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Archive for the ‘criminal law’ tag

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.

Arraignment

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.

Appeal

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.

Sources:
http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/SupremeCourt/Rules/Art_IV/ArtIV.htm#411
http://www.icjia.state.il.us/assets/pdf/ResearchReports/Policies_and_Procedures_of_the_Illinois_Criminal_Justice_System_Aug2012.pdf

Criminal Intent: All about a State of Mind

April 14th, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Illinois defense attorney, mens rea, Illinois criminal lawyer, Many crimes are made up of two parts: an action and a mental state. One example is where one person kills another. Depending on the person’s mental state when he or she kills the other person, he or she could be guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, or maybe no crime at all. When it comes to certain crimes, much of what a criminal defense attorney winds up doing at trial is showing a judge or jury that the defendant did not have the required mental state to commit the crime. Each of these mental states has a specific legal definition set out by state statute.

Acting Intentionally

One mental state is “intent” or “acting intentionally.” For a person to be found guilty of a crime that requires that he or she have intent or act intentionally, he or she must have the conscious objective or purpose of accomplishing the result of that crime or engaging in the conduct of that crime.

Acting Knowingly

Acting knowingly or knowing something is a slightly less overt mental state than acting intentionally. A person acts knowingly if one of two possible scenarios apply to him or her. These scenarios are:

  • A person acts knowingly or with knowledge of the nature or attendant circumstances of his or her conduct when he or she is consciously aware that his or her conduct of that nature or that those circumstances exist.
  • A person acts knowingly or with knowledge of the result of his or her conduct if he or she is consciously aware that the result is practically certain to be caused by his or her conduct.

It is important to note that if a statute requires a “knowing” state of mind but the evidence establishes the defendant acted “intentionally,” then that is good enough. If someone has acted intentionally they have also acted knowingly under the law.

Recklessness

Legally speaking, a person is reckless if he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances will exist or a result will follow and that disregard is a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in that situation. In other words, a person is reckless if he or she consciously ignores a major obvious risk and in doing so does not exercise the same level of care that a normal person could be expected to under the circumstances.

Negligence

If a person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or a result will follow and that failure constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, then that person has acted negligently.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

If you or someone you love is being investigated for or has been charged with a crime, you need the help of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at (847)394-3200. Christopher Cosley has spent his career fighting for people like you.

What You Should Know About Vehicle Impoundment

January 28th, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Illinois defense attorney, proprty seizure, Illinois criminal lawyer, your rightsBeing charged with a crime is always a very difficult situation. You may be worried about potential jail or prison time, fines and fees, the effect on your reputation, the possibility of losing or job, immigration or professional licensing consequences, or any of about a thousand other potential consequences. One thing you need to be aware of is that when you are charged with certain crimes, another possible issue you may have to deal with is having your car impounded by police.

Illinois Vehicle Impoundment Statute

Illinois has a statute that allows the police to impound your vehicle if you are arrested for certain crimes. These crimes include:

The police can also impound your car if you are arrested for violating any city ordinance that is related to these crimes. The law enforcement agency is then allowed to charge you a $1,000 fee, and you are not allowed to pick up your vehicle for at least two hours. Half of the fee goes to the police agency that arrested you and the other half of the fee goes to the “Specialized Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking Fund.”

What Happens if You are Found Not Guilty?

If you are found not guilty of an offense for which you are arrested, some consequences go away and some do not. Obviously you do not have to concern yourself with further jail time or fines in these cases, but the impact on your public reputation can be permanent. As for the vehicle-impounding consequences, you do have some recourse. While there is no way to undo the hassle of dealing with the impounding process, a signed court order can get you your $1,000 back.

Potential Forfeiture

Of course, the impoundment statute is not the only way that law enforcement can take your car. The seizure and forfeiture statute allows the police to take your car permanently if it is used in the course of committing certain crimes. Asset seizure law is complicated and in most cases the burden falls on you to prove that the property was not used to commit a crime. Seizure law also involves strict time limits. That is why it is extremely important to get an attorney involved in your case as soon as possible.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you are charged with a crime, the list of potentially life-changes consequences is huge. That is why you need an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley. You should call our office at (847)394-3200 so we can schedule a consultation to discuss your case and see if we can be of help.

