Archive for June, 2015

Practical Aspects of Medical Marijuana Law Remain a Challenge

June 24th, 2015 at 4:38 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois drug crimes attorney,In Illinois and in other states around the country, marijuana has being legalized for certain limited purposes, usually for medicinal use when certain requirements are met. The medical marijuana law was passed in January of 2014 in Illinois, but the state has run into several issues in implementing it. One of the most recent hurdles to overcome in the process of establishing medical marijuana dispensaries involves determining from what sources to obtain the seeds necessary to plant the drug.

Getting Started

Those who are interested in getting into the business of legally selling medical marijuana must overcome several hurdles in order to do so. Many requirements and regulations are written into the relevant law, including obtaining licenses, planning for security, and planning for building the facility. Once that is accomplished, growers must then decide where to obtain their first seeds or cuttings, which would enable them to actually grow marijuana for medicinal purposes. Some are arguing that this presents a challenge for legal reasons.

With the medical marijuana industry just emerging in Illinois, sellers and growers have many logistical issues to take into account. When it comes to actually growing the marijuana to be used for medical purposes, the medical marijuana law is reportedly not clear on how to actually begin the process. Some say that regulators are essentially supposed to look the other way at this stage, but the problem is widespread.

“First Seed” Problem

Those getting involved in the industry are considering the problem an odd, albeit likely unintended, consequence of the law. Still, it leaves growers with two options: go underground or travel to another state to obtain seeds, although either action would most likely be a violation of law, either on the state or federal level. Growing permits are expected to be issued in Illinois by the end of the year. At this point, it seems growers will be faced with either obtaining seeds on the black market or possibly ordering them online from companies who advertise discreet shipping practices. The question remains, what legal effect will this have on growers?

Some are supposedly expecting law enforcement to simply turn a blind eye for a limited “don’t ask, don’t tell” period of time. This is usually the case in states where the relevant medical marijuana law is silent on the issue of obtaining seeds, after which the plants are generally required to be registered. In Illinois, officials seemed to offer vague responses when asked directly about the issue, and suggested they would be open to considering plan proposals from applicants on how to get their operation started. However, many maintain that until there is a definitive, government approved guideline on the issue, states will have no choice but to look the other way.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley to schedule a consultation. We have offices located in Rolling Meadows and Chicago.

The Second Amendment and Criminal Law

June 22nd, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois gun laws,Guns are a part of American culture. Unlike many other western nations, our country, for better or worse, has a strong connection to firearms. Aside from our having what is likely the best armed military in the world, we also have a heavily armed population and a constitutional provision that will keep our society that way. The Second Amendment guarantees us the right to “bear arms.”  Despite this constitutional right, men and women across our state and our nation find themselves charged with crimes for possessing guns. How is that possible?

What Does the Second Amendment Say?

The Second Amendment is one of the shorter amendments to our constitution. In its entirety it says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Although it is short, it has led to significant confusion over the years. Some people read this language on its face to mean that individual citizens have a right to gun ownership, while others read it to mean that individual states need to have the ability to arm their militias.

What Does the Second Amendment Mean?

In 1939 it seemed that the Amendment was about the militia part, and not about individual gun rights. That year the United States Supreme Court adopted the collective rights approach in allowing Congress to regulate sawed-off shotguns. This interpretation was the law of the land up until 2008 when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment established an individual right for citizens to possess firearms. Then in 2010 the Court ruled that states could not infringe on this right any more than the federal government can.

If People Have an Individual Right to Bear Arms, then Why Are People Locked Up for Possessing Guns?

If we have the constitutional right to possess guns, why do people get locked up for possessing guns? Part of the answer is that some of our laws have not changed or have not been adequately changed to comply with the United States Supreme Court’s’ holdings, and some people are still being prosecuted under these outdated laws. But that is only part of the issue. Certain limitations on gun ownership are still allowed even though the constitution says that the right “shall not be infringed.” For example,  convicted felons and certain mentally ill people are currently allowed to be stripped of their gun rights. This is similar to how felons in some states are striped of their rights to vote and to act as jurors. Other restrictions that are allowed include those that are similar to the “time, place, and manner” restrictions placed on your right to free speech. Guns can be banned from certain areas and licensing requirements can be put in place for those who want to carry their guns in public. This is similar to how protesters can be required to obtain permits to protest in certain areas.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Even if you never commit a violent act you may find yourself charged with a gun crime. You can also find yourself charged with a crime after you have justifiably used a firearm in self-defense or in defense of another. If this happens to you, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call us at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will fight for you and help you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation.

