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Archive for the ‘circumstantial evidence’ tag

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.


Is There a Difference Between Burglary and Attempted Burglary in Illinois?

November 11th, 2016 at 11:33 am

attempted burglary, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense AttorneyWhat happens to a person who was caught in the middle of committing a burglary? If the burglary was never completed, meaning you never had the chance to get away with anything you stole or were planning to steal, are you still charged with burglary?

Intent is All That is Required

In Illinois, there is no difference between attempted burglary and burglary, because under the law, all you need to have is the intent to steal from, or commit a felony in, a place where you are not authorized to be. You do not actually have to take anything, nor do you even have to attempt to take something from someone else’s property, in order to be charged with burglary. Simply having the intent to steal something, or to commit a felony, is enough.

Many criminal defendants wonder how intent can be proven. If you did not take anything, and you do not flat out admit that you were there to steal something, how will the police know that you ever had intent to take something? Police take burglary very seriously, and will investigate the scene of the crime to look for clues that indicate you may have had the intent to steal something before you were caught.

Intent is Often Established with Circumstantial Evidence

Often times, police will conduct interviews with you, with the owners of the burglarized property, and with your friends or associates to get a better understanding of what you were doing on someone else’s property without permission. Between these interviews and evidence at the scene of the crime, police can often put together enough circumstantial evidence to arrest you and charge you with burglary.

Circumstantial evidence is evidence that requires an extra step of thought, i.e., an inference, to arrive at a conclusion of fact or is used to support the truth of an assertion. In the case of burglary, circumstantial evidence is used to support the assertion that you were at the property with the intent to steal something or commit a felony.

For instance, if there is evidence at the scene of the burglary that you tried to pry open locked chests and drawers, or that you left fingerprints on drawers where it is likely that valuables would be stored, this circumstantial evidence could be used to establish your intent to steal something from the scene of the crime.

Defenses Can Help Reduce or Dismiss Charges

Circumstantial evidence is one of the weakest forms of evidence because it requires an inference to arrive at some conclusion about what the evidence suggests. If you have a valid reason for why the circumstantial evidence exists that defeats the inference, it is possible to beat your charges.

Call The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are faced with burglary charges, please do not hesitate to contact a Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney immediately. We are eager to help you today. Call 847-394-3200.


Willful Blindness

July 4th, 2013 at 8:35 am

RigsMost convictions require that the prosecution prove the defendant had a criminal intent to commit the crime. Absent an outright admission, prosecutors have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove criminal intent. Some defendants have attempted to negate criminal intent by turning a blind eye to criminal behavior.

For example, A, a person with a reputation of being a drug trafficker, asks B to transport a package. Because of A’s reputation, B suspects that the package’s contents may be illegal, but decides to transport it anyway while purposely avoiding knowledge of the package’s contents. This is called ‘willful blindness’ and it has landed many people in jail.

The seminal case holding that willful blindness will not preclude a finding of criminal intent is U.S. v. Jewell. In that case, like the example above, the court had to decide whether ‘positive knowledge’ is a requirement for conviction of a crime that requires criminal intent before a jury can find someone guilty. In Jewell, there was a dispute whether the defendant actually knew that the vehicle in which he was traveling contained marijuana. Defendant argued that he purposely avoided knowledge of any potential drugs in a secret compartment of the car. This so called ‘ostrich defense’, i.e. purposely burying one’s head in the sand to avoid knowledge, did not fly. The court held that there was enough evidence to support a conclusion that defendant was aware of a “high probability” that the vehicle contained an illegal substance. The fact that he did not have ‘actual knowledge’ was not enough to avoid a conviction.

Juries rely on circumstantial evidence to show the necessary state of mind for a criminal conviction all the time. Defenses to a criminal charge are fact specific and require skilled legal representation. If you are facing a criminal charge, an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can help.


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