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The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley
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Archive for the ‘sentencing guidelines’ tag

Criminal Sentencing: How Much Time Does One Serve?

August 24th, 2015 at 7:04 am

Illinois criminal justice system, mandatory sentencing, Illinois criminal attorney,When a person is facing criminal charges one of the primary concerns he or she has is how much prison time is possible. Every crime has a set punishment or range of possible punishments, but in our society that really does not tell us much. Each state is different and has its own complicated systems. Some states have parole; some states do not have parole. Some decrease sentences for good behavior, while others may not. Some have conditional release while others do not. This makes it extremely unlikely that someone who has not gone through the criminal process in a particular state will understand exactly how much time he or she is facing.

Illinois Does Not Have Parole

As a general rule, Illinois does not have a system of parole. Parole is a system where an inmate serves part of his or her sentence and then goes before a board who decides whether he or she should stay in prison or be granted an early release. A person granted parole faces restrictions similar to those on probation until his or her entire sentence is served either in prison or on parole. Illinois used to have a parole system; however, in the 1970s the legislature did away with it. What this means is that there are a few people who were convicted of crimes decades ago that still have a right to parole hearings and who may possibly be granted parole. And, if you commit a crime in Illinois now and you are convicted, you will not be eligible for parole. In addition, crimes in Illinois do often come with a term of supervised release. This is similar to parole, in that it is a period of supervision that comes after incarceration, but it is for a set term of years and does not result in early release.

Most Illinois Inmates Serve Half Their Sentences

Although Illinois does not have parole, that does not necessarily mean that one will serve every day of his or her sentence. Most Illinois inmates are required to serve one half of their sentences before being released. There are exceptions to this rule though. In the 1990s the legislature passed “truth in sentencing” laws. Under these laws, people convicted of certain serious crimes are required to serve larger portions of their sentence. People convicted of first-degree murder must serve 100 percent of their murder sentences. People convicted of other violent offenses must serve 85 percent of their sentences. There are also laws relating to specific offenses that require that some sentences be served consecutive to other sentences. This is why it is extremely important to discuss sentencing possibilities and the actual time you may serve with an attorney.

Call Christopher M. Cosley

If you are charged with a crime 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 fight for you. During an initial consultation we will discuss your objectives with you and work to obtain the best possible outcome given your priorities.

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.

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