Archive for the ‘Your Rights’ Category
March 25th, 2016 at 7:00 am
Many criminal defendants are unaware that there is such a thing as criminal trespass to a vehicle until they are facing criminal charges for it. A typical scenario of how these charges arise involves a teenager who “borrows” a car or some other motor vehicle not belonging to him without permission and then takes the vehicle for a joyride. However, when the teen returns with the vehicle, he often finds himself under arrest and facing criminal charges for trespass to a vehicle.
Anyone who is facing criminal trespassing charges needs to seek out the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately.
What is Criminal Trespass to a Vehicle in Illinois?
Under 720 ILCS 5/21-2, a person who knowingly and without authority or permission enters or operates a vehicle of another can be found to have committed criminal trespass to a vehicle.
Vehicles for the purpose of the criminal trespass statute can include:
- A car, truck or motorcycle;
- Watercraft, such as boats; and
- Recreational vehicles, such as snowmobiles or all terrain vehicles.
Overstaying your welcome in a vehicle could also constitute a criminal trespass to a vehicle. If the vehicle owner says “get out,” then remaining in the vehicle could amount to an unauthorized occupation of the vehicle.
Charges for criminal trespass to a vehicle are based on whether the defendant had the intent to deprive the owner of the vehicle of his or her car indefinitely. If the defendant only had the intention to use the vehicle for a short period of time, or to occupy the vehicle only temporarily, then the defendant might be guilty of criminal trespass if no good defenses to his or her actions exist.
How is Criminal Trespass to a Vehicle Different from Theft of an Automobile?
Vehicle theft in Illinois is governed by the Illinois general theft provisions of the law. Vehicle theft occurs when a person, knowingly and without permission, takes possession of a vehicle that is not his, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the use of the vehicle. Taking possession of the vehicle can be the byproduct of use of force, deception, threats, or by knowingly receiving the stolen vehicle.
Theft requires that the person who took the vehicle intended to permanently deprive the owner of the vehicle. Criminal trespass to a vehicle, on the other hand, does not. Joyriding is the most typical cause of trespass to a vehicle charges because by taking a vehicle for a joyride, the trespasser only intends to occupy the vehicle for the duration of the ride, and no longer. The joyrider has the intention of returning the vehicle at the outset.
Let Our Attorneys Assist You
Criminal trespassing charges are serious and if you are facing trespass to a vehicle charges, you need to consult with a criminal defense lawyer right away. Please contact a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney immediately to discuss your case and to learn how we can assist you throughout each step of the way if you are facing criminal charges in Illinois.
January 13th, 2016 at 9:35 am
Many people who have been taken into custody feel pressured and scared. When criminal suspects do not know their rights, there is a chance that law enforcement will take liberties with the suspect, questioning them and trying to draw out a confession, when the suspect should have asked for an attorney. Juveniles accused of a crime are particularly at risk for this to happen to them. Sometimes, law enforcement will say that the suspect admitted to something, or confessed, when in reality they did not, or sometimes law enforcement will twist something the suspect says and call it a confession. Regardless of how it happens, these are not true confessions. They are fake or coerced, and should not be taken as the truth.
Police and prosecutors will treat a false confession as if it were real, and proving that the confession was fake or coerced from the start can be challenging. A false confession can lead to a criminal conviction, a long prison sentence, and a lasting criminal record.
Why Do Suspects Give False Confessions in the First Place?
There are a number of reasons why a suspect might give a false confession. They might be overwhelmed by the whole situation, they might be pressured into the false confession, or police might have threatened the suspect into confessing or tricked the suspect by using psychological manipulation. The police might suggest that they have more evidence than they really do against the suspect, or that the charges that the suspect faces are less serious than they really are. These techniques can all be used to elicit a false confession from a criminal suspect.
Some suspects are vulnerable from the outset, and are more likely than the average person to give a false confession. Criminal suspects who have developmental disabilities, cognitive impairments, or emotional issues are more likely to crack under pressure, or are more likely to not understand what it is that they are doing. These individuals can be susceptible to influence, high-pressure tactics, and the power of suggestion.
Additionally, young individuals who are facing criminal charges may not fully understand the impact of what giving a false confession means for them. A young person might give a false confession because they are scared, or because they are trying to cover for their friends who perpetrated the crime. Juveniles often have an imperfect understanding about what the consequences are to admitting criminal guilt.
Anyone who is facing criminal charges should ask for an experienced criminal lawyer and should not tell the police anything until discussing their situation with a lawyer first.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
Giving a false confession is a serious matter, because it can lead to a conviction which can put you in jail for a crime you did not commit. Let an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney help you develop your criminal defense if you are facing charges. Please contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We can also be reached by calling (847) 394-3200.
