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Archive for the ‘not guilty’ tag

Criminal Pleas in Illinois

January 6th, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois criminal lawyer, If you are being charged with a crime in Illinois, your charges will be formally read to you at your arraignment hearing. You will be required to enter a plea, or an official statement as to whether you are guilty or not, at this time to the charges you face. You have four plea choices in Illinois: not guilty, guilty but mentally ill, guilty and no contest.

Not guilty, guilty but mentally ill and guilty pleas are specifically provided for under 725/ILCS 5/113-4(a). Pleading no contest is limited to only certain situations, and the court does not have to accept a no contest plea.

In all cases, it is very important that you consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine which plea is best for your particular circumstances. Which plea you choose will play a significant role in how your criminal case will proceed, and your plea choice could also have a lasting effect on your life since pleas are made part of your criminal record.

Not Guilty

When you plead not guilty, you are not admitting guilt for the crime that was allegedly committed. Pleading not guilty means that your case will proceed to trial.

Guilty but Mentally Ill

When you enter a plea of guilty but mentally ill, you are admitting to committing the alleged crime, but you are also asserting that the charges should be mitigated by the fact that you were mentally ill at the time you committed the crime. The court can accept this plea, and must first make a determination on the issue of your mental state at the time of the crime, before proceeding further.


Pleading guilty means that you admit to your guilt for committing the alleged crime. The court can enter your guilty plea and move your case forward to sentencing. You will have the guilty plea on your criminal record.

No Contest

No contest is an interesting plea because this plea means that you do not disagree with the facts, but you do not admit that you are guilty. A no contest plea is very rare in Illinois, and in most criminal cases cannot be used; as such, consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the best way to see if a no contest plea is available for you in your particular case. It is treated much like a guilty plea, and is entered into your criminal record. The main difference between a guilty plea and a no contest plea is that when you plead no contest, your plea cannot be used against you later if any civil suits arise. The court does not have to accept your plea of no contest, and will likely reject it.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Deciding how to plea in your criminal case is something that needs to be fully considered and discussed with your criminal defense attorney. An experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney can help you understand your options and what the consequences of each option might be. Please contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley online. We can also be reached by calling (847) 394-3200.



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.

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.

Man Sues for 19 Years Spent in Prison for Crime He Didn’t Do

November 10th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Juan Rivera Jr. went through three trials and endured nineteen years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Now the Illinois man has filed a federal lawsuit against the Lake County state’s attorney’s office and the sheriff’s department for conspiring to deny him his Constitutional rights. Also specifically named in the lawsuit are former Sheriff Gary Del Re; current Sheriff Mark Curran; State’s Attorney Michael Waller; assistant state’s attorneys Jeffrey Pavletic, Michael Mermel and Matthew Chancey; Lake County Major Crimes Task Force officers Chuck Fagan, Lucian Tessman, and Donald Meade; the cities of Waukegan and Lake Forest; and the village of Buffalo Grove.

In 1992, Rivera was 19 years old and already in custody on a burglary charge when he became a suspect for the rape and murder of an 11 year old girl. In the lawsuit, he says he was subjected to several days of intensive interrogation, which lead to a mental breakdown on the third day. Medical officials at the jail diagnosed him as being in “acute psychosis” and he was put in constraints and placed in a padded cell. On the fourth day of interrogation, Rivera signed a confession written in English, a language he didn’t have the ability to read or write.

He was convicted of the crime in 1993, a verdict which was later reversed on appeal. He was granted a new trial but was found guilty again in 1998. A judge granted a new trial in 2004, granting Rivera DNA testing. He was found guilty for a third time in 2009. But last year, an appellate court reversed the guilty verdict based on DNA evidence and Rivera was finally released from prison in January. Prosecutors say they will not seek a new trial against him.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Rivera said this lawsuit is not just about him. “I need to look for justice, not just for me, but for the family of the victim,” Rivera said. “This lawsuit will make sure this type of thing will not occur in Lake County or anywhere else ever again.”

This case shows what can happen when someone is accused of a crime and does not have an attorney protecting them. Don’t let this happen to you. If the police are accusing you of a crime, contact an experienced Illinois defense attorney today.

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