Archive for December, 2015
December 30th, 2015 at 10:18 am
The holiday season is a big time for accusations of shoplifting and retail theft to arise. Stores are packed with people, and purchase items might accidentally get placed in a purse, or might not get paid for. Retailers are on high alert and are extra accusatory this time of year, but when a person stands accused of stealing merchandise when they are innocent, it is a problem. Shoplifting under Illinois law is usually a misdemeanor offense, but when the value of the allegedly stolen item is more than $300 or the accused is a repeat offender, the charges can be upgraded to a felony. When you are facing shoplifting and retail theft charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help protect your rights.
Defense Strategies for Shoplifting Charges
When it comes to shoplifting charges, a criminal defense lawyer who normally handles shoplifting cases can help you identify the best defense strategy that is available to you. Some more common shoplifting criminal defense strategies involve the following:
- The Value of the Item Allegedly Stolen Does Not Support the Charges. The item that is allegedly stolen has a value, and charges, and thus punishments, are usually based on the value of the stolen item. When evidence exists that the item was in fact taken by the defendant, a good strategy is to argue that the charges are incorrect and should be downgraded to a lesser offense.
- Lack of Evidence to Support the Charges against the Defendant. If there is insufficient evidence that the defendant shoplifted, then the case against the defendant should be dropped at the preliminary hearing of grand jury phase of the case, if applicable. When there is no video evidence, or no witness that can positively identify you as the suspect, there is a strong possibility that the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence.
- Lack of Probable Cause. Many people who are accused of shoplifting are detained by store security, and their personal items are searched for the allegedly stolen merchandise. But in order to subject the accused to these invasions, the security officer or store representative must have probable cause that the accused committed shoplifting. This means that there must be some evidence that the defendant committed the crime.
Defending against Shoplifting Charges Is Important
A shoplifting conviction will go on your permanent criminal record and you will have to face the punishments associated with your crime. That is why it is so important to consider every aspect of the case and explore every defense strategy that is available to you.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
Many people are accused of shoplifting. Retail theft could be accidental, or it could just be a mistake or a moment of poor judgement. Regardless of what the situation might be, if you are facing shoplifting charges, you need the help of an experienced retail theft lawyer. Please contact a skilled Rolling Meadows defense attorney at our office immediately. We are prepared to assist you with your case.
December 29th, 2015 at 10:02 am
Countless innocent individuals are wrongly accused because they are mistakenly identified as the person who committed the crime. When this is the case, criminal defendants can and should raise mistaken identity as a defense to the criminal charges that they face. Mistaken identity can be a good defense and it is a defense of innocence.
Every defense strategy that is available to you should be utilized when defending against a crime you did not commit. Mistaken identity defenses should be raised in addition to other defenses that support your position and your criminal defense lawyer should attempt to discredit eyewitness’ identification of you, as well as refute the evidence against you.
Why Does Mistaken Identity Happen in the First Place?
Sometimes an eyewitness is available in a criminal case who swears that the defendant is the person he or she saw commit the crime. While the witness’ belief is completely wholehearted (meaning the witness does not believe that he or she is wrong and that the witness is not lying), the witness’ recollection of the defendant simply might be mistaken. A number of factors can affect a witness’ ability to recall what criminal perpetrator looked like. For instance:
- Lighting conditions at the time of the crime can affect a witness’ ability to see the perpetrator;
- The distance between the perpetrator and the witness can affect how well the witness can see the perpetrator’s face;
- Weather could impact a witness’ ability to see the perpetrator;
- Fear felt by the witness at the time of the crime can impact his or her memory, or ability to remember what the perpetrator looked like;
- Time could alter the witness’ memory of what the perpetrator looked like, and could morph or distort the memory into someone else who looks similar to the perpetrator; and/or
- Sometimes cues from law enforcement cause a witness to falsely identify an innocent person as a criminal. These cues are not necessarily overt or deliberate. Rather, police instructions could influence a witness’ memory. Similarly, a line up or photo array might could bias a witness’ memory of what the perpetrator looked like.
