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Archive for the ‘Felony’ Category

Status of Anti-Violence Program Questioned

August 12th, 2014 at 7:00 am

anti-violence program, Chicago criminal defense attorneys, CeaseFire program, ex-felons, combat violence, report crime tips, target violent offenders, curb violenceThe state of Illinois has frequently been in the news as of late regarding numerous programs and efforts regarding criminal justice that are in various stages of development and implementation. In fact, our law firm’s blog has featured many articles related to these efforts, including expungement seminars and attempts at sentencing revision. Now, a recent news article is highlighting an anti-violence program, in light of information that was discovered about it, as the result of a new study that was performed by researchers.

CeaseFire

CeaseFire is a program that furthers anti-violence efforts among the criminal population. Now, the program itself is under scrutiny as a new study is now underway regarding its effectiveness. Northwestern University previously conducted a study, which found that CeaseFire acts to reduce crime as participants, called “interrupters,” hit the streets in the most dangerous neighborhoods and attempt to settle conflicts before guns are used in shooting wars. Those who participate as interrupters are often ex-felons themselves. The new study being conducted by the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago is being performed in an effort to reveal some additional information about the true impact of the program CeaseFire, and many are saying that the questions being studied are ones that need answers.

As mentioned, some of the interrupters who participate in CeaseFire have been charged and convicted of serious crimes. This fact brings up an urgent issue about the use of ex-felons within the program. In one recent example, a man working as an interrupter for about one year was arrested and charged with sexual assault and kidnapping of a teen girl. The offenses are alleged to have occurred while the man was working for the program. His charges are pending, and no decision about his guilt has been made in connection with this most recent case. He is among at least nine other individuals who have faced serious criminal charges during the time they were CeaseFire employees.

Police Opinion

Many officers, particularly in Chicago, are at best skeptical of the CeaseFire program and its use of ex-felons as interrupters. However, it may be foreseeable that a program such as CeaseFire, attempting to combat violence on the street level, will encounter similar problems. Part of the rationale behind CeaseFire employing criminals is due to their credibility with young men on the street who may be following in the same path. However, it may be inevitable that some will return to a life of crime.

Police would reportedly like the program to report crime tips to law enforcement, which program directors will not agree to since it would compromise the program’s effectiveness. Ironically, police are supposedly using some of the same techniques as CeaseFire in an effort to de-escalate violent situations before they occur, with the thought that targeting a small number of known violent offenders could have a big impact on decreasing violence overall. The study referenced above is attempting to determine whether CeaseFire or police are more effective in curbing violence on the street level.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can protect your rights. Contact us today in our Rolling Meadows office for a consultation.

“Ban the Box” Fight and Related Recidivism Risk

April 3rd, 2014 at 7:56 am

ban the box, criminal history, job application, felony, felon, discrimination, Chicago criminal defense lawyerIn filling out numerous types of documents and applications required for everyday things, many of us have likely noticed questions related to prior felony convictions. It may not be applicable to everyone, but for those who have to indicate a prior conviction, it could mean they are denied a job or a home and, as a result, a new start. A recent article discussed the discrimination associated with those who have a criminal record, as well as a campaign started by a prisoners’ rights organization aimed at removing the question from public employee forms.

Ban the Box

Ten years ago, the organization All of Us or None began the “Ban the Box” campaign, which 10 states and dozens of local jurisdictions have joined, in an effort to get any questions about prior felony convictions removed from public employee forms. They have had some success recently, which has propelled a movement at the national level to improve hiring opportunities for mostly non-violent criminal offenders.

States and Local Jurisdictions are Responding

In San Francisco, the mayor signed the Fair Chance Ordinance into law, which not only addressed the question appearing on public employee forms, but also on paperwork related to affordable housing and private employers with more than 20 employees. The idea is that punishing someone twice for the same past mistake is not a worthwhile goal.

The state of Illinois has implemented similar state laws regarding the removal of conviction history questions on public employment applications, and Chicago is among the jurisdictions mentioned above that have implemented ban the box policies.

