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Archive for the ‘possession’ tag

Discussions on Decriminalization of Marijuana Ongoing in Illinois

October 14th, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Marijuana plantAccording to a recent report, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed the decriminalization marijuana in certain circumstances. While similar suggestions have been voiced in the past, it seems that not everyone in the state of Illinois is on the same page regarding the proposal. In fact, some very opposite opinions have been raised about reforming drug charges from officials in the state.

The Mayor’s Position

Mayor Emanuel is reportedly arguing that some drug possession charges should be reduced in severity. Specifically, he is allegedly advocating for the decriminalization of marijuana possession in small amounts across the state of Illinois and for the reduction of the criminal grading of possessing less than one gram of any controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor. He said that doing so would make the criminal justice system more available to address more serious challenges to public safety and further the progress that has already been made.

The Mayor’s proposals would not only change the criminal justice system by saving time and money, but it also has the potential to make real changes to people’s lives. Mainly, the Mayor pointed out that those defendants who are trying to move forward with their lives after a drug charge would face many more challenges with a felony on their record than they would with a misdemeanor charge. This is especially relevant in employment settings.

Law Enforcement’s Position

It seems that the consensus among local law enforcement officials is that the Mayor’s proposal sends the wrong message regarding criminal behavior and fails to accomplish anything that is not already provided for within the context of the current court system. Regarding the grading of the drug crimes mentioned, representatives from the State’s Attorney’s Office in Peoria County have voiced the opinion that people charged with such felonies now can potentially erase their conviction by successfully completing probation or other specialized programs such as drug court. Their point is that alternatives are available to defendants who deserve them and such alternatives are regularly made available which allow the person to avoid having a felony conviction on their record.

Police officers also raised concerns that changing the grading of these criminal offenses from felonies to misdemeanors may not only send the wrong message, but may actually end up benefiting drug dealers by making it easier to sell controlled substances in smaller quantities. In addition, other law enforcement officials have voiced the opinion that decriminalizing drug charges as outlined by the Mayor would convey the message that it is acceptable to use drugs as long as they are being used in smaller quantities. This may not only signal to some users that some narcotics are less dangerous, but also that some drugs are considered “better” in the eyes of the law.

These concerns are of particular importance, officers are saying, as Illinois is in the middle of a heroin epidemic. Lowering penalties and hoping for a better result, they say, does not make sense. Instead, some are calling for a treatment component to be advanced with the decriminalization proposal it is advances. It is important to note that, in general, police seemed less concerned about the decriminalization of marijuana, in small amounts, where they would be allowed to issue citations for the offense.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a drug crime in the Chicago area, do not hesitate to contact the experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today. We can schedule a consultation to meet with you in our Rolling Meadows or Chicago office to discuss your case.

City to Seek Tougher Gun Possession Punishments

October 10th, 2013 at 11:54 am

arrested man hands close upOn September 19, a three-year-old boy was shot in a crowded park in the Windy City alongside 12 other people, according to the Chicago Tribune. The shooting “once again drew national attention to the problem of persistent violent crime in Chicago neighborhoods where guns and drugs have seeped into daily life,” reports the Tribune. “Locally, it reignited a call from law enforcement for tougher sentences on offenders who illegally carry guns in Chicago.” The call for tougher penalties came as news agencies reported that the man responsible for the late-summer tragedy, Bryon Champ, had a history of illegal gun possession and yet had never served any time in prison for his offenses. According to the Tribune, Champ was “caught in June 2012 with a loaded semi-automatic pistol,” and though he faced up to seven years in prison, got off with a four-month boot camp program instead.

Fabio Valentini, head of criminal prosecutions for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, told the Tribune that the reason the state should seek tougher punishments for those convicted of gun possession is because the majority of people who eventually injure or kill someone with a gun have prior records. “They are people who have a history of arrests or indications they are in a gang or have done something that caused the police to respond,” he told the Tribune.

Yet just a few days after state legislators called for these stricter rules, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spoke out “against mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes,” according to a different article in the Chicago Tribune. She said that mandatory minimum sentences would result in more people who could have been rehabilitated behind bars, making it more and more difficult for them to later lead a productive life. A spokeswoman from Preckwinkle’s office later said that the board president does, however, support the “vigorous prosecution of people who are a danger to the public,” according to the Tribune.

If you or someone you know has been accused of gun possession or a gun crime, don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

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