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Archive for the ‘Criminal Justice System’ Category

The Use of Circumstantial Evidence in Illinois Criminal Cases

July 6th, 2018 at 4:06 pm

circumstantial evidence, criminal defense cases, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, criminal proceedings, contradictory evidenceIf you turn on any crime drama show, chances are you have heard a prosecutor or defense attorney utter the phrase, “you only have circumstantial evidence.” As a viewer of a television program, you might just hear these words and not think about what circumstantial evidence is or the role it plays in criminal defense cases. Circumstantial evidence is not just a phrase you hear television lawyers throw around, however, but a real type of evidence that is at issue in criminal proceedings.

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence

There are two types of evidence that can be used in criminal trials. Direct evidence is actual physical evidence used to link a defendant directly to a crime. This could be a video surveillance tape, a fingerprint at the crime scene, or any other evidence that directly points to a defendant committing a crime.

According to Illinois jury instructions, circumstantial evidence is “the proof of facts or circumstances which give rise to a reasonable inference of other facts which tend to show the guilt or innocence of a defendant.” Essentially, this is evidence that is not actually rooted in hard, physical proof, but instead includes the circumstances that surround a defendant and point to their innocence or guilt. Further, Illinois instructs juries to use circumstantial evidence combined with other evidence presented in the case to arrive at a verdict.

Circumstantial evidence is used so that inferences can be made to link a defendant to a crime. Common examples can include resisting arrest, a motive to commit the crime, the opportunity to commit the crime, evasions by the defendant, denials, inconsistencies, the presence of a defendant at the scene of the crime, and any other conduct of the defendant that could be used to draw inferences to a defendant’s guilt.

Prior Illinois Law

In the past, Illinois made special considerations around the use of circumstantial evidence. Previously, circumstantial evidence was only allowed to be used exclusively for a conviction of a defendant if the evidence excluded every reasonable possibility that the defendant might be innocent.

Now, circumstantial evidence can be used in addition to direct evidence. All evidence is considered by the trier of fact (the jury) or a judge in the event it is not a jury trial. This evidence can all be used to determine whether the prosecution has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of the crime of which they are charged.

Let Us Help You Today

If you have been charged with a criminal charge, then you need an attorney. Passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley will work diligently to present every piece of evidence available to prove your innocence. Attorney Cosley understands that circumstantial evidence can play a huge part in a criminal trial and will present contradictory evidence at every available opportunity.


Specific Intent Crimes

July 19th, 2016 at 11:46 am

Specific Intent CrimesSome crimes in Illinois are referred to as “specific intent” crimes. These crimes require that the criminal defendant have the specific intent, or a particular state of mind, to do something in order to make a conviction of a criminal defendant for the crime. To think of this another way, the criminal defendant must have had a specific state of mind, or purpose, that was the reason behind committing the crime. The specific requisite intent is often defined in the criminal statute that governs over any particular specific intent crime that a defendant is charged with.

The good thing about specific intent crimes is that the prosecution has the burden of showing that the criminal defendant had the requisite state of mind that is needed to commit the alleged crime. Proving the necessary specific intent for a crime is often the prosecution’s weakest link in their case against the criminal defendant, as it is difficult to prove a person’s state of mind. Sometimes the prosecution’s whole case will turn on proving the requisite intent element of a crime, and the prosecution may only have circumstantial evidence to support its position. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can fight the prosecutors by attacking the weakest aspects of their case.

What Are Some of the Specific Intent Crimes in Illinois?

There are several specific intent crimes under Illinois law. Indeed, these types of crimes include:

  • Theft: In order to obtain a theft conviction, the criminal defendant must have the specific intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property of possession or use of the item that is stolen.
  • Theft by deception: The criminal defendant must have the intent to defraud or steal from the victim through an act of deception.
  • Burglary: For a burglary conviction, the criminal defendant must have the intent to carry out a felony or theft upon knowingly entering or remaining in a dwelling or building without authorization to be there.
  • Residential burglary: Again, the criminal defendant must have the intent to carry out a felony or a theft inside a dwelling where he or she is not authorized to be.
  • Battery and aggravated battery: The criminal defendant has to have the intent to cause serious bodily harm to the victim of the battery.
  • Attempt of committing a crime: Attempt charges require that the criminal defendant had the intention of committing a crime, but either failed or was unable to successfully commit the crime.

