Archive for July, 2015

Defendants’ Rights in the Illinois Constitution

July 29th, 2015 at 6:12 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, U.S. Constitution,Most people know that when you are charged with a criminal offense that you have certain rights under the United States Constitution. However, what many people do not realize is that each state also has its own constitution, and those constitutions provide additional protections for criminal defendants. To be sure, Illinois has protections for criminal defendants in its constitution as well.

Protections that Are Similar to Federal Protections

Some right enumerated in the Illinois Constitution are basically the same as or exactly the same as those listed in the United States Constitution. For example, the two documents provide some of the same protections when it comes to searches and seizures. However, the Illinois Constitution goes further and actually addresses specific issues like eavesdropping and invasions of privacy, which are not specifically discussed in the United States Constitution. The Illinois Constitution also provides a right to counsel, a right to confront witnesses, a right to compel witnesses to testify, and a right to a speedy public trial. All of these rights are similar to rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. There are also similar prohibitions on self-incrimination and double jeopardy.

Unique Illinois Protections

There are some rights that are unique to the Illinois Constitution. One of these rights is in Section 11 of Article 1, and has to do with limitation of penalties after conviction. It is commonly referred to as the “proportionate penalties clause.” Under this provision, all penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship. This clause is violated where two criminal offenses have the same elements but carry different authorized sentences.

Illinois also has a specific constitutional provision that deals with the setting of bail in criminal cases. It specifically says that all persons shall be entitled to bail unless they are charged with certain offenses where the proof is evident and the presumption great. These offenses include capital offenses, offenses that carry a possible punishment of life imprisonment, and felony offenses where a sentence of imprisonment without conditional release shall be imposed as a result of a conviction, if the court determines after a hearing that the offender poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of a person.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. Call us today at (847)394-3200. Criminal defendants have rights both under the federal constitution and the state constitution, and you need to have an advocate on your side to make sure those rights are protected.

Hazing Is a Crime

July 27th, 2015 at 5:47 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Hazing used to be a regular part of high school and college life, but now it is often considered a criminal offense. As a result of hazing going too far at multiple institutions and students being seriously hurt or even killed, a once normal right of passage is now forbidden by schools and universities. Engaging in some types of hazing can lead to a student being in serious trouble, not just with his or her school, but with the law as well.

The Law against Hazing

Illinois statute forbids certain kinds of hazing. Legally speaking, a person commits hazing when he or she requires the commitment of any act by a student or other person in a school for the purpose of induction into any group connected with the institution if two specific requirements are met. First, the act must not be sanctioned or authorized by the educational institution. Second, the act must result in bodily harm to any person. As such, harmless traditional types of hazing may not result in legal action, although they may still be against school policy and result in suspension or even expulsion under some school rules. However, any type of hazing that could result in someone getting hurt, including alcohol-related hazing, could result in criminal charges. Usually hazing is a misdemeanor, but if it results in death or great bodily harm, the charge can be a felony.

Failure to Report Hazing

Failure to report hazing is also a crime in Illinois. Schools cannot protect their students from being prosecuted under the hazing law. A school official can actually be charged with the crime of “failure to report hazing” when he or she does the following:

  1. While fulfilling his or her official responsibilities as a school official he or she observes an act that is not sanctioned by the school;
  2. The act results in physical harm to a person; and
  3. The school official fails to report the act to supervising educational authorities or, in the case of death or great bodily harm, law enforcement.

Violation of this law is a misdemeanor.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or your child has been charged with a crime or is being investigated you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. Call us today at (847)394-3200. Neither you nor your child should ever speak to law enforcement without having an attorney present. It does not matter whether you or your child is guilty. If it is your child who is being investigated you may have questions for him or her, but demanding answers could result in your being forced to testify against your own child, so do not push him or her to answer your questions. Contact us instead.

Offenses Related to Body Modification of Minors

July 22nd, 2015 at 5:38 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal law, crimes against children,Adolescence is a time of rebellion. Whether a child’s family circumstances are wonderful or horrifying, a normal part of being a teenager is testing boundaries and beginning to assert authority over one’s own life. One way many teenagers, and sometimes younger children, try to assert some control is through body modification, including piercing and tattoos. However, there are strict regulations regarding providing these services to minors. If you provide either of these services to a minor in violation of these regulations, you can find yourself charged with a criminal offense.

