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Archive for the ‘Chicago juvenile crime lawyer’ Category

Minorities Affected by Illinois Juvenile Law

May 20th, 2014 at 4:12 pm

juvenile offense, minorities and crime, Chicago juvenile crime lawyer, repeat offender, pleading guilty, juvenile court, Illinois juvenile lawAccording to an article recently published, a study shows that the Illinois law, which required juveniles charged with certain serious crimes to be tried as adults, may be discriminatory.

The imposition of the law also takes away judges’ discretion in these cases while also increasing the likelihood that the same juveniles will become repeat offenders in the future, according to the study.

Juvenile Justice Initiative

As part of the study, the Initiative considered 257 juvenile cases heard in Cook County between 2010 and 2012, in which juveniles were charged as adults in keeping with the law. All but one of the cases involved a defendant who was considered a minority. Out of these juveniles, over half of those that were transferred ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge in adult court, which would not have caused the case to be transferred out of juvenile court had they been originally charged with the lesser offense.

The conclusion of the study found that by transferring a juvenile case to adult court, the offender’s chances at rehabilitation are seriously diminished. Also, the juveniles instead spend their time in adult jail, which correlates to a higher risk for reoffending and taking part in a violent crime. One of the contributing factors to this is that juveniles involved in the adult court process can remain in prison for up to a year before their case is heard, while their counterparts who have pending cases in juvenile court may spend just a month or so in detention.

Future Legislation

As a result of the study’s findings, the Initiative is pointing to legislation that would amend the current Illinois law to avoid an automatic transfer of certain juvenile cases to adult court. Instead, the group wants to focus on legislation that would allow judges to exercise their discretion in determining which cases should be transferred in light of the circumstances and the individual defendant. Advocates tout the inherent advantages of having a judge, who is sitting in the best position to determine the circumstances of a person and a crime and make the decision to transfer a case, instead of a blanket approach instituted by the General Assembly.

Current Law

Illinois is not the only state to keep such a law on its books. The law was enacted in the early 1980s and requires juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17 years old to be automatically transferred to adult court when charged with serious offenses including murder, armed robbery, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated battery with a firearm. Once a juvenile is tried as an adult, future charges will also be heard in adult court, no matter the severity of the offense.

Often, the problem is that juveniles are interrogated by officers without a lawyer present, are charged as an adult. They then plead guilty to a lesser charge as the result of bargaining. There is never an opportunity for the juvenile to be heard in court or have the case tried, which results in a situation in which the juvenile’s fate is essentially sealed at the point of arrest.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While some may consider the need for this change to be obvious, it may take a while to be put into practice if it approved at all. In the meantime, those charged with any criminal offense as a juvenile, but especially those who likely face a transfer to adult court, should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

Effects of Heroin Addiction in Illinois

March 6th, 2014 at 12:02 pm

heroin addiction, Illinois, drug abuse, lawyer, attorney, criminal defense, Chicago drug crimeAccording to an article recently published by the Chicago Sun-Times, the problem of heroin addiction in the state of Illinois has gotten to the level of requiring immediate attention in order to avoid more fatalities. While it seems that law enforcement is doing its part, as evidenced by the recent arrest of a notorious drug lord from Mexico, the problem is so large that law enforcement alone cannot be responsible for solving it.

The Problem is Everywhere

Heroin use is a problem throughout the state of Illinois. Last year, DuPage County reported 46 deaths related to heroin – a record in the county. Another incident in Madison County involved the discovery of three victims of likely overdoses, all discovered within five hours of one another. A couple in Riverside, who were thought to be using the drug, were found in a car stalled on railroad tracks.

More than that, heroin use spans the country. The Office of National Drug Control Policy reported that there was a 21 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses across the nation between 2006 and 2010. Other states, including Vermont and Wisconsin, are attempting to create policies and procedures to deal with the epidemic and get it under better control.

DuPage County’s Response

Just days ago, officials in DuPage County attended an event to discuss the heroin epidemic in the state. A few weeks prior, county officials proposed a plan aimed at decreasing heroin use by addressing prescription drug abuse, and by adding penalties to statutes that enable the state to prosecute gang leaders. The plan would include using any additional revenue to help fund addiction treatment programs. Another proposal involved making the drug naloxone more readily available, which, if administered quickly enough, can reverse the effects of an opiate overdose. An anti-heroin task force is planned that will hold meetings in the Chicago area in the spring.