When the prosecution is unable to demonstrate that the criminal defendant had the requisite specific intent that is necessary to be convicted of the crime, the charges will be dismissed. It is important to work with an experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer who knows how to attack the specific intent aspect of criminal charges in your defense.

When You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

Anyone who is facing criminal charges in Illinois, for theft, burglary, battery, or any other crime should get in touch with a seasoned and experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. Our attorneys are eager to assist you with your case today.


Criminal Pleas in Illinois

January 6th, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois criminal lawyer, If you are being charged with a crime in Illinois, your charges will be formally read to you at your arraignment hearing. You will be required to enter a plea, or an official statement as to whether you are guilty or not, at this time to the charges you face. You have four plea choices in Illinois: not guilty, guilty but mentally ill, guilty and no contest.

Not guilty, guilty but mentally ill and guilty pleas are specifically provided for under 725/ILCS 5/113-4(a). Pleading no contest is limited to only certain situations, and the court does not have to accept a no contest plea.

In all cases, it is very important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine which plea is best for your particular circumstances. Which plea you choose will play a significant role in how your criminal case will proceed, and your plea choice could also have a lasting effect on your life since pleas are made part of your criminal record.

Not Guilty

When you plead not guilty, you are not admitting guilt for the crime that was allegedly committed. Pleading not guilty means that your case will proceed to trial.

Guilty but Mentally Ill

When you enter a plea of guilty but mentally ill, you are admitting to committing the alleged crime, but you are also asserting that the charges should be mitigated by the fact that you were mentally ill at the time you committed the crime. The court can accept this plea, and must first make a determination on the issue of your mental state at the time of the crime, before proceeding further.


Pleading guilty means that you admit to your guilt for committing the alleged crime. The court can enter your guilty plea and move your case forward to sentencing. You will have the guilty plea on your criminal record.

No Contest

No contest is an interesting plea because this plea means that you do not disagree with the facts, but you do not admit that you are guilty. A no contest plea is very rare in Illinois, and in most criminal cases cannot be used; as such, consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to see if a no contest plea is available for you in your particular case. It is treated much like a guilty plea, and is entered into your criminal record. The main difference between a guilty plea and a no contest plea is that when you plead no contest, your plea cannot be used against you later if any civil suits arise. The court does not have to accept your plea of no contest, and will likely reject it.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Deciding how to plea in your criminal case is something that needs to be fully considered and discussed with your criminal defense attorney. An experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options and what the consequences of each option might be. Please contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley online. We can also be reached by calling (847) 394-3200.



Statute of Limitations for Criminal Charges

December 15th, 2015 at 9:49 am

Illinois criminal statutes, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, Criminal charges need to be brought as soon as possible in order to expedite justice and to ensure that critical components of the crime, such as evidence and witnesses’ recollections of the events that took place, are fresh and viable. But that is not to say that some charges cannot be brought against an accused many months or years after the actual crime took place. As such, one question remains: is there any limit on how long after a crime that charges can be brought?

Most criminal charges are subject to a statute of limitations, which is a window of opportunity in which charges for a crime must be brought against the accused or else they will be time barred, at which point a court will no longer hear the case against the accused. A statute of limitations begins either after the crime is committed or a victim learns that a crime has been committed against him or her. The statute of limitations forces the state’s prosecutors to move forward on a criminal case in a timely manner.

Statute of Limitations for Common Crimes in Illinois

A number of crimes in Illinois carry a statute of limitations, but not all do. The length or duration of a statute of limitations for a particular crime generally correspond to how serious the crime is, with less serious offenses having short statutes of limitations, while serious crimes may carry no statute of limitations at all. Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/3-5 lays out the statute of limitations for criminal offenses.

  • Depending on whether the facts of the case warrant a misdemeanor charge, charges for the crimes of assault, disorderly conduct, receiving stolen property, and theft can all carry an 18-month statute of limitations;
  • Depending on whether the facts of the case warrant a felony charge, charges for the crimes of assault, burglary, disorderly conduct, kidnapping, rape (depending on the facts of the case), receiving stolen property, robbery, and theft all carry a three-year statute of limitations; and
  • Arson, rape (depending on the facts of the case), involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, forgery and  and murder and attempted murder carry no statute of limitations, and charges for these crimes can be brought at any time after the crime occurred.

What Happens If the Statute of Limitations for a Crime Has Expired?

