Archive for the ‘Weapons’ Category

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.

City Visitors Must Abide by Chicago Gun Laws

December 4th, 2014 at 10:59 am

federal laws, weapons violations, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinios criminal defense attorney,Considering some of the tragic events that occur in the world today, it is perhaps not surprising that citizens who choose to exercise their Second Amendment right to bear arms also may choose to travel with their firearms. Whether they anticipate using the weapon for self defense or protection, or just simply to gain some peace of mind, it is important for those individuals choosing to do so to realize that there are usually laws regulating weapon possession by which they must abide. If not, violators of weapons laws may face serious criminal charges, including felony crimes. Visitors to this area should also be aware that they need to follow Chicago gun laws, as well.

Gun Laws in Chicago

According to a recently published news article, gun owners who visit Chicago should familiarize themselves with the city’s gun laws before deciding to take their weapon with them to the city, or to the state of Illinois. There are three main laws governing possession of firearms that are applicable throughout the state, including in the city of Chicago: one in the Criminal Code, one in the Wildlife Code, and the Firearm Owner’s Identification Act. These laws are in addition to any local regulations or ordinances put in place by smaller communities within the state of Illinois. Even those who are not residents of Illinois are subjected to these laws and are expected to abide by them while in the state.

Nonresidents who are in possession of a firearm in Illinois are expected to have their weapon properly registered in their home state. They would also likely do well to meet any other requirements imposed by their home state regarding the legal possession of the firearm. In addition, nonresidents who want to transport their weapon into Illinois must carry it in a closed case, and the weapon must not be immediately accessible or otherwise must be broken down so that it is not in functioning condition. Chicago does not recognize concealed carry permits from other states, but nonresidents from states with concealed carry laws that are substantially similar to Illinois’ law can apply for a permit here.

Criminal Defense Attorney

There have been many changes to Chicago gun laws in the recent past, including how they apply to nonresidents. As a result, legal issues regarding this area of law can get complicated quite quickly. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney about the most recent gun laws in Illinois and how they affect your rights is the safest way to ensure the laws are followed and criminal conduct is avoided.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a weapons offense in the Chicago area, contact the Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter. Our office is located in Rolling Meadows.

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 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.

Learning Curve as Concealed Carry Law goes into Effect in Illinois

January 30th, 2014 at 3:03 pm

One of our more recent blog posts discussed the new concealed carry law that went into effect in Illinois starting in the New Year. Now, many news outlets are reporting on some of the obstacles and challenges the implementation of that law is bringing up in practice. Lawmakers are proposing bills that provide for harsher punishments for carrying guns in prohibited zones such as schools, penalize instructors who fail to train properly, and decrease the age for legally carrying a weapon.

 concealed carry law IMAGEPenalties for Carrying in Prohibited Zones

Some were surprised to learn that the new law changed the penalty for possessing a firearm in a school from a felony for the first offense to a misdemeanor the first two times an individual is charged with the crime. Changes propose increasing the penalty associated with having a gun in school, in addition to other places where they are prohibited by law, including libraries, parks, and on mass transit vehicles, as well as adding places of worship.

Advocates of gun rights are not so enthusiastic about the increased measures. They point out that any law will likely only matter to those law-abiding citizens who choose to follow it. They suggest letting the law play out for a while and seeing how the new law works, before going ahead with any suggested changes to the legislation.

Gun-Safety Training

Even those who have expressed opposition to increased penalties for those caught having a firearm in a prohibited zone are on board with stricter regulations for gun safety instructors. Other proposed legislation seeks to change punishments for those gun-safety instructors who falsify their training records. Instructors are required to give 16 hours of instruction on gun safety procedures. If they falsely allege they did so, they may serve jail time and face losing their own license to carry a weapon.

Lowering the Legal Age to Carry

Currently, the law allows for those citizens over the age of 21 to apply for a license to carry. Another proposed change to the law would include lowering that age to 18.

In addition to these changes, many are also expressing concerns over how the law will apply to those with mental health issues. Some representative are saying that these concerns are coming directly from citizens, who are wondering what protections the law affords to ensure those who suffer with mental illness are not getting access to guns.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand new laws, the consequences of violating them, and how they apply to you. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving a firearm in Illinois, we can advise you of your rights. Contact us today.

