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Archive for the ‘Homicide’ Category

Voluntary Manslaughter Charges in Illinois

November 14th, 2018 at 9:10 pm

IL defense lawyerVoluntary manslaughter is the intentional killing of an unborn child or acting in a way that would cause harm or death to an unborn child. It is not to be confused with involuntary manslaughter, which is the unintentional killing of another person, not a fetus. Voluntary manslaughter in Illinois was formerly one and the same as second-degree murder: the intentional killing of another person on-the-spot or in the heat of passion (meaning that the killing was not premeditated). However, the law currently recognizes this type of homicide simply as second-degree murder, not voluntary homicide. Today’s law is such that voluntary manslaughter is only charged when the victim is an unborn child. It is akin to second-degree murder of an unborn child, a very serious crime.

Definition of Voluntary Manslaughter

As per Illinois 720 ILCS 5/9-2.1, voluntary manslaughter is:

  • Causing the death of an unborn child by acting “under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation” by another person whom the defendant tries to kill, but in so doing the defendant “negligently or accidentally causes the death of the unborn child”; or
  • Intentionally or knowingly causing the death of an unborn child.

Example of Voluntary Manslaughter Vs. Involuntary Manslaughter

A Schaumburg, Illinois man killed a mother of four, who was 12 weeks pregnant when he crushed her between his pickup truck and her vehicle, which was stalled and was being pushed along the side of the road, as reported by the Daily Herald. A dashboard camera showed the man throwing a vodka bottle into the woods after he hit and killed the woman and refused a breath test. As such, he was charged with driving under the influence and causing the death of the woman, an offense that is punishable by up to 14 years (more if there are other aggravating factors such as the crash occurring in a construction zone). The offense he committed was involuntary manslaughter of the mother. He was not additionally charged with voluntary manslaughter for killing the fetus because he was most likely unaware that the woman was pregnant.

In another case, a Peoria, Illinois man was convicted of voluntary manslaughter when he allegedly body slammed his girlfriend during an argument, causing the death of her unborn child. He was also charged with domestic battery, aggravated battery, and aggravated domestic battery. He was charged with voluntary manslaughter because he acted in a manner that would cause a strong probability of harm or death to the fetus.

A Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

Any type of homicide or crime that causes harm or death to a child or unborn child is extremely serious. If you have been charged with voluntary manslaughter or another crime of violence, contact dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley today at 847-394-3200.

 

Sources:

https://www.pjstar.com/news/20180308/peorian-convicted-of-killing-girlfriends-unborn-child

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/documents/072000050K9-2.1.htm

https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20181010/schaumburg-man-charged-with-dui-in-crash-that-killed-pregnant-mother-of-four

Involuntary Manslaughter in Illinois

November 12th, 2018 at 8:33 am

Illinios defense lawyerInvoluntary manslaughter is a classification of homicide, which is the unlawful killing of another person. While first- and second-degree murder involves the intentional killing of a person, involuntary manslaughter can be thought of as an unintentional type of killing. Make no mistake; involuntary manslaughter is a serious crime, and the penalties you may be sentenced with can be harsh.

Penalties for Involuntary Manslaughter

Under Illinois 720 ILCS 5/9-3, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional and unjustified killing of an individual when the defendant’s acts, either lawful or unlawful, are likely to cause death or serious bodily injury to another. As such, when a person performs dangerous reckless actions that result in the death of another, that person will be charged with involuntary manslaughter, unless they were operating a vehicle. As a Class 3 felony, involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to five years in prison. Examples of actions that could lead to involuntary manslaughter include:

  • Fist fights. A Toledo, Illinois man was recently charged with involuntary manslaughter after kicking his neighbor in the head;
  • Letting a toddler play outside on the street unsupervised;
  • Shooting a firearm or storing a firearm in a reckless manner; and
  • Throwing or dropping rocks from a bridge or overpass.

Reckless Homicide or Vehicular Manslaughter

When the driver of a motor vehicle, all-terrain vehicle, watercraft, or snowmobile causes the death of another due to reckless driving or operation of their vehicle, they will be charged with reckless homicide, more commonly referred to as vehicular manslaughter. Reckless homicide is also a Class 3 felony, and may also involve having your license suspended or revoked. If the defendant was driving under the influence of alcohol, even with a blood alcohol content under 0.08, they may still be charged with reckless homicide if they cause the death of another because it is presumed that alcohol played a factor in their impaired driving and decision making.

