Archive for February, 2015

The Crime of Solicitation in Illinois

February 26th, 2015 at 7:39 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal intent,We have all heard the expression “don’t do the crime if you don’t want to do the time.” But in Illinois, as in most states, there are ways you can wind up doing the time even if you yourself were not the one to do the crime. These are known as inchoate offenses, and they include offenses such as attempt and solicitation. One of the interesting things about Illinois law is that not only do we have laws against attempt and solicitation, but here it is also illegal to attempt to solicit.

What are Attempt and Solicitation?

Both attempt and solicitation are defined by Illinois statutes. One is guilty of solicitation when he or she, with the intent that a criminal offense be committed, commands, encourages, or requests that another person commit the criminal offense. A person commits “attempt” when he or she, with the intent to commit a specific crime, takes a substantial step toward committing that crime. Thus if you ask or pay someone else to commit a crime for you, that is solicitation. If instead you take a substantial step toward committing the crime yourself, then attempt is what you are guilty of doing.

Another related type of inchoate offense is conspiracy. A person is guilty of conspiracy if, with the intent that a crime be committed, he or she agrees with at least one other person to the commission of the crime. In order to be convicted of conspiracy, one of the co-conspirators must take at least one act in furtherance of the conspiracy.

What is Attempted Solicitation?

The statutes do not specifically mention attempted solicitation, but under Illinois law attempted solicitation is a crime. This is what happens when one, with the intent that a crime be committed, takes a substantial step towards encouraging, commanding, or requesting that another person commit a crime. This crime exists because attempt can, in general, be applied to any crime so long as doing so does not create some sort of inherent impossibility or the specific crime in question has its own specific attempt language within the defining statute. An example of attempted solicitation would be where an incarcerated person tries to send a letter to someone on the outside asking him or her to commit a crime. After the incarcerated person tries to send the letter a prison employee charged with reading the mail reads it, reports it, and does not allow it to actually go out in the mail. There the incarcerated person took the substantial step toward requesting that the outsider commit a crime, so attempted solicitation occurred.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing criminal charges you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We will fight for you. Call us today at (847)394-3200.

Violent Video Games: Selling a Game Can Be a Crime

February 24th, 2015 at 7:10 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, crimes against children,Typically when people think of criminal cases, they think of things like theft or murder or drug dealing. However, each state also criminalizes some relatively inoffensive conduct. For example, Illinois has made it a criminal offense to sell or rent certain violent video games to minors.

What Illinois Considers to be a Violent Video Game

The Illinois legislature took it upon itself to define what constitutes a “violent” video game. It crafted a law that defines a violent video game as any video game that depicts human-on-human violence where a player kills or otherwise causes serious physical harm to another human. This serious physical harm includes things like death, dismemberment, decapitation, mutilation of body parts, amputation, or disfigurement. It also includes rape. What this means is that games where the player’s character is human and the player kills another human character, would be covered. Meanwhile, games where the player kills other characters, but those characters are aliens, would not be covered.

Illinois Prohibits the Sale or Rental of “Violent” Games to People Under Age 18

Section 12A-15 of the Violent Video Games Law restricts the sale or rental of violent video games to people under the age of 18. If you sell or rent one of these covered games to an underage person, you are guilty of a petty offense and a court can impose a $1,000 fine. If you own a business that uses an electronic scanner to sell these games, and your system does not prompt your sales clerks to check ID, then you are guilty of a petty offense and can be fined $1,000. You are also guilty of such an offense and can be fined $1,000 if you allow these games to be sold through a self-scanning checkout device. Retail sales clerks are not fined unless they have complete knowledge that the person they are selling the game to is underage and they do it anyway.

Affirmative Defenses to Prosecution for Selling a Game

The law does allow for certain defenses in these cases. It is a defense if you are a family member of the child for whom the game was purchased. It’s also a defense if the minor showed you an official document that purported he or she was 18 when he or she actually was not. For retailers, if the sales clerk had complete knowledge that the buyer was under 18 and the clerk sold the game anyway, this is a defense for the retailer. Finally, if the allegedly violent video game is rated EC, E10+, E, or T, this provides a defense against prosecution.

Call Criminal Defense Attorney Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime, you deserve an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who will fight for you. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we can schedule an appointment to discuss the facts of your case and determine what we can do to help.

What You Need to Know About Vehicular Hijacking in Illinois

February 19th, 2015 at 10:22 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, felony, violent crime,To many people, hijacking sounds like something that happens on an airplane in an action movie from the late twentieth century. While it is that, hijacking is also a type of crime that happens right in in Illinois. Specifically, Illinois law prohibits what it calls “vehicular hijacking.” If you find yourself charged with this crime, you will need the help of a felony criminal defense attorney.

