Archive for the ‘Violent Crime’ Category
May 11th, 2015 at 8:51 am
Many people base most of their knowledge of the criminal justice system on what they see on television. Some of the information on television is accurate, particularly when it comes to news reporting on police misconduct and other related issues. But many people’s beliefs about criminal justice come from fictional crime procedural shows, and often the information provided by these shows is inaccurate. People do not realize that their understanding is mistaken until they find themselves in need of the help of a criminal defense attorney. One such common misconception regards what constitutes first degree murder.
The Misconception: First Degree Murder Requires Premeditation
Television shows, books, and conventional wisdom leave many Americans with a mistaken belief regarding first degree murder. Most people believe that in order to be convicted of first degree murder the prosecutor must prove that the murder was premeditated — that the defendant planned it out or thought it out ahead of time. A perfect example of a premeditated murder would be one where a person hired an assassin to commit a murder for profit. This sort of premeditation is absolutely not required in order for someone to be convicted of first degree murder in Illinois. Premeditation may very well be required in some states, but each and every state has its own criminal code and its own definition for each crime.
What is Actually Required for First Degree Murder in Illinois?
Like other crimes, first degree murder is defined in Illinois by statute. There are actually three separate ways that a person can commit first degree murder in our state. All three of them require that the accused kill an individual without lawful justification. Lawful justification means a legal defense, like self defense or defense of others. Those justifications are not simple common sense justifications. Instead they are each defined very specifically by other statutes. The three types of unjustified killings that constitute first degree murder in Illinois are:
- Killings where, in performing the acts which caused the other person’s death the defended either intends to kill or do great bodily harm or knows that his or her acts will cause death to that individual or another;
- Killings where the defendant knows that his or her actions create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; and
- Killings where the defendant is attempting or committing a forcible felony (other than second degree murder).
Notice that none of these type of murder require premeditation. In fact, some of them don’t even require that the state prove that the defendant even intended to kill the deceased.
Call the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley
If you have been charged with a crime, you will need the help of a knowledgeable Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. When you call we can schedule an appointment to go over the details of your situation and figure out how we can best be of help.
January 30th, 2015 at 1:57 pm
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.
December 11th, 2014 at 9:28 pm
Day after day we hear the rhetoric about how bad crime is today and about how much worse crime is now than it used to be. Stories pop up about Chicago being the murder capital of America. Citizens are left to believe that there is some mass criminal class that is much worse than it has ever been before. The problem with all of this is that it simply is not true. In fact, violent crimes rates are the lowest they have been since the 1970s.
Violent Crime is Down
The Chicago Tribune reports that violent crime in the United States fell 4.4 percent in 2013, bringing the violent crime rate to its lowest level since the 1970s. Fewer violent crimes were reported last year than have been reported in any year since 1978. This trend rings true for all types of violent crimes including but not limited to murder, rape, and robbery. The violent crime rate has fallen every year since 1994 and has fallen by roughly 50 percent since 1994. Property crimes were also down last year.
Decreased Prison Populations Lead to Even Greater Violent Crime Rate Decline
Some tough-on-crime law and order types point to our nation’s extraordinary levels of incarceration as the cause of this decrease in crime. However, the evidence indicates that violent crime is dropping in spite of, not because of, our over-imprisonment problem. The Pew Charitable Trusts compiled data over the last five years regarding states’ imprisonment rates and crime rates. They found that over the last five years the majority of states have decreased imprisonment rates while seeing a decrease in crime at the same time. Hawaii decreased its imprisonment rate by 23 percent and saw a whopping 14 percent decrease in crime. In the 33 states where imprisonment rates decreased, crime fell on average by 13 percent. While crime also fell in the states where imprisonment rates increased, crime only fell 11 percent in those states.
This Means We Need Solutions Other than Prison
This data demonstrates that we need to use tools other than imprisonment if we want to minimize crime. Rather than focusing solely on punishment, it is high time our justice system focused on rehabilitation. Drug treatment, mental health treatment, and education need to become our primary tools of corrections, rather than oft ignored side programs. For those criminal defendants who do wind up serving sentences in jail or prison, we need to focus substantial efforts into supporting reentry programs. Reintegrating into society with a felony conviction can be extremely difficult and our society needs to work to make it possible for people to make it in society after incarceration. People who serve long sentences for violent crimes especially need assistance reintegrating into a world that has changed dramatically during their incarceration.
Criminal Defense Attorney
Being accused of committing a violent crime is terrifying. These crimes carry stiff penalties, but even just being accused can have a profound and permanent effect on your life. If you or someone you know has been accused of committing a violent crime, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We can schedule a consultation where we can discuss your situation and see what we can do to help you.
December 2nd, 2014 at 10:37 am
In areas of criminal law dealing with children, some punishments are particularly harsh when the law is violated. Such is the case with matters involving child abuse allegations. Not only does the perpetrator face potentially serious criminal charges, but additional laws also act to place responsibility on other adults in the child’s life who may have had a reason to believe the abuse was happening. In light of some recent event happening in a local county, a recent news article was published by the Chicago Tribune to help explain the Illinois law regarding mandated reporting.