Mistaken identity is one of the leading causes of wrongful conviction and that is why it is critically important to raise this defense if it is applicable to your criminal case. Furthermore, if there is any evidence that places you somewhere else at the time of the alleged crime (i.e., you have an alibi), it is important to demonstrate this evidence as well. If you did not commit the crime in the first place, then every possible effort needs to be made to defend your rights. Your freedom and reputation are at risk if you are wrongfully convicted of a crime you did not commit.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
Being mistakenly identified as the perpetrator of a crime is unfortunate. You will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you set the record straight. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney immediately at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We are happy to help.
December 23rd, 2015 at 4:54 pm
Law enforcement in Illinois takes driving under the influence of alcohol very seriously. Police regularly conduct DUI checkpoints, and pull over drivers who are suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence. Before making an arrest, officers generally will ask a suspected drunk driver to participate in field sobriety testing, in accordance with 625 ILCS 5/11-501.2(a-5).
What Are the Standard Field Sobriety Tests in Illinois?
Many people have heard of field sobriety tests, but are not clear on what these tests are or what they entail until they are faced with them while pulled over on the side of the road. The standard field sobriety tests (FST) were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and consist of three tests designed to present indicators of intoxication of an individual. The tests include:
- The One Leg Stand. Under this test, a suspect is required to stand on one leg, raising one foot off the ground six inches and must maintain his or her balance for a full 30 seconds;
- The Walk-and-Turn. A suspect is instructed to execute the test according to the officer’s instructions exactly. The instructions require the suspect to walk nine steps forward in a heel-to-toe fashion in a straight line, turn around on one leg, and walk nine steps backwards; and
- The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. When a person is under the influence of alcohol, they may exhibit involuntary jerky eye movements, or the inability to smoothly visually track an object.
These tests assess physiological responses to alcohol, such as slow movement, poor sense of balance and poor memory function, to determine whether a driver might be intoxicated.
How Accurate Are These Tests?
One might wonder how accurate FSTs can be when people have medical conditions, are panicked by being pulled over by law enforcement, or have other legitimate reasons for not being able to perform the FSTs perfectly. Research conducted for the NHTSA on just how accurate these tests are at determining whether a suspect is under the influence reveals that:
- The one leg stand test is accurate about 83 percent of the time;
- The walk-and-turn test is only accurate 79 percent of the time; and
- The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is accurate 88 percent of the time.
Field sobriety tests are voluntary, and you can refuse to participate in them. While there are consequences of not submitting to FSTs, it can be helpful if you are later charged since you will not have those tests as evidence against you. Failing one of these tests often gives the officer probable cause to make an arrest.
Let Our Attorneys Help You
Being arrested for a DUI is serious business. If you are facing DUI charges, you refused to submit to field sobriety testing, or you refused to submit to a breathalyzer or some other chemical testing to determine your blood alcohol concentration, you will need to consult with an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can discuss what options are available to you. Please contact a dedicated Rolling Meadows DUI attorney immediately at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. You can reach us at (847) 394-3200 today.
December 21st, 2015 at 4:51 pm
Criminal charges are based on some sort of evidence that was found at the scene of the crime, that tends to point to a particular person. The evidence might not necessarily confirm that a suspect committed the crime, but the evidence suggests that the suspect has some relationship to the crime, such as having been present at the scene of the crime at some point in time or that the suspect had ties to the victim, etc. Alibis are a powerful tool for criminal defense as they can refute criminal accusations.
What Are Alibis?
When a suspect has an alibi, it means that the suspect was somewhere else, doing something else, or was with someone else at the time the alleged crime was committed. A valid and confirmable alibi provides evidence that the suspect/defendant is not the person who committed the crime because he or she was somewhere else or doing something else. An alibi is not an affirmative defense in Illinois, meaning even if the criminal defendant can prove the alibi, the jury is still tasked with making the decision as to whether to convict or not. However, a strong alibi is difficult for the prosecution to refute and the jury to ignore.