What is Vehicular Hijacking?

Illinois statute defines vehicular hijacking as  a person knowingly taking a motor vehicle from another person by either using force or by threatening the imminent use of force. It is basically the same as robbery, except instead of taking some other type of property, the hijacker takes the victim’s car. It is important to note that the car has to be taken directly from the person or from the person’s presence. Thus, stealing a car from an empty garage would not count as vehicular hijacking. Vehicular hijacking is a slightly more serious offense than robbery, in that even in its most benign forms it is a Class 1 felony.

What is Aggravated Vehicular Hijacking?

There are six ways a regular vehicular hijacking can become aggravated vehicular hijacking under Illinois law. The first two of these are punishable as Class X felonies. These two types are:

  • Vehicular hijacking where the vehicle is taken from someone over age 60 or someone who is physically handicapped; and
  • Vehicular hijacking where a person under the age of 16 is a passenger in the vehicle when the hijacking occurs.

The other four types of this offense are as follows:

  • The third type of aggravated vehicular hijacking is a Class X felony for which the court must sentence an offender to at least seven years in prison. These are vehicular hijackings where the hijacker has a dangerous weapon other than a firearm.
  • The fourth type involves a hijacker who is armed with a gun. This is a Class X felony but it comes with a 15-year firearm add-on to the sentence.
  • The fifth type occurs when the hijacker personally discharges the firearm during the hijacking. This is a Class X felony, but it comes with a 20-year mandatory firearm add-on.
  • The final type involves the hijacker firing a firearm and someone getting seriously hurt because of it. This is a Class X felony that carries with it a firearm add-on of 25 years to natural life.

Vehicular Invasion

Vehicular invasion is a related crime. This Class 1 felony is committed when a person knowingly, by force and without legal justification, enters a motor vehicle or reaches into one when the following two conditions are met:

  • There is at least one person in the vehicle; and
  • The person reaching into the car or entering the car is doing so in order to commit a theft or a felony.

Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are charged with vehicular hijacking or any other criminal offense, 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 to schedule a case consultation to discuss your situation and determine how we can best be of help.

Everything You Need to Know about Robbery in Illinois

February 17th, 2015 at 10:12 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, theft, property crimes,“I got robbed.” This is a statement that is used very often in our contemporary society. While sometimes it is applied metaphorically, such as when complaining about a call in a sporting event, we usually mean it to imply that someone stole something from us. However, like many areas of criminal law, the common understanding of this term and the legal definition are not the exact same. Not all victims of theft are robbery victims and not all thieves are robbers. Instead, robbery is a very specific type of theft.

What is Robbery in Illinois?

In Illinois, the offense of robbery is defined by statute. As one would assume, robbery requires one person to take property from another person. This can be any property except for certain motor vehicles, which are covered by a separate law. What differentiates robbery from mere theft is that in order for a taking of property to be a robbery, the robber must either:

  • Use force; or
  • Threaten the imminent use of force.

There is also another difference between mere theft and robbery. In order for a taking to be a robbery, the property has to be taken either directly from the victim or from the victim’s presence. If, for example, one were to break into a store at night when no one was there and steal the cash register, that person would not have committed a robbery. While the natural response of the store owner might be to say “I’ve been robbed!” that is not technically accurate, and the thief could not be prosecuted for robbery; instead, the thief could be prosecuted for other crimes like burglary.

Robbery is normally a Class 2 felony, unless the victim is over 60 years old, the victim is a physically handicapped person, or the crime is committed at certain places like schools, churches, or child care facilities. In those cases it is a Class 1 felony.

What is Aggravated Robbery?

Some robberies are worse than others in the eyes of the law. Because of this, Illinois law includes another offense called “aggravated robbery.” Aggravated robbery is a Class 1 felony. There are certain ways to turn a robbery into an aggravated robbery. These include:

  • Indicating through your words or actions during the robbery that you have a dangerous weapon, even if you do not have such a weapon; or
  • Taking the property by administering a controlled substance to the victim without his or her consent.

What is Armed Robbery?

Armed robbery is robbery where the robber has a dangerous weapon or a firearm during the act. There are also versions of this crime that deal specifically with discharging a firearm during the robbery and with seriously injuring someone by discharging the firearm. These are all Class X felonies, but in cases where a firearm is involved there are substantial add-ons of prison time in addition to the regular sentence.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with robbery or any other crime, you need a fierce litigator in your corner. That is why you should contact experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Call the office at (847)394-3200 today to learn how we can help.

