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Archive for March, 2015

How Do You Fight for Your Fourth Amendment Rights in Court?

March 25th, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, your rights,Some people charged with crimes are innocent. Other people charged with crimes are guilty. Both deserve a passionate and skilled defense. But in some cases, the court should never even get to the issue of guilt because a more serious issue arises. There are cases where the government violates the United States Constitution, the foundation of our entire justice system. In those cases, more than any other, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. One of the most common parts of the United States Constitution violated by the government is the Fourth Amendment.

What Does the Fourth Amendment Say?

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right not be be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This includes searches of your person, searches of your home, and searches of your stuff. This is the part of the constitution that requires police to get a warrant in order to perform a search unless either (1) you consent to a search or (2) certain exceptions to the warrant requirement are met. Unfortunately, the list of exceptions to the warrant requirement keeps growing and growing, chipping away at our constitutional rights, and each one of them is complicated enough to warrant its own article or articles. But, on a basic level, the Fourth Amendment is the part of the constitution that says the police cannot search you, your home, or your property just because they feel like it. The amendment also prevents unreasonable seizures, or takings, both of you and of your property.

How Can I Assert My Fourth Amendment Rights?

The most important way you can assert your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is to speak up. When a police officer asks you permission to take a look around, you can say no. When an officer asks you to sign a permission to search form, you can say no. Now, in some circumstances this is not possible. If police do not ask for permission, you do not have a chance to say no, and putting up a physical resistance will undoubtedly end up in criminal charges, so do not do that. And if they have a warrant, you absolutely have to let them search. But when a police officer gives you the option to say no, you can use it. They may threaten that going and getting a warrant will make things more difficult for you, but they may very well be bluffing because they may not have grounds for a warrant, which is why they are asking for permission in the first place.

Once My Fourth Amendment Rights Have Been Violated, How Does that Affect a Criminal Charge?

Of course, usually you do not get a chance to say no. The police conduct the unlawful search or seizure and you are left wondering what you can do about it. A constitutional violation like this does not lead to your case automatically being dismissed. Instead it can give you the opportunity to file a motion to suppress any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search. This is allowed under the exclusionary rule. Under this rule, evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure is inadmissible in court. This means it cannot be used against you. In some cases, like many drug possession cases, this may result in all or almost all of the government’s evidence against you being thrown out.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who is ready to fight for your constitutional rights. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Christopher Cosley has the experience, knowledge, and passion to fight for you. Our phone number is (847)394-3200.

Illinois May Ditch the Hard Suspension of Licenses after a DUI Arrest

March 23rd, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal penalties, Driving under the influence, or “DUI” is a criminal charge that carries with it a host of possible consequences. People who have been injured by intoxicated drivers or who have lost family members in car accidents often advocate for extremely harsh punishment for people caught driving under the influence. Surprisingly, however, even many of these advocates are on board with getting rid of the “hard time” 30-day suspension of the person’s driver’s license that accompanies a DUI arrest in Illinois.

What is a Hard Suspension?

A hard suspension of a person’s driver’s license is a suspension with no exceptions. During a hard suspension a driver is not allowed to drive at all. This is opposed to a suspension where the driver is only allowed to drive under certain circumstances, such as being required to use an ignition interlock device. These are the devices that can be installed in cars that require the driver to blow into them to prove they are not intoxicated in order to operate the vehicle. Hard suspensions prevent drivers from driving to work, taking their children to school, going to alcohol treatment, or fulfilling any of a whole variety of basic life functions. While people who live in certain parts of Chicago may have reliable enough public transportation to do all of these things without driving, those living in the suburbs or in rural parts of the state can lose jobs and support networks. If the goal is to prevent future alcohol abuse and encourage treatment, hard suspensions work against that goal. Yet under current Illinois law, there is a mandatory 30-day hard suspension that follows a DUI arrest.

Movement to Eliminate the Automatic Hard Suspension

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Illinois State Bar Association has proposed ending the mandate that people arrested for DUI completely lose their driver’s licenses for at least 30 days, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is supporting the move; as is a local group called “Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists.” What is the catch? Drivers would be able to get out of the 30-day suspension if they agreed to use an ignition interlock device whenever they drove during the suspension period. This would allow them to go to work, treatment, and other places they need to be while still keeping the community safe. It would also encourage the use of the ignition interlock device, preventing the drivers from drinking and driving on a suspended license. Both the drivers and the community win.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you have been cited for driving under the influence, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows DUI attorney. That is why you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We handle these unique cases regularly and can provide you with the representation you deserve. Reach out to us at (847)394-3200.

Shift in Illinois Sentencing Structure

March 18th, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal penaltiesThis firm has reported on criminal justice and sentencing matters multiple times in the past. From mandatory minimums to sentencing tools, it seems the sentencing structure in Illinois is in the process of an overhaul. Media reports provide further evidence of this in its description of the apparent cultural change going on in regards to criminal sentencing in the Illinois General Assembly.

A New Approach

In the past, Illinois lawmakers’ approach to dealing with crime involved imposing harsher penalties for their commission. The thought was that the enhanced penalty would effectively address the problem; however, lawmakers are starting to see that that is not necessarily the case. Despite the idea that harsher penalties for certain crimes often seemed like a good idea, lawmakers are starting to reject that notion, as evidenced by the significant decline in the number of sentencing enhancement bills that they have attempted to pass in recent years.

This may be due in part to the General Assembly’s recent reaction to such proposals. The House committee on criminal law has started to critically examine not only the effectiveness but also the advisability of enhancing prison sentences. This more scrutinized approach has resulted in such bills being more difficult to be passed. Many are surprised at this turn of events as compared to the attitude expressed in years past.

Driving Change

The approach of the House committee is likely indicative of a similar attitude on sentencing enhancements that is prevalent across the nation. The amount of information regarding criminal sentencing and its effects is vast. National concern about the overuse of incarceration has been constant, and has correlated to an increased realization that many prisoners who are incarcerated in this country are in prison as the result of addiction or mental health issues, who are often and most likely not getting the proper treatment while incarcerated. These factors, in addition to state prison budgets that seem generous but are actually spread too thin, are most likely to be the source for the change in approach to criminal sentencing across the country.

Perhaps surprisingly, the new attitude on criminal sentencing seems to have bipartisan support. Conservative and liberal groups alike are speaking out in favor of a new approach, with representatives expressing the opinion that prison is more appropriate for those criminals who need to be incapacitated in order to be punished, or in order to be treated.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Many are saying it is only a matter of time before such a sentencing approach makes its way into Illinois law. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and need expert legal defense, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

Important Change in Traffic Offense Cases

March 16th, 2015 at 6:37 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois traffic laws,Not surprisingly, traffic offense cases are among the most common type of criminal law cases. It is much less likely for an average member of the public to be charged with a more serious crime than it is to be cited for a traffic offense such as a speeding ticket, reckless driving, or even drunk driving. Regardless of the severity of the offense, it is advisable for anyone who has been charged with any type of criminal matter to seek the advice of legal counsel in order to best improve the chances of a successful outcome in their case.

A Change in Penalties

The prevalence of citizens charged with a traffic violation makes any change in the regulations involving these crimes especially important for many members of the public. According to media reports , a bill that was signed into law last August says that drivers who are pulled over in the state of Illinois will no longer need to surrender their license in exchange for a citation. Previously, the law required motorists to hand over their license to law enforcement as bail.

The New Law

The bill is known as Senate Bill 2583 and was sponsored by Senator Michael Noland from Elgin and State Representative John D’Amico from Chicago. According to its terms, drivers in the state no longer need to post their license as bail as they previously must have done in response to being charged with certain traffic violations. Instead, the new law considers a cited driver’s signature on the traffic ticket to be enough to ensure their appearance in court for the matter, or be forced to pay a fine if they do not appear.

The new law went into effect on January 1, 2015. A provision contained in the old law allowing the Secretary of State to suspend motorists’ driving privileges who do not comply with the terms of the citation remains in effect. The stated reason for the new law includes the fact that many people use their driver’s license as a form of identification in situations that require it. If they lose it, they can run into problems in their everyday affairs.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While the new law does not require motorists to surrender their license prior to their court appearance, many traffic violations still carry the possibility of license suspension if a driver is found guilty of the infraction. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience defending clients charged with a myriad of traffic violations in the Chicago area of Illinois. If you have been charged with such a crime, contact our experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys today for a consultation.

Drug Possession: Using Legal Substances to Get High May Not Be Legal

March 11th, 2015 at 6:24 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinios drug crimes attorney,The so-called War on Drugs has been dragging on in the United States for decades. Despite law enforcement’s seemingly unending obsession with prosecuting drug laws, the use of illegal substances continues on. While many drug users are undeterred by the illegality of drug possession, others do fear the possibility of facing criminal charges or losing their jobs if they get caught with an illegal substance. So some of them, particularly younger people, result to using otherwise legal substances to get high. The theory is that if the substance is legal then they can not be prosecuted for using it. While this may make sense, in at least some cases it is not true.