When a statute of limitations for a criminal charge has expired, the criminal action is time-barred and if charges for the crime are brought against the defendant, the charges will be dismissed. Defendants must raise this defense under 735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(5) by filing a motion for dismissal of the action with the court so that the court is aware that the case is defective and has gone stale.

Let Us Help You Today

Accusations that you committed a crime a long time ago can be troubling, but criminal charges that are too old and are beyond the statute of limitations cannot be tolerated or allowed to move forward. Please contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at once for assistance with your case. Our law firm is prepared to help you throughout each step of the legal process.



Defendants Rights: What Right Do You Have to See the Evidence?

November 26th, 2015 at 4:06 pm

Illinois legal system, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer,Criminal defendants have some of the highest constitutional protections in the criminal justice system. The reason for these rights and protections is because the stakes are so high. If someone is convicted of a crime, they may not only lose their freedom, but also a host of other rights. One of the most important constitutional protections is the right to see the evidence against you. But, even this right has its limits.

Right to Exculpatory Evidence

The most basic right in a criminal trial is the right to see any exculpatory evidence. This means you have a right to see anything the prosecution has possession of, or knows about, that may show you are not guilty of the crime for which you are being charged. This right was laid out in the U.S. Supreme Court case called Brady V. Maryland.

Other Evidence Rights

You also have a constitutional right to confront any witnesses. This limits the use of out of court statements by the prosecution during your trial. You have the right to cross-examine witnesses. You also have a right to see what evidence the prosecution plans on presenting against you in most instances.

You have a right to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. For example, if the prosecution is going to have an expert testify about hair samples left at the scene, you can present your own expert witness or argue that the prosecution’s evidence is flawed.

What Defendants Do Not Have a Right to See

There are some things that as a criminal defendant you do not have a right to see before trial, or perhaps even at all. There may be some national security issues that limit your access to evidence.

More commonly, evidence called impeachment evidence does not have to be disclosed before trial. This is evidence that would show a witness was not telling the truth.

In some cases the identity of confidential informants may be protected and you will not have access to some information about these often key parts to the prosecution’s case.

Criminal charges are always a serious matter. If you have been accused or charged with a crime, you need to consult with a knowledgeable, tough, and experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer right away. Do not to talk to anyone about your case before you have talked to a lawyer. Your freedom could depend on it. Call to schedule a consultation today.



Accused of a Crime: Should I Turn Myself In?

September 28th, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer,You should never seek to hide from the police or try and avoid getting arrested when you know you have a warrant for your arrest. Evading arrest, revisiting arrest, and obstruction of justice are all serious crimes in Illinois. Turning yourself into the police when you have been charged with a crime is often a wise move, if done properly.

Difference between Being Accused and Being Charged

You may want to do the right thing, but you are not sure if you are required to turn yourself in or not. If you have been accused of a crime, that is, someone has said that you committed a crime, but you have not been charged with a crime, you do not have to turn yourself in.

You have the right to not incriminate yourself. This means even if the police wish to question you, you can remain silent instead of admitting you broke the law. You should still seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney, but you are a free man or woman.

If you have been given a citation, have a court date, or have been indicted, you have been charged with a crime. Most of the time, if you have a court date scheduled you only have to show up for court, there is no need to turn yourself into the police.

However, if there is a warrant out for your arrest – this will usually happen in the case of felonies – it may be in your best interest to turn yourself into the police. It is never okay to try and hide from the police. However, you must first talk with a lawyer before committing to any course of action.

Planning Ahead

While it is a crime to try and evade arrest, it is not a crime to plan ahead for when you are arrested. If you plan on turning yourself in, make sure you have things lined up. You will probably need to post bail. You should have someone who knows you are going to turn yourself in be ready to post your bail so you can reduce the amount of time you spend in custody. Make sure you do not have anything illegal, dangerous, or suspicious on your person when you turn yourself in. This includes drugs and weapons.

You should work out a plan with your attorney for the best time to turn yourself in. Usually early in the week will be better than on a weekend.

What Happens Next

After you turn yourself in you will be arrested. Depending on your circumstances, you may be released after you are booked. You may need to first post bail. You may have to spend some time in custody until you have a bail hearing. A criminal defense attorney can go over your specific circumstances with you.

You do not have to face the police by yourself. If you have been charged or accused of a crime, meet with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney to discuss your case. Your freedom could be at stake.



Criminal Sentencing: How Much Time Does One Serve?