Unlawful Transfer of a Telecommunications Device to a Minor

February 12th, 2015 at 9:11 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinios drug crimes attorney, Most crimes are standalone crimes. However, there are some crimes that act as add-ons of a sort or as ways for the prosecution to try to punish someone not just for committing a crime, but also for the way in which he or she committed the crime. These additional offenses can increase the severity of the possible punishment for a crime, which makes it extremely important that you have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. One example of this sort of additional offense is a crime many have never heard of: unlawful transfer of a telecommunications device.

What is Unlawful Transfer of a Telecommunications Device?

From the name of this crime, it sounds like it might have something to do with defrauding a cell phone company or giving a kid a cell phone without his or her parents’ permission. While either of those activities can land you in hot water, they are not quite what this law is about. Under Illinois statute you are guilty of this crime if you transfer a telecommunications device (like a cell phone) to someone under the age of 18 with the intent that the device be used to commit a crime under the Illinois criminal code, the Cannabis Control Act, the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor, which means you could be sentenced to a term in jail not to exceed one year. Property forfeiture is also a possibility. Thus, if one were to participate in a criminal enterprise of some sort with a minor and that person were to give the minor a cell phone or similar device in order to facilitate that criminal offense, the person could be charged both with that underlying crime and with this additional crime.

What Counts as a Telecommunications Device?

The most obvious type of covered device is a cell phone. But many other devices are also covered. Any device that is portable or that can be installed in a mode of transportation and that is capable of transmitting speech, data, signals, or other information is included. This means that pagers or beepers are covered, along with radio transceivers, transmitters, and receivers. It is worth noting that a radio designed to receive only standard AM and FM radio broadcasts is specifically exempted from the law.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we will set up an appointment to go over the facts of your case and figure out how we can help.

Retail Theft Carries Real Consequences

February 11th, 2015 at 8:04 am

shoplift, Illinois defense lawyer, Cook County criminal attorney,Many people think of shoplifting or retail theft as a relatively minor crime. In Illinois that is absolutely not the case. Shoplifting in Illinois will lead you in serious need of an experienced criminal defense attorney. In order to avoid finding yourself in that position, you should understand exactly what retail theft is and how it is punished in our state.

What is Retail Theft?

Generally speaking, what most of us call shoplifting is a type of retail theft. Illinois statute defines retail theft as  one of the following actions:

  • Takes merchandise with the intent of keeping it or depriving the merchant of it permanently without paying for the merchandise;
  • Alters or removes a price tag or similar marking in an attempt to pay less for a piece of merchandise;
  • Transfers merchandise from one container to another in an attempt to deprive the merchant of the full retail value of the merchandise;
  • Under-rings merchandise with the intent to deny the merchant of the full retail value;
  • Steals shopping carts;
  • Knowingly lies to a merchant claiming that the person owns property so he or she can sell the property to a merchant;
  • Uses or possesses theft detection shielding devices or theft detection device removers; or
  • Keeps property that should have been returned by a lessee.

There is also an additional related crime called “theft by emergency exit” that involves using an emergency exit to commit retail theft.

What is the Punishment for Retail Theft?

Usually, for a first offense where the value of the property does not exceed $300 (or $150 if the property is motor fuel) the crime will be considered a Class A Misdemeanor. A second offense can be a Class 4 felony. The prior offense in these cases can be for a wide variety of stealing-related offenses. If the value of the property is greater than $300 then it is a Class 3 felony. Violations relating to the theft detection shielding devices or theft detection device removers are Class A misdemeanors for a first offense, but upon a second offense they can be a Class 4 felony. Theft by emergency exit is a Class 4 felony if the value of the property does not exceed $300. If the value of property is greater than $300 it becomes a Class 2 felony.

Each of these classes of crime is given a range of punishment under the Unified Code of Corrections. The misdemeanor sentences are less than one year in jail. The felonies can carry hefty prison terms, however. Class 4 felonies carry a term of one to three years in prison. Class 3 felonies carry a range of two to five years. The Class 2 felonies carry a range of three to seven years.

Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with retail theft or any other type of criminal offense, you will need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we can schedule an appointment to go over the facts of your case and figure out how we can best be of help.

Attempt to Commit a Crime is a Crime

February 5th, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal intent,The old saying goes that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Well, close can also count in criminal law. While committing a criminal offense can land you in hot water, you may not realize that mere attempts to commit a criminal offense can also land you in jail for almost as long – an attempt to commit a crime is a crime.

What Counts as an Attempt?

