Archive for the ‘new law’ Category

Federal Action Renews Privacy Questions

October 29th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, police privacy issue, DEA, An recent report discussed federal action in a drug case involving the use of a fake social media account seemingly belonging to a criminal defendant who had been charged with numerous drug crimes. Allegedly, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent set up a false account using photos and other personal information taken from a criminal defendant’s cell phone in order to get others to reveal incriminating information. Although the Justice Department is purportedly reviewing the case, a federal lawsuit ensued and the case was set to be heard in a New York Court in mid-October, but may now be mediated.

Privacy Considerations

This case is just one example of the privacy concerns that have been raised in different states across the country – including Illinois – specifically regarding the protection of privacy in light of developing technology. The law is clearly struggling to keep up with the changing world of social media, cell phones, and other technological developments. While the use of some of these technologies may be acceptable and legal within the context of a criminal investigation, it seems the line can easily be crossed into raising important privacy issues that both courts and law enforcement may find difficult to address.

Legal experts, too, seem to be struggling with the privacy in the age of evolving technology issue. Many of the rules of law regarding privacy protections are severely outdated compared to the technologies that are readily available to average members of the public in today’s society. The problem arises when trying to make new technologies fit these older rules. These technological advancements are prompting those in the legal field to question how they see items such as a phone and social media profiles.

Case at Hand

The case at hand presents an interesting set of facts for the court to consider in making a decision, if it comes to that. While law enforcement officials may routinely set up false social media accounts and profiles in their investigations, this case reportedly involves an agent using another person’s identity and information to do so without her consent. In addition, the defendant is arguing that she cooperated with law enforcement by turning her cell phone over, but not with the understanding that they would use the information they obtained in a different context other than looking for evidence of a crime.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Issues with police procedure can arise in any type of criminal case. It is important to enlist the representation of an attorney who can identify legal issues in your case and advocate for your rights. The dedicated Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing clients in many types of criminal matters. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Recorded Conversations

April 25th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

recorded conversation, privacy, divorce, child support, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutionality of a statute regarding the legality of audio-recording a conversation. According to that law, any person who records a conversation without the consent of all parties involved in the conversation commits a crime. The law as written is broad, and defines a conversation as any oral communication between two or more people, regardless of whether one of the parties intends for the conversation to be private.

Facts of the Case

The facts giving rise to the case that was eventually heard by the Illinois Supreme Court involve a pro-se party to a child support proceeding. That party recorded a hearing that was held in open court during which a court reporter was not present. He also recorded a conversation between himself and opposing counsel prior to the start of the hearing. The recording was the pro-se party’s only record of the proceedings, in which he participated without the benefit of counsel or a court reporter keeping a record. He was charged with violating the aforementioned statute as a result of these actions.

Court’s Holding

The Illinois Supreme Court held that the above statute violates the First Amendment, as the law places a greater burden on speech than what is required to protect the interest in conversational privacy. The Court reasoned that the statute criminalizes a broad range of conduct regarding recording all conversations, even those that may not be considered private under any circumstances, including any conversation that is loud enough to be overheard by a third party, whether in a public or a private setting. Not all conversations implicate privacy interests, but the law as written failed to distinguish that fact, despite the fact that the law did contain several exceptions. The Court stated that recordings of truly private conversations would remain under the scope of the statute, as a narrower interpretation of law better serves the intent in enacting it.

In addition, the statute criminalized conduct that, seen another way, is perfectly legal. For example, if a person overheard a conversation without recording it and later quoted a portion of the communication in a publication, no law would be broken. However, if the same person merely recorded a conversation without having published any of its contents, the act would be a crime.

The Court concluded that the statute went too far in trying to protect a citizen’s interest in private conversations, and that it put more burden on free speech than necessary to serve its interests. The Court deemed the statute overly broad and, therefore, unconstitutional.

In addition to the enactment of new laws, laws that have been on the books change and are tested in Court regularly. While every member of the public may not be aware of this fact, it is an attorney’s responsibility to keep informed of new laws and changes to existing ones. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights is so important. If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, contact the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation.

Could Marijuana Possession be Decriminalized?

March 18th, 2014 at 12:35 pm

marijuana decriminalization, marijuana possession, Illinois criminal law, criminal defense, laweyr attorneyIn an effort to address the problem of ever-growing prison populations, a recent article reported that an Illinois lawmaker is proposing lower penalties for offenses involving small amounts of some drugs. The proposal includes decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession in favor of punishing the offense with a citation comparable to a traffic ticket.

The Proposal

The proposed change, coming from Rep. Michael Zalewski, a Democrat from Riverside, is part of a recent interest in realigning the criminal justice system in order to decrease the population of inmates in prisons across Illinois. He said his plan would also include lessening the penalty for possession of small amounts of other drugs, including heroin and cocaine. The proposal as it relates to marijuana would impart a $250.00 fine for the first such offense.

