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Archive for the ‘criminal defense’ tag

Detained for Shoplifting? Know Your Legal Rights in Illinois

December 5th, 2017 at 3:55 pm

allegedly shoplifting, private person arrest statute, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, shoplifting, criminal defenseDid you know that when a security guard at a mall in Illinois detains someone who is suspected of shoplifting, the guard is actually making a citizen’s arrest? In other words, he or she is acting as a private citizen and is therefore bound by our state’s private person arrest statute just like anyone else who makes a citizen’s arrest.

Citizen’s Arrests: The Basics

In Illinois, our private person arrest statute is codified in code section 725 ILCS 5/107-3 and states, “Any person may arrest another when he has reasonable grounds to believe that an offense other than an ordinance violation is being committed.” Therefore, a store’s security guard (or any other person for that matter) is legally within his or her rights under Illinois law to arrest you if he or she reasonably believe that you are shoplifting.

In order for his or her suspicion to be reasonable, he or she generally must have seen you take merchandise, or have been alerted to the fact that you have merchandise on your person when a security tag sounded.

However, it should be noted that what the court finds to be a reasonable belief in one situation may not hold up under different circumstances and that a local criminal defense lawyer should review the facts of your case in order to determine whether or not your detention was proper.

Your Rights

If you are detained for allegedly shoplifting, remember that you have rights and try to keep your wits about you no matter how stressful the circumstances may be. For instance, do not feel pressured to sign anything. Those who detain you may try to pressure you into signing a statement admitting your guilt; you are under no legal obligation to sign such a document. Furthermore, if the person who detained you did so without possessing the requisite legal grounds, then you may be able to file a claim against them for false imprisonment.

Additionally, if the police are ultimately called remember that you have the right to remain silent. They can ask you questions; however, beyond identifying yourself, you are not legally obligated to answer them. Also, keep in mind that if you are arrested by the police you have the right to speak to a lawyer and that if you are under 18 you have the right to have a parent or legal guardian present when you talk to the police.

Need Legal Advice?

Accused of shoplifting in Illinois? If so, contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley without delay. Shoplifting is often thought of as a minor offense for which violators are given only a slap on the wrist, but be warned that in Illinois that is not always the case!

Depending on the facts surrounding your arrest a shoplifting conviction could mean spending significant time behind bars. Do not bury your head in the sand; be proactive and contact our office to schedule a consultation with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney today.

Source:

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

Criminal Defenses: Having an Alibi for Criminal Accusations

December 21st, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, Criminal charges are based on some sort of evidence that was found at the scene of the crime, that tends to point to a particular person. The evidence might not necessarily confirm that a suspect committed the crime, but the evidence suggests that the suspect has some relationship to the crime, such as having been present at the scene of the crime at some point in time or that the suspect had ties to the victim, etc. Alibis are a powerful tool for criminal defense as they can refute criminal accusations.

What Are Alibis?

When a suspect has an alibi, it means that the suspect was somewhere else, doing something else, or was with someone else at the time the alleged crime was committed. A valid and confirmable alibi provides evidence that the suspect/defendant is not the person who committed the crime because he or she was somewhere else or doing something else. An alibi is not an affirmative defense in Illinois, meaning even if the criminal defendant can prove the alibi, the jury is still tasked with making the decision as to whether to convict or not. However, a strong alibi is difficult for the prosecution to refute and the jury to ignore.

Evidence to Support an Alibi

Evidence of an alibi can vary depending on what the alibi is and who or what can be used to prove it. A few types of evidence that are helpful in supporting an alibi include:

  • Video footage or photographs of the defendant somewhere else at the time of the crime. Time stamped security tape or surveillance footage from businesses or other establishments is often used to support an alibi. Video and photographic evidence is good for an alibi because it is objective evidence – short of a forgery, video footage and photographs do not lie;
  • Documentary evidence of the defendant being somewhere else. When a defendant can provide documentary evidence that he or she was somewhere else it helps to support the alibi. Receipts, intake records (if defendant was admitted to a hospital, or other institution), telephone and GPS location records, and credit card swipe records can show that the defendant was somewhere else at the time the crime was committed. Documentary evidence is good for alibis since it is usually impartial and objective evidence; and
  • Witness testimony supporting the alibi. Many criminal defendants offer an alibi through witness testimony. This evidence is most powerful when the witness is a person who was with the criminal defendant at the time of the crime. The more witnesses who can vouch for the defendant’s whereabouts, the better. Witnesses are subjected to examination and cross-examination while on the stand, so a witness that does not know the defendant, i.e., doesn’t have a personal relationship with the defendant, is going to be a stronger witness than someone who has a relationship with the defendant. An unbiased witness is good for an alibi. A witness that is close to the defendant might be biased and there are more opportunities to discredit a witness that is close to the defendant.

When a criminal defendant plans to use an alibi as a defense, the prosecution must be notified of the defense’s intentions. Asserting an alibi as a defense to an alleged crime shifts the burden of disproving your alibi to the prosecution. The prosecution must do so beyond a reasonable doubt.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing criminal charges and you have an alibi, you will need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer can discuss what options are available to you. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows defense attorney immediately at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Our phone number is 847-394-3200.

 

Source:

http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/supremecourt/rules/art_iv/artiv.htm

Unlike Television, First Degree Murder Does Not Require Premeditation

May 11th, 2015 at 8:51 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, lawful justification,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:

  1. 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;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Criminal Intent: All about a State of Mind

April 14th, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Illinois defense attorney, mens rea, Illinois criminal lawyer, Many crimes are made up of two parts: an action and a mental state. One example is where one person kills another. Depending on the person’s mental state when he or she kills the other person, he or she could be guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, or maybe no crime at all. When it comes to certain crimes, much of what a criminal defense attorney winds up doing at trial is showing a judge or jury that the defendant did not have the required mental state to commit the crime. Each of these mental states has a specific legal definition set out by state statute.

Acting Intentionally

One mental state is “intent” or “acting intentionally.” For a person to be found guilty of a crime that requires that he or she have intent or act intentionally, he or she must have the conscious objective or purpose of accomplishing the result of that crime or engaging in the conduct of that crime.

Acting Knowingly

Acting knowingly or knowing something is a slightly less overt mental state than acting intentionally. A person acts knowingly if one of two possible scenarios apply to him or her. These scenarios are:

  • A person acts knowingly or with knowledge of the nature or attendant circumstances of his or her conduct when he or she is consciously aware that his or her conduct of that nature or that those circumstances exist.
  • A person acts knowingly or with knowledge of the result of his or her conduct if he or she is consciously aware that the result is practically certain to be caused by his or her conduct.

It is important to note that if a statute requires a “knowing” state of mind but the evidence establishes the defendant acted “intentionally,” then that is good enough. If someone has acted intentionally they have also acted knowingly under the law.

Recklessness

Legally speaking, a person is reckless if he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances will exist or a result will follow and that disregard is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in that situation. In other words, a person is reckless if he or she consciously ignores a major obvious risk and in doing so does not exercise the same level of care that a normal person could be expected to under the circumstances.

Negligence

If a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or a result will follow and that failure constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, then that person has acted negligently.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or someone you love is being investigated for or has been charged with a crime, you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200. Christopher Cosley has spent his career fighting for people like you.

How Do You Fight for Your Fourth Amendment Rights in Court?

March 25th, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, your rights,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.

Solicitation and a Sting in the Suburbs

January 14th, 2015 at 5:21 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, prostitution, When we think of undercover police work we often think of narcotics cases. Police go undercover to buy or sell drugs and catch people who do the same. But this is certainly not the only area where police work under cover. Sex crimes like prostitution and solicitation also provide undercover work for police and lead to arrests in the suburban area. If you have been arrested for a sex crime in the Rolling Meadows area, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney immediately.

A Sting in the Suburbs

The Chicago Sun Times reports that 14 men were recently arrested after meeting police officers in an undercover solicitation sting in the west suburbs. Undercover police officers placed ads for prostitution services on an adult classifieds website called Backpage.com. The men then allegedly went to a hotel to meet with the advertised prostitutes only to instead find undercover cops. In 2014, more than 130 men were arrested by Cook County Sheriff’s officers using this Backpage sting method. The unit has arrested around 700 people using this method since 2009. The men caught in this sting were charged with a violating a local Cook County public morals nuisance ordinance.

Solicitation Laws in Illinois

The public morals ordinance applied to these men has been around for a few years. It decriminalized being a john in a sense, in that it removed jail time from the picture. However, being punished under this ordinance can result in substantial fines, community service, and even the impounding of vehicles. These fines may be substantially greater than the punishments that were actually doled out back when these cases were prosecuted in criminal court. The upside, though, aside from no risk of jail time, is that prosecution under this ordinance does not result in an actual criminal conviction. This ordinance only applies in certain parts of Cook County.

State criminal law also addresses solicitation of a prostitute. The crime is called “solicitation of a sexual act.” Under the law, any person who offers someone money or anything of value to perform any act of sexual penetration or touching or fondling of the sex organs commits solicitation of a sexual act. This is a Class A misdemeanor normally, but if the prostitute is a minor or is severely or profoundly intellectually disabled it becomes a felony. Class A misdemeanors can be punished by up to a year in jail. The fine can be anything up to $2,500 per count.

Criminal Defense Attorney

When you or someone you love is charged with a crime, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and we will schedule a free consultation.

Law to Require Videotaped Interrogations a Plus for Police

August 8th, 2014 at 7:13 am

Christopher M. Cosley, criminal defense, Illinois laws, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, videotape police interrogations, videotaped interrogations, record interrogations, digital interrogationA proposal to legally require videotaped interrogations of offenders who are suspected of certain crimes has been passed. A recent news article reports that even though the proposal was originally intended to focus, at least in part, on suspects’ rights, police are seeing it as a positive change for them, as well.

Momentous Change

Cook County has seen about 100 wrongfully convicted criminal offenders be exculpated in the previous approximately 25 years. The most recent examples of this came fairly recently when the convictions of two men for a double murder in 1992 were thrown out and a $40 million settlement was revealed to the public in the case of five men who were wrongfully convicted of a 1991 rape and murder. Both of these cases were tried before a 2003 law made it mandatory to videotape police interrogations of homicide suspects. This and other reforms since have acted to reduce the risk of false confessions by criminal suspects. Other factors, such as a cultural shift in police behavior and improved technology, are also credited with ensuring the correct person is prosecuted for a particular crime.

The Effects

Police practices have changed since the early 1990s, and the state’s attorney reported that that is a good thing. She said that the reforms that have been put in place are working and that a difference is visible. Others, including defense attorneys and civil rights lawyers, say it is too early to determine whether the measures that have been put in place are working, but believe the measures are a positive step in the right direction. They say that it often takes decades for wrongful convictions to emerge and it takes time for inmates to further claims of innocence. According to this group, perhaps false confessions are still being taken and just have not yet been revealed. National statistics support the claim that there is often a lag of 10 years between a false confession and wrongful conviction being overturned.

Years Past

In years past, before any measures were signed into law regarding videotaping confessions, false confessions were not only the product of unethical police tactics, but some say that the high crime levels of the 1980s and 1990s also contributed. Detective units were spread thin because of the high number of crimes, and police tactics were less sophisticated and at times heavy-handed, while forensics were not as reliable as they are today.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can discuss your case with you and advise you of your rights. Contact a Cook County criminal defense attorney today to schedule a consultation.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Recorded Conversations

April 25th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

recorded conversation, privacy, divorce, child support, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutionality of a statute regarding the legality of audio-recording a conversation. According to that law, any person who records a conversation without the consent of all parties involved in the conversation commits a crime. The law as written is broad, and defines a conversation as any oral communication between two or more people, regardless of whether one of the parties intends for the conversation to be private.

Facts of the Case

The facts giving rise to the case that was eventually heard by the Illinois Supreme Court involve a pro-se party to a child support proceeding. That party recorded a hearing that was held in open court during which a court reporter was not present. He also recorded a conversation between himself and opposing counsel prior to the start of the hearing. The recording was the pro-se party’s only record of the proceedings, in which he participated without the benefit of counsel or a court reporter keeping a record. He was charged with violating the aforementioned statute as a result of these actions.

Court’s Holding

The Illinois Supreme Court held that the above statute violates the First Amendment, as the law places a greater burden on speech than what is required to protect the interest in conversational privacy. The Court reasoned that the statute criminalizes a broad range of conduct regarding recording all conversations, even those that may not be considered private under any circumstances, including any conversation that is loud enough to be overheard by a third party, whether in a public or a private setting. Not all conversations implicate privacy interests, but the law as written failed to distinguish that fact, despite the fact that the law did contain several exceptions. The Court stated that recordings of truly private conversations would remain under the scope of the statute, as a narrower interpretation of law better serves the intent in enacting it.

In addition, the statute criminalized conduct that, seen another way, is perfectly legal. For example, if a person overheard a conversation without recording it and later quoted a portion of the communication in a publication, no law would be broken. However, if the same person merely recorded a conversation without having published any of its contents, the act would be a crime.

The Court concluded that the statute went too far in trying to protect a citizen’s interest in private conversations, and that it put more burden on free speech than necessary to serve its interests. The Court deemed the statute overly broad and, therefore, unconstitutional.

In addition to the enactment of new laws, laws that have been on the books change and are tested in Court regularly. While every member of the public may not be aware of this fact, it is an attorney’s responsibility to keep informed of new laws and changes to existing ones. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights is so important. If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, contact the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation.

Severe Consequences for Fatal DUI Driver

April 21st, 2014 at 2:22 pm

drug crimes, lawyer, attorney, criminal defense lawyer, criminal defense attorney, Illinois, ChicagoMany people struggle with addiction and as a result, many criminal cases involve the use, possession, or other acts that occur while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. While these cases alone are often troubling, combining the use of illicit substances and deciding to operate a vehicle can significantly compound a tragic outcome. Such was the case for a man who was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison after being responsible for a fatal accident while under the influence of drug and alcohol.

The Criminal Case

The defendant was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, heroin, and alprazolam at the time of the crash that occurred when he rear-ended a car, killing an 11-year-old boy and severely injuring another car occupant. The car struck was stopped in a line of other vehicles because of an earlier accident that occurred on the road.

After the accident, a urine analysis determined that the defendant had heroin and alprazolam in his system in addition to an illegal amount of alcohol while driving. He pleaded guilty late last year to two counts of aggravated DUI, which meant he would face a maximum sentence of 14 years of incarceration. He was sentenced last week to 12 years jail time, plus a $4,500 fine. Illinois law will require him to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.

The Dangers of Heroin Use

This case represents just one of the dangers of heroin use. Not only was the incident that claimed the life of an 11-year-old completely preventable, but the defendant will have to deal with the consequences of his actions for the rest of his life. The prosecutor on the case used the defendant’s sentencing hearing as an opportunity to expand on the potential repercussions of using the drug. He stated that heroin in particular is a highly addictive drug that quickly leads users to uncontrollably self-destruct. While the issue of addiction is one that deserves attention, it takes a back seat when that addiction gives rise to criminal behavior that has permanent, devastating effects on other people.

This case represents one of the most tragic outcomes possible for those who participate in drug use. Cases involving the illicit use of drugs and alcohol commonly bring up addiction and treatment issues for the perpetrator of the crime, but in cases like these, where a life is lost senselessly, the needs of the defendant are often secondary to the interest in public safety. If you have been charged with a crime involving drugs, it is crucial to speak to a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney about your options and rights. The attorneys at the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley have successful experience representing clients charged with drug offenses in the Chicago area. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

The Basics of Shoplifting in Illinois

April 14th, 2014 at 4:20 pm

shoplifting, theft, retail theft, Illinois criminal law, criminal defense, lawyer, ChicagoShoplifting is typically a crime committed by citizens who follow the majority of other laws. The National Association for Shoplifting Prevention reported that between 2001 and 2006, roughly 10 million people were caught shoplifting. It is also estimated that almost 10 percent of all Americans shoplift.

The National Self Help & Support Center defines shoplifting as “theft or stealing of any kind from a retail store…taking merchandise from a retail store without paying for it or without intending to pay for it.”

What’s important to know is that shoplifting laws are different in every state and many laws also vary between each local jurisdiction as well. This post is specific to Illinois

If you have been caught shoplifting for the first time, you should call a criminal attorney to help you get a lighter penalty for your first offense. Many factors will be considered when the court decides what your sentence will be including if you have completed an education program and if you have shoplifted previously.

Information from the store where you have been accused of shoplifting will also be accounted for such as what you stole and what occurred when you were caught. Whether or not you had a proper ID when you were caught will also be included.

Another detail that is taken into account it how much you shoplifted, the value of the item(s) that were stolen. Typically, the offense is less serious and only considered a misdemeanor if it costs under $500. However, if the cost exceeds $500, the charge may escalate to a felony and have more serious consequences.

It is possible to get community service, be sentenced to an education program related to shoplifting, or some other form of sentence other than prison if the charge is not extreme.

Also note that you do not have to be the person who actually took the merchandise from the store to be charged if you are with someone when they have shoplifted. You may be seen as an assistant to the shoplifter.

Lastly, shoplifting occurs in many forms including changing the price tag on an item and buying for an incorrect price. You can also be charged for shoplifting if you are sampling foods that you have not paid for as you shop. For example, if you are walking through the produce section of a grocery store and you pick a few grapes off of the bunch and eat them that is a chargeable offense.

If you have been charged with shoplifting, contact a criminal attorney to help you in an Illinois court today. Even if you have been wrongly accused or the charge is small, an attorney can help you get a better or alternative sentence today.

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