New Program Treats Prostitutes as Victims Instead of Criminals

June 17th, 2015 at 7:41 am

Illinois sex crimes lawyer, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer,Prostitution is a crime that has been handled and mishandled many ways by society over the years. During some eras it has been ignored, in other eras it has been harshly prosecuted, and in some parts of the country it has even been legalized. It is still against the law in Illinois and the people engaging in prostitution often find themselves in need of the assistance of a criminal defense attorney. Now, however, Cook County has created a new program that will treat the people engaged in prostitution, who are all too often not prostitutes of their own volition, as the victims they are, rather than treating them as criminals.

A New Cook County Program

The Chicago Tribune reports that a new court will change the way prostitution charges are handled in Cook County. This program was in part made possible by a 2013 change in the state prostitution law that required that all prostitution cases be charged as misdemeanors rather than felonies. The court will be called the “Chicago Prostitution and Trafficking Intervention Court.” Its goals are to give people working in prostitution the tools they need to leave that life while at the same time reducing the overcrowding of local jails.

Program Acknowledges Realities of Prostitution

While some people, both men and women, consciously choose to work in prostitution despite having other readily accessible options in their lives, that is simply not the case for many sex workers. Some are the victims of human traffickers, while others are trapped by issues involving substance abuse, homelessness, and/or mental health problems. These women and men often find themselves forced into sex work just to survive. This new program is designed to help solve these underlying problems rather than just punishing people for doing what they have to do in order to get by. One of the key elements of the program is that the defendants who are a part of it will actually be able to get their charges dismissed if they successfully complete the program. It remains to be seen, however, how realistic completion of the program will be. Drug courts have shown that when they are properly implemented they can be an excellent tool for rehabilitation, but when they are not run properly they can just be a way of setting defendants up to fail. Hopefully this court will be more like the former than the latter.

What Will the Program Include?

The men and women who engage in this program will have individual case managers. They will have access to HIV testing, and, if necessary, treatment. They will receive counseling. Depending on the participant’s individual needs they may also work with organizations that fight homelessness, that deal with human trafficking issues, and that provide mental health services.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with prostitution, or any other crime, you will need the help of an experienced and passionate criminal defense lawyer. For help from a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we will schedule an appointment at your convenience.

Illinois Legislature Passes Police Body Camera Law

June 15th, 2015 at 7:27 am

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, police brutality,In the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and countless other unarmed African-American men, women, and children by police officers, the public has finally started to demand that something be done about our nation’s police problem. One of the possible solutions that has been offered is requiring police officers to wear body cameras to record their conduct and misconduct. The footage created by these cameras could exonerate innocent officers, and, conversely, could be used to prosecute guilty officers. They may deter police misconduct. And, the footage could be used by criminal defense attorneys to prove when police officers violate defendants’ rights. Illinois may be the first state to enact legislation requiring police to use these cameras.

Bill Passes through Illinois Legislature and Awaits the Governor’s Signature

The State Journal-Register reports that the Illinois legislature passed a body camera bill and that it is waiting for the governor’s signature. This bill is the first of its nature to pass since President Obama convened the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. If the governor signs the bill, Illinois will be the first state to pass such a law. This one would include requirements regarding body cameras, would create new training for police officers, and would create a database where officers who commit crimes can be tracked so it is less difficult for problem officers to jump from department to department.

The New Bill Likely Does Not Go Far Enough

While this bill may be a good first step, it does not go far enough. It does not require police to wear body cameras at all times. Instead it simply changes the state’s eavesdropping law to allow police to use body cameras and it sets standards for their use. For example, any officers who wear these body cameras will be legally obligated to record any incident with the public. That is a fantastic provision that could be huge in protecting innocent officers while aiding in the prosecution of the bad ones. But, without a requirement that all officers wear the cameras, the provision is actually quite toothless.

Another troubling provision of the law is that it would allow cops to turn off the recorders when interviewing a witness or a victim. This is a huge mistake. There is a real problem of some police officers coercing witnesses and victims to say certain things to help officers build their case. This can rise to the level of misconduct or even criminal activity on an officer’s part. Allowing them to turn off the cameras during these conversations undercuts the potential value of these devices.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Sometimes when the police go too far, no one dies, but people wind up wrongfully arrested and charged with serious crimes. If this happened in your case, you will want the help of a talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who will use all of the tools legally available to help you fight your case. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we will schedule an appointment so we can learn about your case and decide upon the best strategy to use for you.