Problems Posed by Heroin Use

The reality is that the current criminal system, which relies on criminal penalties alone, is not serving to address the underlying issue. Heroin use is rampant across all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Many people who had become addicted to prescription drugs and painkillers turned to heroin because the drug is often easier and cheaper to obtain than others.

The article states that heroin from Mexican drug cartels is saturating the market for the drug in Chicago. This version of the drug is able to be snorted, as opposed to injected, and has an increased risk of fatality associated with it since some of it is laced with fentanyl, which makes the drug stronger and more dangerous.

While it seems that officials in Chicago are working to address the issue of drug addiction, many would say there is much work to be done. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug-related crime in the state of Illinois, an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can help defend your case and may be able to assist you in getting treatment. Contact us today for a consultation.

Illinois Lawmakers take Aim at Revenge Porn

February 22nd, 2014 at 12:03 pm

social media & Revenge PornThe increased and widespread use of technology and social media has brought up a whole new host of issues regarding conduct online. While we still struggle to define appropriate online behavior in some aspects, it can be argued that perhaps the law is struggling to keep up with actions that occur on the web. When discussing the damaging effects of online behavior, we often hear key words such as “cyber bullying” and “sexting,” but what it really comes down to may be described as harassment in the legal arena.

What is Revenge Porn?

Lawmakers in Illinois are taking notice and taking action to address these problems. According to an article recently published by the Chicago Tribune, the state is taking steps to give victims of revenge porn an outlet in court. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, revenge porn refers to the act of an individual posting an inappropriate photo or video of their ex-boyfriend or girlfriend online as a way to get back at them after the failure of the relationship.

Proposed Law

Lawmakers in Illinois are trying to prevent such an embarrassing event by proposing a new measure that would make it illegal to post such content on the internet without the consent of the subject of the photo or video. Senator Michael Hastings, who is sponsoring the proposal, compared the publishing of such explicit material to harassment, and said it was the worst kind of cyber bullying.

Proponents say the law is necessary because current Illinois statutory law fails to provide criminal sanctions as a consequence for such behavior. The state’s statutes do not protect the victims of such crime, who most likely consented to the photo or video initially, as the image was recorded in the context of a private, trusting relationship.

The proposed law would make it a felony to post nude and sexually explicit images of another party without their permission to do so. In addition, under the law, it would be a crime to request a fee in order to remove such images from a website. The penalties associated with the law would include a maximum of three years in prison and a $25,000.00 fine. However, judges would maintain discretion to order a lesser sentence if they thought doing so was appropriate.

Opposition

Those who are opposed to the law argue that making such action a criminal offense would infringe on the constitutional right to free speech. Specifically, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois takes the position that the state’s civil laws may be more appropriate to address such behavior, and should be considered as a solution to the issue before the activity is made a crime under state criminal law.

Criminal law and procedure may change more than the average public person is aware. That is why engaging the services of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Illinois is so important. Contact us today if you have been charged with a crime, and let us protect your rights.

Should Juveniles Serving Life without Parole be Revisited?

February 12th, 2014 at 1:00 pm

juvenile crime IMAGEA United States Supreme Court opinion from 2012 stated that sentencing juvenile defendants to mandatory life without parole amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, and such sentences were therefore declared unconstitutional. A local Chicago media outlet recently published an article about the ruling and its effects on past juvenile offenders.

The Court’s opinion and the related sentence imposed does not equally affect all juvenile offenders. Illinois was just one of a number of states that, in the 1980s and 1990s, imposed harsher penalties on those juveniles who were found guilty of violent crimes. The old sentencing rules made the sentence mandatory, which meant that a judge had much less leeway in considering circumstantial factors in imposing a sentence. Now, in light of the Supreme Court decision, such life sentences are no longer mandatory, and while they are not completely prohibited, should rather be used only in extreme cases.

The opinion has also inspired many juvenile offenders, who have long since been sentenced and their time for appeals passed, to petition the proper courts for hearings to be re-sentenced. At least five of such requests have been granted by the Appellate Court in Illinois. When those cases are argued and decided, they will provide the groundwork for whether the Supreme Court’s opinion will retroactively apply to juvenile cases that were already closed.

In making the decision to apply the rule retroactively, attorneys say the Appellate Court will likely consider whether the fairness of the criminal justice system requires the change in procedure, or whether improving the system by implementing the change going forward is fair enough. Opponents say it is unlikely the ruling will be retroactively applied, while proponents seem confident it will, as it represents a matter of due process since juveniles would have been denied the benefit of counsel presenting mitigating factors at their sentencing hearings. A decision by the Appellate Court is expected by summer.

If the ruling is retroactively applied, it will bring with it a host of problems to be addressed. Hundreds of cases of juvenile offenders will have to be heard at re-sentencing hearings, which means witnesses and victims will have to testify again. Such cases will surely present complicated and emotional situations.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime as a juvenile in the Chicago area, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Contact us today for a consultation.

Changes to Illinois Law in 2014: A Rundown

January 18th, 2014 at 12:47 pm

As we mark the beginning of 2014, many new laws will emerge in the state of Illinois.  We previously discussed the change in Illinois law regarding the use of mobile phones while driving and the consequences of doing so, but there are other changes that will take place that are worth mentioning as well. According to an article recently published by NPR for St. Louis, the relevant issues encompass everything from marijuana to littering.

Medical Marijuana

The new law involving medical marijuana involves a four-year trial program that allows individuals that are plagued with certain specified ailments to get a prescription for medicinal marijuana. Regulations and licenses have not been issued, so this may not go into effect right away in 2014. In addition, in order to meet the requirements of the law, the illness must be considered debilitating.

changes to Illinois law IMAGE Smoking Cigarettes

In 2014, smokers will have to take their habit outside and find a proper receptacle to get rid of the cigarette butts when they are finished. Illinois’ Litter control Act has been amended to include cigarettes, so people in violation of the policy can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, plus a fine of up to $1,500.  A second offense is graded as a Class A misdemeanor, and a third will be considered a felony, which can be punishable by a jail term of one to three years and up to a $25,000 fine.

As an extension of the law, property owners are also required to place enough waste receptacles on the property. If they fail to do so and littering takes place where a receptacle should be, the property owner can be charged with a petty offense and be fined $100. After getting a warning, property owners have 10 days to place the necessary waste receptacles on the property. If he or she fails to do so after the warning, they may be charged with a petty offense and be fined $25 for each receptacle they failed to obtain.

Minors

For purposes of delinquency or records concerning a minor in Illinois, the relevant age will be increased to 17 in 2014, up from 16 as it was previously. In addition, those under 18 will not legally be allowed to use facilities for tanning, minors will be prevented from buying e-cigarettes, and students will have the right to refuse a school’s request for their passwords to social networking sites unless the school can show good cause.

Alcohol

It will be legal to seal and travel with one unfinished bottle of previously opened wine beginning in 2014.

Traffic

In 2014, bicycles are considered an exception from the prohibition on two-wheeled vehicles moving on the right of a separate craft that is not propelled solely by a human being.

The speed limit will be raised to 70 mph on some highways, but areas of Chicago and Metro East will reserve the right to set speed limits at a lower number.

Miscellaneous

Beginning in 2014, it will be considered a crime to accept payment for altering a criminal record.  Also, it will be illegal for State grant recipients and their employees to knowingly using grant funds for political activities or as compensation for time spent on political work.

These are only a few of the many laws that will go into effect in Illinois in 2014. Many other changes in the law, and changes in rules and procedures, may affect your rights if you were or will be charged with a crime. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Chicago can help you understand changes in the law and how they may apply in your case. Contact us today for a consultation.

Why bring Minor Felony Charges in Juvenile Court?

January 14th, 2014 at 11:34 am

As we discussed in one of our recent posts about all of the laws set to take effect in the New Year, minors up to age 17 who are charged with certain felony crimes can be tried in juvenile court in Illinois. Previously, 17-year-olds charged with a felony crime were held in county jail with other defendants of all ages, and, if convicted, would have a felony on their record for the rest of their lives. There are many motivations for the change in the law, as Illinois seems to be echoing a change in thinking that is already occurring in states across the nation.

According to an article published by DNA Info Chicago, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission’s stance on the issue and the support of local politicians had a lot to do with the change, which was voted on by lawmakers in earlier in 2013.  The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission took the position that since 17-year-olds cannot participate in activities such as vote or play the lottery, join the military, or pierce their ears absent adult permission, they should not be treated as adults under Illinois law for the purposes of committing a crime. The decision was made to handle 17-year-olds faced with felony charges within the confines of the juvenile justice system.  The crimes that will be encompassed in the change may include anything from illegal substance charges to burglary and assault, but will specifically exclude murder and sexual assault.

juvenile crime IMAGEMinors Previously Charged as Adults

Questions are arising about those minors who have been charged with felonies prior to the law taking effect on January 1st, who would otherwise be having their case heard in juvenile court. While the law is not intended to apply to previously filed cases, defense attorneys are pointing out the inherent injustice in that fact. In the cases that are pending in adult court, the defendants are being charged with offenses that, if committed after January 1st, 2014, would have been handled in the juvenile justice system. The only difference lies in the date the alleged offenses were committed. Some defense attorneys are arguing that the charges should be transferred to juvenile court in the cases that are still awaiting trial.

Advantages of Juvenile Court

The juvenile justice system allows for offenders with pending cases to continue their education and to take advantage of services provided by local agencies. Further, a minor having their case handled in juvenile court gives them the opportunity to avoid a permanent criminal record that can negatively impact them for the rest of their lives.  Otherwise, they can lose a lot of future opportunities and face a bleak future, one with severely limited job prospects. The Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission points out that minors placed in juvenile detention are more likely to make a positive change in their behavior that they would be if they were incarcerated in a county or state prison.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a juvenile crime in Illinois, hiring a criminal defense attorney experienced in juvenile matters is essential. Not only can we ensure your rights are protected in light of any changes in the law, but we can defend your case to the fullest extent. Contact us today for a consultation.

New Legislation to Address “Knockout Game”

January 7th, 2014 at 10:23 am

Chances are you have seen or heard of the disturbing new trend among teens to participate in what is known as the “knockout game,” in which the assailant unexpectedly attacks a member of the public from behind in an effort to knock them out. Victims are usually targeted at random. The dangerous trend has been featured on news broadcasts, online, and through other media outlets, who reported on the attacks with sometimes fatal consequences for the victims. Now the government is taking steps to address it.

knockout gameAn Illinois state representative, Dwight Kay, has proposed House Bill 3783, known as the Knockout Assault Prevention Act, which takes aim at punishing knockout game offenders. The Act would impose higher penalties on those convicted of the crime of battery while participating in the game, making it punishable by three to seven years of incarceration. It also provides that any minors above the age of 14 would be tried for the crime in adult criminal court. Currently, law enforcement seems to think that the trend is mostly confined to large cities, but if the legislation is passed into law in Illinois, any county would be able to use it.

In a case involving an elderly black male victim, the “knockout game” attacker will be charged with a federal hate crime. Authorities say that the attack in that case was racially motivated, as the attack and the moments leading up to it were video recorded, which revealed that the suspect targeted the man because of his race and color.  The recorded statement was of the attacker posing the question that if he were to hit a black person, would it be nationally televised. That defendant was 27 years old at the time of the attack, which occurred in the state of Texas. The victim’s jaw was fractured in two places, and he was hospitalized for several days as the result of the injuries he sustained in his fall to the ground. It is important to note that this defendant allegedly suffers from mental illness, including bipolar disorder, and was reportedly off of his medication at the time of the attack.

In New York, police charged a suspect with a hate crime in connection with the attack of a Jewish male as part of the “knockout” game, and other cases have been reported in numerous other states, such as Missouri and Washington. While this dangerous game does not seem to be confined to one area across the nation, it is safe to say that law enforcement will be cracking down on offenders from here on out.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your rights. Our attorneys have experience defending citizens in many types of criminal law cases, and we are prepared to advise and represent you in your case. Contact us today for a consultation.

Miranda Rights: What They Mean to You

December 13th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Any television program involving crime will undoubtedly include a scene in which, upon apprehension of a suspect, law enforcement will begin to recite the familiar verse, “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law…”  Many viewers can likely repeat the Miranda rights from memory, but may not be aware of their legal significance.

miranda rightsThe Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides protection against due process violations for defendants charged in a criminal matter.  This includes the right to protection against self-incrimination. In Miranda, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the protection against self-incrimination to include statements, including confessions obtained outside the courtroom, provided certain circumstances exist. According to the Court in Miranda, officers need to apprise a suspect of his or her rights before custodial interrogation occurs in order for any statements made by the suspect to be admissible as evidence in a future court proceeding.  An officer may not interrogate a suspect until after warnings have been given and the suspect knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waives those rights, usually in a signed writing.

The Miranda rights, which must be recited to the suspect, include the following:

  • The right to remain silent;
  • Anything the suspect says can and will be used against them in court;
  • The right to retain counsel and have them present during questioning by law enforcement;
  • The right to have counsel appointed by the court if the suspect cannot afford it.

After these warnings are given, the suspect is free to waive them, or invoke them and request an attorney before any police interrogation takes place.  If they are invoked, questioning must cease. If a suspect initially waives his or her rights and then later invokes them, any questioning must be stopped immediately. Further, a written, valid waiver may be withdrawn at any time if the suspect wishes to continue with interrogation without the benefit of counsel.  The police have the burden of establishing that a suspect has waived his or her rights.

In order for the Miranda warnings to be required, a suspect must be in custody and interrogated by police.  In other words, if police question a suspect who is not in custody, Miranda warnings are not required.  Likewise, if a suspect in custody voluntarily makes an incriminating statement without being questioned by law enforcement, that suspect will probably not be able to invoke the protections afforded by Miranda.

In addition to determining whether a criminal defendant was under custodial interrogation, an additional potential Miranda violation occurs when a suspect’s waiver of his or her rights was not made knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can listen to the facts of a particular case and explain the implications of Miranda.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago, Illinois area, contact us today.  We can discuss your case and advise you of your constitutional rights.

Medical Marijuana and Marijuana Drug Charges: What You Need To Know

October 22nd, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Illinois has a new medical marijuana law that will go into effect January 1, 2014, providing individuals across the state with certain medical conditions the opportunity to obtain the drug to manage their medical concerns. There are still penalties in the state for growing, selling, or possessing the drug outside of particular circumstances linked to the medical marijuana law. If you’re facing charges for marijuana possession or sale, reach out to an Illinois criminal attorney for guidance.

Elgin Medical Marijuana LawyerThe Department of Public Health is responsible for determining the medical conditions that are eligible for medical marijuana. Dozens of conditions such as MS and HIV/AIDS are currently approved. There are 22 cultivation sites across the state, one for each state police district. Approved patients can purchase up to 2.5 ounces twice per month (once every two weeks).

Outside of the approved scenarios for medical marijuana, there are still penalties in place for those found with marijuana or those selling it. For possession of 2.5 grams or less, you will face a misdemeanor with a possibility of 30 days in jail. Increasing amounts are linked to longer jail times and hefty fines.

Being linked to sale or trafficking of marijuana carries a different set of consequences. These crimes are categorized as misdemeanors for 10 grams or less, but beyond that you could face jail times of one year or more in addition to fines stretching between $25,000 and $200,000.

Likewise, cultivation and paraphernalia have their own set of rules. Less than five plants will lead to a misdemeanor cultivation charge with up to 1 year in jail, but longer jail times and high fines are connected with numerous plants or sale of paraphernalia. If you have been caught and accused of any of these crimes, don’t leave your future up to chance. Hire an Illinois criminal law attorney to assist you.

Illinois Age of Consent and What it Means

September 23rd, 2013 at 9:09 am

When teenagers begin to date, usually they meet at school and most often, they are the same age. As teens branch out however, meeting people from other schools, hanging out with people from work and meeting new people in the community, they sometimes date older men or women.

When a teenager under the age of 17 dates someone that is 17 or older in Illinois, the relationship can get complicated.

Statutory rape is any type of sexual intercourse that occurs between someone under the age of consent, which is 17 in Illinois, and someone that is a legal adult (18). Essentially what this means is that if someone under 17 and someone 18 or older in Illinois willingly have sex, charges can still be filed against the older person because the partner is a minor.

Although this law typically pertains to men and women that are significantly older than their underage significant other, it also technically applies even to high school students who may only be a couple months apart in age. In those few months in which one partner has reached the age of consent while the other has not, they are committing statutory rape when participating in sexual activities.

LucyMore often now than ever, high school students are having sex. It may be from peer pressure and it may also be attributed to the fact that kids are simply growing up faster than they used to, physically and mentally. If you are a teen or if you have a teen that may be considering having sex, be sure that he or she understands the seriousness of the activity.

Not only is sex a big deal mentally and physically, but also emotionally, and it could be legally too.  Most parents will not press charges against their son’s or daughter’s boyfriend or girlfriend if they are just a year older, but older people may get into more trouble. An underage person having sex, even with a significant other, who is much older, is putting that significant other at risk of getting in trouble with the law.

If you have been charged with statutory rape or any other form of rape, or perhaps you are considering charging someone else with rape, contact a criminal attorney in Rolling Meadows, Ill. for help. Attorney Chris Cosley will help you through the court process to get the outcome that you want today.

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