Tattooing the Body of a Minor

One such offense is tattooing the body of a minor. A person is usually guilty of this offense if he or she tattoos a person under the age of 18. There is an exception to this law for doctors since they have to tattoo patients undergoing certain treatments for conditions like cancer. This law is so strict that people under 18 are not even allowed to be in tattoo parlors unless they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Tattooing for purposes of this law is defined simply as inserting pigment under the skin of a human being by pricking with a needle to create a visible mark. Interestingly a person who tattoos a minor cannot be prosecuted under this law if he or she him or herself is a minor, so long as the tattooing is not done at a tattoo parlor. There are also certain exceptions for registered tattoo parlors to help remove gang tattoos and tattoos given to victims of human trafficking. Otherwise, tattooing a minor is considered a Class A misdemeanor so it can result in not only a fine, but jail time as well.

Piercing the Body of a Minor

Piercing the body of a minor can also be a criminal offense. The laws are not quite as strict a those regarding tattooing, however. Minors can receive body piercings with the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. However, if the piercing is a piercing of some part of the oral cavity, there exist grim warnings that must be included in the consent form, which detail the negative potential outcomes of oral piercing including infection, nerve damage, and “life threatening blood clots.” This statute has a section providing exceptions for medical professionals and also specifically excludes ear piercing. Minors who perform piercings are not prosecuted under this statute unless they perform the piercing at a business where piercings are performed. Violation of this law is a Class A misdemeanor.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you have been charged with a crime or are being investigated you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. Call us today at (847)394-3200. You should never speak to law enforcement without having an attorney present. It does not matter whether you are guilty or not; the only way to make sure you are protected is to have an advocate on your side.

Endangerment and Abandonment of Children

July 20th, 2015 at 7:49 pm

Illinois defense lawyer, crimes against children, Illinois criminal attorney,Parenting a child is hard. It is one of the hardest things there is to do, and while there are plenty of books on it there is no one agreed upon instruction manual that works for parenting every single child. Because of this the government has traditionally given parents significant leeway when it comes to making parenting choices. However, particularly in modern times, there are some sorts of parenting issues in which the government does involve itself. While the physical or sexual abuse of a child are some of the most drastic cases, issues like child endangerment and abandonment can also result in criminal charges.

What Is the Crime of Child Endangerment?

While the crime of child endangerment seems like it could include almost anything, it has a narrow definition defined by Illinois law. In order to be guilty of this crime a person must either (1) cause or allow the life or health of a child under the age of 18 to be endangered, or (2) cause or allow a child to be put in circumstances that endanger his or her life or health. A common cause of this sort of charge is leaving a child unattended in hot car. As a general rule a child under age six is considered “unattended” if he or she is left in the car for more than 10 minutes, although the jury can consider other issues. Depending on whether the offense is a first offense and whether the child dies as a result of the endangerment, this crime can be a felony or a misdemeanor. If the person who endangers the child is the child’s parent there is a special program under which the parent can be placed on probation and, if the parent cooperates and works with the Department of Family and Children’s Services, the charges may be dismissed.

What Is the Crime of Child Abandonment?

Abandonment is another crime related to the care of children. This crime happens where a parent, guardian, or other person who has physical custody of a child knowingly leaves a child under age 13 without supervision by a person over the age of 14 for a period of 24 hours or more. This must be done without regard for the health, safety, or welfare of the child. There are multiple factors that are considered in these cases including:

  • The child’s age;
  • The number of children left unattended;
  • Any special needs of the child;
  • How long the child is left;
  • The condition and location of the place the child is left;
  • What time of day the child is left;
  • The weather conditions;
  • Where the allegedly abandoning adult went when he or she left the child;
  • Whether the child’s movement was restricted;
  • Whether the child was given a number to call if there were an emergency;
  • Whether the child was left with food;
  • Whether the conduct was because of an economic hardship or illness;
  • The age and capabilities of the person providing supervision for the child;
  • Any other factor that could endanger the health or safety of the child; and
  • Whether the child was left under the supervision of another person.

If the defendant in these cases is the child’s parent, then the defendant may be eligible for the same sort of probation leading to dismissal that is allowed in some child endangerment cases.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime, there are many decisions you have to make. Will you post bail? Will you have a trial or seek out a plea agreement? If you are having a trial, what sort of defense will you use and what witnesses will you call? One of the most important decisions you make, however, will be who you select as your attorney. You will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200.