Huffing or Inhaling a Perfectly Legal Substance to Get High is a Crime in Illinois

Many people, especially young people, “huff” or inhale regular household products or other legally possessed chemicals in order to experience a high. Doing this is a crime in Illinois. The law that makes it a crime is called the “Use of Intoxicating Compounds Act.” Under this law it is a crime to ingest, breath, inhale, or drink any compound, liquid, or chemical for the purpose of getting high. Additionally, it is a crime to sell any compound, liquid, or chemical that will induce an intoxicated condition to a minor under the age of 17 without the written permission of the minor’s parent or guardian. Its illegal to make a such a sale to a person of any age if you have a reason to know that the purchaser’s intent is to use the substance to get high. Depending on how many times a person is found guilty of a crime under this law and the type of substance involved, the crime can be a misdemeanor or a felony.

What About Kratom?

It may seem that kratom is still legal since it is a plant rather than a chemical, compound, or liquid. Kratom is made from a plant called mitragyna speciosa. It is usually consumed as a tea and in some people it can produce intoxicating effects. In Illinois, however, there is a law called the Kratom Control Act. While it does not address kratom use by adults, it does make it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase or possess kratom. It also makes it a crime to use a false identification card to obtain kratom. Committing either of these offenses is a Class B misdemeanor. It is also a Class B misdemeanor to sell or give kratom to a minor.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a drug-related offense, or any crime, you need an experienced and dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney on your side. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We will listen to your side of the story and fight to get you the best possible outcome. Reach out to us today at (847)394-3200.

Being Where You Should Not Be: Trespassing in Illinois

March 9th, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, safe school zone,Trespassing, in a very basic sense, is being where you are not supposed to be. People often think of it as being on another person’s land without permission. But Illinois’ trespassing statutes actually prohibit much more than that. It is important to understand what constitutes trespassing because ignorance of the law is not a defense, and if you wind up trespassing you may find yourself in need of a criminal defense lawyer.

Criminal Trespass to Vehicles

Illinois statute prohibits what it calls “trespass to vehicles.” A person commits this crime when he or she knowingly enters or operates a vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or snowmobile without authority. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor.

Use of Electronic Tracking Devices

An electronic tracking device, for purposes of the trespassing statutes, is a device you attach to a vehicle that reveals the vehicle’s location through the transmission of electronic signals. One example would be the use of a GPS tracker on a car. Generally speaking, you are not allowed to use one of these on someone else’s vehicle without their consent, and doing so would be a Class A misdemeanor. There are exceptions for law enforcement, business owners who are tracking their employees’ use of a company car, state vehicles, and GPS systems that come installed as a feature on cars.

Criminal Trespass to Real Property

This is the action people normally think of when they think of trespassing. “Real property” means land or buildings. A person commits this offense when he or she does one of the following:

  • Knowingly enters or remains in a building without authority;
  • Enters another person’s land after he or she has been warned by the owner or occupant that he or she is not allowed to do so;
  • Remains on someone else’s land after that person tells him or her to leave;
  • Presents false documents to convince a land owner or occupant to let him or her stay on the land;
  • Removes certain real estate notices; or
  • Enters certain agricultural fields or buildings after being told he or she may not, or staying on such property after being told to leave.

Criminal Trespass to a Safe School Zone

A person commits this crime when he or she enters or remains in a safe school zone without lawful business and when as a student or school employee who has been suspended/expelled/dismissed for disrupting the operation of the school and as a condition of of the suspension/expulsion/dismissal he or she is denied access to the school. There are also more complicated ways in which one can violate this law that would, at a minimum, require entrance into a safe school zone after being served with a notice that the notice recipient is not allowed to be there.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with trespassing or any other crime, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We will fight for you. Our phone number is (847)394-3200.

Breaking Badly: Criminal Damage to Property

March 4th, 2015 at 9:26 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, vandalism,We all know that if we break or destroy something that belongs to another person we are likely on the hook for the costs of replacing or repairing what we damaged. What some people do not realize until they find themselves in need of a criminal defense lawyer is that breaking the property of another is often a crime that can carry jail time.

