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Archive for the ‘criminal cases’ tag

Sentencing in Illinois Criminal Cases: Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

November 6th, 2017 at 11:01 am

aggravating factors, criminal cases, criminal defendant, mitigating factors, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneyAfter a criminal defendant in Illinois is found guilty of committing a crime, or pleads no contest, a judge will evaluate the facts surrounding the case and then sentence the offender. While making this determination the judge also takes into account relevant mitigating factors (i.e. factors that support imposing a lesser penalty) and aggravating factors (i.e. factors that support imposing a harsher penalty).

Mitigating Factors

Under code section 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.1 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, judges in Illinois are required to consider the following mitigating factors when determining an offender’s sentence:

  • The offender’s criminal conduct did not cause, or threaten, serious physical harm to another,
  • The offender did not consider that his or her conduct would cause or threaten serious physical harm to another,
  • The offender was provoked,
  • There were substantial facts that, although they failed to establish a defense, tended to excuse the offender’s criminal conduct,
  • The offender’s criminal conduct was facilitated or induced by someone else,
  • The offender has compensated, or plans to compensate, his or her victim for the damage that he or she suffered,
  • The offender was a law-abiding citizen for a substantial period of time prior to committing the crime for which he or she is being sentenced,
  • The circumstances that led to the offender’s criminal conduct are unlikely to reoccur,
  • The offender’s attitude and character indicate that he or she is unlikely to commit another crime in the future,
  • The offender is likely to comply with the terms of an imposed probation period,
  • Imprisoning the offender would impose excessive hardship on his or her dependents,
  • Imprisoning the offender would endanger his or her medical condition,
  • The offender has an intellectual disability,
  • The offender sought emergency medical care for an overdose and is being sentenced for a qualifying crime involving a controlled substance under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act or the Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act,
  • The fact that the offender was a domestic violence victim tends to justify or excuse the defendant’s criminal conduct, and/or
  • When committing the offense, the offender suffered from a serious mental illness that substantially impacted his or her ability to appreciate the nature and illegality of his or her acts.

Aggravating Factors

Additionally, judges imposing criminal sentences in Illinois are required to consider aggravating factors. Under code section 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes the aggravating factors that must be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • The offender’s conduct caused, or threatened, serious harm to another,
  • The offender was paid for committing the offense,
  • The offender has a history of engaging in criminal activity,
  • Punishing the offender is necessary in order to deter others in the community from committing the same offense in the future,
  • The offender’s victim was 60 years old or older,
  • The offender’s victim had a physical disability,
  • The offense occurred at a place of worship before, during, or following a worship service, and/or
  • The offender was wearing a bulletproof vest when he or she committed the offense.

Let Us Help You Today

Criminal defense attorneys have their work cut out for them during the sentencing phase of criminal trials because this is when they present mitigating factors in favor of their clients. This is critical as successfully doing so can mean no or reduced jail time for their clients. To find out what an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney can do for you, contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for help.

Source:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/mitigating_factor

Criminal Statutes of Limitation in Illinois

August 7th, 2017 at 8:01 am

criminal cases, criminal statutes of limitation, Illinois crime, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyers, Illinois criminal lawDid you know that in some criminal cases Illinois prosecutors are bound by a statute of limitations (SOL) that limits the timeframe within which they are permitted to file criminal charges against you? This means that if you commit a crime in Illinois, and are not officially charged before an applicable statute of limitations clock expires, then the government will more often than not be barred from charging you with that crime in the future.

This may sound fairly straightforward, but keep in mind that Illinois does not have a statute of limitations that applies to every crime. Moreover, there are circumstances under which a statute of limitations clock can be tolled (i.e. suspended) for a time, and in some cases it can be very hard to tell when the period of limitation begins.

Therefore, it is essential to learn about Illinois’ key criminal statutes of limitations. If you suspect that the applicable statute of limitations has expired for a crime that you committed in the past, consult with a local criminal defense lawyer about your legal options.

As mentioned above, criminal statutes of limitations are full of intricacies and nuances so it is critical that you seek competent legal advice before acting on the belief that a particular statute of limitations has expired.