Reporting Child Abuse
There is a criminal case pending in a local Chicago-area county involving allegations against teachers who reportedly failed to report suspected child abuse. The criminal case is ongoing. The relevant law in the case is the Illinois Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, which is rarely used in the state but has been active for almost 40 years. The Act includes a section defining those who are considered mandated reporters, and teachers are included in the law’s definition. According to its terms, mandated reporters have an obligation to contact law enforcement officials if they have reasonable cause to believe a child is the victim of abuse.
Consequences of Violation
Violation of this law can result in either criminal charges or civil suits being filed against an individual who fails to report suspected abuse. Those who have experience with the law say that criminal charges are much less likely to result from such failure to report than a civil lawsuit is to be filed in court. The most serious criminal charges that can be filed as a result of a mandated reporter failing to contact police would generally involve an allegation that the defendant knowingly and willfully failed to report suspected abuse. Such a charge is graded as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum one-year jail term, plus possible probation and fines.
Although the law has been in effect in Illinois for almost 40 years, it has been changed in the more recent past. For example, in 2002, the law was amended so that clergy members were included within the definition of mandated reporters. In all, seven job categories are included in the definition of mandated reporters, including medical, educational, social service and mental health, law enforcement, coroner and medical examiner, child care workers, and clergy. Employment in these areas usually involves signing a statement of acknowledgement of the mandated reporting status. Teachers are now even required to complete mandated reporting training.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation.
November 28th, 2014 at 12:14 pm
Everyday citizens are not the only ones whose behavior must conform to certain standards set by law. Police, too, are supposed to follow a set of provisions, many of them put in place by the U.S. Constitution, in carrying out their duties as representatives of the government. Failure to do so, in either case, could result in different consequences. One of the most extreme examples of police action in the context of carrying out their duties is the use of deadly force and the circumstances in which it can and should be used. A shooting death which occurred over the summer has brought this issue to the forefront of media discussions.
License to Kill
There is little doubt that police officers and law enforcement are allowed, in certain limited circumstances, to use deadly force when necessary. These situations include, but are not limited to, ones in which the police officer’s lives are in clear and obvious danger, or are facing a threat of significant harm or death themselves. The problem that the referenced report points out is that there is very little tracking of fatalities caused by officers’ use of deadly force and investigation into the matter to determine whether the use of force in a given case should be met with any consequences.
Usually, reports submitted to the FBI from police agencies only make it optional to include cases of justifiable homicide. This data also does not usually include how often police officers are criminally prosecuted for using deadly force. These cases are likely included within the other criminal killings reported by the agency without distinguishing it as an officer perpetrated crime.
Incomplete Data a Problem
Considering the recent shooting in Ferguson, officials are being reminded just how much this under reporting poses a problem in addressing the issue of police use of force. When there is such a lack of data and corresponding lack of evidence, it becomes difficult to distinguish situations in which rights were violated from those where action was justified. It also invited the public to a wide interpretation of facts, some of which are likely not true.
Congress has acted in the past to correct the lack of data issue, but a lack of federal funding caused the program to suffer over 10 years ago. Now, organizations are concentrating on the use of better databases as well as officer training and education to ensure proper procedures are being followed. Still, the system leaves much to be desired. Several major cities have reported no justifiable homicides in recent years, and some for several years in a row. It is unclear whether this is due to such homicides not occurring, or the fact they were not reported. The ultimate goal is transparency and information being readily available to the public.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys.
November 12th, 2014 at 11:27 am
The United States Supreme Court has decided to review a criminal case that contains issues of hearsay and related Sixth Amendment considerations. In the case, the defendant was charged and convicted of physically abusing two minor children. The trial court allowed testimony from one of the child’s teachers who repeated the victim’s out of court statement to them, even though the older child was deemed incompetent to testify. The statements related to the identification of the defendant. The case was appealed to the appropriate state appellate court, which reversed the conviction, and then to the State Supreme Court, which affirmed the appellate court’s decision.
Defendant’s argument on appeal was that the introduction of the above mentioned witness’s testimony violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser. At trial, the jury was exposed to testimony and the defendant was not given the chance to properly cross examine the individual who actually made the statements. Now that the case has reached the Supreme Court, they are expected to address issues about the statements that include whether the teachers were effectively acting as law enforcement officers conducting an interrogation since they are mandatory reporters of child abuse, and whether the child’s statements to the teachers can be considered testimonial.
The issues of hearsay and Sixth Amendment concerns have been addressed by the Court in the past. This case provides an opportunity for the Court to apply previously decided legal standards to a new set of facts. Much of the Court’s decision seems to rest on whether the child’s original statements to the teachers can be considered testimonial. If so, they likely should have been excluded from the trial as the defendant did not have the opportunity to cross-examine the declarant, the child. The Supreme Court will likely use legal precedent to decide whether the statements were testimonial in nature or not.
The mandatory reporting law presents another interesting issue to be decided in this case. If it were not for this law, teachers would likely have a valid reason for inquiring about injuries observed on a student. However, since teachers are required to report suspected child abuse to appropriate authorities, the teacher questioning the student was legally considered to be an interrogation for the purpose of gathering evidence of a crime, as was found by the State Supreme Court on appeal. The reason the interaction is considered to be such is that in this role, the teacher is acting as an agent of law enforcement and gathering information for them.