In fact, if the driver was intoxicated, it is more likely that they will be charged with a Class 2 felony instead of a Class 3 felony. A Class 2 felony carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison, although, for a DUI reckless homicide, defendants often face penalties of up to 14 years, and even up to 28 years behind bars. Drivers who are charged with vehicular manslaughter without any DUI implications can also face increased prison sentences if there were aggravating factors, such as causing the death in a school zone or construction zone.

An Involuntary Manslaughter Defense Attorney Is Here For Your Assistance Today

Whether you have been charged with reckless homicide, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree murder, or first-degree murder, attorney Christopher M. Cosley is here to help. Call a dedicated Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at our office today at 847-394-3200.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K9-3

https://jg-tc.com/news/local/manslaughter-charged-filed-in-case-of-toledo-man-s-death/article_a1aa90f9-c042-57a7-9340-a5f4019e5256.html

 

Illinois to Ban “Gay Panic Defense” in Criminal Cases

January 3rd, 2018 at 7:11 pm

gay panic defense, homicide cases, homosexual orientation, Illinois crime, Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyerWith the new year’s arrival, a slew of new laws are poised to take effect in Illinois and a few old ones are about to be repealed. Fox News reports that one old law that will be removed from the Illinois Compiled Statutes in 2018 is the so called “gay panic defense.”

What Was the Gay Panic Defense?

A gay panic defense is a legal defense that is available in homicide cases (or occasionally in other violent cases) that a defendant can use to justify violent acts against a homosexual victim if his or her violence was provoked by unexpectedly learning of the victim’s sexual orientation.

According to a report issued by the American Bar Association in 2013, gay and trans panic defenses were implemented by states across the U.S. years ago back when widespread public aversion to LGBT individuals was the norm and a victim’s sexual orientation was seen as justification for a defendant’s violent reaction towards them.

The Associated Press notes that gay panic defenses were usually passed in order to provide a legal defense for an individual who unknowingly engaged in a flirtation with a gay individual and then, upon discovering their homosexuality, violently attacked the gay individual in a sort of passionate involuntary response.

The American Bar Association’s report also notes that gay panic defenses have been used over the decades to mitigate murder charges down to the lesser charges of manslaughter or justifiable homicide in the following three different ways:

  1. Insanity or Diminished Capacity: Via the gay panic defense defendants have claimed temporary insanity or diminished capacity by arguing that learning of the victim’s sexual orientation triggered a nervous breakdown in the defendant. In the past this type of reaction was known as a “homosexual panic disorder” but the American Psychiatric Association discredited this order back in 1973.
  1. Sufficient Provocation: The gay panic defense has also been used to bolster defense of provocation arguments put forth by murder defendants. In essence these defendants argued that, although completely non-violent, the victim’s sexual advance was sufficient provocation to induce the defendant to kill.
  1. Self-Defense: Murder defendants have also argued that, due to their victim’s homosexual orientation, they reasonably believed that the victim was about to cause them serious bodily harm.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, it is critical that you consult with a skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer about your legal options without delay. At The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley, we represent both adult and juvenile criminal defendants accused of committing a wide variety of crimes across Illinois including; driving under the influence (DUI), shoplifting, burglary, domestic battery, drug possession and dealing, disorderly conduct, and criminal trespass, just to name a few. To find out what our firm can do for you, schedule a confidential initial consultation at our Rolling Meadows office today.

Sources:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/12/28/activists-to-copy-illinois-gay-panic-defense-ban-elsewhere.html

http://lgbtbar.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2014/02/Gay-and-Trans-Panic-Defenses-Resolution.pdf

https://apnews.com/9dc24f2031c8465081d790152f6efbd8/Activists-to-copy-Illinois-‘gay-panic-defense’-ban-elsewhere

Reckless Homicide Charges in Motor Vehicle Accidents

October 28th, 2015 at 6:43 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois homicide statutes, Illiois criminal attorney,Accidentally killing another person with a vehicle is a tough thing to live with, and while the defendant never meant to take a life, he or she will likely be prosecuted if there is evidence to suggest that the driver acted negligently in some way, and that the negligence led to the death. Frequently, defendants in these types of situations find themselves facing criminal charges, and based on the facts surround the fatal accident, additional charges can be brought against the defendant as well that carry more severe penalties.

Reckless Homicide, Plus Other Charges

The exact details of the accident can have an impact on what charges can be brought against the defendant. As an initial matter, when a motor vehicle accident results in a fatality, an allegedly negligent driver is usually charged with reckless homicide under 720 ILCS 5/9-3, which is a Class 3 felony that carries a jail sentence of between two and five years. But other negligent actions can add to the charges.