November 26th, 2015 at 4:06 pm
Criminal defendants have some of the highest constitutional protections in the criminal justice system. The reason for these rights and protections is because the stakes are so high. If someone is convicted of a crime, they may not only lose their freedom, but also a host of other rights. One of the most important constitutional protections is the right to see the evidence against you. But, even this right has its limits.
Right to Exculpatory Evidence
The most basic right in a criminal trial is the right to see any exculpatory evidence. This means you have a right to see anything the prosecution has possession of, or knows about, that may show you are not guilty of the crime for which you are being charged. This right was laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court case called Brady V. Maryland.
Other Evidence Rights
You also have a constitutional right to confront any witnesses. This limits the use of out of court statements by the prosecution during your trial. You have the right to cross-examine witnesses. You also have a right to see what evidence the prosecution plans on presenting against you in most instances.
You have a right to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. For example, if the prosecution is going to have an expert testify about hair samples left at the scene, you can present your own expert witness or argue that the prosecution’s evidence is flawed.
What Defendants Do Not Have a Right to See
There are some things that as a criminal defendant you do not have a right to see before trial, or perhaps even at all. There may be some national security issues that limit your access to evidence.
More commonly, evidence called impeachment evidence does not have to be disclosed before trial. This is evidence that would show a witness was not telling the truth.
In some cases the identity of confidential informants may be protected and you will not have access to some information about these often key parts to the prosecution’s case.
Criminal charges are always a serious matter. If you have been accused or charged with a crime, you need to consult with a knowledgeable, tough, and experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer right away. Do not to talk to anyone about your case before you have talked to a lawyer. Your freedom could depend on it. Call to schedule a consultation today.
July 29th, 2015 at 6:12 am
Most people know that when you are charged with a criminal offense that you have certain rights under the United States Constitution. However, what many people do not realize is that each state also has its own constitution, and those constitutions provide additional protections for criminal defendants. To be sure, Illinois has protections for criminal defendants in its constitution as well.
Protections that Are Similar to Federal Protections
Some right enumerated in the Illinois Constitution are basically the same as or exactly the same as those listed in the United States Constitution. For example, the two documents provide some of the same protections when it comes to searches and seizures. However, the Illinois Constitution goes further and actually addresses specific issues like eavesdropping and invasions of privacy, which are not specifically discussed in the United States Constitution. The Illinois Constitution also provides a right to counsel, a right to confront witnesses, a right to compel witnesses to testify, and a right to a speedy public trial. All of these rights are similar to rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. There are also similar prohibitions on self-incrimination and double jeopardy.
Unique Illinois Protections
There are some rights that are unique to the Illinois Constitution. One of these rights is in Section 11 of Article 1, and has to do with limitation of penalties after conviction. It is commonly referred to as the “proportionate penalties clause.” Under this provision, all penalties shall be determined both according to the seriousness of the offense and with the objective of restoring the offender to useful citizenship. This clause is violated where two criminal offenses have the same elements but carry different authorized sentences.
Illinois also has a specific constitutional provision that deals with the setting of bail in criminal cases. It specifically says that all persons shall be entitled to bail unless they are charged with certain offenses where the proof is evident and the presumption great. These offenses include capital offenses, offenses that carry a possible punishment of life imprisonment, and felony offenses where a sentence of imprisonment without conditional release shall be imposed as a result of a conviction, if the court determines after a hearing that the offender poses a real and present threat to the physical safety of a person.
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. Criminal defendants have rights both under the federal constitution and the state constitution, and you need to have an advocate on your side to make sure those rights are protected.
July 15th, 2015 at 3:45 pm
Two of the most common types of criminal charges are drug charges and weapons charges. These two types of cases have something in common. They often involve a police officer searching some area (like a car or a home or a person) and finding an item that is the very basis of the crime, like a gun or drugs. Of course, many people understand that in most situations the police need a warrant to go in and search someone’s home. This is ultimately because of the Fourth Amendment. However what many people do not understand is that, because of some United States Supreme Court decisions, the police usually do not need a warrant to search a vehicle.
Occasionally the Police Need a Warrant to Search a Car
Very often police do not need a warrant to search your vehicle. Certainly, however, there are some exceptions. For example, if your car is being stored in your garage at your home and none of the warrant exceptions apply that would allow the police to search your home without a warrant, then they probably cannot search the car without a warrant (or your permission) either. This is because without your permission or a warrant, they cannot go into the garage. However, if your car were parked on a public street in front of your house, then a warrant likely would not be required.
Most of the Time the Cops Do Not Need a Warrant
Most of the time police officers do not need a warrant to search a car that you are out driving around. This exception to the Fourth Amendment dates back to a case almost as old as automobiles, known as Carroll v. United States. In this case from 1925 the United States Supreme Court ruled that an officer can search an automobile without a warrant so long as the officer has “probable cause” to believe that either evidence or contraband is in the automobile. Probable cause is one of the lowest burdens of proof in our legal system. The reasoning behind this ruling is two-fold.