According to Zalewski, the plan would not only reduce prison populations, but would also lessen the burden for law enforcement labs to test substances related to criminal cases that may get dismissed anyway. He has been a recent advocate of a number of bills aimed at reducing sentences for certain criminal offenses, in spite of his previous efforts at tougher penalties for violations of gun control laws.

Committee Approval

Although the Judiciary Committee heard Zalewski’s proposals, they did not take a vote. Zalewski is beginning to gauge support for the proposals by speaking with colleagues, and has not yet stated when he will ask for panel approval.

Prison Overpopulation

Currently, there are 49,000 individuals imprisoned in Illinois’ correctional system, which was built to hold just 32,000. State prisons regularly house about 4,500 more inmates than they are suited to hold. The proposals outlined above, as well as other similar measures, take aim at those crimes that account for a large number of inmates in state prison. Not only would the measures allow for the reduction of the prison population, but would also pave the way for harsher penalties to be enforced for more serious crimes, such as gun offenses, something Zaleski also supports.

Not only does the overpopulation of prisons pose the realistic problem of space, but also the financial and budgetary problem of overspending on the prison system. Some estimate that the amount spent is about $1.3 billion – which is a great sum, but not even enough to adequately meet the needs of the inmates currently in the system.

Working out the Details

Zaleski refrained from describing the measure as the decriminalization of marijuana, the details of which are still being defined. He said it was more of a restructuring of the criminal justice system as it related to these offenses.

Even though the proposal has not been put into legislation yet, representatives from the narcotics bureau of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said those arrested for possession of about an ounce of marijuana would face a $250.00 fine for their first offense. Previously, they would have faced up to one year of incarceration. Possession crimes involving heroin, cocaine, or other drugs will have a three-year prison term associated with them instead of four.

Drug crimes can be serious offenses. It is beneficial to have an experienced criminal defense attorney in Illinois to protect your rights. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation about your specific matter.

Changes to Illinois Law in 2014: A Rundown

January 18th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

As we mark the beginning of 2014, many new laws will emerge in the state of Illinois.  We previously discussed the change in Illinois law regarding the use of mobile phones while driving and the consequences of doing so, but there are other changes that will take place that are worth mentioning as well. According to an article recently published by NPR for St. Louis, the relevant issues encompass everything from marijuana to littering.

Medical Marijuana

The new law involving medical marijuana involves a four-year trial program that allows individuals that are plagued with certain specified ailments to get a prescription for medicinal marijuana. Regulations and licenses have not been issued, so this may not go into effect right away in 2014. In addition, in order to meet the requirements of the law, the illness must be considered debilitating.

changes to Illinois law IMAGE Smoking Cigarettes

In 2014, smokers will have to take their habit outside and find a proper receptacle to get rid of the cigarette butts when they are finished. Illinois’ Litter control Act has been amended to include cigarettes, so people in violation of the policy can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, plus a fine of up to $1,500.  A second offense is graded as a Class A misdemeanor, and a third will be considered a felony, which can be punishable by a jail term of one to three years and up to a $25,000 fine.

As an extension of the law, property owners are also required to place enough waste receptacles on the property. If they fail to do so and littering takes place where a receptacle should be, the property owner can be charged with a petty offense and be fined $100. After getting a warning, property owners have 10 days to place the necessary waste receptacles on the property. If he or she fails to do so after the warning, they may be charged with a petty offense and be fined $25 for each receptacle they failed to obtain.

Minors

For purposes of delinquency or records concerning a minor in Illinois, the relevant age will be increased to 17 in 2014, up from 16 as it was previously. In addition, those under 18 will not legally be allowed to use facilities for tanning, minors will be prevented from buying e-cigarettes, and students will have the right to refuse a school’s request for their passwords to social networking sites unless the school can show good cause.

Alcohol

It will be legal to seal and travel with one unfinished bottle of previously opened wine beginning in 2014.

Traffic

In 2014, bicycles are considered an exception from the prohibition on two-wheeled vehicles moving on the right of a separate craft that is not propelled solely by a human being.

The speed limit will be raised to 70 mph on some highways, but areas of Chicago and Metro East will reserve the right to set speed limits at a lower number.

Miscellaneous

Beginning in 2014, it will be considered a crime to accept payment for altering a criminal record.  Also, it will be illegal for State grant recipients and their employees to knowingly using grant funds for political activities or as compensation for time spent on political work.

These are only a few of the many laws that will go into effect in Illinois in 2014. Many other changes in the law, and changes in rules and procedures, may affect your rights if you were or will be charged with a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Chicago can help you understand changes in the law and how they may apply in your case. Contact us today for a consultation.

