Archive for the ‘Gun charges’ Category

Police Stops Down, But Gun Violence Up

August 2nd, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Police Stops Down, But Gun Violence Up, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneyIf you live in or around Chicago, you are well aware that crime in the city is rampant. There is no shortage of crime news in Chicago, and it seems like there is no end in sight. Looking at gun violence in the city specifically, shooting crimes, and crimes involving guns, are up 80 percent this year over last year. There were more than 650 shooting incidents in 2016 by March. Memorial Day weekend in Chicago this year saw 64 shooting victims, with six of those ending in fatalities, according to an article in The New York Times. Additionally, police have seized nearly 100 fewer guns this year than they did at this same time last year. These startling statistics indicate a serious problem. So why has there been an increase in gun crime this year?

What’s Causing the Spike in Gun Violence?

For a long time, Chicago law enforcement officers were very aggressive when it came to stopping and frisking subjects. While taking an aggressive approach to police stop and frisk is good for identifying crime and stopping it before something catastrophic occurs, it also risks ensnaring a significant amount of innocent people. There is also evidence that indicates that stop and frisks were conducted disproportionately on African Americans and other minority groups in Chicago.

After years of pushing stop and frisk reform, the American Civil Liberties Union finally got the change that they fought so hard for. At the start of 2016, a new state law concerning police stop and frisks took effect that prompted Chicago police to change the way that they conduct stops in the city. The criteria for making a stop became more strict, and the reporting process after a stop became longer. As a result of this change in procedure, the number of stop and frisks that law enforcement conducts have declined by more than 80 percent, according to DNAInfo. Last year 157,346 stop and frisks were recorded, while just under 30,000 had been made by March of this year. Fewer police stops mean more guns are staying on the streets of Chicago when these same guns used to be picked up during stop and frisk searches. More guns on the streets equate to more street violence.

Is a lack of police enforcement to blame for the dramatic increase in gun violence across Chicago? Some think this is the case and argue that law enforcement is not conducting stop and frisks because of fear of being sued.

Reach Out to Us for Professional Help

While law enforcement is making fewer stops, they are still making them and people are being arrested and charged with various offenses. If you are facing criminal charges, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney immediately. Our attorneys are able to assist you today.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/06/04/us/chicago-shootings.html
https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160331/bronzeville/chicago-police-stops-down-by-90-percent-as-gun-violence-skyrockets

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.

Air Rifles and Illinois Law

May 20th, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, air guns, paint guns, When it comes to gun crimes, Illinois has some of the strictest and harshest laws in the country. While these strict laws apply to firearms, there are special laws that apply to air guns in our state. There are strict rules as to who may possess them and where they may be used. Ignoring these regulations can result in being charged with a petty offense.

What is an Air Rifle?

For legal purposes, Illinois statute defines what an air rifle is. This definition includes any air gun, air pistol, spring gun, spring pistol, BB gun, paintball gun, pellet gun, or non-firearm that shoots paintballs or pellets with a force that reasonably is expected to cause bodily harm.

What State Laws Apply to Air Rifles?

A few different state laws apply to air rifles. Violation of any of these laws is considered a petty offense. First, a dealer cannot sell, rent or transfer air rifles to someone under the age of 13 if the dealer knows or has cause to believe the person is under the age of 13. It is also illegal to give an air rifle to a child under the age of 13 unless you are the child’s parent, guardian, or adult instructor. It is illegal for a person under age 13 to carry a loaded air rifle on the public streets or public lands of the state. It is also illegal for one of these children to discharge an air rifle on the public streets, sidewalks, or land. The one exception to this rule is if the child is using the air rifle at a safely constructed target range.

Rolling Meadows Air Rifle Ordinance

The state laws on air rifles specifically say that local municipalities can craft their own ordinances regarding the use and possession of air rifles and that those ordinances can be more strict. Rolling Meadows has such an ordinance. Rolling Meadows has a general weapons law that says it is unlawful for any person to shoot or discharge a BB gun, air gun or spring gun outside any completely enclosed premises. This ordinance does not apply to the premises of duly licensed shooting galleries, gun clubs or rifle clubs. This ordinance shows why it is particularly important for parents in a large metropolitan area to be familiar not only with state laws, but also with the laws of the individual municipalities in which they reside and spend substantial time.

Call the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with a criminal offense you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Please call the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley. We have built our practice on criminal defense and we are willing to fight for you. Call us today at (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.