Criminal Justice Reform: New Law Regarding Trial Procedure in Illinois

October 21st, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Illinois law, new law, Illinois criminal defense attorney,Among many other responsibilities, it is the duty of attorneys to stay up to date in any change in law or procedural rules that affect their area of practice. This is necessary not only to maintain up to date knowledge on the area of law that they practice, but also to provide competent representation to every one of their clients when bringing a case in court. Especially in criminal matters, staying abreast of any change in the relevant law, rules of criminal procedure, or any other criminal justice reforms is of the utmost importance, as even the slightest change can affect the outcome of a case.

New Law in Criminal Trials

There has been much talk about reforming the criminal justice system in Illinois recently, something this blog has discussed many times in the recent past. This interest in criminal justice reform is not isolated to the state of Illinois, but rather, is an issue being addressed in many states across the country, and even on the federal level. With all of this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that a new law is going into effect that reportedly reflects a landmark in criminal justice reform. The new law requires that forensic psychiatric reviews of defendants must be disclosed in order for judges to evaluate the facts behind an opinion regarding a defendant’s mental fitness to stand trial.

It is said that the new law aims to promote fairness and transparency in determining whether a defendant is competent to stand trial. Proponents of the new law are saying it is an improvement to the criminal justice system. They say that, in situations where each side’s respective experts disagree as to a defendant’s fitness to stand trial, the law’s requirements allow a judge to review the basis of each expert’s opinion in ultimately making a determination.

The law will also require the disclosure of notes and other evaluations that were performed. It was enacted in late September in the state of Illinois. Some are saying it could serve as the basis for other states to enact similar laws across the country.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney who can consult with you about your case, advise you of your options, and protect your rights. The experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have represented clients in many different types of criminal matters ranging in severity throughout Chicago and the greater surrounding area. Please feel free to contact us today in order to schedule a consultation to discuss your matter.

2014 Marks Decrease in Federal Prison Population

October 16th, 2014 at 10:50 am

 Illinois defense lawyer, prison population, federal prisons, White collar crime is often not considered as serious as other types of criminal conduct, but it is often punished just as harshly. Depending on the type of crime and the severity of the offense, the defendant could be looking at a substantial amount in prison. In many cases, white collar crimes may be prosecuted at the federal level in federal court. Such cases involve slightly different laws and procedure, plus the imposition of a federal prison term.

There has been discussion in Illinois and across the country recently about sentencing reform, decriminalization of certain criminal acts, and shorter prison terms. All of this is likely in an effort to achieve both fair and practical effects by both reforming the criminal justice system and decreasing prison populations. According to recent report, there has been an important shift in the federal prison population toward those ends.

First Drop in Decades

The federal prison population has decreased by about 4,800 inmates in the last year. The Justice Department reports that this marks the first time the number has gone down in several decades. In addition, the Justice Department reportedly projects that the prison population will be about 215,000 inmates at the end of the current budget year, which would reflect a total decrease of about 5,000 from the same count taken just one year ago. If that happens, it would mark the first time since 1980 that the federal prison population has actually declined over the course of a year.

Going forward, it seems as though the trend will continue. The Bureau of Prisons released internal figures that show an expected decrease of over 2,000 prisoners to happen in the next year, and almost another 10,000-inmate decrease the year after that.

What is Causing the Shift?

In commenting on what factors have contributed to the decline in federal inmates, Attorney General Eric Holder said that a decrease in crime rates has had an effect on prison populations.

Holder has been working to reduce prison populations across the country over the course of the past year. His efforts included taking actions such as discouraging prosecutors from charging nonviolent offenders with crimes that would carry mandatory minimum sentences, to encouraging certain prisoners to apply for clemency, to supporting reduced sentencing guidelines. He is also encouraging the government to measure the success of its criminal justice policies by how many people are prosecuted and sentenced to prison. He is purportedly of the opinion that the idea of using enforcement as the measure of success is outdated and that a holistic approach is preferable and more useful.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, you need an experienced Rolling Meadows defense attorney to advocate for your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. We have successful experience representing clients in Cook County and surrounding areas.

