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Archive for the ‘criminal justice system’ tag

Privacy Rights Upheld in Recent Supreme Court Case

September 14th, 2018 at 8:31 am

Chicago criminal defense lawyer unreasonable search and seizureIf you are facing a criminal charge, this does not mean that you are not entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to other individuals in the United States, including the right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution affords citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Search warrants are used to ensure that if a search is being conducted, then there is a legitimate reason and cause for conducting the search. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right to privacy for suspects regarding warrantless searches.

Collins v. Virginia

In the case of Collins v. Virginia, the defendant was suspected of being in possession of a motorcycle that had been stolen. The motorcycle was parked under a three-walled enclosure that was covered with a tarp. This enclosure was located at the defendant’s girlfriend’s house. The house also had a traditional garage that could completely block the inside of the garage from outside view. The police suspected that this motorcycle was parked at the defendant’s girlfriend’s home and therefore went to examine the scene. Instead of obtaining a search warrant, the police officers proceeded up the driveway to where the motorcycle was parked under the tarp. The motorcycle turned out to be the stolen property they were looking for, and the defendant was arrested.

At trial, the defendant argued that his fundamental right to privacy that is guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment was violated because the police did not have a valid search warrant for the property. The state argued that finding the motorcycle without a search warrant fell under the automobile exception. The automobile exception states that police are allowed to search a vehicle when there is probable cause that the vehicle contained some type of evidence or contraband.

The Court found that the automobile exception was not applicable in this case. Instead, the three-walled tarp enclosure could be considered a part of the home. As a part of the home, it receives the same type of heightened rights to privacy as the living area of the home. The Court went on further to state that the automobile exception applies only to situations where the alleged evidence or contraband is inside of a vehicle, not sitting underneath a tarp on someone else’s property.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are concerned your rights have been violated, contact experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Attorney Cosley is dedicated to using every possible defense applicable under the circumstances, including improper searches due to lack of a search warrant. We know that just because you might be charged with a crime, you should not lose your rights. Contact us today at 847-394-3200 for a free consultation.


The Timeline of a Criminal Charge in Illinois

September 11th, 2018 at 10:43 am

Cook County criminal defense attorneyFacing criminal charges can be a truly scary prospect. The process for how these charges are handled might seem tricky and confusing, but if you know the timeline and what to expect, it can ease your worries – at least a little. While every case is different and should be considered independently, there is a general framework of how the system works in Illinois. The following includes a general timeline of criminal charges in Illinois that you may encounter when facing the criminal justice system with the help of a skilled attorney:

The Offense and Arrest

A charge cannot be made unless a person is reasonably suspected of committing criminal activity. This suspicion may be determined through an extensive police investigation into an individual’s activities or through something as simple a traffic stop. However, the police must have probable cause in order to make an arrest. After being arrested, a suspect must be read their Miranda rights, informing them that they have the right to remain silent and contact an attorney.

Preliminary Hearing or Grand Jury

If the offense in question is a felony charge, a preliminary hearing or grand jury hearing will be used to formally charge the suspect. In these hearings, the prosecution must present a summary of the evidence against the defendant. The judge in a preliminary hearing or the jury in a grand jury hearing will decide whether there is enough evidence to charge the defendant with the crime.


At arraignment, a defendant is formally read the charges against them and given the option to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” A defendant has the right to be represented by an attorney at the arraignment, and if necessary, the arraignment can be postponed while the defendant finds an attorney.

Trial Preparation and Trial

After arraignment, trial preparation begins. A defendant has the option to enter into a plea bargain and avoid a trial altogether. The defendant and their attorney will often enter into negotiations with the prosecution in an attempt to avoid trial. If no plea bargain is reached, then a trial will take place. Before trial, the defense attorney will contact witnesses, review documents or evidence obtained through discovery, and strategize the best options for success. At trial, both sides will present their case, and the judge or jury will decide on a verdict.

Verdict and Sentencing

The verdict will be read at the conclusion of the trial. If the defendant is found guilty, a separate sentencing hearing will be scheduled to determine the proper sentence. A sentencing hearing will also occur if a defendant decides to plead guilty at any time before a verdict is reached.