First of all, since by their very nature cars are movable, there is a real threat of evidence destruction if officers have to wait for a warrant. Secondly, the Court theorized that there is less of an expectation of privacy in a car then there is in a home since cars are operated on public roadways under state regulations. Motor homes that are readily mobile, trailers pulled by trucks, boats, house boats, and airplanes are also covered by this exception.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
If you are the suspect in a crime, or if you have already been charged, you will need help. There are many issues to consider beyond just whether or not you are guilty. In many cases there are important constitutional issues at stake like issues regarding the Fourth Amendment. In these cases you need someone on your side who has an in depth understanding of the law. You will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200.
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.
June 3rd, 2015 at 7:16 am
Drones have now become a reality of law enforcement, and are a technology that any criminal defense attorney will have to become familiar with. Whether they are using them for surveillance, investigation, or other purposes, law enforcement will be utilizing these tools in the near future. In fact, one police agency here in Illinois has already announced its intent to do so.
Illinois State Police Plan to Use Drones
It was reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the Illinois State Police permission to use drones. The state police currently plan to use the drones to photograph crash and crime scenes. On an interesting note, they are not calling the drones “drones.” Instead, they are referring to them as “unmanned aircraft.” They claim that they are not currently implementing their program for surveillance purposes.
Illinois Has a Law about Drone Surveillance
Illinois has passed a law regarding drone surveillance, known as the Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act. This law limits when law enforcement agencies are allowed to use drones for surveillance, but it certainly does not prohibit them from doing so. Law enforcement agencies are allowed to use drones for surveillance if any of the following circumstances apply:
- They are countering a high-risk terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security has determined that the intelligence indicates there is a credible threat. This is the only terrorism-related reason for use. All of the others relate to general law enforcement tasks;
- The law enforcement agency has obtained a search warrant, which can be good for 45 days and can be renewed for an additional 45 days;
- The law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is need to prevent imminent harm to life or prevent the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence;
- The law enforcement agency is attempting to locate a missing person and is not also undertaking a criminal investigation; or
- The law enforcement agency is using the drone exclusively for crime scene or traffic accident scene photography. If this occurs on private property they must get a search warrant.
Between their ability to get a warrant (which only requires probable cause) and their ability to use drones to prevent evidence destruction or escape, law enforcement still has a fairly broad license to use this type of surveillance in criminal cases. Additionally, in prosecutions related to traffic offenses like driving while intoxicated, drone used in collecting accident footage may become another tool that is used by both sides like dashboard camera footage.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
No matter how the police investigate you, being investigated can be a daunting and scary process. The same is true with being charged with a crime. If you are going through either of these experiences, you need the help of a passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. If you are charged in Rolling Meadows, you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200 to discuss your case.
April 21st, 2015 at 8:04 pm
While just about every child has to learn the bill of rights at some point during their education, as adults only a few of the amendments get a whole lot of media coverage. Most people know that the First Amendment covers things like free speech and freedom of religion, and that the Second Amendment deals with the right to bear arms. But beyond that, for many people, memories get a bit fuzzy. The thing is, when a person is charged with a crime, those other amendments in the Bill of Rights may make a real difference in the case. One important constitutional amendment for anyone facing a criminal charge to understand is the Sixth Amendment, specifically its confrontation clause.
What Does the Sixth Amendment Say?
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution touches on a few key rights for criminal defendants. The amendment itself says:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.
There are many important rights combined into this one small amendment. They include your right to a speedy and public jury trial, your rights to only be charged with crimes that already exist and to know what crime you are charged with, your right to confront the witnesses against you, your right to use tools like subpoenas to force witnesses to testify for you, and your right to have an attorney.
What is the Confrontation Clause?
The confrontation clause is the part of the Sixth Amendment that says you have a right to confront the witnesses against you. But what does that mean? The main United States Supreme Court decision that deals with the confrontation clause is Crawford v. Washington. In this extremely important case the Court decided that the confrontation clause requires that, in order for a prosecutor to be allowed to admit prior testimonial statements against you in court, you must have had the chance to cross-examine them. Additionally, your right to cross-examine this witness is typically a right to cross-examine them face to face, although courts have allowed certain exceptions when it comes to very young children who are witnesses.
So what is an example of where the confrontation clause might come into play? Imagine a battery case where the alleged victim originally claimed that the accused hit them, but the alleged victim had decided not to pursue the matter and does not show up for trial. Assuming the trial goes ahead without the alleged victim, the prosecutor cannot introduce the victim’s prior statements claiming that the accused hit them unless the defendant has had a previous opportunity to cross-examine the victim.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
If you or someone you love is ever charged with a crime you will want the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Christopher Cosley has spent his career helping people. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at 847-394-3200.
