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Archive for the ‘Supreme Court’ tag

Privacy Rights Upheld in Recent Supreme Court Case

September 14th, 2018 at 8:31 am

Chicago criminal defense lawyer unreasonable search and seizureIf you are facing a criminal charge, this does not mean that you are not entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to other individuals in the United States, including the right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution affords citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Search warrants are used to ensure that if a search is being conducted, then there is a legitimate reason and cause for conducting the search. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right to privacy for suspects regarding warrantless searches.

Collins v. Virginia

In the case of Collins v. Virginia, the defendant was suspected of being in possession of a motorcycle that had been stolen. The motorcycle was parked under a three-walled enclosure that was covered with a tarp. This enclosure was located at the defendant’s girlfriend’s house. The house also had a traditional garage that could completely block the inside of the garage from outside view. The police suspected that this motorcycle was parked at the defendant’s girlfriend’s home and therefore went to examine the scene. Instead of obtaining a search warrant, the police officers proceeded up the driveway to where the motorcycle was parked under the tarp. The motorcycle turned out to be the stolen property they were looking for, and the defendant was arrested.

At trial, the defendant argued that his fundamental right to privacy that is guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment was violated because the police did not have a valid search warrant for the property. The state argued that finding the motorcycle without a search warrant fell under the automobile exception. The automobile exception states that police are allowed to search a vehicle when there is probable cause that the vehicle contained some type of evidence or contraband.

The Court found that the automobile exception was not applicable in this case. Instead, the three-walled tarp enclosure could be considered a part of the home. As a part of the home, it receives the same type of heightened rights to privacy as the living area of the home. The Court went on further to state that the automobile exception applies only to situations where the alleged evidence or contraband is inside of a vehicle, not sitting underneath a tarp on someone else’s property.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are concerned your rights have been violated, contact experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Attorney Cosley is dedicated to using every possible defense applicable under the circumstances, including improper searches due to lack of a search warrant. We know that just because you might be charged with a crime, you should not lose your rights. Contact us today at 847-394-3200 for a free consultation.

Sources:

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/automobile_exception

https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-1027_7lio.pdf

U.S. Supreme Court Review of Case Regarding Hearsay and Sixth Amendment

November 12th, 2014 at 11:27 am

Constitutional rights, appellate court, Illinois criminal defense attorney, The United States Supreme Court has decided to review a criminal case that contains issues of hearsay and related Sixth Amendment considerations. In the case, the defendant was charged and convicted of physically abusing two minor children. The trial court allowed testimony from one of the child’s teachers who repeated the victim’s out of court statement to them, even though the older child was deemed incompetent to testify. The statements related to the identification of the defendant. The case was appealed to the appropriate state appellate court, which reversed the conviction, and then to the State Supreme Court, which affirmed the appellate court’s decision.

Defendant’s Argument

Defendant’s argument on appeal was that the introduction of the above mentioned witness’s testimony violated his Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser. At trial, the jury was exposed to testimony and the defendant was not given the chance to properly cross examine the individual who actually made the statements. Now that the case has reached the Supreme Court, they are expected to address issues about the statements that include whether the teachers were effectively acting as law enforcement officers conducting an interrogation since they are mandatory reporters of child abuse, and whether the child’s statements to the teachers can be considered testimonial.

Considerations

The issues of hearsay and Sixth Amendment concerns have been addressed by the Court in the past. This case provides an opportunity for the Court to apply previously decided legal standards to a new set of facts. Much of the Court’s decision seems to rest on whether the child’s original statements to the teachers can be considered testimonial. If so, they likely should have been excluded from the trial as the defendant did not have the opportunity to cross-examine the declarant, the child. The Supreme Court will likely use legal precedent to decide whether the statements were testimonial in nature or not.

The mandatory reporting law presents another interesting issue to be decided in this case. If it were not for this law, teachers would likely have a valid reason for inquiring about injuries observed on a student. However, since teachers are required to report suspected child abuse to appropriate authorities, the teacher questioning the student was legally considered to be an interrogation for the purpose of gathering evidence of a crime, as was found by the State Supreme Court on appeal. The reason the interaction is considered to be such is that in this role, the teacher is acting as an agent of law enforcement and gathering information for them.

On the other hand, the argument can be furthered that despite the mandatory reporting requirement, her primary purpose in asking about a student’s injuries could be unrelated to aiding law enforcement. The reporting requirement simply affirms the teacher’s ordinary obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of students. It will be interesting to see which line of reasoning the Supreme Court identifies with.

Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, do not hesitate to seek the representation of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the facts of your case and protect your rights. Contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today to schedule a consultation. We have successful experience serving clients in Cook County as well as the surrounding area.

