Search
Facebook Twitter Google Our Blog
The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
24 HOUR ANSWERING | 847-394-3200
SERVICE

1855 Rohlwing Road, Suite D, Rolling Meadows, IL 60008

24 HOUR ANSWERING SERVICE

Archive for the ‘Criminal Defense Attorney’ tag

When is Trespassing a Crime?

May 15th, 2017 at 9:04 am

trespassing, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense LawyerAs a youth , sneaking into a movie theater or a pool after hours may seem like good fun; however, making a choice such as this can turn into a criminal trespassing arrest or conviction.

Illinois law sets out what kind of activity is considered criminally liable trespassing. Those elements include but are not limited to the following:

  • A person knowingly, without lawful authority, enters or remains within or on a building;
  • A person enters land owned by another, and the owner gave notice that entry was forbidden;
  • A person remains upon the land of another after receiving notice that entry was forbidden;
  • A person falsely gains access to premises for which general public entry is forbidden; and
  • A person intentionally removes notice that entry is forbidden.

What Are the Penalties for Criminal Trespassing?

This is a question for your Rolling Meadows, Cook County criminal trespassing defense attorney. The penalties will vary depending on the circumstances of each crime. Generally, criminal trespassing in Illinois is a misdemeanor. Therefore, a conviction will likely encompass a fine; however, it can also land you in jail for up to a year. There are different categories of criminal trespassing, and include:

  • Criminal trespass to vehicles;
  • Criminal trespass to real property;
  • Criminal trespass to state supported land;
  • Criminal trespass to restricted areas;
  • Criminal trespass to a nuclear facility; and
  • Criminal trespass to a place of public amusement.

Each variation of trespassing can give you a varying penalty, or be used in conjunction with another crime which can also affect the sentence handed down. It is important that you speak with a knowledgeable Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney about the potential repercussions you may face as well as map out a strategy for your defense.

What Defenses Are Available?

The type of trespassing you are charged with will drive the defenses that you have available to you. For example, a common defense to the trespass of land is arguing that there was not sufficient notice to forbid entrance. It may also be argued that the land you were trespassing on was open to the public and therefore you did not break the law by being present on it. Ignorance of the law or mistake of fact are typically not defenses to trespass.

Been Arrested for Trespassing?

If you or a loved one has been charged with a trespassing crime, then it is crucial that you get the dedicated and insightful representation you deserve. Attorney Christopher M. Cosley has nearly two decades of standing up for his clients rights and providing criminal defense every step of the way for his clients. Contact our skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer at 847-394-3200, 24 hours a day, to schedule your consultation. Do not face these charges alone.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K21-3

Types of Criminal Trespass and Attempted Criminal Trespass in Illinois

January 16th, 2017 at 7:00 am

criminal trespass, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense AttorneyTrespassing is a serious offense, and many people in Illinois are charged with criminal trespass every year. If you are facing criminal trespassing charges, you should not delay in speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled lawyer can help you assess your legal options and can assist you with building a defense strategy.

Criminal trespassing under Illinois law occurs when a person unlawfully and without authority knowingly enters the property of another or remains on the property of another without permission. Criminal trespass exists in several forms including:

  • Criminal trespass to a residence. Under 720 ILCS 5/19-4, the crime occurs whenever you knowingly and without permission enter the residence of another. Alternatively, it can be criminal trespass to a residence if you enter someone’s residence with permission, but then stay longer than you were authorized to stay. Criminal trespass to a residence might occur if you may have been invited to someone’s home for a party, but then you did not leave when you were asked to leave and you stayed in the home after your permission to be there had expired or been revoked.
  • Criminal trespass to a vehicle. Under 720 ILCS 5/21-2, the crime of criminal trespass to a vehicle occurs when you access a vehicle belonging to someone else. The vehicle could be an automobile, a snowmobile, or a watercraft. It is also criminal trespass to a vehicle to operate someone else’s vehicle without permission. Carjacking or car theft is sometimes reduced to criminal trespass to a vehicle.
  • Criminal trespass to real property. Under 720 ILCS 5/21-3, the crime of criminal trespass to real property happens when you enter property belonging to someone else without permission. It is also criminal trespass to property if you were permitted to be on the property, but are then asked to leave but you do not. This offense is common in situations where bar or restaurant patrons are asked to leave a bar or restaurant for being disruptive or fighting, but they do not leave the premises. It is also common for people to be charged with criminal trespass to real property when there are posted signs prohibiting entry onto someone’s property but the signs are ignored.

When the prosecution is unable to establish every element required to convict you of criminal trespass, of either a residence, vehicle, or real property, it might be possible to reduce the charges against you to attempted criminal trespass. This means that there was evidence to suggest you were trying to commit a criminal trespass but did not successfully complete the trespass.

Criminal Trespassing Charges Need A Defense Lawyer

Criminal trespassing charges can truly affect your future in a negative manner. You need the help of an experienced professional who will be able to help you through the legal system. Do not hesitate and reach out to an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K19-4

Choosing a DUI Defense Lawyer: What You Should Know

December 23rd, 2016 at 9:20 am

Choosing a DUI Defense Lawyer, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense AttorneyIf you are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol in Illinois, it is critically important that you fight the criminal charges that are pending against you. In order to do that, you will need an experienced DUI criminal defense attorney by your side fighting for you the whole way. These are important charges that you need to get reduced or dismissed—the consequences of being convicted for a DUI are life-altering and long-lasting. At worst, a lawyer can simply ensure that you receive fair treatment under the law. Consider the following when looking for a DUI defense attorney.

An Attorney Who is Qualified and Experienced

If you have been charged with a DUI, it is important to hire an attorney who is experienced in handling DUI defenses just like yours. An experienced DUI criminal defense attorney will know the specifics of the law, will understand the criminal court system, and will listen to you as you explain what happened that caused you to get arrested. The outcome of your defense will impact your life in a big way. Do not put your fate into the hands of an inexperienced attorney.

Consider Interviewing Prospective Lawyers

Do not be afraid to request an interview with a few criminal defense attorneys that you are considering hiring. Conducting an interview will give you a chance to meet the attorney in person and have an initial conversation together. Conducting an interview is a great opportunity to determine if the attorney will really listen to you, and can help you determine if he or she is a good communicator.

What is the Cost?

It is a good idea to figure out up front how a criminal defense attorney will be paid for his or her time and what that time will cost you. You will want a lawyer who is appropriately priced for your particular circumstances, and you should get a better understanding about how your lawyer will bill you before he or she begins working on your defense.

Get a Lawyer Who Will Explore All of Your Legal Options

Having options is good.  It is best to work with a criminal defense attorney who will consider all of the legal options that are available to you. It is even better if your attorney can tell you about the pros and cons of each legal option you have, and the likelihood of success that each option offers you.

Call The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you need to hire a passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney to help you with your DUI defense, make sure that you take some time to figure out which attorney is right for you. Criminal defense attorneys are not all alike, and you may find that you can work better with a certain attorney, rather than others.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501

New Crime Free Housing Ordinance in Pekin

August 22nd, 2014 at 8:13 am

Cook County criminal attorney, crime free housing, Crime Free Housing Ordinance, educate landlords, rental unit crimes, criminal defense attorney, commit crime, criminal behavior, crime chargesA new housing ordinance was recently passed in the city of Pekin in an effort to help landlords address issues with problem tenants, as well as to deal with irresponsible landlords who ignore illegal activities that occur on their property. According to the new ordinance, renters in Pekin who commit crimes risk being kicked out of their rentals if they continue to engage in criminal behavior. Pekin is just one of several other communities in Illinois with similar ordinances.

Requirements

The new Crime Free Housing Ordinance requires a payment from landlords of $10, which will be used to help fund the program. The fee will reportedly help pay for educational classes and other costs associated with the program. It is not meant to generate a new funding source for the city. The fee will be a single fee per landlord, regardless of how many properties he or she owns. Other communities with similar ordinances charge landlords per housing unit.

The ordinance will also require landlords to attend a four-hour long seminar put on by the city. Its aim is to educate landlords on the new ordinance, give tips for screening rental unit applicants, and share information on state landlord-tenant laws as well as other relevant information. A copy of the ordinance must be attached to any future rental agreement and will apply to all crimes committed in the rental unit, on the lot of the unit, or in common areas of a complex. It will also include crimes committed by visitors while on the property.

In Effect

While the ordinance gives landlords some discretion to deal with offenses as they deem appropriate, it also gives them the tools they need to have good renters. The crime free ordinance allows the landlord to evict a tenant for any crime committed. According to the ordinance though, landlords will be notified by police if they have been called to an incident on their property for a criminal matter. The landlord must then address the issue with the tenant, either through eviction or by other means, or risk being fined anywhere from $250 to $750 for each unit per day the violation exists. After that, the landlord’s license to operate a rental property within the city can be suspended or revoked. The local police department said it plans on working with landlords to achieve compliance before revocation occurs.

Criminal Law Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is beneficial to discuss your case with an experienced Cook County criminal attorney who can protect your rights. The team of criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in a variety of criminal matters. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Our office is located in Rolling Meadows.

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.

Indirect Effects of Mandatory Minimum Sentences

April 17th, 2014 at 12:37 pm

mandatory minimum sentenceDefendants who are convicted of certain types of crimes – including murder, sex offenses, and drug crimes – face sentences that often include mandatory minimum incarceration time. These are minimum periods of incarceration that leave very little room for judicial discretion or leniency in their imposition, and can amount to decades spent in jail for the defendants.

The intended purposes that are achieved by such mandatory minimum sentences include deterrence, protecting the public, and punishment of the perpetrator. However, such lengthy mandatory sentences also have indirect effects that ripple outward from the defendant. As a recent article discussed, mandatory minimum sentences involve collateral damage to children of defendants who are forced to parent from prison.

A Wave of Incarcerated Parents

Just before the year 2000, there were almost 1.5 million minor children who had a parent that was incarcerated. That number represented an approximate 50 percent increase from the same statistic in 1991. The significant increase is arguable directly correlated to the emergence and imposition of mandatory minimum sentences, which caused an influx of incarcerated individuals as judges’ discretion was severely limited in handing out prison terms.

Mandatory minimums were a response to the rising crime rates and drug problems of the 1980s. The new sentencing structure applied to a wider array of crimes and increased penalties associated with them. This not only caused prison populations to dramatically rise over the next number of years, but also made costs significantly rise as well. The effects on children and families of those incarcerated were occurring simultaneously.

The Effect on Children and Families

Families are more vulnerable as the result of the policy shift towards mandatory minimums. Further, the opportunities and life chances that children of incarcerated parents may otherwise have are greatly reduced. This is not surprising, considering the fact that in cases such as these, the parent-child relationship is almost exclusively limited to phone interaction, if at all. While many credit the current low crime rates as a direct benefit of mandatory minimums, there is a detectable, however slight, shift in thinking when it comes to the harsh penalties.

Society seems to be viewing the policy and considering who should really be behind bars. One problem with mandatory minimum sentences is the ability to abuse them, especially in drug cases. Prosecutors often bolster the facts and weight of the illegal substances, which is directly tied to the length of a mandatory minimum sentence, in order to gain additional information, implicate others, and produce confessions. This could lead to extreme penalties for low-level associates with minor involvement in the drug trade, while other offenders, including rapists, kidnappers, and even murderers, serve just a fraction of the sentence.

Alternatives to Prison

The change in societal thinking toward mandatory minimum sentences is reflected in the formation of non-profit groups and organizations that focus on promoting alternatives to prison and organizing families of prisoners in order to advocate change. Such ideas are gaining popularity among politicians from both sides. The discussion is directed more toward being smart on crime as opposed to being unnecessarily tough on crime. The ideas are most relevant to non-violent offenders who do not have a long criminal history. Bills are being passed to lower mandatory minimums, even making the change retroactive.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Although the public seems to be increasingly in favor of once again giving judges discretion in imposing sentences, others argue that mandatory minimums are still appropriate in cases involving hardened criminals and the most serious crimes. If you are charged with a crime in the Chicago area, it is best to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today and schedule a consultation. We will work diligently to protect your rights.

“Ban the Box” Fight and Related Recidivism Risk

April 3rd, 2014 at 7:56 am

ban the box, criminal history, job application, felony, felon, discrimination, Chicago criminal defense lawyerIn filling out numerous types of documents and applications required for everyday things, many of us have likely noticed questions related to prior felony convictions. It may not be applicable to everyone, but for those who have to indicate a prior conviction, it could mean they are denied a job or a home and, as a result, a new start. A recent article discussed the discrimination associated with those who have a criminal record, as well as a campaign started by a prisoners’ rights organization aimed at removing the question from public employee forms.

Ban the Box

Ten years ago, the organization All of Us or None began the “Ban the Box” campaign, which 10 states and dozens of local jurisdictions have joined, in an effort to get any questions about prior felony convictions removed from public employee forms. They have had some success recently, which has propelled a movement at the national level to improve hiring opportunities for mostly non-violent criminal offenders.

States and Local Jurisdictions are Responding

In San Francisco, the mayor signed the Fair Chance Ordinance into law, which not only addressed the question appearing on public employee forms, but also on paperwork related to affordable housing and private employers with more than 20 employees. The idea is that punishing someone twice for the same past mistake is not a worthwhile goal.

The state of Illinois has implemented similar state laws regarding the removal of conviction history questions on public employment applications, and Chicago is among the jurisdictions mentioned above that have implemented ban the box policies.

Limits of Ban the Box

Although many states and jurisdictions may be taking actions in preventing initial disclosure of criminal history to avoid employers automatically disqualifying prior convicts for a given position, it will not prevent the information from being shared at all. Rather, many laws (like the one passed in California last year) will specify that the job applicant does not have to disclose criminal convictions until after a potential employer determines that the applicant otherwise meets the minimum qualifications required for the job.

Some States Hesitant to Follow Suit

While some jurisdictions in the south have implemented ban the box, no southern states have taken the step to pass or propose such a law going into effect. In order for the movement as a whole to be successful, the idea needs to be implemented in different places across the country, and also needs to include private employment practices, housing, and loan applications. The overarching theme of the movement is not only equal treatment, but also a shift in society’s thinking so that all people can hope for a better life.

Criminal Defense Attorney

There have been numerous issues involving criminal justice and improvements to the system in the United States that have developed lately. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you not only in protecting your rights in court, but in giving you the best chance of improving your life going forward. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation if you have been charged with a crime in Chicago or the surrounding area.

Do Crime Dramas Promote Police Violence?

March 31st, 2014 at 7:00 am

crime shows, Criminal Defense Attorney, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosle, promote violence, television violence, criminal justice, Chicago Police Department, Chicago PD, police violence, crime dramasThere is no shortage of crime dramas on television today. On almost any day, at almost any hour, you are practically guaranteed to find such a show being aired on at least one network. Most of these shoes involve any variety of law enforcement officers solving a crime and apprehending a suspect before the hour is up. And in many instances, the officers depicted use whatever means necessary to catch the perpetrator to or get a confession. The overarching theme suggested is that police violence, even when extreme, is an acceptable way to battle crime.

Recently, an interesting article explored this idea in depth as it specifically related to a particular crime show, “Chicago PD.” While not every idea posed by the article is mentioned here, a handful of topics the article discussed are especially relevant to criminal defense and criminal defendants in the Chicago area.

Shifts in Public Opinion

The popularity of such crime dramas seems to indicate that the public at large is accepting of police abuse. Social events in past decades have perpetuated the threat of crime to the forefront of  an individual’s mind across the nation. As a result, the media responded by promoting crime dramas that feature severely predatory criminals against noble police officers. The reality is that these shows provide much of the public’s knowledge about crime and criminal justice. Not only do the shows often fail to depict an accurate picture of the reality of criminality, but they also serve to shield the police from having their actions inspected and held accountable by the public in real life.

The Real Chicago PD

No matter how virtuous police characters in crime dramas are portrayed, the reality is that in the last 14 years, there have been 102 criminal convictions of Chicago police officers. While this number may seem staggering, it represents only a small fraction of those incidents that were investigated where charges were filed and pursued. Between 2002 and 2004, not even two percent of complaints against the police for excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, and false arrests against civilians led to any type of legal action.

It is well known that in the 1970s and 1990s, officers of the Chicago Police Department regularly used torture tactics on suspects to elicit confessions, tactics that their authority figures knew about and ignored. Since the news broke in 1990, there have been attempts made to give victims justice, but this was not achieved in all cases. Many blame the systematic torture and later cover-up by a “Code of Silence” that seems to be ingrained into the department as a whole, which allows officers to behave in any way they wish without threat of being sanctioned. While the show of the same name denies attempting to reflect violence as it exists in Chicago or how the Chicago PD deals with it, the problem lies in the fact that many viewers may see the show as doing just that.

Viewer’s Perception of Criminal Justice

According to the article, a study revealed that those who regularly watch crime dramas are overall more likely to fear crime. This corresponds to a perception of police effectiveness and a tendency to cause a desire for punishment in sentencing against criminal perpetrators. The logic is that the punitive sanctions will reduce the number of offenders of certain crimes, which also reduces the fear of crime in general. In short, the research suggests that even if the public realizes that media is not reality, it still works to shape its worldview.

Crime dramas mostly encourage the idea that crime is an individual choice without recognizing that in reality, the majority of crime stems from social, structural, and economic factors that influence people into situations in which crimes occur. But instead, the public at large believes that evil people are the root of all crime, as evidenced by the current system of mass incarceration that reflects the idea of harsh penalties when it comes to imposing punishment on those convicted of a crime. Crime dramas act to validate the notion that the only solution to crime is to allow the police to have more power, which is neither realistic nor desirable in society today, and has the capability of leading to serious civil rights violations.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

Many social topics are at play here, and history has proven that social opinion and thinking is an ever changing notion that evolves over time. However, regardless of societal views, there are laws and protections afforded to criminal defendants and suspects of a police investigation. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights is imperative. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. Our offices are located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and we handle cases in Cook County.

Should Ex-Felons be Able to Vote?

March 3rd, 2014 at 12:47 pm

criminal justice reform, new law, Illinois law, criminal justice system, Chicago criminal defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorneyAn article recently published by MSNBC explored the possibility for formerly incarcerated individuals to have rights restored that were previously made unavailable to them.

Criminal Justice Symposium

According to a speech Attorney General Eric Holder delivered at a bipartisan criminal justice symposium, the attitude toward disenfranchisement of those previously in prison is starting to be considered unnecessary, unethical, and not productive at all. He said that the laws were based on outdated notions rooted in exclusion and fear and, more seriously, have a disparate impact on minorities. The symposium, hosted by the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, is evidence of the push from civil rights groups for reform of the criminal justice system.

Issues Result from Current Criminal Justice System

Part of the problem is the large number, over 1.5 million, of people who are incarcerated in the United States. Almost six million have lost the right to vote as the result of laws that apply to those previously in prison. Legislators are working on laws to lower required minimum sentences at the federal level and grant judges more freedom in handing down extreme sentences.

On the state level, government leaders have made budget cuts by decreasing prison populations. Civil rights groups are hoping that current low crime rates are an indication that the time is right for changes to the criminal justice system.

Criminal Justice Reform a Bipartisan Issue

It seems that criminal justice reform is a subject both political parties can support. Last month, the Smart Sentencing Act was passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is means to reduce the federal mandatory minimum sentences associated with certain drug crimes not involving violence, make certain defendants eligible for reduced sentences, and make the law retroactive which reduces the disparity in sentencing conditions for crack and powder cocaine. While the bill’s passing is positive evidence of bipartisan support, there is not as much agreement regarding increased punishment for crimes involving terrorism, domestic assault, and sexual violence against women.

Bipartisan Support may be Fragile

Still, given the current climate of combined low crime rates and economic concerns, this is seen as an opportunity to make changes that some considered long overdue. Not only will changes to the criminal justice system mean direct effects for the system itself, but indirect effects are also certain. For example, the article states that currently, the number of children in the United States with an incarcerated parent is about equal to the population of Chicago. There is a concern that the perceived agreement between parties regarding criminal justice is delicate and may be fleeting if other criminal matters are introduced and considered by Congress.

These and other changes in the criminal justice system and criminal laws in the state of Illinois are important and could affect your rights. An experienced criminal defense attorney is responsible for keeping informed about changes in the law and procedure. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, contact us today for a consultation.

Back to Top Back to Top Back to Top