April 2nd, 2015 at 8:14 pm
Anyone who has watched television in the last 40 years has heard it: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed before any questioning.” Even though we have heard these rights over and over again, most people do not understand what they mean, as well as the importance of asserting these rights. When you are a suspect in a crime, regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent, using these rights may be the most important thing you do to protect yourself.
Where Do These Rights Come From?
Even though the exact words we hear on TV and that people hear again when they are interrogated by police are not found within it, they exist because of the United States Constitution. Specifically, it is the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution that requires police to inform you of these rights before interrogating you. They have had to do this ever since the United States Supreme Court determined it is required in the case Miranda v. Arizona. This is why the rights are often called your “Miranda Rights.” The Fifth Amendment is the one that, among other things, protects you from being required to be a witness against yourself. In Miranda, the United States Supreme Court decided that it is extremely important for people being interrogated by the police to understand that they do not have to answer questions and that they have the right to an attorney.
The Miranda Warnings Leave Out an Extremely Important Part
Remember the part of the warnings where the officers say, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”? What they do not tell you is an equally important and true piece of information: Anything you say cannot and will not be used to help you in a court of law. Countless criminal suspects, both innocent and guilty, waive their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney and talk to police thinking that what they say will help them. But in most cases, it will not. This is because of a rule against “self-serving hearsay.” When you find yourself at trial months or years after your interrogation, you cannot introduce your early denials into evidence to help your case. The law does not allow it. It only allows the prosecution to introduce your statements against you, not the other way around. Also, what many people do not realize is that police do not make charging decisions; prosecutors do. And prosecutors are trying to prosecute you, not look out for your best interests. That is why it is extremely important for you to assert your rights so that you can have an attorney in the room who is on your side.
A Note about Extreme Police Misconduct
Unfortunately there are some police officers who do not play by the rules. In the Chicago area we have even historically had some police who have subjected suspects to torture to force them to confess to crimes. Obviously any person can only withstand so much, and if this sort of thing should ever happen to you then you can only do your best. In these cases it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you can in order to take steps to obtain any evidence that remains of what happened to you.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
When police try to interrogate you, they often take many steps to dissuade you from exercising your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present for questioning. Do not let them get away with it. Call an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley who can protect your rights. The phone number for the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley is (847)394-3200.
March 25th, 2015 at 7:54 pm
Some people charged with crimes are innocent. Other people charged with crimes are guilty. Both deserve a passionate and skilled defense. But in some cases, the court should never even get to the issue of guilt because a more serious issue arises. There are cases where the government violates the United States Constitution, the foundation of our entire justice system. In those cases, more than any other, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. One of the most common parts of the United States Constitution violated by the government is the Fourth Amendment.
What Does the Fourth Amendment Say?
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your right not be be subjected to unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This includes searches of your person, searches of your home, and searches of your stuff. This is the part of the constitution that requires police to get a warrant in order to perform a search unless either (1) you consent to a search or (2) certain exceptions to the warrant requirement are met. Unfortunately, the list of exceptions to the warrant requirement keeps growing and growing, chipping away at our constitutional rights, and each one of them is complicated enough to warrant its own article or articles. But, on a basic level, the Fourth Amendment is the part of the constitution that says the police cannot search you, your home, or your property just because they feel like it. The amendment also prevents unreasonable seizures, or takings, both of you and of your property.
How Can I Assert My Fourth Amendment Rights?
The most important way you can assert your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures is to speak up. When a police officer asks you permission to take a look around, you can say no. When an officer asks you to sign a permission to search form, you can say no. Now, in some circumstances this is not possible. If police do not ask for permission, you do not have a chance to say no, and putting up a physical resistance will undoubtedly end up in criminal charges, so do not do that. And if they have a warrant, you absolutely have to let them search. But when a police officer gives you the option to say no, you can use it. They may threaten that going and getting a warrant will make things more difficult for you, but they may very well be bluffing because they may not have grounds for a warrant, which is why they are asking for permission in the first place.
Once My Fourth Amendment Rights Have Been Violated, How Does that Affect a Criminal Charge?
Of course, usually you do not get a chance to say no. The police conduct the unlawful search or seizure and you are left wondering what you can do about it. A constitutional violation like this does not lead to your case automatically being dismissed. Instead it can give you the opportunity to file a motion to suppress any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search. This is allowed under the exclusionary rule. Under this rule, evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure is inadmissible in court. This means it cannot be used against you. In some cases, like many drug possession cases, this may result in all or almost all of the government’s evidence against you being thrown out.
Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
When you are charged with a crime, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who is ready to fight for your constitutional rights. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Christopher Cosley has the experience, knowledge, and passion to fight for you. Our phone number is (847)394-3200.