Evidence to Support an Alibi
Evidence of an alibi can vary depending on what the alibi is and who or what can be used to prove it. A few types of evidence that are helpful in supporting an alibi include:
- Video footage or photographs of the defendant somewhere else at the time of the crime. Time stamped security tape or surveillance footage from businesses or other establishments is often used to support an alibi. Video and photographic evidence is good for an alibi because it is objective evidence – short of a forgery, video footage and photographs do not lie;
- Documentary evidence of the defendant being somewhere else. When a defendant can provide documentary evidence that he or she was somewhere else it helps to support the alibi. Receipts, intake records (if defendant was admitted to a hospital, or other institution), telephone and GPS location records, and credit card swipe records can show that the defendant was somewhere else at the time the crime was committed. Documentary evidence is good for alibis since it is usually impartial and objective evidence; and
- Witness testimony supporting the alibi. Many criminal defendants offer an alibi through witness testimony. This evidence is most powerful when the witness is a person who was with the criminal defendant at the time of the crime. The more witnesses who can vouch for the defendant’s whereabouts, the better. Witnesses are subjected to examination and cross-examination while on the stand, so a witness that does not know the defendant, i.e., doesn’t have a personal relationship with the defendant, is going to be a stronger witness than someone who has a relationship with the defendant. An unbiased witness is good for an alibi. A witness that is close to the defendant might be biased and there are more opportunities to discredit a witness that is close to the defendant.
When a criminal defendant plans to use an alibi as a defense, the prosecution must be notified of the defense’s intentions. Asserting an alibi as a defense to an alleged crime shifts the burden of disproving your alibi to the prosecution. The prosecution must do so beyond a reasonable doubt.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
If you are facing criminal charges and you have an alibi, you will need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can discuss what options are available to you. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows defense attorney immediately at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Our phone number is 847-394-3200.
December 17th, 2015 at 10:10 am
Many people who are charged with DUI under Illinois law are first-time offenders, and they have no idea what the DUI trial process will be like or even how it should be approached to either get the case dismissed or get the charges reduced. An experienced DUI criminal defense attorney with many years of trial experience can acquaint you with the process, and after developing an understanding of the facts about your specific DUI case, your attorney will be able to help you develop the best strategy for your trial.
The fines and penalties for a DUI conviction are significant and cannot be taken lightly, so presenting your best possible defense to the charges you face is in your interest. You want your DUI charges to go away, and a skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to evaluate the options that are available. to you. There are a number of strategies you may be able to utilize. For instance, you may present any of the following:
- Evidence suggesting innocence or mitigation of your alleged crime. When you can produce evidence that you are innocent of the charges that are pending against you, or that you are guilty of a lesser crime, this evidence can be helpful in your DUI trial.
- Lack of evidence in support of your charges. On the flip side, if the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence against you for the alleged crime, your DUI case could be dismissed.
- Witness testimony supporting your defense. Witness testimony that supports your defense is helpful in your DUI trial. If a passenger observed how the arresting officer failed to adhere to proper DUI field sobriety testing or arrest protocol, this testimony could be used to have your DUI case dismissed. You yourself could also be a witness at your own trial, if your DUI criminal defense lawyer thinks this would be a good idea.
- Expert witness testimony supporting your defense. An expert witness could offer evidence to suggest that the breathalyzer test or other chemical test results are incorrect. You could have produced a false positive blood alcohol concentration, or there could have been factors that contributed to a higher than accurate blood alcohol concentration estimate, and an expert witness could offer medical or scientific evidence to support your defense.
Motions Can Help You
There are situations in which you can use a motion during your DUI trial to get the case or certain evidence thrown out, or to require the prosecution to do, or not do, something. Motions can change the course of prosecution in your DUI case and when used effectively and appropriately, motions can help strengthen your defense.