Illinois Officials to Focus on Criminal Justice System

October 2nd, 2014 at 10:58 am

criminal justice reform, prison reform, Illinois defense attorney, Illinois legal system, It seems officials in the state of Illinois are taking steps to revamp the criminal justice system in a number of ways. Media outlets have reported on the reform, revaluation, and modification of different parts of the criminal justice system, from police procedure to sentencing guidelines to reintroducing criminal defendants back into society after their release from prison. According to a recent reports, efforts to ultimately improve the state’s criminal justice system are continuing with a focus on procedures used by the police and prosecutors in criminal cases.

The Committee

For the first time in Illinois, a committee is being established to recommend the best practices for police departments and prosecutors to use while investigating and collecting evidence in criminal cases in the state of Illinois. The General Assembly enacted legislation to allow the formation of the committee, which will operate out of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor’s Office. Joe McMahon, Kane County’s State’s Attorney, is said to be tasked with leading the committee.

Committee’s Focus

The stated goal of forming the committee is to perform these procedures correctly the first time and to re-emphasize to law enforcement officials what their responsibility is in criminal cases. More specifically, McMahon reported that the committee will focus mostly on ethics, interviews of criminal suspects, and collection of evidence related to criminal cases. Evidence collection will include a concentration on social media postings, surveillance video recordings, cellphone tower pings, and DNA swabs. Many aspects of this evidence collection has developed or changed drastically in the last decade or two and deserved renewed attention.

Another area the committee will focus on is lineups of criminal suspects. This may include both live lineups of suspects and photo arrays, though photo lineups are more commonly shown to a victim for identification purposes. Many argue that how the photos are shown for purposes of identification matter, whether the lineup is shown all at once, one at a time, as well as who shows the photos to the victim.

McMahon has expressed a desire to use the committee as an opportunity to develop the best practices in criminal prosecution to avoid some of the problems encountered by criminal defendants in Illinois in the past. Wrongful convictions have been an especially large problem in the state of Illinois, and McMahon acknowledged the same. In addition, he hopes that the committee can offer insight and suggestions to the General Assembly to inspire new legislation in Illinois.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to secure expert representation. The experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley have successfully represented clients in Cook County and the surrounding area. Contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.

Do Risk Assessments Have a Place in the Criminal Justice System?

September 11th, 2014 at 7:55 am

assessment of criminal risk, Illinois defense lawyer, Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney, recidivismAccording to a recent article published by the Pekin Daily Times, predicting future risk within the context of the criminal justice system has gotten significant attention lately. As described in the article, the concept of predictive analytics involves taking information from a large amount of data in order to identify patterns and make future predictions. While not always 100 percent accurate, the process does reveal information about the future that is somewhat reliable. The practice of predictive analysis is typically used in the business world, in making military decisions, and in scientific study. Now, it seems to also be leaking into the criminal justice system, which may not be a good thing.

Risk Assessments at Sentencing

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently gave a speech in which he stated his position on using risk assessments at the sentencing of criminal defendants: he does not think it is a good idea. Holder went so far as to caution against such use, saying his concern is that doing so has the potential of seriously undermining efforts at individualized and equal justice. Equal justice, he said, can only be achieved using an individualized approach that takes the particular defendant, along with the crime committed, into consideration.

While risk assessments may not be commonly used in the context of criminal sentencing, similar models have been used for a long time when making parole decisions. Using reductive analytics in the context of the later part of punishment, Holder says, is not as dangerous as using it in front-end applications like in initial sentencing decisions. There is a need to ensure that doing so will not have unintended consequences.

Despite the warnings, several states, including the state of Illinois, have begun employing the use of risk assessment tools within their criminal justice systems. One of the supposed benefits some states say they are gleaning from sentencing defendants based on risk factors is to decrease their prison population. However, the danger in doing so remains that these states risk imposing very different sentences on defendants for similar crimes. Holder and the U.S. Department of Justice reportedly requested the U.S. Sentencing Commission to take an in-depth look at the use of predictive analysis in sentencing and to issue policy recommendations based on their findings.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, it is important to consult with an experienced Cook County defense attorney about your case as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to represent clients in many types of criminal matters in both DuPage and Cook County, including through the sentencing phase of the criminal process. Please feel free to contact us today to schedule a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Recorded Conversations

April 25th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

recorded conversation, privacy, divorce, child support, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutionality of a statute regarding the legality of audio-recording a conversation. According to that law, any person who records a conversation without the consent of all parties involved in the conversation commits a crime. The law as written is broad, and defines a conversation as any oral communication between two or more people, regardless of whether one of the parties intends for the conversation to be private.