Criminal Damage to Property

Illinois statute creates the offense of criminal damage to property. There are nine different ways a person can commit this offense. They include:

  1. Knowingly damaging another person’s property without the owner’s consent;
  2. Recklessly damaging another person’s property with fire or explosives;
  3. Knowingly starting a fire on someone else’s land without the owner’s consent;
  4. Knowingly injuring another person’s domestic animal without the owner’s consent;
  5. Knowingly depositing a stink bomb or similar smelly substance on someone else’s land or building to interfere with the use of the building or land without the owner’s consent;
  6. Knowingly damaging certain types of property to defraud an insurance company;
  7. Knowingly shooting a firearm at a train;
  8. Knowingly tampering with a fire hydrant or fire fighting equipment; and
  9. Intentionally opening a fire hydrant without proper permission.

Criminal Damage to Government Supported Property

Under Illinois law, government supported property is property supported at least in part by government funding. It is a crime to:

  1. Knowingly damage government supported property without the state’s consent;
  2. Knowingly damage government property with an explosive or fire;
  3. Start a fire on government supported property without the state’ s consent; and
  4. Knowingly use a stink bomb or similar item on government supported property without the state’s consent to interfere with the use of the property.

While many types of regular criminal damage to property can be misdemeanors if the amount of the damages is not too great, all types of damage to government supported property are felonies. The class of felony depends upon the cost of the damage done. If the damage to the property is more than $10,000 the offender will also face a fine in an amount equal to the value of the damage to the property.

Institutional Vandalism

A person commits institutional vandalism when he or she damages one of certain types of properties at least in part because of the actual or perceived race, creed, religion, or national origin of another person or group of people. It may be considered a “hate crime” version of property damage. The properties covered by this statute include:

  1. Places of religious worship or personal property contained therein;
  2. Cemeteries or other places used for burying or memorializing the dead or personal property contained therein;
  3. Schools, educational centers, and community centers or personal property contained therein; and
  4. The grounds adjacent to any of the above three places.

Even if the damage done is only valued at costing one cent, institutional vandalism is at least a Class 3 felony. If the value of the damaged property exceeds $300 or if the offender has a prior conviction for this type of offense, it is a Class 2 felony.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing property damage charges, or are charged with some other crime, you need help. You should call the law offices of experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Our phone number is (847) 394-3200.

Illinois Gun Crime Laws: Parts of the Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon Statute May Be Unconstitutional

March 3rd, 2015 at 5:56 am

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, weapons charges,Thousands of people have been prosecuted in Illinois for having guns. Up until the last couple of years, Illinois was the lone holdout state that did not even allow for concealed carry permits. Our gun crime laws are harsh. However, in addition to being harsh, as it turns out, some of them are also unconstitutional. When a criminal law is held unconstitutional, then prosecutors are no longer allowed to prosecute people under that law.

What Gun Law is Unconstitutional?

Illinois law includes a crime called “aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.” This statute makes it illegal to possess a firearm under various different sets of circumstances. Some of this law is still enforceable. But other portions of it are unconstitutional because they violate the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. For example, the portion of the law that makes it always a crime to carry an uncased, loaded, immediately accessible firearm on your person or in a vehicle goes too far. It acts as a comprehensive ban on the use of firearms for self-defense outside the home, thus rendering it unconstitutional. Similarly, the part of the law that prohibits all carrying of such guns on public ways is unconstitutional for the same reason.

Reasonable Restrictions are Permitted

While these outright bans on gun possession are not constitutional, the other portions of Illinois gun law that act more as restrictions on the right to bear arms are usually held to be constitutional. Under Illinois law this includes things like the requirement that a gun carrier have a FOID card and prohibitions on 19- and 20 year-olds receiving the documentation required to possess firearms. It also includes common exceptions to the right to bear arms such as laws that say people with felony convictions, people with certain mental health histories, intoxicated people, and fugitives of the law cannot lawfully possess guns. People who are or have recently been subject to an order of protection are also usually prohibited from having guns both under state law and federal law.

What is a FOID Card?

A FOID card is not the same as a concealed carry permit. FOID cards are somewhat unique to Illinois and they are used to identify those individuals who are eligible to possess and obtain firearms and ammunition. Illinois residents who own or possess firearms generally are required to have a FOID card. There is a separate application process from the concealed carry application process. Once one has a FOID card it is good for 10 years, assuming the applicant remains otherwise eligible to possess firearms.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney on your side. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We are here to fight for you. Reach out to us today at (847)394-3200.

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