Probable Cause: When Are Police Allowed to Search a Vehicle without a Warrant?

July 15th, 2015 at 3:45 pm

your rights, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney,Two of the most common types of criminal charges are drug charges and weapons charges. These two types of cases have something in common. They often involve a police officer searching some area (like a car or a home or a person) and finding an item that is the very basis of the crime, like a gun or drugs. Of course, many people understand that in most situations the police need a warrant to go in and search someone’s home. This is ultimately because of the Fourth Amendment. However what many people do not understand is that, because of some United States Supreme Court decisions, the police usually do not need a warrant to search a vehicle.

Occasionally the Police Need a Warrant to Search a Car

Very often police do not need a warrant to search your vehicle. Certainly, however, there are some exceptions. For example, if your car is being stored in your garage at your home and none of the warrant exceptions apply that would allow the police to search your home without a warrant, then they probably cannot search the car without a warrant (or your permission) either. This is because without your permission or a warrant, they cannot go into the garage. However, if your car were parked on a public street in front of your house, then a warrant likely would not be required.

Most of the Time the Cops Do Not Need a Warrant

Most of the time police officers do not need a warrant to search a car that you are out driving around. This exception to the Fourth Amendment dates back to a case almost as old as automobiles, known as Carroll v. United States. In this case from 1925 the United States Supreme Court ruled that an officer can search an automobile without a warrant so long as the officer has “probable cause” to believe that either evidence or contraband is in the automobile. Probable cause is one of the lowest burdens of proof in our legal system. The reasoning behind this ruling is two-fold.

First of all, since by their very nature cars are movable, there is a real threat of evidence destruction if officers have to wait for a warrant. Secondly, the Court theorized that there is less of an expectation of privacy in a car then there is in a home since cars are operated on public roadways under state regulations. Motor homes that are readily mobile, trailers pulled by trucks, boats, house boats, and airplanes are also covered by this exception.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are the suspect in a crime, or if you have already been charged, you will need help. There are many issues to consider beyond just whether or not you are guilty. In many cases there are important constitutional issues at stake like issues regarding the Fourth Amendment. In these cases you need someone on your side who has an in depth understanding of the law. You will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200.

Illinois’ Strict Revenge Porn Law

July 13th, 2015 at 3:35 pm

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney,, Google made big news recently when it announced its decision to remove nude or sexually explicit images posted on the internet without consent from its search results. The practice of posting private sexual images without the consent of the person in the pictures is commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” This name comes from the practice of jilted lovers posting intimate pictures of an ex once a romantic relationship has ended. Historically there were few laws governing this practice. However, Illinois recently passed a strict criminal law that deals with this issue.

Illinois Passed a Strict Law against Revenge Porn

In December of last year, former Governor Quinn signed a strict anti-revenge porn law into effect before leaving office. This law goes so far as to make it a felony to post sexually explicit photos or videos of another person online without his or her consent. This new law just went into effect on June 1. The crime is a Class 4 felony, which can be punished by one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Additionally, if a person who posts these images makes money off of them or receives any goods in exchange for posting them, the law requires that the money or goods be forfeited. The law does not just cover pornographic websites. It also prohibits the posting of these images without consent on other types of websites, including social media websites.

Many states still have no laws making revenge porn a crime. What makes Illinois somewhat unique is that not only does state law make this practice criminal, it actually makes it a felony. This means that people convicted under the law may face long-term consequences in addition to any imprisonment or fine. Convicted felons lose rights to gun ownership, for example. They can also lose the right to sit on a jury or vote in certain parts of the country. Sometimes felons are not eligible for government assistance, and a felony conviction can seriously impact a person’s ability to get and keep a job despite “ban the box” laws.

What about the First Amendment?

Some critics of this type of law argue that they violate our right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Obviously the Illinois law has not been litigated yet, being that it is brand new. However, laws in other states have been challenged by organizations like the ACLU on these very grounds. Only time will tell how First Amendment arguments play out regarding these laws and Illinois’ law specifically.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you have been charged with a crime, you have many important decisions to make. The first decision you should make is to obtain the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We will fight for you. Call us today at (847)394-3200.