Facts of the Case

The facts giving rise to the case that was eventually heard by the Illinois Supreme Court involve a pro-se party to a child support proceeding. That party recorded a hearing that was held in open court during which a court reporter was not present. He also recorded a conversation between himself and opposing counsel prior to the start of the hearing. The recording was the pro-se party’s only record of the proceedings, in which he participated without the benefit of counsel or a court reporter keeping a record. He was charged with violating the aforementioned statute as a result of these actions.

Court’s Holding

The Illinois Supreme Court held that the above statute violates the First Amendment, as the law places a greater burden on speech than what is required to protect the interest in conversational privacy. The Court reasoned that the statute criminalizes a broad range of conduct regarding recording all conversations, even those that may not be considered private under any circumstances, including any conversation that is loud enough to be overheard by a third party, whether in a public or a private setting. Not all conversations implicate privacy interests, but the law as written failed to distinguish that fact, despite the fact that the law did contain several exceptions. The Court stated that recordings of truly private conversations would remain under the scope of the statute, as a narrower interpretation of law better serves the intent in enacting it.

In addition, the statute criminalized conduct that, seen another way, is perfectly legal. For example, if a person overheard a conversation without recording it and later quoted a portion of the communication in a publication, no law would be broken. However, if the same person merely recorded a conversation without having published any of its contents, the act would be a crime.

The Court concluded that the statute went too far in trying to protect a citizen’s interest in private conversations, and that it put more burden on free speech than necessary to serve its interests. The Court deemed the statute overly broad and, therefore, unconstitutional.

In addition to the enactment of new laws, laws that have been on the books change and are tested in Court regularly. While every member of the public may not be aware of this fact, it is an attorney’s responsibility to keep informed of new laws and changes to existing ones. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights is so important. If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, contact the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation.

Cracking Down on Sex Trafficking in Chicago

March 24th, 2014 at 12:49 pm

sex trafficking, sex crimes, lawyer, attorney, Chicago criminal law, Illinois criminal law

It goes without saying that sex crimes of any nature are very serious cases that should be handled with special care and attention. Sex crimes can involve a variety of incidents leading to criminal charges, but the government and law enforcement in the Chicago area are focusing their efforts on human trafficking, and the organizations involved in promoting it. A recent article explained the city’s actions in relation to targeting those culpable of such crimes.

Government Action

United States Senator Mark Kirk and Anita Alvarez, a Cook County State’s Attorney, called for the partnering of local and federal officials to put an end to sex trafficking across the country. One of their efforts includes preventing websites from contributing to the trafficking. They even went so far as to say human trafficking was really just modern day slavery. The Senator said that just as Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment, which put an end to slavery, the state was in a unique position to put a similar end to human trafficking. He said a good place to start would be to stop the publication of sex ads on websites, many of which are also responsible for prostitution advertising.

The Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) and Safe Children’s Acts

In keeping with his call to action, Senator Kirk plans on introducing the SAVE Act in the Senate this week. The legislation will allow the federal government to prosecute websites, like backpage.com, that contribute to children being victimized via commercial advertising. On the state level, the state’s attorney said her office passed the Illinois Safe Children’s Act, which was drafted to protect child victims of sex trafficking. Since the law was passed, 93 defendants have been charged with crimes related to trafficking in state court.

The Internet’s Role

According to the article, the internet has played a huge role in promoting human trafficking and sex crimes. It makes such offenses easier, and often facilitates the commission of the crimes for pedophiles and sex traffickers, who have access to advertising for such acts at any time. Proponents of the legislation described above say it is necessary to stop websites from profiting from criminal activity that victimizes children. They also claim that current law operates to protect sex trafficking websites and their owners from prosecution because they only exist on the internet.

Not all sex crimes involve human trafficking. Sexual assault, prostitution, indecent exposure and possession of child pornography are also sex crimes that can bring with them serious consequences. As such, it is critical that those charged with crimes such as these consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you or someone you know has been charged with a sex crime in Chicago or a surrounding area in the state of Illinois, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley are prepared to assist in your defense. Contact us today to discuss the facts of your particular case.

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.

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