Limits of Ban the Box

Although many states and jurisdictions may be taking actions in preventing initial disclosure of criminal history to avoid employers automatically disqualifying prior convicts for a given position, it will not prevent the information from being shared at all. Rather, many laws (like the one passed in California last year) will specify that the job applicant does not have to disclose criminal convictions until after a potential employer determines that the applicant otherwise meets the minimum qualifications required for the job.

Some States Hesitant to Follow Suit

While some jurisdictions in the south have implemented ban the box, no southern states have taken the step to pass or propose such a law going into effect. In order for the movement as a whole to be successful, the idea needs to be implemented in different places across the country, and also needs to include private employment practices, housing, and loan applications. The overarching theme of the movement is not only equal treatment, but also a shift in society’s thinking so that all people can hope for a better life.

Criminal Defense Attorney

There have been numerous issues involving criminal justice and improvements to the system in the United States that have developed lately. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help you not only in protecting your rights in court, but in giving you the best chance of improving your life going forward. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation if you have been charged with a crime in Chicago or the surrounding area.

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

February 28th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

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

 Appellate Court Decision

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

 New Criminal Process

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

 Case Background

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

 Illinois Law Regarding Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

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

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

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

City to send Police Patrols Overnight in Chicago Parks

December 6th, 2013 at 11:26 am

family in parkOfficials in the city of Chicago are aware of the prevalence of violent crime in Chicago parks.  Four days after the FBI claimed that Chicago was the murder capital of the United States, more violence broke out in the city.  An outburst of shooting occurred on September 20th at Cornell Square Park on the south side of Chicago.  Waves of gunfire left 13 people wounded including a couple of teenagers and three year old boy.  The shooting was considered to be gang-related as some of the victims were known gang-members.

In response to these violent crimes, the police department of Chicago started paying overtime to officers in high crime neighborhoods of the city for an initiative called “Operation Impact”.  Overtime pay for 2013 is estimated to be around $100 million.

More recently, the police department instituted a new plan to keep the parks safe through the night.  Off-duty police officers are to be paid overtime wages for patrolling 20 of the city’s most dangerous parks.  The names of the parks have not been released yet, but will be decided based on the last three years of crime statistics.   This new initiative started in November of 2013.  Paying overtime to existing officers seems cheaper than hiring a large amount of rookie officers according to a statement by Chicago police chief Garry McCarthy.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has agreed that the safety of Chicago’s parks is a top priority of his.  He even stated that “The parks in the city of Chicago belong to families of Chicago, the streets of the city of Chicago belong to families of Chicago, the front stoops of our homes belong to the families of the city of Chicago.  You go out there and enjoy our city.”

If you have been arrested for a crime then it is important to have a legal professional to protect your rights.  Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, the effects can be life altering.  You could lose your job, be rejected by colleges, or worse spend time in prison.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook County today to review your case.

Use of Polygraph Tests in Chicago Crime Cases

December 3rd, 2013 at 11:05 am

police investigationWhen arrested for a crime in Chicago, the normal procedure is to be questioned by an officer.  Occasionally, a member of a department’s polygraph unit would examine the suspect with the help of a lie detector test.  Yet, a couple of convictions have been overturned lately, such as the murder charge against Nicole Harris.  Harris was convicted of murdering her four year old son in 2005 after being coerced into a confession with a false polygraph test.  In June of 2013, this conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court based on evidence uncovered by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

The use of polygraph examinations has decreased significantly over the past couple of years.  In 2011, around 400 tests were administered to suspects of crime compared to only 50 over eight months in 2013. The reason that the Chicago Police Department gave for the drop was that polygraph units have been reassigned from forensics units to the human resources department.  Their new orders include interviewing potential officer candidates.  “The temporary detail was made to address the backlog in pre-employment screening needs.  There hasn’t been a move away from polygraphs as a part of criminal investigations,” according to police spokesperson Adam Collins.

This change seems to coincide with an investigation by the Chicago Tribune into false confessions obtained by polygraph departments.  It was uncovered that examiners did not follow the proper procedures for giving polygraph examinations.  Rather the polygraph teams saw the examination as an opportunity to coerce a confession with possibly false information.  These departments also did not follow the standards of administering or scoring the tests they received.  Polygraph tests are supposed to be scored based on a numerical scale, but one examiner even said that they scored the test simply by “eyeballing it”.

