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Archive for the ‘Cook County criminal lawyer’ tag

The Use of Stingrays: Lines between Public and Private Life Unclear

July 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Christopher M. Cosley, citizens’ rights, constitutional rights, Cook County criminal lawyer, private life, Stingrays, violation of citizens’ rightsTechnology is expanding and being developed at a more rapid pace than ever. In light of this, it is perhaps not surprising that numerous instances involving police searching practices are presenting issues about the violation of citizens’ rights. More specifically, the argument centers around whether the police tactics are an invasion of privacy or whether the information would otherwise be available to the public. A recent article discussed this issue within the context of law enforcement use of a specific type of surveillance technique.

The Use of Stingrays

Illinois State Police allegedly began using devices called Stingrays around 2008. This is only one of the law enforcement agencies in the majority of states across the country that have decided to employ the use of such devices. Stingrays are mobile devices that obtain and record information from cell phones when the phones connect to mobile towers. The practice is considered by many to be less than ethical in conducting surveillance. Even more troubling is that this information was supposedly previously unknown until it was discovered through a Freedom of Information Act Request.

The Stingrays essentially work as hacking devices by appearing as if they were a base station, which causes any cell phone in the area to disable its encryption, allowing the Stingray to gather a large amount of data from the phone, excluding communication content. Not all cell phone companies or wireless providers use networks that would be compatible with Stingray technology, but some popular wireless providers may be making the switch in the near future.

Violation of Rights?

According to the article, an increasing number of law enforcement agencies are employing the use of Stingray devices. Despite this growing use, there is an issue as to the violation of civil liberties since the activity is essentially a warrantless search of targeted individuals, and an acquisition of all signals within a certain area, including those of innocent bystanders. Surveillance techniques can also include downloading a specific mobile tower’s entire activity over a set period of time, which would include information related to every mobile device that connected to the tower during that time period.

In some instances, the acquisition and use of the Stingray devices has been tied to anti-terror grants and the overall war on terror effort. While this connection may be authentic in some cases, it is questionable whether anti-terrorism efforts are the true reason behind the use of Stingray devices, particularly when such use is increasing and widespread.

Court rulings on the issue of whether rights are violated by law enforcement’s use of these devices are split. The practice involves unwarranted mass surveillance, but the use of the Stingray devices usually involves a high level of secrecy. Both the manufacturer and police agencies have a history of being uncooperative with requests for information from different groups and organizations. They have attributed this, in part, to the desire not to compromise ongoing or future investigations. The concern of many is for courts to determine what the parameters of reasonable use is involving such surveillance devices, along with clearly defining personal versus public space.

Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney

All U.S. citizens have a certain expectation of privacy and deserve protection from infringement on those rights. If you have been charged with a crime and believe your constitutional rights may have been compromised in the process, please contact an experienced Cook County criminal lawyer at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. Our office is located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

Will Cook County Courtrooms Feature Cameras?

April 29th, 2014 at 12:33 pm

courtroom camera, Cook County courtrooms, justice system, courtroom camera in Cook CountyThe Cook County court system has been experiencing its fair share of problems lately. The latest issue facing Chief Judge Timothy Evans involves awaiting the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision on his request to allow the presence of cameras in the County’s courtrooms. He made that request over two years ago, and the Supreme Court has yet to provide its answer to his application.

Cook County Stands Alone

Cook County’s is the only application that the state’s high court has not approved among the counties who have applied for the permission. Cook County’s application was filed in January 2012, only a few days after the Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed audio and video recordings in courtrooms in certain circumstances.

While Cook County’s application has been pending, several cases were tried in the county that attracted public interest and probably would have produced requests for courtroom cameras. Such cases ranged from murder charges to alleged acts of terrorism.

Why has the Application not been Approved?

The Illinois Supreme Court has said it still needs to work out some issues with approving Cook County’s application as to how the program would function in the largest county in the state. The Court needs to decide whether cameras would be limited to one courtroom, a specific courthouse, or only used in criminal cases. A timetable has not been identified for the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision, but the Court intends to have a decision sooner rather than later.

Some of the Court’s reservation in making a decision may be attributable to the fact that not everyone in Cook County is on board with the application. Both the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office have concerns about the potential impact the cameras may have on testimony from victims and witnesses, especially those who fear they may be in danger because of their cooperation. In addition, there is the concern that allowing cameras will do nothing to help the public gain a better understanding of how the justice system works, but will give in to the media’s publicizing of scandalous cases.

While they realize that it is more than likely that cameras will eventually be allowed, they are hopeful that their concerns will be addressed on a case-by-case basis. Other counties’ circuit court judges who are participating in the program have approved every request from news outlets to have cameras at hearings, but judges who handle individual cases have later rejected the requests. The trial judges have the final say when making a decision regarding cameras in their courtrooms, and their decisions cannot be appealed.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Whether cameras will be allowed in Cook County courtrooms and under what circumstances remains to be seen. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is important to take steps to preserve your rights. You first step should be consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation if you are facing criminal charges in Cook County.

Paul Pless’s Legal Troubles Continue

February 27th, 2014 at 12:11 pm

 prostitution, arrest, criminal law, Chicago criminal defense lawyer, criminal defense, Illinois criminal attorneyThe News-Gazette recently reported on a story involving the latest legal woes with which former University of Illinois administrator Paul Pless is dealing. Just over two years ago, investigators discovered that Pless was altering the grades and test scores of law school applicants in his then position as the assistant dean of admissions at the University of Illinois College of Law (UI). Now, he is facing criminal charges for his alleged involvement in a prostitution ring.

Criminal Charges

The article reports that the McClean County State’s Attorney’s Office charged Pless with solicitation of a sexual act, graded as a Class A misdemeanor, after he was arrested on December 30th by police. He is expected to appear before a judge on February 19th for a hearing in connection with the charge.

Mr. Pless was one of four men who were arrested the same day as the result of a prostitution sting operation that was being conducted by the Bloomington Police Department. Many details are being kept confidential by police since the case is ongoing, but the State’s Attorney did say the circumstances leading to Pless’s arrest involved a confidential source who was working with the police, posing as a prostitute.

Maximum Punishment

All of the men were transported to McLean County jail after their arrest, but they were all later released on their own recognizance. If they are convicted of the Class A misdemeanor, they can face a maximum of 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00. The judge presiding over sentencing will have discretion to impose a lesser sentence, and may be inclined to do so, particularly if any of the defendants do not have a prior criminal record.

Pless’s Background

Pless once held a prestigious position at UI law school, well known for recruiting promising students to attend the school. He ended up resigning from his position in the fall of 2011 after it was discovered that he altered law school applicant’s credentials in order to make them appear as more attractive candidates for the school. Investigators determined that Pless engaged in improper behavior in at least six out of the ten law school classes that he was responsible in evaluating for admission.

It remains to be seen what the final result of Pless’s criminal case will be. When police work involves undercover informants, important constitutional protections apply. For example, there are strict rules regarding what information authorities need to secretly record conversations and otherwise collect information that may later be used in criminal trials.

Hiring an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney is important in order to protect your rights and ensure that proper protocols were followed at all times. Contact us today if you or someone you know has been charged with a crime.

Medical Marijuana Use in Illinois

February 14th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

medical marijuana IMAGEThe legal status of marijuana use has been a popular topic in the media in the recent past. In fact, many are pointing out the coincidence that the two teams who will be competing in this year’s NFL Superbowl are from the two states that have legalized marijuana use across the board. While other states have not made such a dramatic change in their laws regarding use of the drug, a number of states across the country have legalized marijuana for the limited purpose of medical use. Illinois is one such state.

 Conditions to Legally Use Medical Marijuana in Illinois

Just because Illinois has legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes does not mean that users are free to do so at their own discretion. According to an article recently published by Liberty Voice, an individual who seeks to use the drug for medical reasons may still have to pay a substantial fee, get a background check, be fingerprinted by law enforcement, and could be asked to surrender their firearms. Other costs associated with the legal use of marijuana for medical reasons can include a $150.00 fee for an identification card application and the cost of fingerprinting, which can range from $30.00 to $50.00.

 Limits of the Law

In Illinois, marijuana was legalized for the limited purpose of use as another method of treatment for grave diseases that cause what is considered a debilitating condition, as well as chronic pain. Those who suffer from such defined diseases can use the drug within certain guidelines that still have to be fully defined. Other use is still illegal, and possession of the drug in Illinois will still be considered a Federal offense.

The Illinois Department of Public Health posted the proposed rules and regulations regarding the new law on their website. After February 7th, any public comments submitted will be turned over to the panel of lawmakers who will decide by April 2014 what exactly the medical marijuana law will include in the state. The law is part of a pilot project for medical marijuana use in Illinois, and will be in effect for four years.

 The State’s Position

Illinois concedes that medical marijuana use has a long history going back thousands of years, and modern medicine supports that its use is beneficial for those suffering with debilitating illnesses such as cancer, HIV and AIDS, and multiple sclerosis. The drug can be effective in treating pain and addressing side effects associated with these illnesses that other medicine cannot. Licensed physicians have recommended the drug to hundreds of thousands of patients in other states where medical use is legal, and its recognition by other medical organizations gives it credibility.

This law represents an important change in Illinois’ drug laws. However, it is important to note that the change is very narrow and limited to a specific use that must meet numerous conditions and regulations in order to be considered legal. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime involving illegal drugs in Illinois, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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