Illinois’ Hate Crime Law

July 8th, 2015 at 2:36 pm

Illinois defence attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, felony crimes,In the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, S.C., there has been a great deal of public discourse about the reasons why people commit violent crimes. Those of us who handle these cases understand that a whole host of sociological, psychological, and physical factors come in to play and that in some cases it is simply impossible to know why these things happen. There is certainly some evidence that the shooter in the Charleston case may have been motivated by racism. But it is impossible for us to know if that was this young man’s exclusive motivation, and we will not understand his true mental state unless and until he undergoes psychiatric evaluation.

When race, or some other sensitive characteristic, such as gender or religion, plays a role in a crime, it often gets called a hate crime. Hate crimes have a very specific definition under the law, and it is important to understand exactly what a hate crime is.

What Is a Hate Crime in Illinois?

In Illinois, hate crimes are defined by statute. Under Illinois law a person commits a hate crime if, “by reason of the actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, ancestry, gender, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or national origin” of a person or group of people that person commits one of the following crimes:

  • Assault;
  • Battery;
  • Aggravated assault;
  • Misdemeanor theft;
  • Criminal trespass to residence;
  • Misdemeanor criminal damage to property;
  • Criminal trespass to vehicle;
  • Criminal trespass to real property;
  • Mob action;
  • Disorderly conduct;
  • Harassment by telephone; or
  • Harassment through electronic communications.

Of course, there are some obvious hate crimes missing from this statute. This statute takes crimes that would otherwise be relatively minor, and turns them into serious felony offenses because of the defendant’s motive. It is important to note that extremely serious felonies like murder and rape are not included on the list. Perhaps this is because of the harsh sentences that already result from those offenses. However, while murder itself cannot qualify as a hate crime in Illinois, a person could be charged with both murder and a hate crime at the same time.

For example, imagine the defendant who is accused of murdering someone and in the course of the crime he or she also breaks some of that person’s property, and he or she is motivated by one of the protected characteristics when he or she does so. That person could be charged with and convicted of both murder and a hate crime. It is important to understand that the federal government also has its own hate crime laws, so if a person is charged in federal court, those laws, not the Illinois law, would apply.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing criminal charges then you have many important decisions to make. Perhaps the most important decision you will make will be when you choose a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We have the experience and the tenacity to handle your situation the way it should be handled. Call us today at (847)394-3200.

Ignorance of the Law in Illinois

July 1st, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois criminal justice system,No one knows everything. We are human. However, when it comes to ignorance and the criminal law in Illinois, there is somewhat of a double standard. Criminal defendants are held responsible for their ignorance, but police are not.

What is the Law Regarding Defendants’ Ignorance?

Under Illinois statute, knowledge that certain conduct constitutes an offense is not an element of the offense unless the statute explicitly makes it so. Similarly, knowledge of the existence, meaning, or application of the statute defining the offense is not an element of the offense unless it is included in the offense. In other words, a person does not have to know that his or her conduct is criminal or that there is a law against it in order for that person to be held criminally responsible. A person’s ignorance or mistake as to a matter of either fact or law only provides a defense in extremely limited circumstances, like when the ignorance negates the existence of the mental state required for the crime or the person has relied on certain official interpretations of the law like administrative regulations, statutes, court opinions, or certain other official interpretations.

What is the Law Regarding Police Officers’ Ignorance?

Unlike regular citizens, police officers are often not held responsible when they are ignorant of the law. One example of this double standard comes into play in the search and seizure context. Police officers are not allowed to pull over anyone driving down the road for no reason at all. Traffic stops are considered seizures under the Fourth Amendment to our United States Constitution. Therefore they must be supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause. This means that the officer must have some basis for believing that the driver or occupants of the car are engaged in or have been engaged in criminal activity. A mere hunch is not enough. This works out when the police officer knows and understands the law that he or she believes may have been broken. But what happens when the police officer is ignorant of the law?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the police officer can go ahead and pull you over and have it be a lawful stop even if he or she was ignorant as to the law’s actual meaning and got it wrong. According to the Court, an objectively reasonable, though mistaken, belief as to the meaning of the law may for the basis for a constitutionally valid vehicle stop. As such, even if the officer is ignorant as to the law’s actual meaning, he or she is allowed to pull you over so long as he or she is being “objectively reasonable” in his or her interpretation of the law.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you make a mistake regarding the law, you can find yourself facing criminal charges. If this happens to you, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call 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 case.