If you have been arrested for any crime, it is important to have a defense attorney review your case.  They can make sure that the investigation follows the proper guidelines without violating your rights.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook County today.

Family Files Suit for Lock up Death in Drug Arrest

November 11th, 2013 at 1:09 pm

jail timeMay Molina was a community activist for many years in the city of Chicago.  Even with her diabetes, asthma, and inability to go anywhere without a wheelchair, she still voiced her opinion against the Chicago Police Department.   She was especially adamant her son’s wrongful lockup for a crime he did not commit.  In 2004, her voice was silenced after being locked up for drug possession.

For 24 hours in lockup at the police station, Molina was without her medicine.  Other inmates at the time as well as her attorney notified the police on duty that Molina was becoming breathless and confused.  No one acted on their warning and within a few hours, Molina was found dead in her cell.

Recently, the surviving family of May Molina has decided to filed a civil suit against the Chicago Police Department.  When May was arrested, she had asked the officers to bring her medicine but she was denied.  May’s family is claiming in the suit that the city normally denies medical requests of inmates at holding cells of Chicago police departments.

During the trial they had an expert corroborate their claim.  Former assistant police chief of Seattle Michael Brasfield is an expert in police practices.  He told the jury that Chicago departments hold people longer than other cities, permits unqualified officers make medical decisions neglects calling in a medical staff even when those who were arrested were in critical condition.  Brasfield said that as a department “you are supposed to err…unequivocally on the side of overresponding, on the side of well-being and safety.”

The police offered a counterclaim that Molina never asked for medical attention.  The fact is that Molina’s autopsy showed that there were tinfoil packets of heroin in her throat that she may have swallowed prior to arrest.  The medical examiner’s office ruled that the death was accidental.  Proving that the police department is responsible for the death of Molina may change the care for others being processed in the system.

Another way to protect yourself in the judicial process is to have the support of a legal professional.  A lawyer who will look out for your best interest.  If you need that kind of a lawyer, reach out to an experienced Cook County criminal attorney today.

New Travel Restrictions for Suspects of Violent Crimes

August 20th, 2013 at 8:00 am

passportIn 2012, a Chicago Tribune investigation uncovered a high number of criminal suspects flee the state of Illinois to avoid sentencing.   It is a problem that existed across all levels of law enforcement.

The Tribune found that police departments have allowed over 60 fugitives escape justice when they ran to Mexico.  When they submit extradition paperwork it often overwhelms the county officials who need to process these requests.  Of the fugitives in Mexico, at the time of their investigation, officials were only seeking the deportation of 12 suspects.

There is also an issue with the judges who held bond hearings.  They set low bonds for suspects who were being charged with crimes such as rape and murder.  They also were not required to confiscate passports from suspects with dual citizenship.  But now Illinois lawmakers have passed a law to limit these avenues for suspects to escape justice.

Now judges are required to restrict the travel or seize the passport of suspects accused of first degree murder and other violent crimes. “This closes a huge loophole that was brought to my attention by the Chicago Tribune,” said one of the law’s sponsors, state Senator Ira Silverstein, a Democrat from Chicago.

Another loophole was closed by lawmakers this August.  There was an exemption in Illinois which allowed family members to aid and harbor suspects without being charged with a crime.  This allowed families to provide a suspect with money, drive them to the airport and even keep information from the authorities.  Now, family members found to have aided or abetted suspects of crimes can be charged with a felony.

With these new laws in place, it puts a greater importance on the legal advice of an attorney with a background in representing suspects of violent crimes.  Don’t play with your fate by trying to run from your charges.  Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Cook county today.

Police Chief Accused of Crime in Southern Illinois

June 15th, 2013 at 9:51 am

The Chicago Sun Times recently reported that an Illinois police chief from the southwest was accused in early May of two felony misconducts for supposedly misusing a pickup truck that was seized in a drug case.

Lucy 5-2956-year-old Caseyville Police Chief J.D. Roth was accused of not only driving a 2003 Dodge Dakota Ram 1500 pickup truck for police business, but also for personal use instead of selling the truck in an auction as he was instructed to do.

Roth was instructed to get bids from local car dealers and sold it for $7,500 to a dealer whose owner is friends with Roth. He then bought the car back soon after. The state law requires, however, that the vehicle must be sold for the benefit of the public.