2014 Brings Change to Concealed Carry Law in Illinois

December 30th, 2013 at 8:38 am

In the New Year, Illinois residents who legally own a firearm will also legally be allowed to carry the weapons on their person. As reported by Chicago Tonight, the change in the concealed carry law in Illinois will translate to changes for business owners, property owners, and police who may come into contact with citizens carrying weapons. When the law becomes effective next month, the state of Illinois expects tens of thousands of applications for a concealed weapon permit to be filed by citizens within the first six months of the change.

Concealed Carry Law in IllinoisChange in Police Conduct

Prior to the law taking effect, it was illegal for Illinois citizens to carry a firearm on their person. Any time police came into contact with an individual carrying a weapon, in violation of the law, they acted according to their training in handling the situation. Now, they will have to change their mindset when dealing with a member of the public carrying a gun, since they may be doing so legally.

The Sheriff of Cook County and the state’s training board are working on a formal training program to address police procedure in light of the change in the law, but most of the battle will be changing the police officer’s train of thought in addressing these scenarios. Since they could be dealing with a law-abiding citizen carrying a weapon, they want to ensure that any further police conduct and contact with the public is done with a respectful and sensible approach.

The Effect on Business Owners

While many government buildings and schools will still be off-limits for possessing a weapon on the premises, the law will extend to concealed weapon possession in private buildings and businesses. Private property owners can decide if they will allow individuals to carry a concealed weapon on the property. If they decide against it, they will be required to post a sign approved by the state police at all entrances to notify the public. Currently, the law is not definitive on the consequences of failing to post the approved signage. It is expected that any changes or clarifications to the law will likely come from the courts or state regulations.

Like any change, the concealed carry law in Illinois will take time for the public to get used to and be aware of changes in the law. Illinois’ new concealed carry law follows suit with the majority of states across the country, and reflects a significant change in Illinois’ citizens’ rights regarding gun possession.

In other scenarios, even with the law change, possessing a weapon in Illinois could still be an illegal act.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, an experienced criminal defense attorney in Chicagoland can help. Contact us today for a consultation.

New Legislation Pending for Driving with Google Glass

December 26th, 2013 at 8:29 am

drivingGoogle Glass is being tested by a select number of people in anticipation of a roll out in 2014.  The concept of device is that it is a smartphone display that is worn on your face and looks like a pair of glasses.  It allows you to take pictures, view social media, make phone calls and even get directions by the sound of your voice.  While it is not for sale to the general public, legislators in Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia have introduced legislation that seeks to ban driving while wearing Google Glass frames.

Lawmakers in Springfield are also interested in stopping distracted driving on the streets of Illinois.  Certain laws are already in place to accomplish this gial.  Currently, it is illegal to text while operating a vehicle.  Another law which will be effective in 2014 will outlaw the use of any handheld device behind the wheel.

Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein, a Democratic representative from Chicago, recently filed a new bill that extends the law banning handheld devices.  Silverstein said that using these new Google Glass is “another way people will be distracted.  People’s attention to the road should not be interrupted.”

Detractors of this legislation point to the possible use of Google Glass which gives you turn by turn directions similar to a GPS device.  Even if your eye would drift to the small screen on your face, it is no different than checking other instruments in your car.

But the debate centers on the capabilities of Google Glass which has the ability to cause distractions to drivers with Facebook or YouTube videos.  The author of a similar bill in West Virginia, state Delegate Gary Howell, said that “it is incredible technology, but it doesn’t belong on the road.  There’s no way law enforcement officers can tell whether you’re watching a cat video or using your GPS system.”

If you have been accused of committing a crime behind the wheel, then it is important to seek legal representation.  Receiving too many moving violations can even result in the suspension of your license.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows who can protect your rights.

New Laws to Improve Illinois Boating Safety

November 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm

boatSenator Julie Morrison has sponsored a bill, which along with other measures will make waterways safer next year.  For Morrison, this bill is personal.  In 2012, her nephew, 10 year old Anthony Borcia was killed after falling off a tube on Petite Lake in Northern Illinois.  Morrison stated that “for me, this law is about turning a personal tragedy into an opportunity to protect other people.  Last summer, my nephew was killed by a boater under the influence of drugs and alcohol.  I’m doing everything I can to keep other families from experiencing our loss.”

The person responsible for Tony’s death was David Hatyina.  He was sentenced to ten years in jail after pleading guilty to operating a motorboat while under the influence of alcohol and cocaine.  His blood alcohol level while operating his boat was between .09 and .12, which is over the legal limit.

One measure that was signed into law would make the penalties harsher for people who operate boats under the influence.  If convicted of this crime, offenders would have their driver’s license suspended for three months.  It also requires boaters who are involved in boat accidents to submit to a breathalyzer or other chemical blood alcohol test.  This is how implied consent works when a driver is suspected of DUI.