A defendant has the right to appeal their case. To be successful, there must have been errors made during the trial, an unfair or improper sentence, or some other issue that greatly impacted the verdict and/or sentence.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you have been charged with a crime, an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and determine your best options for defense. Skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer Christopher M. Cosley can help you through all stages of a criminal charge. Contact us today at 847-394-3200 to arrange a free consultation.


Illinois Innocence Project

June 7th, 2017 at 7:00 am

Illinois Innocence Project, Rolling Meadows, exoneree, criminal justice system, criminal charges, Illinois crimeYou were innocent. You knew it all along and now you have your freedom. But what happens next?

There is a group operating out of Springfield, Illinois called the Illinois Innocence Project. They have been working since early 2001 to overturn wrongful criminal convictions in Illinois. At the start, their primary focus was exonerating inmates through legal avenues, and the group has had much success.

The most recent example of their success was the release of one man, Charles Palmer, who was set free the day before thanksgiving in 2016, after he had been forced to spend 18 years of his life behind bars for a crime he did not commit.

A surprising yet inevitable new issue to address arose when the Illinois Innocence Project noticed that many times the people who were exonerated lacked educational, emotional, or familial support once they were released. 

Governor Bruce Rauner has advocated for a 25 percent reduction in the Illinois prison population within the next 10 years. The time frame in which the inmates reenter society is important because they have an opportunity to prepare themselves for release, get their affairs in order, and otherwise have a more temperate and gradual reintroduction to society.

Not every inmate released has that opportunity. Take for example, Charles Palmer, who had roughly two weeks’ notice that there was a possibility for his release, and did not find out until the day before his release that his freedom was probable. This presents a massive challenge to an exoneree who otherwise had no reason to anticipate his or her release. According to John Hanlon, the executive and legal director for IIP, “the average exoneree does not have any money, a job, or even any place to go. It’s a tremendous challenge.”

What to Do If You Are Charged with a Crime You Did Not Commit

If you are arrested or charged with a crime, then the very first step you should take is to contact a lawyer. Your lawyer will offer you advice on questions you should or should not answer. Immediately contacting a lawyer also gives your attorney time to note any important details surrounding your case—information which may help give you the best opportunity to fight the crimes for which you have been charged. 

The criminal justice system is a massive machine with numerous moving parts all moving against you. This is not the time to try and stand on your own two feet. You need an experienced and fearless Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney to stand up with you and defend your rights. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at 847-394-3200. 


Perjury in Illinois

August 17th, 2015 at 8:41 am

Illinois criminal statutes, Ililnois defense lawyer, Illinois crminal attorney, When a person is facing criminal charges, the temptation and incentive to lie can be overwhelming. Very few people want to go to prison or want to be on probation, so many people try their hardest to talk their way out of trouble. Sometimes that talking involves lying. That lying, depending on the circumstances, can result in serious criminal charges, including perjury charges.

What Is Perjury?

If you have been involved in a trial or ever seen a court show on television, you have seen the process of swearing in, during which the witness is asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” The witness always responds with “I do,” or “yes,” or some other affirmative answer. With the possible exception of some witnesses who are asserting their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, witnesses rarely respond “No.” Yet, some witnesses lie. When a witness swears to tell the truth and then fails to do so, the question becomes whether he or she has committed the very serious offense of perjury.

Under Illinois law, a person commits perjury when he or she, while under oath or affirmation in a proceeding where this is required, makes a false statement that is material to the issue or point in question and he or she knows the statement is false. The important thing to remember is that in order for the statement to be perjury, the person making it must know that the statement is false. Imagine, then, a case that relies on an eyewitness identification. If the eyewitness identifies the wrong person as the person who committed the crime, but he or she believes she has the right person, he or she is not committing perjury. But if he or she knows he or she has the wrong person but makes the identification anyway, then he or she is committing perjury. Perjury is a class 3 felony.