Illinois Supreme Court Rules on Recorded Conversations

April 25th, 2014 at 12:19 pm

recorded conversation, privacy, divorce, child support, Illinois criminal defense lawyerThe Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled on the constitutionality of a statute regarding the legality of audio-recording a conversation. According to that law, any person who records a conversation without the consent of all parties involved in the conversation commits a crime. The law as written is broad, and defines a conversation as any oral communication between two or more people, regardless of whether one of the parties intends for the conversation to be private.

Facts of the Case

The facts giving rise to the case that was eventually heard by the Illinois Supreme Court involve a pro-se party to a child support proceeding. That party recorded a hearing that was held in open court during which a court reporter was not present. He also recorded a conversation between himself and opposing counsel prior to the start of the hearing. The recording was the pro-se party’s only record of the proceedings, in which he participated without the benefit of counsel or a court reporter keeping a record. He was charged with violating the aforementioned statute as a result of these actions.

Court’s Holding

The Illinois Supreme Court held that the above statute violates the First Amendment, as the law places a greater burden on speech than what is required to protect the interest in conversational privacy. The Court reasoned that the statute criminalizes a broad range of conduct regarding recording all conversations, even those that may not be considered private under any circumstances, including any conversation that is loud enough to be overheard by a third party, whether in a public or a private setting. Not all conversations implicate privacy interests, but the law as written failed to distinguish that fact, despite the fact that the law did contain several exceptions. The Court stated that recordings of truly private conversations would remain under the scope of the statute, as a narrower interpretation of law better serves the intent in enacting it.

In addition, the statute criminalized conduct that, seen another way, is perfectly legal. For example, if a person overheard a conversation without recording it and later quoted a portion of the communication in a publication, no law would be broken. However, if the same person merely recorded a conversation without having published any of its contents, the act would be a crime.

The Court concluded that the statute went too far in trying to protect a citizen’s interest in private conversations, and that it put more burden on free speech than necessary to serve its interests. The Court deemed the statute overly broad and, therefore, unconstitutional.

In addition to the enactment of new laws, laws that have been on the books change and are tested in Court regularly. While every member of the public may not be aware of this fact, it is an attorney’s responsibility to keep informed of new laws and changes to existing ones. That is why hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights is so important. If you have been charged with a crime in the Chicago area, contact the Law Office of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation.

Illinois Supreme Court Discusses Cook County Court System

April 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am

basic court services, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Cook County court system, defense attorney, Illinois Supreme Court, overcrowded prisons, Supreme Courtrecent article revealed that the Illinois Supreme Court is not pleased with the way criminal suspects are handled in the Cook County court system. The Supreme Court’s report said that those who are charged with a crime needlessly await trial behind bars due to a lack of leadership within the county’s court system and a misunderstanding of basic court services.

Pretrial Services

The report mainly discussed pretrial services, which is a division within the adult probation department. The original purpose of this division was to alleviate the issue of overcrowded prisons by helping determine if defendants should be kept in custody or released pending trial. Pretrial officers are responsible for screening defendants who are brought in by Chicago police in order to make this determination.

The pretrial officers are tasked with interviewing the defendants about their criminal history, mental health, and living arrangements. Their report is then given to the bond court judge, who uses it to decide whether the defendant will appear at future hearings and avoid being arrested again if released. This contributes to the judge’s decision on bail.

The System’s Shortcomings

The report by the Supreme Court of Illinois revealed that the pretrial reports were often unreliable due to time constraints, access to information, and training issues which prevented the bond judge from relying on them too heavily, as they were limited and usually unverified.

Specifically, the report by the Court stated that the work done by pretrial services is either dismissed entirely, or relied on only minimally due to a lack of confidence in the credibility of such work.  This results in defendants, some of whom would have been released, remaining in jail while their case proceeds through the court.

Changes to Come

The Cook County Circuit Court Chief, Judge Timothy Evans, said that some of the problems with pretrial services are due to the department being understaffed and underfunded, although he did say that some changes to the department have already begun. While officials debate where the ultimate blame for the problem lies, one thing is certain: many men and women who have been charged with crimes have suffered because of the flawed system.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s report made 40 recommendations to improve pretrial services in Cook County, and plan to appoint an administrator to oversee the implementation of their plan. The plan focuses on making changes to the existing structure before approving the hiring of additional staff.

Criminal Defense Attorney

It is always imperative to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney when charged with a crime, but it is especially required when flaws in the court system are apparent. A dedicated defense attorney will not only protect your rights, but will fight for justice in instances where an issue in a criminal case may have otherwise been overlooked.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. We have successful experience representing clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

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