For example, the penalties for a driving under the influence conviction are severe enough on their own, but when a death occurs, prosecutors charge defendants with everything in their arsenal. When a fatal accident results from someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the defendant can be charged with aggravated DUI under 625 ILCS 5/11-501(d)(1)(F) in addition to the reckless homicide.

Where the fatal accident takes place can serve as evidence of negligence, this can result in enhanced penalties and additional charges. For instance:

  • Work zone. Under  720 ILCS 5/9-3(e-7), a fatal accident occurring in a work zone  (i.e., a construction zone or maintenance zone), is a Class 2 felony that carries a jail sentence of three for 14 years. If multiple people are killed as a result of the accident, the sentence minimum and maximum double to six to 28 years under 720 ILCS 5/9-3(e-8).
  • Under Officer’s Orders. Also under 720 ILCS 5/9-3(e-7), if a driver fails to obey a law enforcement officer’s orders and causes a fatal accident, the driver will be charged with a Class 2 felony carrying a jail sentence of three to 14 years.  If multiple people are killed as a result of the accident, the sentence minimum and maximum double to six to 28 years under 720 ILCS 5/9-3(e-8).
  • School zone. Under 720 ILCS 5/9-3(e-2), a fatal accident occurring on a public thoroughfare where either school children or a crossing guard are present is a Class 2 felony, which can carry up to three to 14 years of jail time. If multiple people are killed as a result of the accident, the sentence minimum and maximum double to six to 28 years under 720 ILCS 5/9-3(e-3).

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Simply because you accidentally killed another does not necessarily mean that you or someone you love was negligent. Fight the charges. Please contact an experienced Rolling Meadows aggravated DUI lawyer immediately. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. Our phone number is (847) 394-3200.

 

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K9-3

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501

Rhetoric is Wrong: Violent Crime is Actually Down

December 11th, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Chicago crime rate, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Day after day we hear the rhetoric about how bad crime is today and about how much worse crime is now than it used to be. Stories pop up about Chicago being the murder capital of America. Citizens are left to believe that there is some mass criminal class that is much worse than it has ever been before. The problem with all of this is that it simply is not true. In fact, violent crimes rates are the lowest they have been since the 1970s.

Violent Crime is Down

The Chicago Tribune reports that violent crime in the United States fell 4.4 percent in 2013, bringing the violent crime rate to its lowest level since the 1970s. Fewer violent crimes were reported last year than have been reported in any year since 1978. This trend rings true for all types of violent crimes including but not limited to murder, rape, and robbery. The violent crime rate has fallen every year since 1994 and has fallen by roughly 50 percent since 1994. Property crimes were also down last year.

Decreased Prison Populations Lead to Even Greater Violent Crime Rate Decline

Some tough-on-crime law and order types point to our nation’s extraordinary levels of incarceration as the cause of this decrease in crime. However, the evidence indicates that violent crime is dropping in spite of, not because of, our over-imprisonment problem. The Pew Charitable Trusts compiled data over the last five years regarding states’ imprisonment rates and crime rates. They found that over the last five years the majority of states have decreased imprisonment rates while seeing a decrease in crime at the same time. Hawaii decreased its imprisonment rate by 23 percent and saw a whopping 14 percent decrease in crime. In the 33 states where imprisonment rates decreased, crime fell on average by 13 percent. While crime also fell in the states where imprisonment rates increased, crime only fell 11 percent in those states.

This Means We Need Solutions Other than Prison

This data demonstrates that we need to use tools other than imprisonment if we want to minimize crime. Rather than focusing solely on punishment, it is high time our justice system focused on rehabilitation. Drug treatment, mental health treatment, and education need to become our primary tools of corrections, rather than oft ignored side programs. For those criminal defendants who do wind up serving sentences in jail or prison, we need to focus substantial efforts into supporting reentry programs. Reintegrating into society with a felony conviction can be extremely difficult and our society needs to work to make it possible for people to make it in society after incarceration. People who serve long sentences for violent crimes especially need assistance reintegrating into a world that has changed dramatically during their incarceration.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Being accused of committing a violent crime is terrifying. These crimes carry stiff penalties, but even just being accused can have a profound and permanent effect on your life. If you or someone you know has been accused of committing a violent crime, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. We can schedule a consultation where we can discuss your situation and see what we can do to help you.

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.

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