Key Criminal SOLs in Illinois

Generally speaking, under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/3-5(b)) there is an 18 month statute of limitations that applies to most misdemeanor offenses and a three year statute of limitations that applies to most felony offenses. However, it is important to note that some serious crimes in Illinois are not subject to a statute of limitations and can therefore be prosecuted at any time. These crimes include the following:

  • First- and second-degree murder;
  • Attempted first-degree murder;
  • Criminal solicitation to commit murder;
  • Treason;
  • Forgery;
  • Arson;
  • Involuntary manslaughter;
  • Reckless homicide; and
  • Concealment of homicidal death.

Exceptions

As noted above, the law surrounding Illinois’ statutes of limitations is complicated. One complication is the fact that certain periods of time are routinely excluded (or tolled) from our state’s prescribed criminal SOLs. For example, under section 720 ILCS 5/3-7 an applicable IL criminal statute of limitations is generally tolled while:

  • The accused is not a resident within the state;
  • The accused is currently a public officer and the alleged offense is theft of public funds;
  • Separate prosecution is pending against the accused for the same conduct;
  • A material witness for the prosecution is on active military leave or duty;
  • Sexual assault evidence is being collected; or
  • Sexual assault evidence is being analyzed by the Department of State Police.

Reach Out to Us for Help Today

Illinois’ criminal statutes of limitations are complicated, but the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley know them inside and out. One of our firm’s experienced lawyers would be happy to discuss how Illinois’ criminal statutes of limitations may impact any potential charges brought against you during a confidential consultation.  

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K3-5

Criminal Cases: Who Needs Science for Scientific Evidence?

June 21st, 2017 at 12:18 pm

criminal cases, criminal trials, forensic testing, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer, scientific evidenceAttorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that the National Commission on Forensic Science is to be dissolved. The National Commission on Forensic Science is a non-political commission whose mandate is to oversee and advance the reliability and preciseness of scientific evidence used in criminal cases.

The commission is made up of a mixed group of people who are trained to monitor and audit the uses of scientific evidence. Various agencies including federal, state, and local forensic service providers work together to strengthen the reliability of forensic science as a whole and particularly how it is used in criminal cases.

Forensic evidence explains a type of evidence that can come in many forms. Forensic evidence can be:

  • Dental records;
  • Fingerprints;
  • Genetic material;
  • Trace chemicals;
  • Shoe imprints;
  • Bodily fluids; or
  • Skin cells.

Forensic evidence can be defined as evidence that was gained through scientific methodology like ballistics testing, blood analysis, or DNA testing. It is evidence used to link crimes together or to build a narrative about what the prosecution thinks happened in a particular case.

The Attorney General is poised to lay the responsibility of forensic testing squarely on the shoulders of the police and prosecutors office. However, unbridled scientific evidence that is used at criminal trials by prosecutors is extremely problematic in that it can lead directly to the conviction of innocent people.

When the authenticity of scientific results is maintained by the side of the criminal justice system that seeks to use it, the potential for misuse or corruption is ever present.

In 2015, the United States Department of Justice, in conjunction with the FBI, found that nearly every examiner in the FBI’s microscopic hair unit “gave misleading, exaggerated, or otherwise flawed testimony in criminal cases between 1972 and 1999.” Hence, the criminal justice system has been speculating results, not providing reliable results, with regard to evidence used to send people to jail.

Do Not Fear Forensic Evidence

Many criminal trials turn on forensic evidence. It is evidence prosecutors rely on, evidence juries like to hear, and evidence intended to be inherently reliable. If you are the defendant in a criminal trial and the state has forensic evidence they intend to use against you, a skilled and experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer can defend your rights and challenge the evidence against you. Contact our Rolling meadows office at 847-394-3200 to schedule your initial consultation. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley is prepared 24 hours a day to serve our clients in need of criminal defense.

Sources:

http://www.newsweek.com/sessionss-assault-forensic-science-will-lead-more-unsafe-convictions-585762

https://www.justice.gov/archives/ncfs

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