Archive for the ‘Sentencing’ Category
August 23rd, 2016 at 7:00 am
Crime is a big issue in Illinois, especially in Chicago and the surrounding geographical areas. Hundreds of arrests are made every day, and convictions are made all the time. Across the state, the Illinois Department of Corrections is home to more than 45,000 inmates, who have been convicted of a number of different crimes. According to an article in the Huffington Post, the top 10 crimes that inmates have committed in Illinois include:
- Homicide. The number one crime committed by inmates in the Illinois prison system is homicide. The killing of another person accounts for more than 18 percent of the inmate population in Illinois.
- Offenses involving controlled substances. Possession, manufacturing, distribution, and trafficking of controlled substances and other drug violations of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act account for 17.5 percent of the Illinois state inmate population.
- Sexual assault. Just under 10 percent of the total Illinois inmate population is in jail for sexual assault offenses.
- Assault. Assault is the next most frequently committed offense by Illinois inmates, with approximately eight percent of inmates being in jail for assault offenses.
- Weapon offenses. Nearly six and a half percent of Illinois inmates are in jail for weapons-related offenses. This could include using weapons in conjunction with committing other crimes.
- Burglary. Breaking into a building and stealing something or committing a felony is a crime that many individuals get in trouble for. Just under six percent of inmates are doing time for a burglary conviction.
- Armed robbery. When robbery is committed with the threat or use of a weapon, it constitutes armed robbery. Over five and a half percent of Illinois state inmates are in jail for armed robbery.
- Residential burglary. Breaking into a house or dwelling of another without permission is a serious crime. Of the Illinois prison population, just under four and a half percent of inmates are in prison for committing residential burglary.
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A DUI is serious business, especially when someone is seriously injured or killed as a result of the DUI. Just under three and a half percent of inmates are in jail for a DUI offense.
- Robbery. Just over three percent of Illinois inmates are in jail for committing robbery.
These 10 crimes account for over 82 percent of the reason why inmates are in the state prison system. If you have been charged with drug crimes, burglary, shoplifting, theft, or other offenses, and are facing criminal charges, you need to speak with an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer immediately.
Facing Jail Time? Let Us Help
If you are facing criminal charges and jail time, it is important to speak with an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer as soon as you possibly can. Please contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer to discuss your specific circumstances and the charges that you face. We can help fight the charges against you.
June 10th, 2015 at 7:10 am
Some criminal cases result in dismissals or acquittals. Others result in plea bargains where a defendant admits his or her guilt of a crime in exchange for a more lenient sentence. In other cases a defendant is convicted at trial or pleads guilty without a plea agreement in place. In that lasts group of cases it is extremely important for a defendant to have an attorney who is experienced in handling sentencing hearings in order for the defendant to obtain the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Many individuals who are facing the possibility of very long sentences in these cases have questions about “cruel and unusual punishment.” Here we explain what the United States Constitution has to say about cruel and unusual punishment.
The Eighth Amendment
U.S. citizens’ right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is found in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment says:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.
While this amendment is fairly short, it covers a lot. The United States Supreme Court has held over the years that this provision prohibits the use of some punishments while it limits the use of others based on their being excessive for certain crimes or when compared to the competence of the accused.
How The Court Decides if a Punishment is Cruel and Unusual
In Furman v. Georgia, the United States Supreme Court listed four principles that it uses to determine whether a punishment is cruel and unusual. These four principles are:
- Punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity, especially torture;
- A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion may be cruel and unusual;
- A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society may be cruel and unusual; and
- A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary may be considered cruel and unusual.
Of course, each of these matters is a judgment call. On several of these grounds, many people would argue that the death penalty is cruel and unusual, but it is still practiced in many states and so far has withstood constitutional challenge. Many would argue that solitary confinement meets many or all of these criterion, but it is still used in Illinois prisons and across the country.
Punishments that Have Been Held Cruel and Unusual
Some punishments have been held to be cruel and unusual. These punishments include:
- The death penalty when the defendant is a juvenile;
- The death penalty when the defendant has a mental disability;
- Mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole when the defendant is a juvenile;
- Drawing and quartering;
- Public dissection;
- Burning alive;
- Disembowelment; and
- Revoking the citizenship of a natural-born citizen.
It is important to note that generally the length of a prison sentence will not render it cruel and unusual. However, it can if it is grossly disproportionate in duration relative to the offense.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
Have you been charged with a crime? Are you being investigated for alleged criminal activity? Then you need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher Cosley. Call today at (847)394-3200 and we can schedule a meeting to discuss your situation and what we can do to be of help.