On the other hand, the argument can be furthered that despite the mandatory reporting requirement, her primary purpose in asking about a student’s injuries could be unrelated to aiding law enforcement. The reporting requirement simply affirms the teacher’s ordinary obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of students. It will be interesting to see which line of reasoning the Supreme Court identifies with.
Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to seek the representation of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the facts of your case and protect your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation. We have successful experience serving clients in Cook County as well as the surrounding area.
December 6th, 2013 at 11:26 am
Officials 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.
December 3rd, 2013 at 11:05 am
When arrested for a crime in Chicago, the normal procedure is to be questioned by an officer. Occasionally, a member of a department’s polygraph unit would examine the suspect with the help of a lie detector test. Yet, a couple of convictions have been overturned lately, such as the murder charge against Nicole Harris. Harris was convicted of murdering her four year old son in 2005 after being coerced into a confession with a false polygraph test. In June of 2013, this conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court based on evidence uncovered by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
The use of polygraph examinations has decreased significantly over the past couple of years. In 2011, around 400 tests were administered to suspects of crime compared to only 50 over eight months in 2013. The reason that the Chicago Police Department gave for the drop was that polygraph units have been reassigned from forensics units to the human resources department. Their new orders include interviewing potential officer candidates. “The temporary detail was made to address the backlog in pre-employment screening needs. There hasn’t been a move away from polygraphs as a part of criminal investigations,” according to police spokesperson Adam Collins.
This change seems to coincide with an investigation by the Chicago Tribune into false confessions obtained by polygraph departments. It was uncovered that examiners did not follow the proper procedures for giving polygraph examinations. Rather the polygraph teams saw the examination as an opportunity to coerce a confession with possibly false information. These departments also did not follow the standards of administering or scoring the tests they received. Polygraph tests are supposed to be scored based on a numerical scale, but one examiner even said that they scored the test simply by “eyeballing it”.
If you have been arrested for any crime, it is important to have a defense attorney review your case. They can make sure that the investigation follows the proper guidelines without violating your rights. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook County today.
October 16th, 2013 at 7:00 am
According to Reuters, Chicago continues to boast the highest murder rate in the country, in spite of a 22 percent drop earlier this year. Most of this Illinois criminal violence is attributed to gang wars. It is currently estimated that there are as many as 630 different gang factions fighting for territory within the city of Chicago. In an effort to reduce the number of gang-related crimes within the city, Chicago police are now turning to a new social media tool.
Chicago police worked closely with local sociologists in order to develop the tool, which is known as “network analysis,” according to Governing magazine. It works similarly to Facebook’s graphic search tool, and allows members of the Chicago Police Department to map the relationships between the city’s most active gang members and predict their behavior based on a number of factors. This prediction tool allows them to not only see which gang members are most likely to become violent; it allows them to see which ones are likely to become victims as well.
Based on information gained from the new analysis tool, Chicago police have begun visiting with not only potentially violent gang members, but people determined to be influential to them such as close family members and friends as well. In addition to having conversations with these people, they leave a letter that serves as a reminder of what could happen should they be arrested again. Additionally, the police department has changed the way they respond to crimes; instead of flocking to the scene of a recent murder, they deploy officers around the locations and individuals where the tool suggests the next violence will occur.
Though this tool is meant to prevent crime, no tool is perfect. Crime can still occur, and mistakes can be made. If you or someone you know has been accused of a violent crime, don’t try to deal with it on your own. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney right away.
October 10th, 2013 at 11:54 am
On September 19, a three-year-old boy was shot in a crowded park in the Windy City alongside 12 other people, according to the Chicago Tribune. The shooting “once again drew national attention to the problem of persistent violent crime in Chicago neighborhoods where guns and drugs have seeped into daily life,” reports the Tribune. “Locally, it reignited a call from law enforcement for tougher sentences on offenders who illegally carry guns in Chicago.” The call for tougher penalties came as news agencies reported that the man responsible for the late-summer tragedy, Bryon Champ, had a history of illegal gun possession and yet had never served any time in prison for his offenses. According to the Tribune, Champ was “caught in June 2012 with a loaded semi-automatic pistol,” and though he faced up to seven years in prison, got off with a four-month boot camp program instead.
Fabio Valentini, head of criminal prosecutions for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, told the Tribune that the reason the state should seek tougher punishments for those convicted of gun possession is because the majority of people who eventually injure or kill someone with a gun have prior records. “They are people who have a history of arrests or indications they are in a gang or have done something that caused the police to respond,” he told the Tribune.
Yet just a few days after state legislators called for these stricter rules, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spoke out “against mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes,” according to a different article in the Chicago Tribune. She said that mandatory minimum sentences would result in more people who could have been rehabilitated behind bars, making it more and more difficult for them to later lead a productive life. A spokeswoman from Preckwinkle’s office later said that the board president does, however, support the “vigorous prosecution of people who are a danger to the public,” according to the Tribune.
If you or someone you know has been accused of gun possession or a gun crime, don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.