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Archive for the ‘prison sentence’ tag

What is Conditional Discharge?

August 19th, 2015 at 6:55 am

jail time, Illinois criminal justice system, Illinois defense attorney,Nearly everyone has heard of imprisonment as a possible sentence for a crime, and most people have heard of probation. But there is one unique resolution to criminal charges in Illinois that is unfamiliar to many throughout the state: “conditional discharge.” In addition to this, Illinois allows for another type of punishment, as well, known as “court supervision.”

What is Conditional Discharge?

Conditional discharge is a sentence that a judge can impose if they believe that neither a sentence of imprisonment nor one of periodic imprisonment or probation supervision is appropriate. Conditional discharge is similar to probation in that there are certain conditions you must comply with in order to keep your freedom, but it is different in that you do not have to report to or be supervised by a probation officer. The monitoring is done by the court instead of by a probation officer. Conditional discharge results in a conviction on your record. If you violate the terms of your conditional discharge and you get caught then the prosecutor can file a motion to revoke your conditional discharge. They do not have to prove you violated your conditional discharge beyond a reasonable doubt in the way they would have to prove a criminal charge. Instead, they must only prove it by a preponderance of the evidence. If the prosecution is successful, you could wind up with additional terms being added to your conditional discharge, or you could wind up in jail.

What is Court Supervision?

Court supervision is similar to probation. In this program, you are supervised by someone, you must comply with certain requirements over a period of time (like performing community service or taking certain classes), and if you get in trouble or do not comply with the terms of your supervision you may be put in jail. Supervision is different from probation, however, in that if you successfully complete court supervision, you will not have a conviction on your record. While you may still have to report the supervision to certain authorities in some situations, for the most part you will not face the consequences that those with convictions face. Supervision is typically not available for felonies, sex offenses, or some other offenses including some traffic offenses.

Call Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged facing criminal charges 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 will explain all of the possible outcomes in your case and will answer any questions you have about options like conditional discharges. Then we will fight for the best outcome in your case.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

June 10th, 2015 at 7:10 am

Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois criminal attorney, your rights,Some criminal cases result in dismissals or acquittals. Others result in plea bargains where a defendant admits his or her guilt of a crime in exchange for a more lenient sentence. In other cases a defendant is convicted at trial or pleads guilty without a plea agreement in place. In that lasts group of cases it is extremely important for a defendant to have an attorney who is experienced in handling sentencing hearings in order for the defendant to obtain the best possible outcome under the circumstances. Many individuals who are facing the possibility of very long sentences in these cases have questions about “cruel and unusual punishment.” Here we explain what the United States Constitution has to say about cruel and unusual punishment.

The Eighth Amendment

U.S. citizens’ right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is found in the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment says:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment inflicted.  

While this amendment is fairly short, it covers a lot. The United States Supreme Court has held over the years that this provision prohibits the use of some punishments while it limits the use of others based on their being excessive for certain crimes or when compared to the competence of the accused.

How The Court Decides if a Punishment is Cruel and Unusual

In Furman v. Georgia, the United States Supreme Court listed four principles that it uses to determine whether a punishment is cruel and unusual. These four principles are:

  1. Punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity, especially torture;
  2. A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion may be cruel and unusual;
  3. A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society may be cruel and unusual; and
  4. A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary may be considered cruel and unusual.

Of course, each of these matters is a judgment call. On several of these grounds, many people would argue that the death penalty is cruel and unusual, but it is still practiced in many states and so far has withstood constitutional challenge. Many would argue that solitary confinement meets many or all of these criterion, but it is still used in Illinois prisons and across the country.

Punishments that Have Been Held Cruel and Unusual

Some punishments have been held to be cruel and unusual. These punishments include:

  • The death penalty when the defendant is a juvenile;
  • The death penalty when the defendant has a mental disability;
  • Mandatory life imprisonment without the possibility of parole when the defendant is a juvenile;
  • Drawing and quartering;
  • Public dissection;
  • Burning alive;
  • Disembowelment; and
  • Revoking the citizenship of a natural-born citizen.

It is important to note that generally the length of a prison sentence will not render it cruel and unusual. However, it can if it is grossly disproportionate in duration relative to the offense.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Have you been charged with a crime? Are you being investigated for alleged criminal activity? Then you need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher Cosley. Call today at (847)394-3200 and we can schedule a meeting to discuss your situation and what we can do to be of help.

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.

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