Sometimes people have questions about oaths versus affirmations. Some people’s religious or personal beliefs prevent them from swearing oaths. When these people have to testify they are given the option of affirming that what they are saying is true, and that they understand that they can be charged with the crime of perjury if they do not tell the truth. An affirmation is like an oath without the potentially religious connotations.

Call Christopher M. Cosley

If you are accused of or being investigated for 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 pride ourselves on providing full-service representation that is specific to your goals and the details of your case. We will fight for you.

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.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

April 7th, 2015 at 6:03 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal law,When the news reports on crimes that happened a long time ago, they often say that a person cannot be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations. However most people do not not actually know what a statute of limitations is, why it exists, or when it applies. They can actually be quite complicated so if you find yourself charged with a crime that is alleged to have happened years ago, you will need the specific advice of a criminal defense attorney.

What is a Statute of Limitations and Why Does it Exist?

A statute of limitations is a statute that limits the time frame in which a certain cause of action can be brought. A cause of action could be something like a slip and fall lawsuit or a sexual harassment complaint, or it could be a criminal charge. Every state has different statutes of limitations and most states, including Illinois, have different statutes of limitations for different crimes. The purpose of these laws is two-fold. First of all, a statute of limitations prevents people from having to live in fear their entire lives of being sued or criminally charged for something that happened years or even decades earlier. Second, and most importantly, it protects everyone’s right to have a fair trial on the matter. Having a trial soon after an alleged wrong, when witnesses are still alive, available, and have clear memories, is vastly preferable when compared to the alternative. Charging a person with a crime decades after it was committed nearly guarantees that he or she will not be able to establish an alibi or find other witnesses even if he or she is absolutely innocent.

What is Illinois’ Criminal Statute of Limitations?

The criminal statute of limitations in Illinois depends upon the crime to be charged. If a person is charged with certain crimes that result in the death of another, concealment of homicidal death, treason, various types of arson, forgery, certain child pornography charges or certain sexual offenses, there is no statute of limitations. There are prolonged and complicated statutes of limitations that apply to many offenses that involve child victims, particularly offenses that are sexual in nature. Some crimes have their own specific statute of limitations. As a general rule though, if none of these circumstances apply, the statute of limitations usually mandates that felony prosecutions must be commenced within three years of the date the crime was committed, and misdemeanor prosecutions must be commenced within one year and six months.

One thing that is important to note is that while these are the current statutes of limitations, the laws on this matter change. In particular the laws have changed regarding the statute of limitation for certain sex offenses. So if a crime occurred decades ago and the statutory time limit ran out before the statute of limitations was changed to make it longer or non-existent, then a person may have a statute of limitations defense if a prosecutor were to try to charge the person for that crime now.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are being investigated for a crime or have been arrested, you need help. You need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200. We will fight for the best possible result in your situation.

Shift in Illinois Sentencing Structure

March 18th, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal penaltiesThis firm has reported on criminal justice and sentencing matters multiple times in the past. From mandatory minimums to sentencing tools, it seems the sentencing structure in Illinois is in the process of an overhaul. Media reports provide further evidence of this in its description of the apparent cultural change going on in regards to criminal sentencing in the Illinois General Assembly.

A New Approach

In the past, Illinois lawmakers’ approach to dealing with crime involved imposing harsher penalties for their commission. The thought was that the enhanced penalty would effectively address the problem; however, lawmakers are starting to see that that is not necessarily the case. Despite the idea that harsher penalties for certain crimes often seemed like a good idea, lawmakers are starting to reject that notion, as evidenced by the significant decline in the number of sentencing enhancement bills that they have attempted to pass in recent years.

This may be due in part to the General Assembly’s recent reaction to such proposals. The House committee on criminal law has started to critically examine not only the effectiveness but also the advisability of enhancing prison sentences. This more scrutinized approach has resulted in such bills being more difficult to be passed. Many are surprised at this turn of events as compared to the attitude expressed in years past.

Driving Change

The approach of the House committee is likely indicative of a similar attitude on sentencing enhancements that is prevalent across the nation. The amount of information regarding criminal sentencing and its effects is vast. National concern about the overuse of incarceration has been constant, and has correlated to an increased realization that many prisoners who are incarcerated in this country are in prison as the result of addiction or mental health issues, who are often and most likely not getting the proper treatment while incarcerated. These factors, in addition to state prison budgets that seem generous but are actually spread too thin, are most likely to be the source for the change in approach to criminal sentencing across the country.

Perhaps surprisingly, the new attitude on criminal sentencing seems to have bipartisan support. Conservative and liberal groups alike are speaking out in favor of a new approach, with representatives expressing the opinion that prison is more appropriate for those criminals who need to be incapacitated in order to be punished, or in order to be treated.

Criminal Defense Attorney

Many are saying it is only a matter of time before such a sentencing approach makes its way into Illinois law. If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and need expert legal defense, contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. We serve clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

Attempt to Commit a Crime is a Crime

February 5th, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Illinois criminal defense attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, criminal intent,The old saying goes that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Well, close can also count in criminal law. While committing a criminal offense can land you in hot water, you may not realize that mere attempts to commit a criminal offense can also land you in jail for almost as long – an attempt to commit a crime is a crime.

What Counts as an Attempt?

In common language an “attempt” occurs whenever you try to do something. Fortunately, the legal definition of “attempt” is a little bit stricter than that. Illinois defines attempt in its statutes. According to Illinois law a person is guilty of attempting to commit an offense when he or she (1) does any act that is a “substantial step” toward the commission of the offense while (2) having the intent to commit that specific offense. Now, that does not mean that one has to sit down and think to him or herself, “I would like to go out today and commit a burglary.” The intent requirement does not mean that you have to know what the offense you intend to commit is called—it only means that you have to intend to commit it. That clears up the intent, but the question remains: what is a substantial step?

What is a “Substantial Step?”

Illinois statute does not specifically define what constitutes a substantial step. Instead, the courts have decided that what counts as a substantial step depends on the unique facts and circumstances is not enough. Mere preparation is not enough, and the act that is the alleged substantial step must not be too far removed in space or time from the conduct of the actual offense. A substantial step has been taken when the defendant is put in dangerous proximity of succeeding at committing the offense.

Attempting Can be as Almost as Bad as Actually Committing an Offense

There are special laws that apply to murder and attempted murder. Putting those aside for this discussion, the attempt laws in Illinois are quite strict when it comes to sentencing. With the exception of murder, a person convicted of attempt can be punished almost as severely as he or she would be punished if he or she were found guilty of actually committing the offense he or she attempted. The general rule (with some exceptions) is that an attempt to commit an offense is one class of offense lower than the offense itself. For example, an attempt to commit a class 1 felony would be a class 2 felony.

How is “Attempt” Explained to Jurors?

Of course, when a case goes to jury trial, we do not send the jurors in to deliberate with a copy of the Illinois statutes. Instead we give them jury instructions. These instructions break the law down in a way that jurors hopefully can understand so they can apply it to the facts of a case. The model jury instruction for attempt tells the jurors that “A person commits the offense of attempt when he, with the intent to commit the offense of (fill in the name of the offense allegedly attempted), does any act which constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of (fill in the name of the offense allegedly attempted).”

Call Christopher M. Cosley

Whether you are charged with actually committing a crime, or with just attempting to do so, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Reach out to the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200 for help with your case. We will schedule a consultation to discuss your case and discover what we can do to help.

I Wasn’t The Shooter” is Not a Defense: Principles of Criminal Liability

January 23rd, 2015 at 10:59 am

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, conspiracy to commit a crime, While every criminal case is different, some situations happen over and over again. One thing we see all too often is the situation where a person tries to get him or herself out of trouble by telling the police that he or she was at the scene of the crime but was not the primary culprit, thinking this partially absolves them of criminal liability. It is totally reasonable that people would think this would decrease the amount of trouble they are in — after all, the lookout at the bank robbery doesn’t seem like she is nearly as bad as the co-defendant who shot the bank guard. Unfortunately, while that may make sense, it is not the law. Instead, that lookout will be in just as much trouble as the person who shot the guard.

