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Archive for the ‘misdemeanor’ tag

What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?

January 22nd, 2018 at 7:22 am

 misdemeanor, criminal offenses, felony charge, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer, infractionsIf you enjoy watching courtroom dramas on television, then you have probably heard the terms “felony” and “misdemeanor” bantered about quite a bit. Yet perhaps you were not quite sure of their precise definitions. In the legal world, the meaning of these terms are quite important as they are used to distinguish one class of criminal offenses from another.

Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are typically crimes that are punishable by incarceration for up to one year and payment of a fine. Those who are sentenced to serve time for a misdemeanor offense are generally placed in county jail. Additionally, in certain misdemeanor trials, court appointed defense attorneys are available for defendants who cannot afford one.

Felonies

Felonies, on the other hand, fall into a more serious classification of crime and are generally punishable by incarceration in excess of one year and payment of a substantial fine. Offenders ordered to serve time for a felony offense are typically placed in a state or federal prison, as opposed to a local jail. Moreover, when an individual is charged with a felony, he or she has the right to a court appointed attorney if he or she is not able to afford legal representation.

Wobblers

It is also important to note that some criminal offenses can be tried as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. These crimes are said to be wobblers as they can wobble between being a felony or a misdemeanor. In these cases, it is within the prosecutor’s discretion whether to charge the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony. Additionally, it is within the presiding judge’s discretion whether to sentence the crime as a misdemeanor or as a felony.

But how is it determined whether a particular offense should be tried as a felony or as a misdemeanor? This determination is highly case specific, but the decision is made based mainly on the severity of the circumstances surrounding the crime.

Infractions

Finally, there is another classification of crime that you should be aware of: infractions. An infraction (also sometimes referred to as a “violation” or a “petty offense”) is much less serious than a misdemeanor or a felony and is generally punishable with a simple fine. However, under federal law a petty offense is defined as any misdemeanor offense for which the offender can not be sentenced to serve more than six months in jail nor pay a fine of more than $5,000.

Need Legal Advice?

If you have been accused of committing a crime in Illinois, then it is a good idea to consult with a dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer about your legal options as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley we understand how overwhelming it can be to be charged with a crime and are committed to helping each of our clients through the trying process of defending themselves against such accusations.

Source:

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

Illinois’ Disorderly Conduct Law

July 19th, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Disorderly Conduct, felony offense, misdemeanor, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, disorderly conduct defenseWhen an individual disturbs the peace in a manner that threatens public safety, it is likely that he or she has committed the crime of disorderly conduct. However, each state defines disorderly conduct a bit differently. Therefore, in order to determine whether a disruptive individual in Illinois can be rightfully convicted of disorderly conduct, one must closely examine our state’s disorderly conduct statute.

Illinois Compiled Statutes Section 26-1: Disorderly Conduct

Under 720 ILCS 5/26-1 a person commits disorderly conduct in Illinois when he or she knowingly:

  • Acts in an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another person and to incite a breach of the peace;
  • Tells, or causes another to tell, the fire department that there is a fire while knowing that it is not reasonable to believe that the fire exists;
  • Reports, or causes another to report, that an explosive device or a container holding a dangerous substance is hidden somewhere where its detonation or release would pose a risk to human life while knowing that it is not reasonable to believe that such a device or container exists;
  • Reports, or causes another to report, a threat of destruction against a school, or a threat of violence, death, or bodily harm aimed at people attending school or a school function;
  • Notifies, or causes another to notify, a police officer that an offense is currently being committed, will be committed, or has been committed while knowing that it is not reasonable to believe that what they are saying is true;
  • Makes a false report, or causes another to make a false report, to a public safety agency while knowing that it is not reasonable to believe that making such a report is necessary for the public welfare and safety;
  • Calls 911 with a false alarm or complaint while knowing that it is not reasonable to make such a call;
  • Transmits, or causes another to transmit, a false report to the Department of Children and Family Services or the Department of Public Health;
  • Issues, or causes another to issue, a false request for emergency medical services or for an ambulance from the police or fire department while knowing that it is not reasonable to believe that such assistance is required;
  • Makes a false report, or causes another to make a false report, under Article II of Public Act 83-1432;
  • Enters the property of another for a lewd or unlawful purpose and deliberately looks into a dwelling through a window or other opening; or
  • While acting as the employee of a collection agency, makes a phone call to an alleged debtor with the purpose of harassing, annoying, or intimidating them.

Penalties

In Illinois, disorderly conduct can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. Those convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct can face up to 30 days, six months, or one year in jail (depending on whether the offense was charged as a Class C, Class B, or Class A misdemeanor) and a fine of up to $2,500. However, those convicted of felony disorderly conduct can be sentenced to serve up to three or five years in prison (depending on whether the offense was charged as a Class 4 or Class 3 felony) and ordered to pay a fine of up to $10,000. Additionally, violators may also be ordered to perform community service.

Contact a Rolling Meadows Disorderly Conduct Defense Lawyer Today

A disorderly conduct conviction can carry serious consequences in Illinois and should not be taken lightly. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct and would like to discuss your legal options with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K26-1

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

Defending against Shoplifting Charges

December 30th, 2015 at 10:18 am

Illinois theft laws, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney,The holiday season is a big time for accusations of shoplifting and retail theft to arise. Stores are packed with people, and purchase items might accidentally get placed in a purse, or might not get paid for. Retailers are on high alert and are extra accusatory this time of year, but when a person stands accused of stealing merchandise when they are innocent, it is a problem. Shoplifting under Illinois law is usually a misdemeanor offense, but when the value of the allegedly stolen item is more than $300 or the accused is a repeat offender, the charges can be upgraded to a felony. When you are facing shoplifting and retail theft charges, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help protect your rights.

Defense Strategies for Shoplifting Charges

When it comes to shoplifting charges, a criminal defense lawyer who normally handles shoplifting cases can help you identify the best defense strategy that is available to you. Some more common shoplifting criminal defense strategies involve the following:

  1. The Value of the Item Allegedly Stolen Does Not Support the Charges. The item that is allegedly stolen has a value, and charges, and thus punishments, are usually based on the value of the stolen item. When evidence exists that the item was in fact taken by the defendant, a good strategy is to argue that the charges are incorrect and should be downgraded to a lesser offense.
  2. Lack of Evidence to Support the Charges against the Defendant. If there is insufficient evidence that the defendant shoplifted, then the case against the defendant should be dropped at the preliminary hearing of grand jury phase of the case, if applicable. When there is no video evidence, or no witness that can positively identify you as the suspect, there is a strong possibility that the case will be dismissed for lack of evidence.
  3. Lack of Probable Cause. Many people who are accused of shoplifting are detained by store security, and their personal items are searched for the allegedly stolen merchandise. But in order to subject the accused to these invasions, the security officer or store representative must have probable cause that the accused committed shoplifting. This means that there must be some evidence that the defendant committed the crime.

Defending against Shoplifting Charges Is Important

A shoplifting conviction will go on your permanent criminal record and you will have to face the punishments associated with your crime. That is why it is so important to consider every aspect of the case and explore every defense strategy that is available to you.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Many people are accused of shoplifting. Retail theft could be accidental, or it could just be a mistake or a moment of poor judgement. Regardless of what the situation might be, if you are facing shoplifting charges, you need the help of an experienced retail theft lawyer. Please contact a skilled Rolling Meadows defense attorney at our office immediately. We are prepared to assist you with your case.

 

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K16-25

Hazing Is a Crime

July 27th, 2015 at 5:47 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Hazing used to be a regular part of high school and college life, but now it is often considered a criminal offense. As a result of hazing going too far at multiple institutions and students being seriously hurt or even killed, a once normal right of passage is now forbidden by schools and universities. Engaging in some types of hazing can lead to a student being in serious trouble, not just with his or her school, but with the law as well.

The Law against Hazing

Illinois statute forbids certain kinds of hazing. Legally speaking, a person commits hazing when he or she requires the commitment of any act by a student or other person in a school for the purpose of induction into any group connected with the institution if two specific requirements are met. First, the act must not be sanctioned or authorized by the educational institution. Second, the act must result in bodily harm to any person. As such, harmless traditional types of hazing may not result in legal action, although they may still be against school policy and result in suspension or even expulsion under some school rules. However, any type of hazing that could result in someone getting hurt, including alcohol-related hazing, could result in criminal charges. Usually hazing is a misdemeanor, but if it results in death or great bodily harm, the charge can be a felony.

Failure to Report Hazing

Failure to report hazing is also a crime in Illinois. Schools cannot protect their students from being prosecuted under the hazing law. A school official can actually be charged with the crime of “failure to report hazing” when he or she does the following:

  1. While fulfilling his or her official responsibilities as a school official he or she observes an act that is not sanctioned by the school;
  2. The act results in physical harm to a person; and
  3. The school official fails to report the act to supervising educational authorities or, in the case of death or great bodily harm, law enforcement.

Violation of this law is a misdemeanor.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or your child has been charged with a crime or is being investigated you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. Call us today at (847)394-3200. Neither you nor your child should ever speak to law enforcement without having an attorney present. It does not matter whether you or your child is guilty. If it is your child who is being investigated you may have questions for him or her, but demanding answers could result in your being forced to testify against your own child, so do not push him or her to answer your questions. Contact us instead.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

April 7th, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal law,When the news reports on crimes that happened a long time ago, they often say that a person cannot be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations. However most people do not not actually know what a statute of limitations is, why it exists, or when it applies. They can actually be quite complicated so if you find yourself charged with a crime that is alleged to have happened years ago, you will need the specific advice of a criminal defense attorney.

What is a Statute of Limitations and Why Does it Exist?

A statute of limitations is a statute that limits the time frame in which a certain cause of action can be brought. A cause of action could be something like a slip and fall lawsuit or a sexual harassment complaint, or it could be a criminal charge. Every state has different statutes of limitations and most states, including Illinois, have different statutes of limitations for different crimes. The purpose of these laws is two-fold. First of all, a statute of limitations prevents people from having to live in fear their entire lives of being sued or criminally charged for something that happened years or even decades earlier. Second, and most importantly, it protects everyone’s right to have a fair trial on the matter. Having a trial soon after an alleged wrong, when witnesses are still alive, available, and have clear memories, is vastly preferable when compared to the alternative. Charging a person with a crime decades after it was committed nearly guarantees that he or she will not be able to establish an alibi or find other witnesses even if he or she is absolutely innocent.

What is Illinois’ Criminal Statute of Limitations?

The criminal statute of limitations in Illinois depends upon the crime to be charged. If a person is charged with certain crimes that result in the death of another, concealment of homicidal death, treason, various types of arson, forgery, certain child pornography charges or certain sexual offenses, there is no statute of limitations. There are prolonged and complicated statutes of limitations that apply to many offenses that involve child victims, particularly offenses that are sexual in nature. Some crimes have their own specific statute of limitations. As a general rule though, if none of these circumstances apply, the statute of limitations usually mandates that felony prosecutions must be commenced within three years of the date the crime was committed, and misdemeanor prosecutions must be commenced within one year and six months.

One thing that is important to note is that while these are the current statutes of limitations, the laws on this matter change. In particular the laws have changed regarding the statute of limitation for certain sex offenses. So if a crime occurred decades ago and the statutory time limit ran out before the statute of limitations was changed to make it longer or non-existent, then a person may have a statute of limitations defense if a prosecutor were to try to charge the person for that crime now.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are being investigated for a crime or have been arrested, you need help. You need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200. We will fight for the best possible result in your situation.