Body Armor: What Seems Like a Good Idea Can Land You in Prison

January 30th, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer,Gun crimes are a reality in our society. Otherwise law abiding citizens find themselves carrying guns or other weapons for self-defense when they themselves would never want to hurt a fly. Others resort to protective measures like bullet-proof vests or bullet-proof backpacks to protect themselves. While combining both measures may seem like an excellent self-defense strategy, doing so in Illinois could wind you up in some hot water.

What is Body Armor?

Illinois has a statute that defines body armor. Body armor can be any of the following:

  • Military-Style Vests and Jackets. These include flack jackets, military surveillance vests, and other types of protective armor designed to be worn by military personnel. They are made of Kevlar or similar materials which are designed to prevent bullets from penetrating the chest.  Usually these vests or jackets are designed to be worn over your clothing.

  • Soft body armor. Unlike flack jackets, these vests are softer, but they still contain Kevlar. These are designed to be worn under a shirt. In movies and on television when characters are shot and then get back up to reveal they had a “bullet-proof vest” on under their shirts, this is the type of body armor they are portraying.

  • Undercover body armor. Unlike the vest/jacket types mentioned above, this type of body armor can take many forms. While it still includes bullet-resistant material like Kevlar, it can take the form of a jacket, coat, raincoat, quilted vest,  or three piece suit vests. The key part of this portion of the statute is that the prohibited body armor was designed to be used by undercover police officers. Since that is a requirement, it is unlikely that things designed for use by school children like bulletproof backpacks would be covered.

Wearing Body Armor Can be a Crime

There is a crime in Illinois called “unlawful use of body armor.” If a person knowingly wears body armor and is in possession of a dangerous weapon, other than a firearm, in the commission or attempted commission of any offense, then he or she is guilty of this crime. This means that committing a crime while possessing a weapon that is not a gun and wearing body armor at the same time is a crime.

Interestingly, one does not commit this crime if he or she is carrying a gun as opposed to a different dangerous weapon. However, there is a different crime one has to be concerned about when a gun is involved. If a person commits the crime of being a felon in possession of a firearm while wearing or in possession of body armor, then he or she is guilty of a class X felony punishable by at least 10 and no more than 40 years in prison. Additionally, if one wears or possesses body armor while possessing a gun and not having been issued a valid Firearms Owner’s Identification Card, then he or she is guilty of a class X felony.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with a weapons crime or any criminal offense, you will need an experienced and passionate lawyer on your side. That is why you should call the law offices of experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we can schedule a consultation to discuss your case and see if we can be of help.

Right to Bear Arms: Illinois Rules Age Restriction on Gun Possession Does Not Violate the Second Amendment

January 16th, 2015 at 7:31 am

Illinois defense attorney, violent crime, Illinois criminal lawyer, gun lawsGun crimes are one of the most contentious types of crimes there are in our society. On one hand gun, violence kills far too many members of our society, particularly young people. On the other hand, our constitution give us the right to bear arms. Issues of gun control seem to come up on both the state and federal level each year. Now the Illinois court of appeals has issued an important decision that seems to prioritize the need for gun control over the constitutional right to possess a gun.

Illinois Court Rules Against 18-Year Old’s Right to Bear Arms

The Illinois Court of Appeals recently addressed whether an 18-year-old has a right to bear arms that is protected by the Second Amendment. The case is called People v. Fields. The State charged Demonte Fields with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW). Ultimately the trial court convicted Fields after a bench trial and sentenced him to probation. Fields appealed, arguing that his conviction should be vacated because the statute prohibiting the possession of a handgun while under 21 years of age is unconstitutional. The Court of Appeals did not agree, and it upheld his conviction.

Fields was charged with AUUW because he was alleged to have, while not on his own land or in his own abode or fixed place of business, knowingly carried a firearm while he was under 21 years of age. In a previous case, People v. Aguilar, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that Illinois’ flat ban on carrying ready-to-use guns outside of the home was unconstitutional on its face because it violated the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Fields used this case to argue that the statute under which is was convicted is also unconstitutional. He claimed that as an 18-year-old at the time of the offense, he is a member of the community and guaranteed rights under the second amendment.

Court Compares 18-Year Olds to Felons and the Mentally Ill

The Court disagreed with Fields. In its opinion it explained that the courts have long said that the right to bear arms is subject to long-standing categorical prohibitions like prohibitions on the rights of felons and the mentally ill when it comes to possessing guns. It then wrote, “[D]efendant contends 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old adults are part of the virtuous citizenry and cannot be categorically disarmed like convicted felons, children, or the mentally ill. We disagree.” It went on to explain that the 21-year age limit is historically supported. It determined that people between ages 18 and 20 are less responsible and mature than other adults and that protecting the public and police officers by denying this group firearms protects a substantial or important government interest. It also decided that 18 to 20-year-olds can be discriminated against when it comes to Second Amendment rights because of the age group’s alleged high risk of being involved in gang activity. As a result, these non-felon, non-mentally ill adults can be convicted of a serious crime if they possess a gun in public in Illinois. It remains to be seen whether the Illinois Supreme Court or the United States Supreme Court will address this ruling.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you love is accused of a crime, you will need the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Contact the dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation. Whether its a traffic matter or a serious felony, we can help.