Roth has also been accused of personal use of luggage that he bought with public funds.

Although both the luggage charge and the truck charge are each punishable by a fine of $25,000 and five years in prison, Roth’s attorney is confident that his 26 year police career will help to prove Roth’s innocence.

One of Roth’s attorneys, Clyde Kuehn, said, “Twenty-six years he’s been in law enforcement in this area … and he’s developed a reputation of being a good law enforcement officer, and he’s served the community.”

Although Roth may have support because he has been a police officer for so many years, no one can get away with crime. If he is proven guilty, Roth will face his charges and serve his punishment just as any other citizen would be required to do.

If you have been accused of a crime, whether or not you work in law enforcement like Roth does, contact a criminal attorney for assistance in having your name cleared. Attorney Chris Cosley can help you with your criminal case in Rolling Meadows, Ill. today.

 

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.com

Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty to Fraud

March 6th, 2013 at 8:00 am

American FlagIn a surprising turn of events, Jesse Jackson Jr. went from a man with huge political aspirations to someone who seems to have lost control.  The Democratic Representative from Chicago stepped down recently while being investigated and dealing with health issues.  He pleaded guilty to one felony fraud charge on Wednesday February 20th to secure a plea deal.  He was charged with fraud for using $750,000 in campaign money to pay for his lavish living expenses.

The court filed a 22 page report which outlines the spending habits of a politician who many thought would one day run for Mayor in Chicago or President of the US.  It started when Jesse opened a campaign account and then withdrew nearly $45,000 to purchase a Rolex watch.    He went on to purchase “high-end electronic items, collector’s items, clothing, food and supplies for daily consumption, movie tickets, health club dates, personal travel, and personal dining expenses,” according to the prosecution.

The details of his plea agreement allow his punishment range to be between 46 to 57 months in prison.  Though, it is not set in stone because both the defense and prosecution can influence the sentencing of the case.  The defense will urge the judge to consider probation given Jesse’s recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Jesse’s wife Sandi has also been charged with assisting the cover-up of this fraud.  Sandi was formerly an alderman for the city of Chicago.  She pleaded guilty of failing to report that money from her aldermanic campaign was used as personal income also for failing to report this income on her tax return.  Her possible sentencing will be in the range of 1 to 2 years in prison.

What was once a promising career in politics for the Jackson may now be forever damaged.  White collar crimes can ruin reputations and result in jail time.  If you have been charged with any white collar crime, then it is important to receive legal guidance.  Contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Rolling Meadows today.

Son arrested for double homicide

February 17th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

According to a recent article posted by IndyStar, David Scott Rodenbarger was convicted for two counts of murder over this past weekend- that of his mother and his 6-year-old half-sister.  It has just recently been released that a two-pronged meat fork and knife were found at the scene of the crime.

Rodenbarger’s mother, 41-year-old Michelle Haskins, died from a serious stab wound to her neck, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in White Superior Court 1.  His half-sister, 6-year-old Jillian Haskins, died due to multiple stab wounds and swelling of her brain, which was caused by blunt force trauma to her head.

Both Haskins were found at around 1:30 a.m. Saturday at their home near Lake Freeman in Monticello.  Indiana State Police reported that Michelle Haskins was able to call 911 before succumbing to her injuries.

LaraA motive has not been specified for the crime, but Rodenbarger has allegedly implicated himself in the two deaths.  He was found in the home at the time the police arrived; his hands and clothes were bloodstained.

A two-pronged meat fork and knife were found near the bodies of Michelle and Jillian Haskins, both with what appeared to be blood on them.

Rodenbarger appeared in court Tuesday morning for his initial hearing.

At one point during the hearing, Rodenbarger interrupted the judge and requested he reread the charges stating “I wasn’t listening to you all the way.”  Later, he asked for an attorney and was appointed Delphi-based Pat Manahan as public defender.

While being led from the courtroom, he told family members “I love you, too.”

Each murder count against him is punishable by 45 to 65 years in prison.

If you or someone you know has been convicted of a crime, do not hesitate to contact a dedicated Cook County attorney to assist you.

 

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