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Archive for the ‘Police Misconduct’ tag

Illinois Legislature Passes Police Body Camera Law

June 15th, 2015 at 7:27 am

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, police brutality,In the wake of the killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and countless other unarmed African-American men, women, and children by police officers, the public has finally started to demand that something be done about our nation’s police problem. One of the possible solutions that has been offered is requiring police officers to wear body cameras to record their conduct and misconduct. The footage created by these cameras could exonerate innocent officers, and, conversely, could be used to prosecute guilty officers. They may deter police misconduct. And, the footage could be used by criminal defense attorneys to prove when police officers violate defendants’ rights. Illinois may be the first state to enact legislation requiring police to use these cameras.

Bill Passes through Illinois Legislature and Awaits the Governor’s Signature

The State Journal-Register reports that the Illinois legislature passed a body camera bill and that it is waiting for the governor’s signature. This bill is the first of its nature to pass since President Obama convened the Task Force on 21st Century Policing. If the governor signs the bill, Illinois will be the first state to pass such a law. This one would include requirements regarding body cameras, would create new training for police officers, and would create a database where officers who commit crimes can be tracked so it is less difficult for problem officers to jump from department to department.

The New Bill Likely Does Not Go Far Enough

While this bill may be a good first step, it does not go far enough. It does not require police to wear body cameras at all times. Instead it simply changes the state’s eavesdropping law to allow police to use body cameras and it sets standards for their use. For example, any officers who wear these body cameras will be legally obligated to record any incident with the public. That is a fantastic provision that could be huge in protecting innocent officers while aiding in the prosecution of the bad ones. But, without a requirement that all officers wear the cameras, the provision is actually quite toothless.

Another troubling provision of the law is that it would allow cops to turn off the recorders when interviewing a witness or a victim. This is a huge mistake. There is a real problem of some police officers coercing witnesses and victims to say certain things to help officers build their case. This can rise to the level of misconduct or even criminal activity on an officer’s part. Allowing them to turn off the cameras during these conversations undercuts the potential value of these devices.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Sometimes when the police go too far, no one dies, but people wind up wrongfully arrested and charged with serious crimes. If this happened in your case, you will want the help of a talented Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who will use all of the tools legally available to help you fight your case. You should call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. When you call us at (847)394-3200 we will schedule an appointment so we can learn about your case and decide upon the best strategy to use for you.

May 27th, 2015

Miranda Warning: You Have the Right to Remain Silent. You Should Use It.

April 2nd, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, your rightsAnyone who has watched television in the last 40 years has heard it: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed before any questioning.” Even though we have heard these rights over and over again, most people do not understand what they mean, as well as the importance of asserting these rights. When you are a suspect in a crime, regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent, using these rights may be the most important thing you do to protect yourself.

Where Do These Rights Come From?

Even though the exact words we hear on TV and that people hear again when they are interrogated by police are not found within it, they exist because of the United States Constitution. Specifically, it is the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution that requires police to inform you of these rights before interrogating you. They have had to do this ever since the United States Supreme Court determined it is required in the case Miranda v. Arizona. This is why the rights are often called your “Miranda Rights.” The Fifth Amendment is the one that, among other things, protects you from being required to be a witness against yourself. In Miranda, the United States Supreme Court decided that it is extremely important for people being interrogated by the police to understand that they do not have to answer questions and that they have the right to an attorney.

The Miranda Warnings Leave Out an Extremely Important Part

Remember the part of the warnings where the officers say, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”? What they do not tell you is an equally important and true piece of information: Anything you say cannot and will not be used to help you in a court of law. Countless criminal suspects, both innocent and guilty, waive their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney and talk to police thinking that what they say will help them. But in most cases, it will not. This is because of a rule against “self-serving hearsay.” When you find yourself at trial months or years after your interrogation, you cannot introduce your early denials into evidence to help your case. The law does not allow it. It only allows the prosecution to introduce your statements against you, not the other way around. Also, what many people do not realize is that police do not make charging decisions; prosecutors do. And prosecutors are trying to prosecute you, not look out for your best interests. That is why it is extremely important for you to assert your rights so that you can have an attorney in the room who is on your side.

A Note about Extreme Police Misconduct

Unfortunately there are some police officers who do not play by the rules. In the Chicago area we have even historically had some police who have subjected suspects to torture to force them to confess to crimes. Obviously any person can only withstand so much, and if this sort of thing should ever happen to you then you can only do your best. In these cases it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you can in order to take steps to obtain any evidence that remains of what happened to you.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When police try to interrogate you, they often take many steps to dissuade you from exercising your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present for questioning. Do not let them get away with it. Call an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley who can protect your rights. The phone number for the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley is (847)394-3200.

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