Motions are written requests made to the court by a movant party (i.e., the party or person making the motion is a movant), and the court will decide whether to grant or deny the motion. Motions are sometimes very complicated, full of legal language, and have to be submitted in a certain format and within certain time limits. An experienced DUI lawyer will know which motions are applicable to your DUI case and whether you should make them in your defense.
Contact Our Office Today
DUI trial strategy is an important aspect of your DUI criminal defense, and an experienced DUI criminal trial attorney can help you through this process. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows DUI attorney immediately if you need assistance with your case. We are happy to help you today.
December 15th, 2015 at 9:49 am
Criminal charges need to be brought as soon as possible in order to expedite justice and to ensure that critical components of the crime, such as evidence and witnesses’ recollections of the events that took place, are fresh and viable. But that is not to say that some charges cannot be brought against an accused many months or years after the actual crime took place. As such, one question remains: is there any limit on how long after a crime that charges can be brought?
Most criminal charges are subject to a statute of limitations, which is a window of opportunity in which charges for a crime must be brought against the accused or else they will be time barred, at which point a court will no longer hear the case against the accused. A statute of limitations begins either after the crime is committed or a victim learns that a crime has been committed against him or her. The statute of limitations forces the state’s prosecutors to move forward on a criminal case in a timely manner.
Statute of Limitations for Common Crimes in Illinois
A number of crimes in Illinois carry a statute of limitations, but not all do. The length or duration of a statute of limitations for a particular crime generally correspond to how serious the crime is, with less serious offenses having short statutes of limitations, while serious crimes may carry no statute of limitations at all. Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/3-5 lays out the statute of limitations for criminal offenses.
- Depending on whether the facts of the case warrant a misdemeanor charge, charges for the crimes of assault, disorderly conduct, receiving stolen property, and theft can all carry an 18-month statute of limitations;
- Depending on whether the facts of the case warrant a felony charge, charges for the crimes of assault, burglary, disorderly conduct, kidnapping, rape (depending on the facts of the case), receiving stolen property, robbery, and theft all carry a three-year statute of limitations; and
- Arson, rape (depending on the facts of the case), involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, forgery and and murder and attempted murder carry no statute of limitations, and charges for these crimes can be brought at any time after the crime occurred.
What Happens If the Statute of Limitations for a Crime Has Expired?
When a statute of limitations for a criminal charge has expired, the criminal action is time-barred and if charges for the crime are brought against the defendant, the charges will be dismissed. Defendants must raise this defense under 735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(5) by filing a motion for dismissal of the action with the court so that the court is aware that the case is defective and has gone stale.
Let Us Help You Today
Accusations that you committed a crime a long time ago can be troubling, but criminal charges that are too old and are beyond the statute of limitations cannot be tolerated or allowed to move forward. Please contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at once for assistance with your case. Our law firm is prepared to help you throughout each step of the legal process.
December 10th, 2015 at 9:17 am
In Illinois, if you use the highways or roadways, you are considered to have given consent to chemical testing if you are arrested for driving under the influence under Illinois’ implied consent laws. A chemical test can either be a breath test, blood analysis, or a urine test, all of which are used to determine the blood alcohol concentration of a suspected drunk driver. You have a right to refuse to submit to chemical testing, but there are consequences for doing so, such as the automatic suspension of your driver’s license for refusal under 625 ILCS 5/6-203.1.
You would think that if you have not been drinking, then you would have nothing to fear in submitting to a chemical test, but this is not necessarily the case. There are a number of substances you can legally consume that can produce a false positive on your chemical test. Even if you have not been drinking alcohol, a false positive will cause you to be arrested for driving under the influence.
Law enforcement frequently use a chemical testing method referred to as a breathalyzer test to put an estimate on a driver’s blood alcohol concentration. These tests work by assessing the amount of alcohol in the breath sample – and cannot distinguish the source of the alcohol.
Technical Problems Can Contribute to False Positives
A number of technical problems can produce a false positive breathalyzer reading. These are problems that have nothing to do with the suspected driver’s actions or behavior. Instead, these problems include the following issues:
- Law enforcement failed to properly administer the breathalyzer test according to protocol;
- The breathalyzer device malfunctioned; or
- The breathalyzer device has not been properly calibrated.