March 18th, 2015 at 7:00 pm
This firm has reported on criminal justice and sentencing matters multiple times in the past. From mandatory minimums to sentencing tools, it seems the sentencing structure in Illinois is in the process of an overhaul. Media reports provide further evidence of this in its description of the apparent cultural change going on in regards to criminal sentencing in the Illinois General Assembly.
A New Approach
In the past, Illinois lawmakers’ approach to dealing with crime involved imposing harsher penalties for their commission. The thought was that the enhanced penalty would effectively address the problem; however, lawmakers are starting to see that that is not necessarily the case. Despite the idea that harsher penalties for certain crimes often seemed like a good idea, lawmakers are starting to reject that notion, as evidenced by the significant decline in the number of sentencing enhancement bills that they have attempted to pass in recent years.
This may be due in part to the General Assembly’s recent reaction to such proposals. The House committee on criminal law has started to critically examine not only the effectiveness but also the advisability of enhancing prison sentences. This more scrutinized approach has resulted in such bills being more difficult to be passed. Many are surprised at this turn of events as compared to the attitude expressed in years past.
The approach of the House committee is likely indicative of a similar attitude on sentencing enhancements that is prevalent across the nation. The amount of information regarding criminal sentencing and its effects is vast. National concern about the overuse of incarceration has been constant, and has correlated to an increased realization that many prisoners who are incarcerated in this country are in prison as the result of addiction or mental health issues, who are often and most likely not getting the proper treatment while incarcerated. These factors, in addition to state prison budgets that seem generous but are actually spread too thin, are most likely to be the source for the change in approach to criminal sentencing across the country.
Perhaps surprisingly, the new attitude on criminal sentencing seems to have bipartisan support. Conservative and liberal groups alike are speaking out in favor of a new approach, with representatives expressing the opinion that prison is more appropriate for those criminals who need to be incapacitated in order to be punished, or in order to be treated.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Many are saying it is only a matter of time before such a sentencing approach makes its way into Illinois law. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and need expert legal defense, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.
February 3rd, 2015 at 8:53 pm
Most people who have not had dealings with the criminal justice system base their knowledge of that system on what they see on television. Unfortunately, television depictions of criminal law are not always accurate, and even when they are, they cannot possibly represent the criminal law of every state because every state has different laws. One example of this issue has to do with parole. People assume because of television that when someone is released from prison, he or she is released on parole. However, in Illinois, that is not the case. Illinois eliminated parole (except for those people who were sentenced long enough ago that parole was a possibility when they were sentenced) and replaced it with supervised release, a different system entirely.
Who is Subject to Supervised Release?
Illinois statute requires a program known as mandatory supervised release. The statute says that whenever someone is sentenced to prison and that sentence is not one of natural life, “every sentence includes a term in addition to the term of imprisonment.” If a person was sentenced under the law in effect before February 1, 1978, then that term is one of parole, just like is seen on TV. If the person was sentenced under the laws in effect after that date, the term is one of “mandatory supervised release.”
What is the Difference Between Parole and Supervised Release?
Under parole systems, which many states still have, the person is released before he or she serves every day of his or her sentence. The person has specific parole rules he or she has to live by, and if he or she violates one of those rules he or she might go back to prison to finish serving out the sentence. If the person does not break the rules then he or she remains on parole until his or her sentence has expired, and then he or she is let free. Under a supervised release system, the person serves his or her sentence in prison, and after it is served there is an additional term of supervised release on top of that sentence. The supervised release term is usually two or three years. It is usually served out of custody under supervision, but some offenders actually wind up serving it in prison either by their own choice or because they are unable to find an approved home plan.
Federal Court Cracks Down on Supervised Release Conditions
Under parole systems, there are a host of conditions that can be placed on a parolee’s release. However, conditions are different under a supervised release system. There are limits on what sorts of conditions courts can impose. The Chicago Sun Times recently reported that a U.S. Appeals Court overturned four sentences because of the supervised release conditions judges had imposed. These conditions included:
- A ban on “excessive drinking” that did not define “excessive”;
- A lifetime ban on a person being around children under age 18, including his own children, without a probation officer’s approval; and
- An order to get a GED or go back to prison, even if the inmate lacks the intellectual capacity to pass the GED test.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
When you are convicted of a crime and sentenced to prison in Illinois, supervised release is mandatory. Before you plead guilty or go to trial in any case where this is a possibility, you need to seek the advice of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will schedule a consultation to discuss your case.