Concealed Carry Applications being Rejected by Illinois Police

August 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am

concealed carry, Chicago criminal defense attorney, concealed carry applications, concealed carry permits, gun charges, Illinois gun crime, Illinois gun laws, person’s arrest recordWe previously discussed Illinois’ new law on concealed carry permits in a past blog post. Since the law went into effect at the beginning of 2014, there has been a significant amount of controversy surrounding it. As a recent news article reported, there are now questions being raised and lawsuits being filed over the denial of applications for concealed carry permits.

Denying Applications

Some Illinois citizens who have applied for concealed carry permits and were subsequently denied are filing lawsuits against local law enforcement agencies. The reasons the applications were denied were allegedly not clear, but rather came in the form of objections from police that were reportedly kept relatively secret. As a result, the Illinois State Police announced that it plans to task a state review board with producing more information about why applications were rejected. Part of the board’s job will be to notify an applicant if it is likely their applications will be rejected so they have an opportunity to argue against the objection. Specifically, they will be notified of a credible objection and the basis of it, and will be notified of the agency that brought it. Their response is required within 10 days. These new rules have already taken effect in Illinois.

Previously, the system was made up of a seven-person review board, which considered concealed carry permit applications in private. They took into account any objections to an application that were raised by local law enforcement, which may have included a person’s arrest record or history with police that did not end in a criminal conviction. If the review board agreed with law enforcement and sustained the objection, they notified the applicant of the denial by mail. The denial did not include any further explanation of the board’s decision. Applicants had no other recourse but to take the matter up in court if they chose to do so, which resulted in over 200 denied applicants filing suit. In addition to the changes mentioned above in connection with the new system, the board’s hearings will also now be recorded and applicants will have the opportunity to obtain transcripts of the hearings.

Skepticism

Despite the new rules going into effect relatively quickly after the lawsuits being filed, many remain skeptical about their effects on the process overall. Previous proposed fixes to the process have not been successful, so many gun rights activists are reserving judgment on whether these new rules will have a positive effect until they have been in place for a little while. Further, it remains unclear as to how the new rules will affect cases that are currently in the courts as a result of already having been denied permits. Others continue to voice concern that the new rules fail to address a more serious problem: law enforcement’s consideration of information outside an applicant’s criminal record.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, hiring an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney is critical. At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we have successfully represented clients in a variety of criminal cases, including those charged with gun crimes.

Gun Violence Seen by Some as Public Health Concern

July 10th, 2014 at 7:43 am

gun violence, mental health, mental health system, public health crisis, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, fatal shootings, felony, Christopher M. CosleyIn light of the many recent fatal shootings in the media, not to mention the countless mass shootings marring our nation’s recent past, it is perhaps not surprising that many are trying to pinpoint the true root of the problem of gun violence, and attempt to come up with ways to address it. A prior blog post discussed the treatment of the gun problem as more of a mental health issue. Now, according to an article published by CBS News, experts are suggesting the mass violence is more properly considered and treated as a public health crisis.

Gun Violence as a Disease

The article suggests that it is essentially a waste of time to continue debates about gun reform and a flawed mental health system. Rather, a more effective way of ending the cycle of gun violence is to treat it as a disease and enlist the help of healthcare workers in fighting it. Experts say that a health-based system is necessary for gun violence prevention.

Research from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health shows that violent behavior usually exhibits the characteristics of an epidemic disease in that it clusters and spreads. It not only directly impacts the health of those involved, but also negatively impacts the well-being of those exposed to it. Many medical organizations agree that the healthcare community is imperative to treating the issue of gun violence.

Getting Physicians Involved

Some groups who are advocating treating gun violence like a disease are even encouraging physicians to counsel patients in gun safety and to join efforts to restrict the sale and ownership of guns. This idea has been met with some resistance, however. The prospect of including a gun violence prevention course in the American Medical Association’s Continuing Medical Education program was met with mixed opinions and an ensuing debate. Some support the idea of integrating medical professionals into combatting violence, while others say it puts too much of a social worker role on doctors who should be focused on attending to patients. There is also ongoing debate about how involved a physician should get in asking a patient background questions regarding firearms.

