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Archive for the ‘your rights’ tag

Police Brutality

December 21st, 2018 at 2:21 pm

IL defense attorneyMost law enforcement officers conduct themselves professionally and treat those who they are arresting with as much respect as possible. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Police brutality affects people of all demographics, though minorities are disproportionately the victims of unnecessary police violence. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was hit more than 50 times by police batons, and the police who administered the beating were acquitted. A black undercover police officer himself fell victim to police violence when he was disguised as a protester — his duty being to monitor illegal acts within the crowd to make arrests later — during a St. Louis demonstration in 2017.

Residents had taken to the streets in a planned protest over the acquittal of a police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man, then planted a weapon on him after he was dead. The undercover officer, who was wearing a shirt that revealed his waistband — indicating that he was not armed — was beaten with batons for no reason by three police officers. Earlier text messages between the officers revealed that they had planned on carrying out such beatings. When they discovered that the man they had chosen to beat with riot batons was an undercover cop, they destroyed his phone, tried to contact witnesses to influence their testimony, and lied to a federal grand jury. The officers are facing four offenses, one of which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence, while the other three crimes carry sentences of 20 years each.

Were You the Victim of Police Brutality?

In situations where you were arrested without probable cause or police used unnecessary violence to subdue and handcuff you, your civil rights were violated. In such scenarios, you stand a good chance to have the charges placed against you dropped, depending on what those were for. It all depends on what you were arrested for. In many cases of police brutality, law enforcement was simply carrying out a routine traffic stop, was performing a stop and frisk, or was trying to disperse a crowd during a protest. In such instances in which you, both the defendant and the victim, were not arrested for a crime of violence, charges may be dropped if there is enough evidence to support your claims of police brutality. A Cook County criminal defense lawyer can help you compile evidence to submit a compelling case that police brutality did occur. Cell phone footage, police body cameras, surveillance cameras, and witnesses can all be used to prove the truth.

Contact a Cook County Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Illinois has a long history of police brutality, just like every other state in the country. For justice and to clear your name of wrongdoing, you need to work with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at 847-394-3200 for a free consultation.

 

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/30/us/st-louis-officers-undercover-assault/index.html

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/long-painful-history-police-brutality-in-the-us-180964098/

 

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Four Ways to Avoid Incriminating Yourself After Your Arrest

December 5th, 2018 at 11:24 pm

incriminationWhen you are arrested, your primary objective should be to defend your case to reduce your chance of being convicted as much as possible. Simply being innocent of a crime does not guarantee you will not be convicted. We can estimate the number of Americans who are wrongfully convicted each year, but we cannot know for sure just how many innocent people head to jail and in some cases, die by execution. But we do know that it does happen. Your criminal defense lawyer’s job is to protect you from being convicted. But there are ways you can reduce your chance of being convicted, too. Take some time to educate yourself on ways to avoid self-incrimination.

Choose Not to Talk with Law Enforcement

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees you the right to avoid self-incrimination. During interactions with law enforcement, you are under no obligation to answer officers’ questions or to even make small talk with them. After you are arrested, tell the police that you do not want to talk to them. Follow that statement by saying that you would like to speak with your attorney. Officers are required to stop questioning you when you request your lawyer.

Retain a Lawyer as Soon as Possible

The sooner you start working with a lawyer, the more effectively he or she can help you defend your case. This is because by retaining a lawyer shortly after your arrest – or if possible, retaining a lawyer before your arrest – gives your lawyer time to coach you through interactions with law enforcement and gather the evidence you will use to support your position in court.

Have Incriminating Statements you Made Thrown Out

When you are interacting with law enforcement, you are scared. You are unsure about the outcome you are facing, and in these moments, it is quite possible that you will make statements that can work against you. Your lawyer can file a motion to suppress certain statements if you were coerced into making them or if you were not read your Miranda Rights. Coercion can happen when you are physically harmed by an officer or otherwise made to feel uncomfortable, such as being denied water.

Keep Your Case to Yourself

Whether you have been arrested or not, you should always keep your case’s details to yourself. You can never know who might be asked to provide testimony about your case. The best way to limit the amount of information that can be given in court and potentially used against you, even information that initially seems neutral or like it could work in your benefit, is to keep it between you and your lawyer.

Work with an Experienced Cook County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Start working with an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. To learn more about your rights and how you can avoid incriminating yourself during interactions with law enforcement and the court, schedule your initial legal consultation with our team at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today. Call us at 847-394-3200.

 

Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2014/04/28/how-many-people-are-wrongly-convicted-researchers-do-the-math/

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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

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The Second Amendment and Criminal Law

June 22nd, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyer, Illinois gun laws,Guns are a part of American culture. Unlike many other western nations, our country, for better or worse, has a strong connection to firearms. Aside from our having what is likely the best armed military in the world, we also have a heavily armed population and a constitutional provision that will keep our society that way. The Second Amendment guarantees us the right to “bear arms.”  Despite this constitutional right, men and women across our state and our nation find themselves charged with crimes for possessing guns. How is that possible?

What Does the Second Amendment Say?

The Second Amendment is one of the shorter amendments to our constitution. In its entirety it says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Although it is short, it has led to significant confusion over the years. Some people read this language on its face to mean that individual citizens have a right to gun ownership, while others read it to mean that individual states need to have the ability to arm their militias.