Discussions on Decriminalization of Marijuana Ongoing in Illinois

October 14th, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Marijuana plantAccording to a recent report, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed the decriminalization marijuana in certain circumstances. While similar suggestions have been voiced in the past, it seems that not everyone in the state of Illinois is on the same page regarding the proposal. In fact, some very opposite opinions have been raised about reforming drug charges from officials in the state.

The Mayor’s Position

Mayor Emanuel is reportedly arguing that some drug possession charges should be reduced in severity. Specifically, he is allegedly advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana possession in small amounts across the state of Illinois and for the reduction of the criminal grading of possessing less than one gram of any controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor. He said that doing so would make the criminal justice system more available to address more serious challenges to public safety and further the progress that has already been made.

The Mayor’s proposals would not only change the criminal justice system by saving time and money, but it also has the potential to make real changes to people’s lives. Mainly, the Mayor pointed out that those defendants who are trying to move forward with their lives after a drug charge would face many more challenges with a felony on their record than they would with a misdemeanor charge. This is especially relevant in employment settings.

Law Enforcement’s Position

It seems that the consensus among local law enforcement officials is that the Mayor’s proposal sends the wrong message regarding criminal behavior and fails to accomplish anything that is not already provided for within the context of the current court system. Regarding the grading of the drug crimes mentioned, representatives from the State’s Attorney’s Office in Peoria County have voiced the opinion that people charged with such felonies now can potentially erase their conviction by successfully completing probation or other specialized programs such as drug court. Their point is that alternatives are available to defendants who deserve them and such alternatives are regularly made available which allow the person to avoid having a felony conviction on their record.

Police officers also raised concerns that changing the grading of these criminal offenses from felonies to misdemeanors may not only send the wrong message, but may actually end up benefiting drug dealers by making it easier to sell controlled substances in smaller quantities. In addition, other law enforcement officials have voiced the opinion that decriminalizing drug charges as outlined by the Mayor would convey the message that it is acceptable to use drugs as long as they are being used in smaller quantities. This may not only signal to some users that some narcotics are less dangerous, but also that some drugs are considered “better” in the eyes of the law.

These concerns are of particular importance, officers are saying, as Illinois is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. Lowering penalties and hoping for a better result, they say, does not make sense. Instead, some are calling for a treatment component to be advanced with the decriminalization proposal it is advances. It is important to note that, in general, police seemed less concerned about the decriminalization of marijuana, in small amounts, where they would be allowed to issue citations for the offense.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today. We can schedule a consultation to meet with you in our Rolling Meadows or Chicago office to discuss your case.

Students Charged With Hazing

January 12th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Students Charged With HazingYoung athletes at Maine West High School are facing misdemeanor charges for allegations of hazing that some are calling child abuse, according to the Chicago Tribune. Tony Romanucci told NBC Chicago, as reported in the Huffington Post, that allegations of sexual abuse go as far back as 2006, and “that coaches at the school knew about what was happening.” The complaint alleges that older players on the soccer teams shoved younger boys down to the ground, beat them, and then sodomized them with their fingers and other objects.

The two soccer coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, have been put on paid leave from the school until the dust settles surrounding the incident. Six players have been charged with misdemeanor battery and hazing, but as of mid-December there was no evidence to support felony charges for any student involved in the charges. The Huffington Post reports that an additional four students are facing disciplinary actions. There have been other allegations of hazing abuse among the swimming and baseball teams as well, and the mother of one boy—a baseball player—told NBC that when she reported the incident to the principal it was “swept under the rug.”

Lawsuits over hazing gone wrong are nothing new. According to StopHazing.org, hazing in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor, unless it results in death or great bodily harm. If it does, hazing in Illinois is a Class 4 felony. Hazing is defined in Illinois law as: “the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State for the purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society.”

If you or someone you know is facing hazing charges, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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