age limit is historically supported. It determined that people between ages 18 and 20 are less responsible and mature than other adults and that protecting the public and police officers by denying this group firearms protects a substantial or important government interest. It also decided that 18 to 20-year-olds can be discriminated against when it comes to Second Amendment rights because of the age group’s alleged high risk of being involved in gang activity. As a result, these non-felon, non-mentally ill adults can be convicted of a serious crime if they possess a gun in public in Illinois. It remains to be seen whether the Illinois Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court will address this ruling.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love is accused of a crime, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact the dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation. Whether its a traffic matter or a serious felony, we can help.

Solicitation and a Sting in the Suburbs

January 14th, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, prostitution, When we think of undercover police work we often think of narcotics cases. Police go undercover to buy or sell drugs and catch people who do the same. But this is certainly not the only area where police work under cover. Sex crimes like prostitution and solicitation also provide undercover work for police and lead to arrests in the suburban area. If you have been arrested for a sex crime in the Rolling Meadows area, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney immediately.

A Sting in the Suburbs

The Chicago Sun Times reports that 14 men were recently arrested after meeting police officers in an undercover solicitation sting in the west suburbs. Undercover police officers placed ads for prostitution services on an adult classifieds website called Backpage.com. The men then allegedly went to a hotel to meet with the advertised prostitutes only to instead find undercover cops. In 2014, more than 130 men were arrested by Cook County Sheriff’s officers using this Backpage sting method. The unit has arrested around 700 people using this method since 2009. The men caught in this sting were charged with a violating a local Cook County public morals nuisance ordinance.

Solicitation Laws in Illinois

The public morals ordinance applied to these men has been around for a few years. It decriminalized being a john in a sense, in that it removed jail time from the picture. However, being punished under this ordinance can result in substantial fines, community service, and even the impounding of vehicles. These fines may be substantially greater than the punishments that were actually doled out back when these cases were prosecuted in criminal court. The upside, though, aside from no risk of jail time, is that prosecution under this ordinance does not result in an actual criminal conviction. This ordinance only applies in certain parts of Cook County.

State criminal law also addresses solicitation of a prostitute. The crime is called “solicitation of a sexual act.” Under the law, any person who offers someone money or anything of value to perform any act of sexual penetration or touching or fondling of the sex organs commits solicitation of a sexual act. This is a Class A misdemeanor normally, but if the prostitute is a minor or is severely or profoundly intellectually disabled it becomes a felony. Class A misdemeanors can be punished by up to a year in jail. The fine can be anything up to $2,500 per count.

Criminal Defense Attorney

When you or someone you love is charged with a crime, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and we will schedule a free consultation.

Resisting or Obstructing a Police Officer

January 9th, 2015 at 9:32 am

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinios criminal justice statuteAs many across our nation continue to protest against abuses of power by police officers, unfortunately some people are winding up arrested. All too often these sorts of arrests are for things like obstructing or resisting arrest. This is why it is so important for politically active citizens to understand their rights and know exactly what does and does not count as obstruction, so they can do everything they can to avoid criminal charges.

What is Resisting or Obstructing a Peace Officer?

Crimes in Illinois are defined by statute. Under Illinois law a person “who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer….of any authorized act within his or her official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor.” This definition is a little bit circular, though, so we have to look at how the courts have defined the crime in practice. The Illinois Supreme Court said in a case called People b. Raby that:

Resisting or resistance means withstanding the force or effect of or the exertion of oneself to counteract or defeat. Obstruct means to be or come in the way of….These terms do not proscribe mere argument with a policeman about the validity of an arrest or other police action, but proscribe only some physical act which imposes an obstacle which may impede, hinder, interrupt, prevent or delay the performance of the officer’s duties, such as going limp, forcefully resisting arrest or physically aiding a third party to avoid arrest.

So What About Refusing to Comply with a Police Officer’s Orders?

