Archive for the ‘Victim Rights’ Category

The Victims’ Rights Clause Confuses the Civil and Criminal Systems

August 3rd, 2015 at 10:44 am

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois civil court system, Both the United States and Illinois have two different justice systems: the criminal justice system and the civil justice system. When you are charged with a criminal offense your case is supposed to be handled in the criminal justice system. However, over time some of the important distinctions between the two have become blurred. This is particularly clear when it comes to so-called victims’ rights provisions, like those found in the Illinois Constitution.

The Traditional Difference between the Criminal and Civil Justice Systems

The criminal and civil justice systems are different. The civil justice system is wherein civil lawsuits are filed by ordinary individuals. This system exists to address grievances that exist between private people, between a private person and a company, or between two companies. In contrast, the criminal justice system is meant to have nothing to do with private wrongs. Within the criminal justice system, a person may be accused of committing a crime against the state. That is why these cases are prosecuted by a “state’s attorney” rather than some private attorney hired by the accuser or his or her family. Each system has its own burden of proof and its own mechanism of justice. While in the criminal system, imprisonment is available if a person is found guilty, in the civil system the liable person is held responsible by being ordered to pay money to the injured person.

A Convolution of the Systems: The Victims’ Rights Provisions

Serious crimes can have long-term or even permanent effects on crime victims and their families. No one denies that, and that is part of why the civil justice system exists: for those people to get a day in court and to potentially obtain justice where it is appropriate. However, the criminal justice system in Illinois has become victim-centric as well. Well-meaning voters and legislatures have enacted laws and constitutional provisions that protect “victims’ rights.” These provisions have given accusers rights to impact the freedom of the defendant before he or she has even been found guilty of a crime. These provisions commonly act as a reason to keep the accused (and presumed innocent) defendant locked up before a trial has even been held or guilt determined. This does not only hurt the defendant, however. It also leads to jail overcrowding that is expensive for taxpayers and dangerous for the men and women who work in our prison systems. It also encourages people to plead guilty who may not be guilty, as a guilty plea can all too often lead to a faster release than a not guilty verdict due to bail policies designed to make crime victims feel satisfied rather than to serve the purpose of bail; that is, to insure the defendant’s appearance in court. Accusers are not parties in criminal cases, so giving them so much control in these cases is inappropriate and detrimental.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. Call us today at (847)394-3200.  We will advocate for you and fight for a positive outcome in your case. The prosecution has the power of the entire state on its side; you deserve to have an experienced advocate on yours.

Expanding Crime Victim Rights up to Voters

November 4th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

victim advocate, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, There has been much focus in the recent past on criminal justice reform and addressing issues within the system that may unduly prejudice criminal defendants. However, another key player in the criminal justice system is the victim of a particular crime, who is also granted certain rights according to the system. However, not every privilege afforded to victims within the context of the prosecution of a criminal case is always enforceable.

For example, at a defendant’s sentencing, the victim is usually granted the opportunity to speak through a victim impact statement that is presented to the court. Nevertheless, some courts have decided not to take such a statement and proceed to sentencing without hearing from the victim. As a recent report points out, victim advocates are calling for a change in the rules of criminal procedure in this area, making it a right to deliver a victim impact statement. The change will be left in the hands of Illinois voters on today’s ballot.

Strengthening Victim Rights

For many victims, addressing the court at a defendant’s sentencing with a victim impact statement goes beyond attempting to affect the sentence the judge will hand down. Many victims simply want their voice to be heard. In a more practical sense, the statement would also go on the record and be available to others who may be reviewing the case down the road on potential appeal. Supporters of this and other victims’ rights are advocating for the Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights to take effect in the state of Illinois. The proposal would ensure an enforceable right for crime victims who want to participate and have a voice in the criminal process as a result of the crime perpetrated upon them.

November Ballot

According to the article mentioned, a victim rights group known as Marsy’s Law of Illinois is advocating for an amendment to the Illinois Constitution that would guarantee that a victim or his or her surviving family members would have an opportunity to address the court if his or her rights have been violated. The amendment is included on today’s ballot and voters can choose to afford additional protections to crime victims by voting yes to the proposal. This amendment would strengthen victim rights by creating a method by which to enforce them, not just acknowledge them. It gives victims who have been denied certain rights a way to remedy the situation.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Not only can an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney advise you of your rights, but they can also advise you of what to expect from the other side in a criminal case. A change to victim rights in Illinois could represent important considerations for every criminal defendant to be aware of and take into account in defending their case. If you have been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation.