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Archive for the ‘Criminal defense’ Category

Three Common Misconceptions About Criminal Law in Illinois

June 4th, 2018 at 9:13 am

criminal law in Illinois, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys, first-time offenders, criminal sentencing guidelines, criminal case evidenceFor many people, their knowledge of the criminal justice system comes from television shows or other types of media. As such, they may get ideas in their heads of what should happen in criminal cases. In reality, many events that take place on television are not accurate depictions of actual criminal defense cases in Illinois.

Real life cases do not follow a script, and they can be unpredictable and shocking. It is important to know which facts are the truth and which are mere misconceptions. In light of this, consider the following three common misconceptions about the criminal justice system.

Any Time I Am Not Read My Miranda Rights, My Case Will Be Dismissed

A defendant must be read his or her rights anytime he or she is in custody of the police and is being interrogated. Being ‘in custody’ is a complicated issue. Merely talking to the police does not always mean that you are in custody, and neither does being placed in handcuffs.

There are several factors that go into determining when a defendant is in custody. If a defendant’s rights are not read, and he or she is in fact in custody, this does not mean the case will automatically be dismissed. Generally, any statement made during the custodial interrogation will be suppressed and unusable in trial. However, there is no requirement that a case must be dismissed.

If I Ask an Undercover Police Officer if He is a Police Officer, He Has to Tell Me

There is no requirement for a police officer, who is working undercover for whatever reason, to disclose that he or she is a police officer. Undercover operations are used in a variety of situations, and the disclosure of such would make an operation useless.

I Will Not Go to Jail for My First Offense; I Have a Family and a Job

There are sentencing guidelines for crimes committed in Illinois. The severity of the crime determines what the sentence will be. Just because someone has been charged with his or her first ever criminal act, it does not mean he or she could not go to jail. Judges have likely seen a lot of defendants go through their courtroom, including many first-time offenders and those with families. A judge will follow the sentencing guidelines and will not fall prey to emotional pleadings for no jail time in certain crimes.

We Can Help You Today

At the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we make sure to provide you with accurate legal information so you are aware of what is happening in your case. Our talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney has the skill and knowledge to defend you in an array of criminal matters. Contact us today to get the best defense available.

Sources:

https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1028&context=book_chapters

http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lru/2005pfc.pdf

Reckless Driving in Illinois

May 18th, 2018 at 10:00 am

reckless driving, traffic offenses, reckless driving charges, speeding, Class A misdemeanorWhile many believe reckless driving to be a minor offense, in reality it can lead to serious consequences that have lasting effects. As such, if you have been charged with reckless driving in Illinois, we ask you to reach out to us today for professional help.

What is Reckless Driving?

In Illinois, reckless driving is governed by statute 625 ILCS 5/11-305. There are two situations in which a person can be found guilty of reckless driving:

  1. A person who drives “with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” is said to be driving recklessly; and
  2. A person who knowingly drives “a vehicle and uses an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne” is driving recklessly.

Common examples of reckless driving include a person who is driving at a high rate of speed, someone who is driving erratically, or any other type of driving that might rise to the level of negligent driving. Driving erratically includes drivers who swerve in and out of lanes without notice and without the use of their turn signals.

Penalties in Illinois

If you are found to be driving recklessly in Illinois, the penalties are much higher than with a minor speeding ticket or traffic violation. Reckless driving is considered a Class A misdemeanor. A Class A misdemeanor carries up to 364 days in county jail and the potential for a fine up to $2,500. Additionally, a charge of reckless driving on your driving record also means points added to your license.

If you do not want to have a reckless driving charge on your driving record, there is the potential for an alternative penalty. Instead of the charge being added to the record, a driver can be placed under supervision. Supervision usually requires the payment of a fine, attendance and completion of Traffic Safety School, or both. However, once you use the supervision for the reckless driving charge, you can no longer be eligible for supervision for any additional reckless driving charges, or for a first DUI charge.

Additional Consequences to Reckless Driving

Upon conviction, you will receive fines, court costs, jail time, or possible supervision. There are other consequences to consider in a reckless driving charge, or any traffic-related offense:

  • License Suspension: The Illinois Point System has a three-strike rule. This means that if you receive three moving violations within a 12-month period, you may have your license suspended, although this may depend on your individual circumstances.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: With the addition of points on your license, your insurance premiums will likely go up.

We Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with reckless driving and want to hear about the options available to you, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. A dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at our office is equipped with the knowledge and skill to explain your options and get the best results possible.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-503

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/MunicipalDepartment/FirstMunicipalDistrictChicago/TrafficSection/CourtSupervision.aspx

What Happens if I Violate My Probation?

May 14th, 2018 at 6:00 am

probation, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, violate my probation, violating probation, Illinois criminal defensesWhen sentencing an individual upon conviction of a charge, a judge often has a variety of options available. One of the most common types of sentencing in Illinois involves placing an individual on probation.

Probation is a sentence that requires a defendant to adhere to certain supervision rules to ensure that the defendant is not committing other crimes and is being rehabilitated after his or her conviction. An individual must follow the terms of his or her probation exactly, otherwise he or she could be found in violation of his or her probation.

Of course, violating probation has consequences. If you have violated your probation, there are defenses and options available to you, and it is in your best interests to contact an attorney immediately for help.

What is Probation?

Individuals that are sentenced to probation are required to follow a set of rules established by the court. The terms of probation can vary from case to case; however, most often these rules include the following:

  • Reporting to a probation officer. This can be done either in person or over the phone, depending on the court’s ruling;
  • Refraining from using any and all illegal drugs;
  • Committing no crime;
  • Some type of restriction on weapons that one can have in his or her possession;
  • Attending counseling mandated by the court;
  • Paying all fines and court costs; and
  • Attending any scheduled court dates.

The above is not an exhaustive list of all probation terms, but is a list of the most common types of rules that must be followed. A violation of any of the above can be reported.

The court also determines the time that a defendant will be on probation. Making it through that period of time without any violations will result in release from probation and a defendant being able to move forward with his or her life. A violation of probation, however, can result in further punishment. 

If probation is violated, then a Notice of Violation of Probation will be filed with the court and will be mailed to the defendant’s last known address. A defendant must appear in court or a warrant will be placed for arrest.

There are different punishments available to the courts for violation of probation. These include letting a defendant continue with his or her probation (more common for first-time violators), lengthier probation time, or even jail time.

Contact Us Today for Help

At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we know that mistakes happen. As such, a dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at our office is ready to defend you with any applicable defenses. We are passionate about advocating for your rights and obtaining the best possible result under the circumstances. Contact us today for legal assistance.

Sources:

http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/OfficeoftheChiefJudge/ProbationDepartments/ProbationforAdults/AdultProbationDepartment/FAQ.aspx

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=073000050K5-6-4

What Makes Me a Trespasser?

April 24th, 2018 at 4:30 pm

trespasser, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, Illinois trespassing, trespassing defenses, criminal trespass, electronic tracking deviceIn Illinois, trespassing can occur in several ways and include trespass to vehicles, trespass to real property, and trespass through the use of electronic tracking devices. Generally, trespassing is a misdemeanor crime. However, some properties hold a felony charge. One such example is trespassing on government buildings. Trespassing on government buildings will likely result in a felony trespassing charge. The intention behind the trespassing is also considered when assessing the severity of the crime and the appropriate punishments to follow.

Types of trespassing crimes in Illinois include the following:

  • Criminal Trespass to Vehicles: Criminal trespass to vehicles is defined as a person entering any part of, or operating, any vehicle, aircraft, watercraft, or snowmobile. The individual must knowingly enter the vehicle and must not have any authority to do so.
  • Criminal Trespass to Real Property: Criminal trespass to real property occurs when a person: (1) enters a building knowingly and without authority; (2) enters land of another without permission; and (3) continues to stay on another’s property after having been told to leave.
  • Trespassing Through an Electronic Device: Trespassing using an electronic device is using an electronic tracking device to “determine the location or movement of a person.” There are exceptions to this rule. It is not illegal to place an electronic tracking device if the owner of the vehicle has given his or her consent, or the vehicle comes with a built in tracking device. Further, companies tracking employees company-wide are exempt, as well as government vehicles.
  • Criminal Trespass to State Land: Criminal trespass to state land is entering and remaining on property after being told to leave or that it was prohibited, or trespassing on land that is funded by the state of Illinois.
  • Criminal Trespass to Safe School Zone: Criminal trespass to a safe school zone is continuing to enter school property after you have been told you are not allowed to be on the school grounds.

Defenses to Trespass

Much like every facet of the law, there are exceptions to trespassing, as well as various defenses.

  • If land is open to the public, generally criminal trespass to land will not occur. Further, there may be a defense to criminal trespass of land if you reasonably believe that the land is open to the public;
  • If a building has been unoccupied or abandoned for at least one year, a person who enters the land to beautify it is not trespassing. In addition to being abandoned for one year, the taxes must not have been paid for two years; and
  • A person can enter land for emergency purposes. There must be a danger or imminent danger or destruction for the entrance to be excused from criminal trespass to land.

We Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with any type of criminal trespass, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can help. Talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher Cosley has the knowledge and passion to defend your case to a favorable outcome.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt.+21&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=64500000&SeqEnd=66800000

What Does it Mean to be “In Custody”

April 12th, 2018 at 6:10 pm

in custody, miranda rights, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, self-incrimination, custodial interrogationThe Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution give an individual the right to avoid self-incrimination and to consult an attorney. While these rights are in the Constitution, they were not always enforced or followed strictly.

In the Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, the Court reinforced that an individual has the “right to remain silent” and to consult an attorney. These rights are more commonly known as your “Miranda Rights.”

If the police take you into custody, they must inform you of your rights. There is no question that the rights must be read; however, the idea of a suspect being “in custody” is a vague term. Custody has come to mean being questioned or interrogated by the police after being taken into custody or otherwise deprived of freedom of action in any significant way.

Ultimately, if you believe your rights were violated by police officers in Rolling Meadows, it is in your best interests to contact an attorney for help. To be sure, a legal professional can potentially use this information as a defense in your case and have the charges against you dropped.

Custodial Interrogation

Being in handcuffs could be a sign that you are being taken into custody, but it is not the only situation in which someone can be considered in custody. Since “custody” is so broadly defined and has a lot of gray areas, the court in criminal proceedings is tasked with determining if an individual was in custody or not. Courts will look to the “totality of the circumstances” to determine if an individual was in suspect. This means that the court will examine a wide variety of factors to determine whether the actions of the police amount to the suspect being in custody.

There are different factors that the court will look to when police are interrogating an individual. These include:

  • Line of Questioning: The court will look to the types of questions asked, who was asking the questions, or if there weapons were present that could be deemed as intimidating a suspect to answer the questions.
  • Initiation of the Questioning: The court will look to whether the questioning was voluntary, who started the questioning, and the physical surroundings of the questioning.
  • Circumstances of Questioning: Both the length of questioning and time of day of questioning are examined by the court.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with a crime and question if your Miranda Warnings were given properly, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley is here to help. Skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley will investigate each element of the arrest and questioning to make sure your rights were not infringed upon.

Sources:

http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-miranda-v-arizona

https://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1028&context=book_chapters

Should I Take a Plea Deal?

March 26th, 2018 at 6:47 pm

criminal cases, plea deal, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, criminal case negotiation, pleading guiltyMany people have seen an episode of a legal drama on television. A crime is committed, the suspect is arrested on charges, and then he or she is either found guilty or takes a plea deal.

Television dramas make it seem like these scenarios are very black and white—the accused is either found guilty or takes a plea deal. Plea deals are offered to the accused frequently, but rarely are they discussed in detail.

In reality, taking a plea deal is a huge consideration in a criminal case. A plea deal is a negotiation between the defendant and his or her attorney on one side and the prosecutor on the other side. The defendant agrees to plead guilty or no contest to some crimes, in return for a reduction of the severity of the charge or the dismissal of some of the charges. Or, the prosecutor recommends a reduced sentence that would be given after a trial.

Considerations for a Plea Deal

Being charged with a crime in Illinois is stressful. Do not let that stress cloud your judgment regarding what needs to be considered if a plea deal is offered. First and foremost, you need to contact an attorney. An attorney will be able to guide you through the entire process and help you determine your options in relation to a plea deal. He or she will know if the deal is a desirable one or if you have a better chance going to trial.

Factors that will be taken into consideration regarding a plea deal include the following:

  • Your chances at trial. Every case is unique. You must look at the evidence on both sides of the case to assess the risk of going to trial.
  • Variables at trial. It is impossible to know the end result going into trial. To be sure, many unexpected variables can arise in the trial stage.
  • Consequences of the plea. When you take a plea deal, you are pleading guilty or no contest to a crime. You need to consider the implications of having this on your record versus the chance of not having anything on your record should you succeed at trial.

It is Important to Contact an Attorney Today

Ultimately, there is no clear answer when a plea deal should be taken. It is up to you, the accused, to decide whether you will take it or not. However, having an experienced defense attorney can help. Skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley will take the time to explain your options and the consequences of those actions. Choose the attorney who will take the time to advocate for you and realizes the risk involved in criminal cases. Contact us today for assistance.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ChapterID=53&ActID=1876

What Does it Mean to Plead “No Contest?”

March 20th, 2018 at 6:29 am

charged with a crime, guilty plea, plead no contest, pleading guilty, Rolling Meadows defense attorneyIf you have been charged with a crime, you must enter a plea to the court. Generally, people think of “guilty” or “not guilty.” However, there are other options, such as “no contest.”

Under Illinois law, a defendant is brought into open court and read the charges against him or her. The defendant then makes a plea pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/113-4, by either pleading guilty, guilty but mentally ill, or not guilty. The statute does not specifically point to the plea of no contest. Because no contest is not stated in the statute, a defendant does not have the right to plead no contest in every criminal case. However, a judge can allow the defendant to make the no contest plea.

What is “No Contest”

No contest comes from the phrase “nolo contendere,” which means “I will not contest.” A no contest plea is very similar to a plea of guilty. In a no contest plea, the defendant does not disagree with the facts of the case, or his or her role in the crime. The defendant is, however, not admitting guilt. When a defendant pleads guilty, he or she is admitting their guilt in the crime. The plea of no contest is essentially the defendant accepting the penalties for the crime, but without admitting guilt.

Consequences of “No Contest”

While it appears that a guilty plea and a no contest plea are the same, there is one substantial difference. A guilty plea will follow a defendant to other cases. A defendant who pleads guilty can have that conviction be used as evidence in future trial, crimes, or proceedings. A no contest plea cannot be used against a defendant in later proceedings.

For example, if an individual caused an injury while driving under the influence of alcohol, a plea of no contest could protect him or her from additional civil proceedings.  If a defendant pleads guilty to the DUI and injuries, the injured party could use that admission of guilt in a civil suit. A plea of no contest would not allow the injured party, or the injured party’s representatives, to use the plea in a future lawsuit. Since the defendant did not admit guilt through the no contest plea, it cannot be used against him or her in the future.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

Figuring out what plea to enter in a crime is tricky. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorney who knows how to help. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley will inform you of your options and help you decide what the best course of action is. Our legal team wants to advocate for your rights and provide the best possible defense. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072500050HArt.+113&ActID=1966&ChapterID=54&SeqStart=25200000&SeqEnd=26200000

Illinois Automobile Insurance

March 16th, 2018 at 12:38 pm

Illinois automobile insurance, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, types of auto insurance, property insurance, bodily injury insuranceIf you are pulled over, one of the first questions a police officer will ask is to see your license, registration, and proof of insurance. It is essential to carry all three of these items with you in your vehicle. However, what happens if you forget to bring your insurance? Or, what if you do not have automobile insurance?

What Insurance Does Illinois Require?

There are three types of auto insurance required in Illinois. A driver must have both property and liability/bodily injury insurance. Additionally, a driver must carry uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance. The property insurance component of auto insurance is for covering the cost in case you damage another’s property in your vehicle. Most often, this is to cover the damages to another vehicle. Occasionally, however, other property can be damaged. Your insurance policy must cover at least $20,000 of property insurance.

The liability/bodily injury auto insurance is to cover the costs that will arise if you injure or kill someone in an accident. If you have caused a crash where someone is injured or killed, it is almost certain that a claim against your insurance to be compensated for sustained injuries will be filed. Compensation could be for medical bills, doctors visits, treatments, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. Even passengers in your own vehicle can file claim to your insurance for their injuries in a crash. You must purchase at least $25,000 of liability insurance for the injury or death of one person and at least $50,000 for the death of more than one individual per accident. Aside from the minimums, there is also the possibility of buying more coverage.

Uninsured motorist bodily injury insurance is insurance to protect you if you are involved in a crash with another vehicle that does not have insurance You are required to have $25,000 in coverage for one person in the accident and at least $50,000 for two or more individuals in an accident.

What if I Do Not Have Insurance?

If you are unable to provide proof of insurance to a law enforcement officer when asked, then you are breaking the law. You will receive a ticket for driving without insurance. If you are convicted or plead guilty, you will receive a minimum fine of $500 and your license plates will be suspended until you comply with the law on your first offense. Subsequent offenses result in harsher penalties.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have been charged with driving without insurance, The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can defend you. There are defenses available to driving without insurance. Talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher Cosley has years of experience and will investigate and explore every defense that might be available to you. Contact us for a free consultation today.

Source:

http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/vehicles/mandatory_insurance.html

What Does it Mean to be an Accessory to a Crime?