The other measure would require certification before certain people can operate a watercraft.  People who were born on or after the first day of 1990 would need to complete a boat operation safety course and also receive certification from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  Without this new law, only kids from the ages of 12 and 18 need to be certified unless they are driving a boat with their parent or 18 year old guardian.  The last bill would require boats who are towing a person to show an orange flag as a warning to other boaters.

Morrison also stated that “people need to know that drinking and boating is every bit as serious as drinking and driving.  I hope that requiring blood alcohol tests in the case of serious boating accidents will make some people think twice before they crack open a beer while they are operating a boat.”  If you have been operating any vehicle and pulled over for suspicion of DUI, you need help.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows who can handle your case.

New Travel Restrictions for Suspects of Violent Crimes

August 20th, 2013 at 8:00 am

passportIn 2012, a Chicago Tribune investigation uncovered a high number of criminal suspects flee the state of Illinois to avoid sentencing.   It is a problem that existed across all levels of law enforcement.

The Tribune found that police departments have allowed over 60 fugitives escape justice when they ran to Mexico.  When they submit extradition paperwork it often overwhelms the county officials who need to process these requests.  Of the fugitives in Mexico, at the time of their investigation, officials were only seeking the deportation of 12 suspects.

There is also an issue with the judges who held bond hearings.  They set low bonds for suspects who were being charged with crimes such as rape and murder.  They also were not required to confiscate passports from suspects with dual citizenship.  But now Illinois lawmakers have passed a law to limit these avenues for suspects to escape justice.

Now judges are required to restrict the travel or seize the passport of suspects accused of first degree murder and other violent crimes. “This closes a huge loophole that was brought to my attention by the Chicago Tribune,” said one of the law’s sponsors, state Senator Ira Silverstein, a Democrat from Chicago.

Another loophole was closed by lawmakers this August.  There was an exemption in Illinois which allowed family members to aid and harbor suspects without being charged with a crime.  This allowed families to provide a suspect with money, drive them to the airport and even keep information from the authorities.  Now, family members found to have aided or abetted suspects of crimes can be charged with a felony.

With these new laws in place, it puts a greater importance on the legal advice of an attorney with a background in representing suspects of violent crimes.  Don’t play with your fate by trying to run from your charges.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook county today.

Medical Marijuana Law Approved by Illinois House

April 27th, 2013 at 9:18 am

GavelOn Wednesday, April 17th the Illinois House of Representatives held a vote about House Bill 0001.  It is a controversial attempt to create a regulatory system for medical marijuana.  The bill narrowly cleared in a 61-57 decision, but has support from the State Senate, who passed a similar bill in 2009, and from the Governor.

Although 18 other states have already legalized medical marijuana, the new regulations in Illinois will be the strictest in the country.  To qualify, the person must have one of 40 listed medical conditions as designated by a physician who has had a long relationship with the patient.  After that, the person who is prescribed medidcal marijuana can receive up to 2.5 ounces every two weeks from one of the 60 dispensaries that are regulated by the state.  The program is set to be a 4 year pilot which would require background checks for physicians as well as patients.

Both sides of the aisle voiced their opinions of this bill.  The proponents claimed that the decriminalization would allow those who suffer from illnesses to get relief without being driven to drug dealers and possible jail time for drug crimesRep. Lou Land, a Democrat, went so far to say that “we’re turning granny into a criminal” with current laws.

This legislation will be reviewed by the Senate soon, but at this time is not considered a law.  Yet, marijuana has been proven to be effective for treating nausea, pain, loss of appetite and other symptoms of serious illnesses.  If you have been charged with possession of illegal drugs, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows who knows the tactics of prosecutors.

image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Cyberbullying Teachers Now Crime For Students

March 18th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

ChristineWe all have had a teacher, or two, who we just could not stand. Yes, we might have said a mean thing or two, but did to take it to the internet? Make fake accounts to humiliate those teachers? Spread awful rumors that could potentially harm their career and even harm their families?

North Carolina legislators have said students bullying educators has reached its limit. Harassing, intimidating, or tormenting teachers online has now become against the law. For example, posting pictures of teachers stating they are pedophiles, homosexuals, violent individuals. Also, setting up fake online accounts such as Twitter and posting things as if they were stating things is illegal as well. The law states that it is not allowed to create fake profiles for teachers; however, it is a crime to post real images or make any sort of statement online, true or not. If caught, students could spend up to one month in jail and pay up to $1,000 fee.

The ACLU of North Carolina says the law is too broad, making it too harsh for someone who just might make a dumb mistake. Being punished for speaking out on any government official restricts the First Amendment Right of freedom of speech making it according to some legal experts another way to criminalize speech.

Regardless, of the opinion of legal experts, no one deserves to be bullied, harassed or tormented. If you have been accused of bullying online you have rights as well. If you are in a situation where you are, please find a criminal lawyer who will be able to stand up for your rights and work for your freedom. A criminal defense attorney in Illinois will be able to assist you.

 

 

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos