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Archive for the ‘Criminal Defense Lawyer’ tag

What Should I Ask When Interviewing a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

October 13th, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Criminal Defense Lawyer, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer, criminal offense, retain legal services, criminal defense strategyIf you have been charged with a criminal offense, hiring a criminal defense lawyer should be the top priority on your to-do list. But how should you go about doing this? It is critical that you hire an attorney who is a good fit for both you and your case.

Therefore, researching local attorneys who routinely defend clients against charges similar to yours, and who are well respected in the community, is essential. The Illinois State Bar Association’s Your Guide to Hiring a Lawyer can help you do this.

Next, sit down with the attorney in order to assess whether or not he or she and his or her firm are a good fit for you.

Consider Asking the Following Questions When Interviewing an Attorney

When interviewing a criminal defense attorney, your main goal should be to assess whether or not the attorney is well equipped to defend your legal interests, is someone you can trust, and has legal fees that are manageable with regard to your  financial situation.

Consider asking the following questions during your interview:

  1. Do you routinely handle cases like mine?

It is important to understand that the legal skills needed to competently defend a client against a DUI allegation or a murder charge are quite different. While an attorney may be well versed in one area of criminal law, he or she may have only had limited experience handling cases involving a different area of the law. Therefore, be sure to ask the attorney you are interviewing whether or not he or she routinely handles criminal cases similar to yours.

  1. What sort of defense strategy would you suggest given the facts of my case?

Although your attorney will only have had a chance to give your case a preliminary evaluation at this point, he or she will likely still be able to give you his or her initial impressions of the case and discuss the defense strategy that he or she would likely favor given the facts as the attorney knows them to be at the present time.

You can also ask the attorney what he or she believes the likely outcome of your case will be. However, be aware that an attorney can never guarantee a client a particular result. Still, an experienced lawyer will often be able to give you an idea of what you can expect to happen.

  1. How much will retaining your services cost me?

While it is not likely that the attorney will be able to give you an exact dollar amount during an initial consultation, he or she will be able to explain how his or her fee structure works and can give you a ballpark estimate of what you can expect to pay for services rendered.

It should be noted that a criminal case that ends up going to trial will rack up considerably steeper legal fees than one that is quickly settled outside of court. Hence, you may want to ask the attorney for two cost estimates—one if the case settles and the other if it goes to court.

Contact a Local Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Attorney

At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we understand how daunting it can be to hire a passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. We know it is critical that you hire an attorney who has both the experience in handling cases similar to yours and one whom you have confidence in and trust. Therefore, we offer prospective clients the opportunity to meet with Attorney Christopher Cosley during a free consultation before retaining our legal services. During this initial meeting Mr. Cosley will review the facts of your case, answer any questions that you might have, and discuss your legal options with you.

Source:

https://www.isba.org/sites/default/files/publications/pamphlets/Hiring%20a%20Lawyer.pdf

Are Synthetic Drugs Illegal in Illinois?

March 27th, 2017 at 8:26 am

synthetic drugs, Rolling Meadows Drug Offenses AttorneyIn just the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in the volume of synthetic drugs available on the streets of Illinois. Synthetic drugs, also sometimes referred to as designer drugs, are substances that mimic the effect of illegal drugs and that fall outside of the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration. They often contain controlled substances and because there are so many different types and formulations of synthetic drugs, it is difficult to predict the effect the synthetic drugs have from one user to the next. A common factor amongst synthetic drugs is that they are often addictive, and can be highly dangerous because of the unpredictable effect that these drugs can have on users.

Are Synthetic Drugs Illegal in Illinois?

Synthetic drugs are just as illegal as their chemically similar counterparts and are prohibited under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. Prior to 2016, Illinois law was not very well defined when it came to prohibiting the use and possession of synthetic drugs. However, the passage of Senate Bill 1129 effectively curbed synthetic drug use among Illinoisans by making them illegal.

Synthetic drugs can include compounds such as:

  • Synthetic marijuana, i.e., spice or K2;
  • Ketamine or Special K;
  • GBL (gamma-butyrolactone);
  • Bath salts;
  • Synthetic heroin; and
  • Synthetic PCP.

Many synthetic drugs are considered Schedule 1 drugs. The sale and distribution of these synthetic drugs is a felony level offense. If you have been charged with a drug offense involving synthetic drugs, it is imperative that you get in touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Defending Against Synthetic Drug Charges

Anyone who is charged with a synthetic drug offense needs to work closely with a skilled and experienced criminal defense lawyer who has an extensive history working on synthetic drug cases. You could face a felony level penalty if you are convicted on a synthetic drug charge, which means you could face lengthy jail time and a significant fine. Additionally, you will have a criminal record including a drug conviction, which can have a long term impact on your life.

There are many possible defenses that could be raised, and which defenses are relevant to your particular circumstances will depend on the facts surrounding your particular alleged offense. For instance, it might be possible to raise a defense concerning your knowledge that you had possession of the synthetic drug, or it might be pertinent to raise a defense against whether you had possession of the synthetic drug. There may be issues concerning the illegal search and seizure of the synthetic drug as evidence by law enforcement, or your arrest might have been illegal. You should work closely with a criminal defense lawyer to work out your best defense strategy.

Let Us Help You with Your Case

Being charged with a synthetic drug offense is just as serious as being charged with a crime related to the real thing. Please contact a passionate Rolling Meadows drug offenses attorney immediately to be working aggressively on your case.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=1941&ChapterID=53

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocTypeID=SB&DocNum=1129&GAID=13&SessionID=88&LegID=86576

Potential Defenses to Illinois Burglary Charges

May 4th, 2016 at 8:46 am

Illinois burglary charges, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense AttorneyWhen you are facing burglary or residential burglary charges, the first thing that you should do is to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. There are several possible defenses to these criminal charges that a criminal defendant can raise, depending on specific circumstances surrounding the alleged crime. Your lawyer can figure out if any defenses apply to your case after discussing the specifics of your alleged crime with you.

Potential Defenses to Burglary Charges

There can be a number of possible defense to burglary and residential burglary charges. Some potential defenses to criminal burglary charges can include:

  1. Consent was given. In order to commit burglary, the defendant must enter or remain in a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, railroad car, or any part thereof without authority. If the defendant had permission from the property owner to enter or be in the property that was allegedly burglarized, then the defendant may have an affirmative defense to the burglary charges.
  2. Lack of intent. The defendant must have had the intent to commit a felony or theft in order to be convicted on burglary charges. If the defendant lacked the requisite intent, the defendant cannot be convicted of burglary. It is possible that the defendant committed a lesser crime, but not specifically burglary.
  3. The property that was allegedly burglarized is not a “building or structure” or a “dwelling.” Under 720 ILCS 5/19-1(a), the “building or structure” must be one of a building, house trailer, watercraft, aircraft, motor vehicle, or railroad car. Under 720, ILCS 5/2-6, a “dwelling” must be a building, tent, vehicle, or other enclosed space where a person lives. If the location that was allegedly burglarized is something other than one of the buildings, structures, or a dwelling, as specified under the law, then the burglary charges could be dropped or reduced to a lesser offense.
  4. Mistaken identity. In a situation where a witness “identified” you as the alleged perpetrator of the burglary, you might be the unfortunate victim of a misidentification. If you are misidentified as the culprit, you may in fact be actually innocent of the alleged crime. If you have been misidentified, your criminal defense lawyer will work diligently to collect and present evidence to demonstrate your innocence.

Let Us Assist You with Your Case

If you are convicted on burglary charges, it can result in a felony conviction, which is a serious matter. Whatever the circumstances might be behind the allegations that you or a loved one committed burglary, it is important to talk with a skilled criminal defense lawyer who can help fight those burglary charges. Please do not hesitate to contact a compassionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney immediately if you are facing burglary or residential burglary charges in Illinois. Our attorneys are eager to help you.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=62600000&SeqEnd=63400000

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072000050K2-6.htm

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.

Zero Tolerance in Illinois

April 10th, 2014 at 12:34 pm

zero tolerance, DUI, driving under the influence, Chicago criminal defense lawyer, DUI defense attorney in IllinoisAccording to United States law, no person under the age of 21 is allowed to consume alcohol and no person of any age is allowed to drive while intoxicated. Many times, adults will have a couple drinks and drive home safely, with a blood alcohol content below the legal level of 0.08. If a person under 21, however, is pulled over and is found to have a blood alcohol content of anything above 0.0, he or she can be charged.

This is called the zero tolerance policy of Illinois for underage drinking, says  CyberDriveIllinois.com. If a person under 21 is caught driving with even a trace of alcohol in his or her system, he or she will lose all driving privileges. Police officers can only pull over a person if he or she has probable cause.

Probable causes can include:

  • Driving over the speed limit;
  • Running a red/yellow light;
  • Not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign or four-way stop;
  • Not driving straight in the traffic lane.

The zero tolerance law says:

  • No person under the age of 21 can purchase, accept, possess, or consume alcohol. Penalties may be suspension/revocation of driving privileges;
  • Any person under 21 who receives court supervision as penalty will receive 3-month suspension of driving privileges;
  • Certain exemptions include religious and medical reasons;
  • All states have zero tolerance laws;
  • Other penalties may be fines, jail time, high insurance costs, mandatory alcohol evaluation and treatment, negative effects on driving record, and negative effects on job opportunities.

If you are caught with alcohol in your system while driving and you are under 21, your driving privileges will be suspended for 3 months. The suspension will be lengthened to one year for a second offense.

Although you can refuse to take a test to determine your blood alcohol level, you can be charged for refusal or failure to complete the test if you are under 21. The first time you refuse, your driving privileges will be suspended for 6 months and as a second offense, they will be suspended for 2 years.

Keep your driving record clean by not drinking and driving. If you have been caught drinking and driving, especially if you are under the age of 21, contact an Illinois criminal attorney to help you in court today.

“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.

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

February 28th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

criminal hearing, homicide, murder, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, guilty pleaThe Chicago Tribune recently ran an article about a defendant who withdrew his guilty plea in connection with a murder charge. The 22-year-old man, from Aurora, had pled guilty to murdering a woman in October of 2005, when he was just 14 years old.

 Appellate Court Decision

The hearing came in light of last year’s appellate court decision, which stated that the defendant’s 2009 guilty plea was invalid, as it provided for a 45-year minimum sentence, and not the 35-year sentence he should have received as the result of entering a plea to first-degree murder. The Illinois Supreme Court declined to hear the case when county prosecutors appealed the appellate court’s decision.

 New Criminal Process

There was a short court hearing on February 11th, which served to reset the criminal process against the defendant in light of the appellate court opinion allowing him to withdraw his plea. It was the first court hearing since the decision.

 Case Background

The defendant’s current charges stem from the murder of an Aurora woman during a home invasion on October 31, 2005. Her body was discovered by law enforcement two months later in Batavia Township. The Defendant, who is a Sudanese immigrant and had a significant juvenile record prior to this incident, was originally arrested for the murder in 2007. When he pled guilty in 2009, he almost immediately tried to withdraw his plea.

 Illinois Law Regarding Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

According to the law in Illinois, certain procedural and legislative requirements have to be met in order for a defendant in a criminal case to  withdraw a guilty plea. A motion to withdraw a guilty plea must be filed within 30 days of the date it is entered. This time limit must be met in order for a judge to even consider hearing the motion.

If the Judge agrees to hear the motion, the defendant must show that the guilty plea was not made knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily. This is usually difficult to do, as criminal procedure usually requires the defendant to be fully informed of the rights he or she is waiving as the result of pleading guilty and the consequences of doing so. Established case law has stated that guilty pleas will not be withdrawn unless it is necessary to correct a manifest injustice.  Therefore, it is usually exceedingly difficult to successfully withdraw a guilty plea once it is entered.

All that being said, while it is difficult to withdraw a guilty plea, it is not impossible, as the case previously mentioned demonstrates. An experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can advise you of your rights and likelihood for success in light of the facts of your particular case. If you or someone you know is charged with a crime in the state of Illinois, contact us today.

The Defense of Entrapment in Illinois

December 17th, 2013 at 8:20 am

Some criminal defendants find themselves charged with a crime as the result of police “encouragement,” which may involve an undercover officer or confidential informant interacting with the defendant in the commission of the crime. When a defendant in this situation discovers the extent of the circumstances surrounding his or her arrest, there are usually serious concerns and questions that arise almost immediately concerning the legality of the police conduct.  Illinois law provides guidance on this issue.

entrapmentThe law in Illinois provides for the affirmative defense of entrapment, which is meant to provide protection against law enforcement’s use of aggressive or reprehensible tactics in inducing criminal conduct. According to the relevant statute, a person is not guilty of a criminal offense if his or her conduct is incited or induced by the police or their agent for the purpose of obtaining evidence against them. See 720 ILCS 5/7-12.  However, this defense is not available if the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime and law enforcement’s actions merely afforded the defendant the opportunity or ability to commit the offense. Typically, the defense of entrapment is relevant in “vice” crimes, such as prostitution or drug deals, since these crimes are committed privately with willing victims who will not otherwise report the crime, which makes normal detection exceedingly difficult.

It is the defendant’s burden to raise the defense of entrapment and prove it to the necessary degree in order to be successful in getting the charges dismissed by the court.  Essentially, in raising the affirmative defense of entrapment, the defendant is admitting to the crime, but arguing to the court that the reason they did so was because law enforcement induced them into committing the illegal act.  On the other hand, if the government suggests the defense should not apply due to defendant’s predisposition, they must prove the same beyond a reasonable doubt in order to overcome the affirmative defense of entrapment. In order to prove disposition, the government may attempt to introduce evidence such as prior convictions or prior conduct, readiness of acceptance, admissions made by the defendant, and evidence as to the defendant’s reputation.

Properly and successfully arguing the defense of entrapment requires thorough legal knowledge and skill. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in connection with government involvement, speaking with an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney about the facts of your case is critical. We can provide expert guidance in the defense of your charges, and advise you of and protect your rights while fighting for your best interests. Contact us today for a consultation.

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