Accountability for the Conduct of Another

This situation presents an issue of accountability. Under Illinois statute, a person is accountable for another person’s actions under various circumstances. The part of the statute that comes up most often, however, says:

When two or more persons engage in a common criminal design or agreement, any acts in the furtherance of that common design committed by one party are considered to be the acts of all parties to the common design or agreement and all are equally responsible for the consequences of those further acts.

What this means is that when two people agree to go commit a crime, each of them becomes completely criminally responsible for everything the other one does in the furtherance of that crime. For example, imagine two cousins who decide to break into a house to steal some marijuana. Someone sees them and calls the police. One of the cousins gets into a high-speed chase with the police and winds up almost hitting an officer. That other cousin, who never intended to do anything other than steal and smoke some pot, is now on the hook for attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.

Mere Presence at the Scene Is Not Enough, but It Is Still a Bad Idea

The statute also says that mere presence at the scene of a crime in and of itself does not make one accountable for that offense. But, being at the scene can be considered with other circumstances in order to determine whether one should be held accountable. One common theory of accountability for those at the scene is the theory that they are a part of a “show of force.” Prosecutors argue that the person at the scene was helping the primary actor commit a crime by adding to his or her intimidation factor by being present. And unfortunately, sometimes this argument works.

The Special Case of Felony Murder

Another related common misconception is that in order to be guilty of first-degree murder, one has to have premeditated a killing. That may be the case in some states, but it is not the case in Illinois. In Illinois the murder statute says it is first-degree murder when one person kills another person while attempting or committing a forcible felony. This, combined with the accountability laws, means that in our bank robbery example the lookout can be convicted of first-degree murder even though she was not even in the bank where the killing occurred.

Call a Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Attorney

Being charged with a crime can be scary, stressful, and confusing. It can be even more confusing if you are charged as having “acted with” someone else to commit a crime. If this happens to you, you will need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200.

Illinois Passes Another Troubling Eavesdropping Law

December 23rd, 2014 at 6:57 am

criminal rights violation, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, In the past the Illinois legislature passed a law that, among other things, made it illegal for law abiding citizens to record on-duty police officers doing their job. Fortunately, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down this terrible law, which was obviously unconstitutional. Illinois legislature has now passed another eavesdropping law, and while it does not have the exact same problems as the first law, it is still deeply troubling to anyone who cares about civil liberties or the rights of criminal defendants.

The New Eavesdropping Law

NBC Chicago reported on the new law, which passed the state Senate by a margin of 46 to four and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. It is supposed to focus on protecting “private” conversations. The prior law in Illinois made it illegal to record any conversation without having the consent of all of the parties involved. That is how prosecutors used it to prosecute citizens who recorded cops behaving badly. This new law will keep the ban on recording a conversation without every party’s consent, but will supposedly only apply to private conversations. However, that is not all the law does. It also dangerously expands the power of police to record citizens without seeking a warrant.

Law Expands Police Power

The new law would allow police to secretly record a suspect’s conversations for 24 hours without getting a warrant. Instead they would only have to get the permission of a prosecutor. In other words, they only have to get the permission of someone who is already on their side. This differs wildly from the previous requirement that they get a warrant to do such a wiretap. Getting a warrant requires that they prove to a magistrate (a neutral judge) that they have probable cause before they can start spying on a citizen. The old law allowed this sort of behavior under certain emergencies, like in a hostage situation, but the new law would allow much broader recording.

What About Body Cameras?

The new law, if it passes, will also make creating a comprehensive body camera plan for police officers more complicated. Unless police officers are required to consent to being recorded at all times in order to be officers, then they could argue that they should be allowed to turn the cameras off when they are having “private conversations.” These private conversations could include the very conduct and attitudes that the body cameras are designed to detect in the first place.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a crime, you will need the assistance of a trained and experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley and schedule a consultation today. We can discuss your case and determine what we can do to help you. If you are not charged with a crime, but a loved one is, please also feel free to call.

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