Federal Health Agencies

These groups are also encouraging federal health agencies to join in on tackling the issue. This includes the Surgeon General and the CDC, among others. Supporters of treating gun violence like a disease say that these agencies and others should be working to protect the public from deaths and injuries from gun, just as they do from other dangers. Many gun rights activists are opposed to this, as it would involve federal health officials in gun control efforts.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While the specific ways to address this issue from a disease perspective are continuing to be argued, some are simply pointing out that those healthcare workers with access to the population should be part of the effort in educating communities about the dangers of gun violence. However, in many ways, the problem of gun violence continues despite the efforts aimed at curtailing it.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a felony crime involving a firearm in the state of Illinois, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley for a consultation.

Gun Crime in Chicago

June 12th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Chicago criminal defense attorney, Chicago Police Department, Cook County criminal attorney, Cook County criminal defense lawyer, gun crime, gun violence, Illinois gun controlA recent news article discussed the overwhelming problem of gun crime in the city of Chicago, especially in light of the violence that occurred throughout the city over Easter weekend. That weekend, nine people were killed and at least 36 were wounded. Among the 36 wounded were six children. Now, Chicago law enforcement officials are taking a closer look at the problem.

Gun Violence

Representatives from the Chicago Police Department are saying that part of the problem of overwhelming gun violence is that there is a new trend among young men who believe the only way to solve conflict is to use a gun. They are likening the problem to a social disease and health issue, particularly in communities where the problem is especially prevalent and results in a high number of lives being lost. In addition, the authorities have reason to believe at least some of the shootings were gang related, or in retaliation for previous shooting incidents. Investigations are ongoing.

Perhaps most troubling is the number of young people involved in the violent crimes as victims. Five of the child victims were shot while walking home from a park. They suffered injuries that varied in severity. That same shooting took place not even one mile from the home where a 17-year-old girl was fatally shot the weekend beforehand. Those who were shot and killed Easter weekend included a 16 and 18-year-old who were both found dead in an apartment on Chicago’s south side.

Solutions

Authorities are trying to take action to improve the situation of gun violence in the city, but they feel it is mostly a losing battle until there is a change in gun laws in Illinois. The fact remains, however, that the law in Illinois has actually moved toward less strict gun control, as is evidenced by the state’s new law on concealed carry permits, which went into effect at the beginning of this year. Other measures that would go a long way in reducing gun violence include a denunciation of gang violence by the rap and hip-hop industry as part of a larger problem, since there is also speculation that a portion of the shootings that recently occurred in Chicago may be linked to a feud between local rival rappers.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Crimes involving guns and other weapons offenses are serious charges often involving felonies, the most serious types of crimes. These cases require immediate attention. If you have been charged with a gun crime, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can help you obtain the result you deserve. Contact us today for a consultation to discuss your matter. We serve clients in Cook, DuPage, and surrounding counties.

City to send Police Patrols Overnight in Chicago Parks

December 6th, 2013 at 11:26 am

family in parkOfficials in the city of Chicago are aware of the prevalence of violent crime in Chicago parks.  Four days after the FBI claimed that Chicago was the murder capital of the United States, more violence broke out in the city.  An outburst of shooting occurred on September 20th at Cornell Square Park on the south side of Chicago.  Waves of gunfire left 13 people wounded including a couple of teenagers and three year old boy.  The shooting was considered to be gang-related as some of the victims were known gang-members.

In response to these violent crimes, the police department of Chicago started paying overtime to officers in high crime neighborhoods of the city for an initiative called “Operation Impact”.  Overtime pay for 2013 is estimated to be around $100 million.

More recently, the police department instituted a new plan to keep the parks safe through the night.  Off-duty police officers are to be paid overtime wages for patrolling 20 of the city’s most dangerous parks.  The names of the parks have not been released yet, but will be decided based on the last three years of crime statistics.   This new initiative started in November of 2013.  Paying overtime to existing officers seems cheaper than hiring a large amount of rookie officers according to a statement by Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has agreed that the safety of Chicago’s parks is a top priority of his.  He even stated that “The parks in the city of Chicago belong to families of Chicago, the streets of the city of Chicago belong to families of Chicago, the front stoops of our homes belong to the families of the city of Chicago.  You go out there and enjoy our city.”

If you have been arrested for a crime then it is important to have a legal professional to protect your rights.  Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the effects can be life altering.  You could lose your job, be rejected by colleges, or worse spend time in prison.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook County today to review your case.