February 2nd, 2018 at 7:07 pm

accessory to a crime, aiding and abetting, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer, criminal conviction, committing a crimeWhen a crime is committed, the person who actually carries out the illegal act is referred to as the “principal.” Any person who assists in the commission of the offense but did not actually participate in committing the crime is called an “accessory.” For example, pretend that two friends decide to rob a bank and they agree that Friend A is going to go into the bank and rob it while Friend B waits for him out front in the getaway car. If these friends carry out the bank robbery as planned, then Friend A would be principal (as he committed the actual robbery) while Friend B would be the accessory (given that he assisted in the commission of the robbery).

Generally speaking, an accessory to a crime is anyone who willingly and knowingly aids and abets the principal in committing a crime. This assistance can come either before, after, or during the commission of the crime. However, it is important to note that the precise definition of what it takes to qualify as an accessory to a crime varies a bit from state to state.

Illinois’ Main Aiding and Abetting Law

Illinois’ main aiding and abetting l law is codified under code section 720 ILCS 5/5-2 and in relevant part states that it is illegal to knowingly help or assist someone else commit a crime. Regardless of whether this unlawful assistance comes before, during, or after the commission of the crime, the aiding party can still be held liable as an accessory to the crime. Furthermore, it is important to note that an accessory to a crime does not need to have been physically present at the scene of the crime in order to be found guilty.

The Penalty for Being an Accessory to a Crime in Illinois

You may be surprised to learn that a convicted accessory in Illinois can receive the same penalty as the principal whom he or she aided. In other words, if the bank robbing friends from the example above were caught and convicted in Illinois, then Friend B, who was guilty of being an accessory to the crime, is eligible to receive the same sentence (including jail time, fines, probation, restitution, etc.) that he would have been eligible for had he been the principal in the bank robbery rather than the accessory.

Need Legal Advice?

If you have been accused of committing a crime or of being an accessory to a crime, it is critical that you consult with a talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer about mounting your defense without delay. Time is of the essence, so it is important that you find a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours to advise you on your legal options. At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley we represent clients in a wide variety of criminal cases throughout Illinois and would be happy to assist you.

Source:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=072000050HArt.+5&ActID=1876&ChapterID=53&SeqStart=7200000&SeqEnd=7800000

A Brief Overview of Criminal Intent

January 29th, 2018 at 7:53 pm

criminal intent, malice aforethought, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal law, Illinois criminal casesCriminal intent (or mens rea) is an important legal concept to understand if you are going to stand trial for committing a criminal offense as the prosecution is required to establish mens rea (i.e. that the defendant had a guilty mind) in order for the defendant to be found guilty in many criminal cases. Depending on the severity of crime that was allegedly committed, the prosecution will need to prove that the defendant acted intentionally and possessed one of the following types of criminal intent when the illegal act was committed: malice aforethought, specific intent, or general intent.  

Malice Aforethought

Malice aforethought is the state of mind that is necessary in order to prove the most serious types of homicide. An individual possessed malice aforethought if he or she intended to kill or to cause great bodily harm. Malice aforethought is critical in homicide cases as this distinction in criminal intent is the key difference between murder and malice as murder is an unlawful killing that is committed with malice aforethought while manslaughter is an unlawful killing that does not involve malice aforethought.    

Specific Intent

In order to obtain a conviction for the most serious criminal offenses, apart from murder, the prosecution is required to show that the defendant specifically intended to cause a certain bad result, to do something more than commit the criminal act for which he or she is on trial, or acted with the knowledge that his or her conduct is against the law. Therefore, an individual is typically said to have acted with specific intent if he or she intentionally committed an unlawful act with the desire to cause a particular outcome.   

General Intent

General intent is similar to specific intent as they both require the defendant to have acted intentionally; however, if the defendant did not do something more than the criminal act itself nor did he or she act with the additional desire to cause a certain result, then he or she likely acted with general intent. In other words, an individual acts with general intent if he or she meant to do an act that is prohibited by law.

Specific Intent vs. General Intent: Which One?

It should be noted that criminal law statutes do not always specifically state whether an individual is required to have possessed specific or general intent in order to be convicted of committing the crime at hand. If the statute does not spell out the requisite level of criminal intent, then the court will determine whether the crime requires general or specific intent by looking at the language used in the statute. For example, if the statute uses terms like “voluntarily” and “knowingly” then the crime will often be considered a general intent crime.   

Contact a Local Criminal Defense Lawyer

Criminal law is complex and as such anyone who has been charged with a crime and is looking to retain legal counsel should take care to hire a local criminal defense lawyer who has extensive experience handling criminal cases. Talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher Cosley is just such a lawyer. If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois and live in the greater Chicago area, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at your earliest convenience to schedule an initial consultation with Mr. Cosley to discuss your legal options.

Source:

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

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