May 27th, 2015

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

June 10th, 2015 at 7:10 am

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, your rights,Some criminal cases result in dismissals or acquittals. Others result in plea bargains where a defendant admits his or her guilt of a crime in exchange for a more lenient sentence. In other cases a defendant is convicted at trial or pleads guilty without a plea agreement in place. In that lasts group of cases it is extremely important for a defendant to have an attorney who is experienced in handling sentencing hearings in order for the defendant to obtain the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Many individuals who are facing the possibility of very long sentences in these cases have questions about “cruel and unusual punishment.” Here we explain what the United States Constitution has to say about cruel and unusual punishment.

The Eighth Amendment

U.S. citizens’ right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is found in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment says:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.  

While this amendment is fairly short, it covers a lot. The United States Supreme Court has held over the years that this provision prohibits the use of some punishments while it limits the use of others based on their being excessive for certain crimes or when compared to the competence of the accused.

How The Court Decides if a Punishment is Cruel and Unusual

In Furman v. Georgia, the United States Supreme Court listed four principles that it uses to determine whether a punishment is cruel and unusual. These four principles are:

  1. Punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity, especially torture;
  2. A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion may be cruel and unusual;
  3. A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society may be cruel and unusual; and
  4. A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary may be considered cruel and unusual.

Of course, each of these matters is a judgment call. On several of these grounds, many people would argue that the death penalty is cruel and unusual, but it is still practiced in many states and so far has withstood constitutional challenge. Many would argue that solitary confinement meets many or all of these criterion, but it is still used in Illinois prisons and across the country.

Punishments that Have Been Held Cruel and Unusual

Some punishments have been held to be cruel and unusual. These punishments include:

  • The death penalty when the defendant is a juvenile;
  • The death penalty when the defendant has a mental disability;
  • Mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole when the defendant is a juvenile;
  • Drawing and quartering;
  • Public dissection;
  • Burning alive;
  • Disembowelment; and
  • Revoking the citizenship of a natural-born citizen.

It is important to note that generally the length of a prison sentence will not render it cruel and unusual. However, it can if it is grossly disproportionate in duration relative to the offense.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Have you been charged with a crime? Are you being investigated for alleged criminal activity? Then you need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher Cosley. Call today at (847)394-3200 and we can schedule a meeting to discuss your situation and what we can do to be of help.

Jury Trials and Bench Trials in Illinois

June 8th, 2015 at 6:39 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, judicial procedureMost people know that if you are facing criminal charges, and your case goes to trial, you have the right to a jury trial. Here in Illinois the right to a jury trial is in our state constitution. What many people do not realize, however, is that many criminal cases that result in trials do not result in jury trials. Instead, many people who are charged with a crime choose to have what is called a ¨bench trial.” In a bench trial, instead of having a jury decide whether you are guilty or innocent, the judge in your case makes the decision.

What Do Jury Trials Involve in Illinois?

People usually think of juries as being just like they are on television — made up of 12 people who are locked away from the public throughout the entire trial and who must all agree on any decision the jury makes. In reality, juries are different in each state, just like laws are different across state lines as well. In Illinois, criminal defendants have the right to a public trial by an impartial jury of the county in which the offense is alleged to have been committed. The jury will typically be made up of 12 members, and there may alternate jurors. Alternates are jurors who are there in case one of the original 12 get sick or injured or otherwise cannot continue to serve, thus requiring a substitution. Typically jurors are not sequestered, that is, not locked up in a hotel away from their families at night, even in serious cases. There has to be an extreme reason for a judge to sequester a jury in a regular criminal case. In Illinois all 12 jurors do have to agree in order for a defendant to be convicted or found not guilty. If they cannot agree the judge may declare a mistrial, which may result in the case being tried all over again. Jury trials generally take longer than bench trials because the jury selection process is a lengthy one, and jury trials also require specific steps, such as instructing the jurors on the law.

What Do Bench Trials Involve in Illinois?

In a bench trial the judge will decide whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. A bench trial can only be held if a defendant waives his or her right to a jury trial. The judge will hear opening statements, listen to the evidence, and listen to closing arguments just like a jury would in a jury trial. The difference here is that you have one person who knows the law deciding your fate, instead of 12 members of society who likely have little experience with the criminal justice system.