In common language an “attempt” occurs whenever you try to do something. Fortunately, the legal definition of “attempt” is a little bit stricter than that. Illinois defines attempt in its statutes. According to Illinois law a person is guilty of attempting to commit an offense when he or she (1) does any act that is a “substantial step” toward the commission of the offense while (2) having the intent to commit that specific offense. Now, that does not mean that one has to sit down and think to him or herself, “I would like to go out today and commit a burglary.” The intent requirement does not mean that you have to know what the offense you intend to commit is called—it only means that you have to intend to commit it. That clears up the intent, but the question remains: what is a substantial step?

What is a “Substantial Step?”

Illinois statute does not specifically define what constitutes a substantial step. Instead, the courts have decided that what counts as a substantial step depends on the unique facts and circumstances is not enough. Mere preparation is not enough, and the act that is the alleged substantial step must not be too far removed in space or time from the conduct of the actual offense. A substantial step has been taken when the defendant is put in dangerous proximity of succeeding at committing the offense.

Attempting Can be as Almost as Bad as Actually Committing an Offense

There are special laws that apply to murder and attempted murder. Putting those aside for this discussion, the attempt laws in Illinois are quite strict when it comes to sentencing. With the exception of murder, a person convicted of attempt can be punished almost as severely as he or she would be punished if he or she were found guilty of actually committing the offense he or she attempted. The general rule (with some exceptions) is that an attempt to commit an offense is one class of offense lower than the offense itself. For example, an attempt to commit a class 1 felony would be a class 2 felony.

How is “Attempt” Explained to Jurors?

Of course, when a case goes to jury trial, we do not send the jurors in to deliberate with a copy of the Illinois statutes. Instead we give them jury instructions. These instructions break the law down in a way that jurors hopefully can understand so they can apply it to the facts of a case. The model jury instruction for attempt tells the jurors that “A person commits the offense of attempt when he, with the intent to commit the offense of (fill in the name of the offense allegedly attempted), does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of (fill in the name of the offense allegedly attempted).”

Call Christopher M. Cosley

Whether you are charged with actually committing a crime, or with just attempting to do so, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Reach out to the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200 for help with your case. We will schedule a consultation to discuss your case and discover what we can do to help.

Supervised Release in Illinois

February 3rd, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Illinois defense attorney, sentencing guidelines, Illinois criminal lawyer,Most people who have not had dealings with the criminal justice system base their knowledge of that system on what they see on television. Unfortunately, television depictions of criminal law are not always accurate, and even when they are, they cannot possibly represent the criminal law of every state because every state has different laws. One example of this issue has to do with parole. People assume because of television that when someone is released from prison, he or she is released on parole. However, in Illinois, that is not the case. Illinois eliminated parole (except for those people who were sentenced long enough ago that parole was a possibility when they were sentenced) and replaced it with supervised release, a different system entirely.

Who is Subject to Supervised Release?

Illinois statute requires a program known as mandatory supervised release. The statute says that whenever someone is sentenced to prison and that sentence is not one of natural life, “every sentence includes a term in addition to the term of imprisonment.” If a person was sentenced under the law in effect before February 1, 1978, then that term is one of parole, just like is seen on TV. If the person was sentenced under the laws in effect after that date, the term is one of “mandatory supervised release.”

What is the Difference Between Parole and Supervised Release?

Under parole systems, which many states still have, the person is released before he or she serves every day of his or her sentence. The person has specific parole rules he or she has to live by, and if he or she violates one of those rules he or she might go back to prison to finish serving out the sentence. If the person does not break the rules then he or she remains on parole until his or her sentence has expired, and then he or she is let free. Under a supervised release system, the person serves his or her sentence in prison, and after it is served there is an additional term of supervised release on top of that sentence. The supervised release term is usually two or three years. It is usually served out of custody under supervision, but some offenders actually wind up serving it in prison either by their own choice or because they are unable to find an approved home plan.

Federal Court Cracks Down on Supervised Release Conditions

Under parole systems, there are a host of conditions that can be placed on a parolee’s release. However, conditions are different under a supervised release system. There are limits on what sorts of conditions courts can impose. The Chicago Sun Times recently reported that a U.S. Appeals Court overturned four sentences because of the supervised release conditions judges had imposed. These conditions included:

  • A ban on “excessive drinking” that did not define “excessive”;
  • A lifetime ban on a person being around children under age 18, including his own children, without a probation officer’s approval; and
  • An order to get a GED or go back to prison, even if the inmate lacks the intellectual capacity to pass the GED test.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison in Illinois, supervised release is mandatory. Before you plead guilty or go to trial in any case where this is a possibility, you need to seek the advice of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will schedule a consultation to discuss your case.