A new decision was recently released by the Court of Appeals that has to do with whether it counts as obstruction to merely refuse to comply with a police officer’s orders. In this case a woman went to pick up her son from school. In the process, she briefly stopped her car in a traffic lane. As a result, a cop pulled her over. The cop claims the woman argued with the cop. The cop decided to write the woman a ticket, and he went to his car to call for back up. The woman allegedly started to pull away slowly, but the cop told her to stop and she did. The cop told the woman to give him her license and insurance information and she told him no. Then she drove away. The cop caught up with her and pulled her over again. He told her she was under arrest and that she had to exit her vehicle. The cop claims the mother told him, “I don’t have to do (explicative).” The cop told her to get out of the car again and she would not. The cops then forcibly removed her from the car.

Obviously the driving away from the initial pull-over was a problem. But the obstruction charge in this case had to do specifically with the woman’s refusal to get out of her car. The Court decided in this case that just refusing to get out of the car was enough to convict the woman of obstructing a police officer. In doing so, it said that considerations of officer safety were paramount in the case. A jury could conclude that the defendant refused the cop’s repeated orders to exit the vehicle and that as a result the cop had to put himself in danger, which is enough for the conduct to be considered obstruction.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are accused of resisting or obstructing a police officer you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. You should contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation.

Juveniles Are More Likely to Be Bullied into False Confessions

January 8th, 2015 at 8:32 am

Illinois defense attorney, police bullying tactics, Illinois criminal lawyer,The television news show 60 Minutes called Chicago the false confession capital of the United States just a couple of years ago. This is because there are twice as many documented cases of false confessions in the Chicago area as there are in there are in any other city in the country. A false confession is what happens when an innocent person commits a crime he or she did not commit. It may seem like no one would ever do this, but unfortunately it happens regularly, even in serious felony cases. While adults sometimes confess falsely, false confessions are even more common amongst juveniles.

Study Shows False Confessions More Common Amongst Juveniles

The Innocence Project is the organization that is responsible for using DNA evidence to prove that hundreds of prisoners in the United States were actually innocent. Last year they reported on a new study that shows false confessions are more likely among juveniles. The study was conducted by Florida International University, and was funded by the National institute of Mental Health. A psychologist, Lindsay C. Malloy, examined the interrogations, confessions, and guilty pleas of 193 teenage boys between the ages of 14 and 17 who were convicted of serious crimes. The results of the study showed that these teens were much more likely to falsely confess than their older counterparts.

Of those wrongfully convicted and then later proven innocent by DNA evidence, roughly 30 percent of the innocent defendants confessed to some degree or even pled guilty. Part of the reason that juveniles are so likely to fall into this trap is that they can be easier for interrogators to manipulate and they sometimes do not fully understand their situation. While even adults often times do not understand that they should not talk to police about a crime they are suspected of committing without having an attorney present, young people have an even worse understanding of this concept. They often believe if they say they are guilty (even if they are not) that investigators will let them go home.

A Video Taped Coerced Juvenile Confession

CBS San Francisco reported last year on a video taped coerced confession by a teenager. The interrogation started with the 15-year-old boy insisting to police that he “wasn’t there” as they questioned him about a gang shooting. The cops responded to him by saying, “That’s not really going to work, and its not going to be to your benefit to lie about what happened out there…” The cops told him that he was going to jail and that he needed to help himself by telling the truth. They even said that two witnesses had picked him out of a photo lineup. It is unclear from the CBS report whether witnesses actually had picked the juvenile out, but even if they had not, police are legally allowed to lie about such things.

The boy kept insisting he was innocent for an hour, until the cops left him in the interrogation room. He cried. The cops came back and kept pushing him, telling him that he was making a mistake by sticking to his story of innocence. After four hours, he cracked and told the cops he was involved in the crime, but that he was drunk so he didn’t remember the details. The state then convicted him of being an accomplice in the shooting. Now numerous experts who have reviewed the tape of the confession agree that it was coerced. And after 10 years in prison the prosecution’s star witness against the teen admitted his story that the boy was involved in the shooting was a lie. The hope is that these developments will lead to the release of the teenager, who is now in his mid-20s.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If your child is accused of a crime, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This is especially true if the young person in your life has made incriminating statements to police. Contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation. Whether its a traffic matter or a serious felony, we can help.