Which strategy is best for you depends on the specific facts of your case, including what you are charged with and what your defense is. If, for example, you are charged with a serious assault but you have a very sympathetic defense, you may be better off with a jury. On the other hand, if your defense is a technical legal defense, you may be better off with a judge who has a better understanding of the law. There exist many factors that go into this decision that you will need to discuss with your attorney before making the right choice for yourself.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing criminal charges you have many decisions to make. In order to make the best decisions for your situation you will need the advice of an experienced and passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. If you are charged in Rolling Meadows, you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200.

Illinois State Police Will Use Drones for Surveillance

June 3rd, 2015 at 7:16 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, illegal searches,Drones have now become a reality of law enforcement, and are a technology that any criminal defense attorney will have to become familiar with. Whether they are using them for surveillance, investigation, or other purposes, law enforcement will be utilizing these tools in the near future. In fact, one police agency here in Illinois has already announced its intent to do so.

Illinois State Police Plan to Use Drones

It was reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the Illinois State Police permission to use drones. The state police currently plan to use the drones to photograph crash and crime scenes. On an interesting note, they are not calling the drones “drones.” Instead, they are referring to them as “unmanned aircraft.” They claim that they are not currently implementing their program for surveillance purposes.

Illinois Has a Law about Drone Surveillance

Illinois has passed a law regarding drone surveillance, known as the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act. This law limits when law enforcement agencies are allowed to use drones for surveillance, but it certainly does not prohibit them from doing so. Law enforcement agencies are allowed to use drones for surveillance if any of the following circumstances apply:

  • They are countering a high-risk terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has determined that the intelligence indicates there is a credible threat. This is the only terrorism-related reason for use. All of the others relate to general law enforcement tasks;
  • The law enforcement agency has obtained a search warrant, which can be good for 45 days and can be renewed for an additional 45 days;
  • The law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is need to prevent imminent harm to life or prevent the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence;
  • The law enforcement agency is attempting to locate a missing person and is not also undertaking a criminal investigation; or
  • The law enforcement agency is using the drone exclusively for crime scene or traffic accident scene photography. If this occurs on private property they must get a search warrant.

Between their ability to get a warrant (which only requires probable cause) and their ability to use drones to prevent evidence destruction or escape, law enforcement still has a fairly broad license to use this type of surveillance in criminal cases. Additionally, in prosecutions related to traffic offenses like driving while intoxicated, drone used in collecting accident footage may become another tool that is used by both sides like dashboard camera footage.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

No matter how the police investigate you, being investigated can be a daunting and scary process. The same is true with being charged with a crime. If you are going through either of these experiences, you need the help of a passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. If you are charged in Rolling Meadows, you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200 to discuss your case.

Possessing a Lost Credit Card and Other Credit Card Crimes

June 1st, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, debit card fraudFinding a wallet or purse forces you to make some choices. Ideally you would seek out the owner or turn it in at a lost and found or police station. But sometimes the temptation is too great and people keep these items. This can result in criminal charges and, depending on what a person does with the credit cards in a wallet, can result in felony charges. Misuse of your own credit cards can also result in similar trouble.

 Possession of a Lost Credit or Debit Card

Under certain circumstances possession of a lost credit or debit card can actually be a crime. It is not a crime to find such a credit card and hold on to it while you try to get in touch with the owner. However, if you receive a credit card and you know it is lost  and you hold onto it in order to use it or sell it or give it to someone other than the legal cardholder, then you may be guilty of a crime. This crime is normally a Class 4 felony, but if in one transaction it is committed with three or more credit or debit cards, it is a Class 3 felony.

Sale of Credit or Debit Card

Any person other than the issuer of a credit or debit card who sells such a card is guilty of a crime. Sale of a credit or debit card is a Class 4 felony. It is also a Class 4 felony to purchase a credit or debit card from a person other than the issuer without the consent of the issuer. If a person makes a sale of or purchases three or more credit cards in a single transaction, the crime is bumped up to a Class 3 felony.

Use of a Credit or Debit Card as Security for a Debt

A person who uses a credit or debit card as security for a debt with the intent to defraud either the issuer of the card or a person providing an item or items of value, or any other person, is guilty of a crime. This crime is a Class 4 felony.

Use of a Credit or Debit Card with the Intent to Defraud

A cardholder who uses his or her credit or debit card (or lets someone else use it) with the intent of defrauding the issuer or a person providing items of value, or any other person, is guilty of a crime. This crime is normally a misdemeanor, but if the value of all of the items involved in a six-month period exceeds $150 then it can be a Class 4 felony.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are accused of committing a crime with someone else’s credit card, you will need help. You should seek out an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher Cosley. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200 and we can schedule a meeting.