Any of these technical problems could result in a false positive breathalyzer test reading, which could land you unfairly in jail for driving under the influence.
Substances That Can Contribute to False Positives
A variety of commonly consumed alcohol-based products have the potential to trigger a false positive in a breathalyzer test:
- Some over-the-counter and prescription cough medicine have a high alcohol concentration, which can vaporize on the breath;
- Certain mouthwash products and breath sprays have a high alcohol concentration to them;
- Some alcohol-based acne treatment products that are used around the mouth and lips could contribute to a breathalyzer false positive; and
- Some cosmetic products used for the lips can have alcohol components that can be detected by a breathalyzer test.
The alcohol in these products can vaporize and be carried with the suspect’s breath into the breathalyzer device, thus artificially inflating the actual alcohol content of the suspect’s breath.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
Even if you blow a false positive on a breathalyzer test, you will be arrested for driving under the influence, and you will need to consult with an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you believe that your breathalyzer test results were incorrect, your lawyer will need to get to work collecting the evidence to support your claim. Please contact a skilled Rolling Meadows DUI attorney immediately. The attorneys at the the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to assist you. You can reach out to us today by calling (847) 394-3200.
December 8th, 2015 at 9:13 am
Heroin addiction in the United States is running rampant, with some areas of the country so affected by the prevalence of heroin addiction that the media often refers to it as a “heroin epidemic.” Heroin is very addictive and in recent years it has become popular to mix heroin with other high-enhancing drugs, which has led to an unfortunate and sobering number of deaths.
A New Approach: Treatment Programs, Instead of Jail Time
Police in small towns across Illinois are taking steps to try and help heroin addicts beat their addiction by providing assistance rather than punishment when addicts come forward seeking help. By working with addicts who want to get off heroin, police officers are getting these addicted individuals into detox facilities and into rehabilitation programs rather than putting them in jail. Addicts can even bring their drugs and paraphernalia to the police station for disposal, and the police will not press charges for heroin possession or possession of drug paraphernalia.
By targeting the demand for heroin, rather than trying to control the supply, law enforcement could be nipping the heroin problem in the bud. The model employed by Illinois police is modeled after a similar technique recently undertaken by police in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Areas in Illinois That Are Trying This Approach
After the police officers in Gloucester, Massachusetts were met with so much success when they rolled out their treatment instead of drug charges plan, other law enforcement took notice and began implementing their own version of this program. Some of the towns in Illinois that have adopted some form of this new approach to curbing heroin activity on the streets include:
- Rolling Meadows. Rolling Meadows police offer the Second Chance-Heroin Amnesty Program, where heroin addicts can go to the Rolling Meadows police station for intervention assistance with opiate addiction.
- Dixon. According to the Chicago Tribune, law enforcement in Dixon, Illinois has already successfully helped 20 individuals who have come forward seeking treatment for their heroin addiction. Dixon law enforcement was moved to make a change in how they were handling heroin cases when three people died of heroin overdose in February of 2015.
How Do These Programs Work?
The programs all share an overarching approach where an addict can come to a police station and request help with getting off heroin. The addict can bring any heroin, needles or other paraphernalia and turn it over to police, without risking having criminal drug charges raised. The program is explained to the heroin addict, and he or she is escorted to a rehab facility where he or she can get clean.
The system is not perfect. People seeking help must voluntarily show up to the police station and request help; a person cannot get arrested for heroin and then claim to want to participate in the rehabilitation program. Additionally, there are individuals who will voluntarily enter the rehab program who will ultimately relapse. But at least steps are being taken to try and address the core issue of addiction.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
To take advantage of these amnesty programs offered by local law enforcement, an individual must approach the police voluntarily. Being caught with drugs will not qualify you for the amnesty under these programs. If you are facing heroin charges, or any other criminal drug charges, please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows defense attorney immediately. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847) 394-3200 for an initial consultation on your case.