August 24th, 2015 at 7:04 am

Illinois criminal justice system, mandatory sentencing, Illinois criminal attorney,When a person is facing criminal charges one of the primary concerns he or she has is how much prison time is possible. Every crime has a set punishment or range of possible punishments, but in our society that really does not tell us much. Each state is different and has its own complicated systems. Some states have parole; some states do not have parole. Some decrease sentences for good behavior, while others may not. Some have conditional release while others do not. This makes it extremely unlikely that someone who has not gone through the criminal process in a particular state will understand exactly how much time he or she is facing.

Illinois Does Not Have Parole

As a general rule, Illinois does not have a system of parole. Parole is a system where an inmate serves part of his or her sentence and then goes before a board who decides whether he or she should stay in prison or be granted an early release. A person granted parole faces restrictions similar to those on probation until his or her entire sentence is served either in prison or on parole. Illinois used to have a parole system; however, in the 1970s the legislature did away with it. What this means is that there are a few people who were convicted of crimes decades ago that still have a right to parole hearings and who may possibly be granted parole. And, if you commit a crime in Illinois now and you are convicted, you will not be eligible for parole. In addition, crimes in Illinois do often come with a term of supervised release. This is similar to parole, in that it is a period of supervision that comes after incarceration, but it is for a set term of years and does not result in early release.

Most Illinois Inmates Serve Half Their Sentences

Although Illinois does not have parole, that does not necessarily mean that one will serve every day of his or her sentence. Most Illinois inmates are required to serve one half of their sentences before being released. There are exceptions to this rule though. In the 1990s the legislature passed “truth in sentencing” laws. Under these laws, people convicted of certain serious crimes are required to serve larger portions of their sentence. People convicted of first-degree murder must serve 100 percent of their murder sentences. People convicted of other violent offenses must serve 85 percent of their sentences. There are also laws relating to specific offenses that require that some sentences be served consecutive to other sentences. This is why it is extremely important to discuss sentencing possibilities and the actual time you may serve with an attorney.

Call Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with a crime in Rolling Meadows, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. You should contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will fight for you. During an initial consultation we will discuss your objectives with you and work to obtain the best possible outcome given your priorities.

What is Conditional Discharge?

August 19th, 2015 at 6:55 am

jail time, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois defense attorney,Nearly everyone has heard of imprisonment as a possible sentence for a crime, and most people have heard of probation. But there is one unique resolution to criminal charges in Illinois that is unfamiliar to many throughout the state: “conditional discharge.” In addition to this, Illinois allows for another type of punishment, as well, known as “court supervision.”

What is Conditional Discharge?

Conditional discharge is a sentence that a judge can impose if they believe that neither a sentence of imprisonment nor one of periodic imprisonment or probation supervision is appropriate. Conditional discharge is similar to probation in that there are certain conditions you must comply with in order to keep your freedom, but it is different in that you do not have to report to or be supervised by a probation officer. The monitoring is done by the court instead of by a probation officer. Conditional discharge results in a conviction on your record. If you violate the terms of your conditional discharge and you get caught then the prosecutor can file a motion to revoke your conditional discharge. They do not have to prove you violated your conditional discharge beyond a reasonable doubt in the way they would have to prove a criminal charge. Instead, they must only prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. If the prosecution is successful, you could wind up with additional terms being added to your conditional discharge, or you could wind up in jail.

What is Court Supervision?

Court supervision is similar to probation. In this program, you are supervised by someone, you must comply with certain requirements over a period of time (like performing community service or taking certain classes), and if you get in trouble or do not comply with the terms of your supervision you may be put in jail. Supervision is different from probation, however, in that if you successfully complete court supervision, you will not have a conviction on your record. While you may still have to report the supervision to certain authorities in some situations, for the most part you will not face the consequences that those with convictions face. Supervision is typically not available for felonies, sex offenses, or some other offenses including some traffic offenses.

Call Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged facing criminal charges in Rolling Meadows, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. You should contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will explain all of the possible outcomes in your case and will answer any questions you have about options like conditional discharges. Then we will fight for the best outcome in your case.

Probable Cause: When Are Police Allowed to Search a Vehicle without a Warrant?