What Does the Second Amendment Mean?

In 1939 it seemed that the Amendment was about the militia part, and not about individual gun rights. That year the United States Supreme Court adopted the collective rights approach in allowing Congress to regulate sawed-off shotguns. This interpretation was the law of the land up until 2008 when the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment established an individual right for citizens to possess firearms. Then in 2010 the Court ruled that states could not infringe on this right any more than the federal government can.

If People Have an Individual Right to Bear Arms, then Why Are People Locked Up for Possessing Guns?

If we have the constitutional right to possess guns, why do people get locked up for possessing guns? Part of the answer is that some of our laws have not changed or have not been adequately changed to comply with the United States Supreme Court’s’ holdings, and some people are still being prosecuted under these outdated laws. But that is only part of the issue. Certain limitations on gun ownership are still allowed even though the constitution says that the right “shall not be infringed.” For example,  convicted felons and certain mentally ill people are currently allowed to be stripped of their gun rights. This is similar to how felons in some states are striped of their rights to vote and to act as jurors. Other restrictions that are allowed include those that are similar to the “time, place, and manner” restrictions placed on your right to free speech. Guns can be banned from certain areas and licensing requirements can be put in place for those who want to carry their guns in public. This is similar to how protesters can be required to obtain permits to protest in certain areas.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

Even if you never commit a violent act you may find yourself charged with a gun crime. You can also find yourself charged with a crime after you have justifiably used a firearm in self-defense or in defense of another. If this happens to you, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call us at the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will fight for you and help you to obtain the best possible outcome in your situation.

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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.

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Miranda Rights: What They Mean to You

December 13th, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Any television program involving crime will undoubtedly include a scene in which, upon apprehension of a suspect, law enforcement will begin to recite the familiar verse, “You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law…”  Many viewers can likely repeat the Miranda rights from memory, but may not be aware of their legal significance.

miranda rightsThe Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides protection against due process violations for defendants charged in a criminal matter.  This includes the right to protection against self-incrimination. In Miranda, the U.S. Supreme Court extended the protection against self-incrimination to include statements, including confessions obtained outside the courtroom, provided certain circumstances exist. According to the Court in Miranda, officers need to apprise a suspect of his or her rights before custodial interrogation occurs in order for any statements made by the suspect to be admissible as evidence in a future court proceeding.  An officer may not interrogate a suspect until after warnings have been given and the suspect knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waives those rights, usually in a signed writing.

The Miranda rights, which must be recited to the suspect, include the following:

  • The right to remain silent;
  • Anything the suspect says can and will be used against them in court;
  • The right to retain counsel and have them present during questioning by law enforcement;
  • The right to have counsel appointed by the court if the suspect cannot afford it.

After these warnings are given, the suspect is free to waive them, or invoke them and request an attorney before any police interrogation takes place.  If they are invoked, questioning must cease. If a suspect initially waives his or her rights and then later invokes them, any questioning must be stopped immediately. Further, a written, valid waiver may be withdrawn at any time if the suspect wishes to continue with interrogation without the benefit of counsel.  The police have the burden of establishing that a suspect has waived his or her rights.

In order for the Miranda warnings to be required, a suspect must be in custody and interrogated by police.  In other words, if police question a suspect who is not in custody, Miranda warnings are not required.  Likewise, if a suspect in custody voluntarily makes an incriminating statement without being questioned by law enforcement, that suspect will probably not be able to invoke the protections afforded by Miranda.

In addition to determining whether a criminal defendant was under custodial interrogation, an additional potential Miranda violation occurs when a suspect’s waiver of his or her rights was not made knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can listen to the facts of a particular case and explain the implications of Miranda.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime in the Chicago, Illinois area, contact us today.  We can discuss your case and advise you of your constitutional rights.

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Accused of Shoplifting in Chicago? You Have Rights

October 30th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Being accused of shoplifting can be a very embarrassing experience, and there’s a tendency to want to work with store managers or security personnel to clear the air. As an accused shoplifter, however, you have rights, too. If you have been accused of or charged with shoplifting, you could face penalties or fines, so contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney immediately.

 shoplifting, Chicago criminal defense attorneyStores across Illinois, like Jewel-Osco, are serious about shoplifting and are taking measures to reduce occurrences. This chain has taken self-checkout stations away with a growing concern that people were not paying for their items. Sometimes, however, customers are accused of shoplifting when they did nothing wrong, being pressured to admit to a crime they never committed. Being accused of shoplifting is both stressful and humiliating, especially if you’re a regular shopper at the store.

A merchant must have probable cause to accuse you of shoplifting. They also must witness you select the item yourself, so if an employee spotted you holding something after you picked it up, this could be an important detail for your trial. An employee or witness must have constant visual view of you to establish probable cause. Finally, you have to actually leave the store premises before you can be approached about not paying for the items.

The use of excessive force by store merchants, employees, or security personnel could violate your rights. Many times, merchants will demand that you sit in a back room and sign a statement admitting to theft, but you need to speak with an attorney who understands the importance of details in your case. It’s important to know that some merchants in Illinois may even seek financial damages from you after the fact, yet another potential consequence of being accused.  Working directly with an experienced Illinois criminal law attorney could be critical for your case and for your future.

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