Chicago’s Ban on Guns Struck Down

January 26th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

According to an article recently published by the Chicago Tribune, a federal judge decided that a main part of Chicago’s gun ordinance which prohibits licensed gun stores from operating within the city is unconstitutional. The U.S. District Judge, Edmond Chang, opined that he was not convinced that the prohibition was necessary in order to achieve the goal of reducing gun violence, something that was imperative in order to outweigh the constitutional protections found in the Second Amendment. In addition to that provision, the Judge also decided that it was legal to transfer firearms as gifts or through private sale, provided the recipient was 18 years old or older and had a firearm owner’s identification card.

 Chicago gun ban IMAGEChicago’s crackdown on guns in the relatively recent past had made it a primary target of the National Rifle Association. Reversing the recent ban on licensed retail stores in the city and private gun sales is considered a win by gun rights advocates in their crusade to eliminate some of Chicago’s strict firearm prohibitions. The ruling coincided with Illinois’ new concealed carry law, which was set to take effect in the new year. It should be noted that the city is expected to appeal the judge’s decision, which will likely prevent any gun stores from opening in Chicago any time soon.

While it goes without saying that Chicago struggles with illegal guns and gun violence within the city’s borders, it seems the local government will have to try again to strike a balance between gun safety and respecting constitutional protections, a task lawmakers have been struggling with in the last few years.

The federal judge said that in this particular case, the city failed to show how allowing the legal sale of firearms in Chicago would result in a “genuine and serious risk” to public safety. The ban, he said, reached too far in totally banning legal transactions between buyers and dealers, while also failing to prove that doing so would achieve the purpose of the ban itself. The Judge pointed to other methods, such as regulations and licensing, that would address the city’s concerns while allowing law-abiding citizens to acquire firearms if they chose to do so.

While the NRA has been a key player in this suit as well as others across the country in their aim to chip away at gun control laws, others say that individual citizens have been successful in passing laws with the goal of keeping gun violence down. Some say the city’s ban failed because it aimed too high: the blanket ban on gun sales contradicted the idea that if there is a constitutional right to own a gun, part of that protection is the right to obtain one. Instead, the city may have been more successful in imposing numerous regulations on the sale of firearms.

It is likely that gun control will continue to be a hot button topic in the news and in politics and the local government. This means that crimes involving firearms may be particularly scrutinized by law enforcement and the public. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving a firearm, contacting an adept criminal defense lawyer in the Chicago area is crucial. Contact us today for advice in your particular matter.

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.

City to Seek Tougher Gun Possession Punishments

October 10th, 2013 at 11:54 am

arrested man hands close upOn 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.

Chicago Gun Laws Don’t Stop Homicides

April 8th, 2013 at 4:05 pm

AmandaHandguns have been outlawed in Chicago for may years, until 2010, when the Supreme Court decided that the ban was in violation the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.There are still no legal gun shops in the city of Chicago. This led the city leaders to have to settle for higher restrictions that were as close to actually banning the guns. Even with these high restrictions, Chicago is still one of the top cities for gun violence. In 2012, there were over 500 homicides, and in January alone, there were 40 killings.

To many citizens who want a full gun-ban in the US, Chicago proves to be a city of reference. Even with such strict gun control laws, there is still a vast amount of shootings. But for citizens who are pro-guns, they believe that the city proves that there needs to be more nationwide gun laws, rather than state-to-state or city-to-city. According to Rev. Ira J. Acree, a pastor who marched and got signatures to end shootings, said, “Chicago is like a house with two parents that may try to have good rules, but it’s like you’ve got this single house sitting on a whole block where there’s anarchy.”

Because of the different sets of laws varying from states and cities, it makes it difficult for police to find the gun violations. Not only are the laws different in each state, but also the punishments vary from jail-time to fines. Some punishments are seen as not as severe as others so many citizens do not take them seriously.

If you or anyone you know has been affected by any sort of gun violation be sure to contact a lawyer immediately. Contact an experienced Illinois Criminal Attorney to help you out.