July 15th, 2015 at 3:45 pm

your rights, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney,Two of the most common types of criminal charges are drug charges and weapons charges. These two types of cases have something in common. They often involve a police officer searching some area (like a car or a home or a person) and finding an item that is the very basis of the crime, like a gun or drugs. Of course, many people understand that in most situations the police need a warrant to go in and search someone’s home. This is ultimately because of the Fourth Amendment. However what many people do not understand is that, because of some United States Supreme Court decisions, the police usually do not need a warrant to search a vehicle.

Occasionally the Police Need a Warrant to Search a Car

Very often police do not need a warrant to search your vehicle. Certainly, however, there are some exceptions. For example, if your car is being stored in your garage at your home and none of the warrant exceptions apply that would allow the police to search your home without a warrant, then they probably cannot search the car without a warrant (or your permission) either. This is because without your permission or a warrant, they cannot go into the garage. However, if your car were parked on a public street in front of your house, then a warrant likely would not be required.

Most of the Time the Cops Do Not Need a Warrant

Most of the time police officers do not need a warrant to search a car that you are out driving around. This exception to the Fourth Amendment dates back to a case almost as old as automobiles, known as Carroll v. United States. In this case from 1925 the United States Supreme Court ruled that an officer can search an automobile without a warrant so long as the officer has “probable cause” to believe that either evidence or contraband is in the automobile. Probable cause is one of the lowest burdens of proof in our legal system. The reasoning behind this ruling is two-fold.

First of all, since by their very nature cars are movable, there is a real threat of evidence destruction if officers have to wait for a warrant. Secondly, the Court theorized that there is less of an expectation of privacy in a car then there is in a home since cars are operated on public roadways under state regulations. Motor homes that are readily mobile, trailers pulled by trucks, boats, house boats, and airplanes are also covered by this exception.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are the suspect in a crime, or if you have already been charged, you will need help. There are many issues to consider beyond just whether or not you are guilty. In many cases there are important constitutional issues at stake like issues regarding the Fourth Amendment. In these cases you need someone on your side who has an in depth understanding of the law. You will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200.

Jury Trials and Bench Trials in Illinois

June 8th, 2015 at 6:39 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, judicial procedureMost people know that if you are facing criminal charges, and your case goes to trial, you have the right to a jury trial. Here in Illinois the right to a jury trial is in our state constitution. What many people do not realize, however, is that many criminal cases that result in trials do not result in jury trials. Instead, many people who are charged with a crime choose to have what is called a ¨bench trial.” In a bench trial, instead of having a jury decide whether you are guilty or innocent, the judge in your case makes the decision.

What Do Jury Trials Involve in Illinois?

People usually think of juries as being just like they are on television — made up of 12 people who are locked away from the public throughout the entire trial and who must all agree on any decision the jury makes. In reality, juries are different in each state, just like laws are different across state lines as well. In Illinois, criminal defendants have the right to a public trial by an impartial jury of the county in which the offense is alleged to have been committed. The jury will typically be made up of 12 members, and there may alternate jurors. Alternates are jurors who are there in case one of the original 12 get sick or injured or otherwise cannot continue to serve, thus requiring a substitution. Typically jurors are not sequestered, that is, not locked up in a hotel away from their families at night, even in serious cases. There has to be an extreme reason for a judge to sequester a jury in a regular criminal case. In Illinois all 12 jurors do have to agree in order for a defendant to be convicted or found not guilty. If they cannot agree the judge may declare a mistrial, which may result in the case being tried all over again. Jury trials generally take longer than bench trials because the jury selection process is a lengthy one, and jury trials also require specific steps, such as instructing the jurors on the law.

What Do Bench Trials Involve in Illinois?

In a bench trial the judge will decide whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. A bench trial can only be held if a defendant waives his or her right to a jury trial. The judge will hear opening statements, listen to the evidence, and listen to closing arguments just like a jury would in a jury trial. The difference here is that you have one person who knows the law deciding your fate, instead of 12 members of society who likely have little experience with the criminal justice system.

Which strategy is best for you depends on the specific facts of your case, including what you are charged with and what your defense is. If, for example, you are charged with a serious assault but you have a very sympathetic defense, you may be better off with a jury. On the other hand, if your defense is a technical legal defense, you may be better off with a judge who has a better understanding of the law. There exist many factors that go into this decision that you will need to discuss with your attorney before making the right choice for yourself.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you are facing criminal charges you have many decisions to make. In order to make the best decisions for your situation you will need the advice of an experienced and passionate Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. If you are charged in Rolling Meadows, you should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200.

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