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712px--_13_-_ITALY_-_Siringa_droga_-_drugs_-_syringes_-_dealing_IT_WIKIPEDIA.svgRecently there has been some legal argument as to the criminal consequences of heroin-related deaths in Cook County and DuPage County. This country discusses the possibilities and limitations of criminal liability. The case of 21-year old Christopher Houdek is interesting.  Apparently he and a girlfriend Adrianna Diana (20) cooked and injected heroin. The next day she found him unresponsive. Paramedics were summoned, but the victim died in hospital. The County Coroner ruled it an accidental death by heroin intoxication. The prosecutors disagreed and charged Diana together with two dealers with homicide. The story becomes even more tragic in as far as one of the defendants (Diana) died from an overdose whilst out on bail.

The Legal Issues

This case is a real trial for the criminal law in Illinois. It raises the prospect of vicarious criminal responsibility as well as safe custody. It could be argued that Diana was a victim too, particularly if one considers the dealers to be the ultimate villains in this case. At the same time both people who died were adults and there is no evidence to suggest that they were forced by the dealers to consume the heroin. Likewise it must not be forgotten that heroin is a controlled substance in Illinois. Its procurement, sale, distribution and consumption can constitute a criminal act. Sadly the case is not unique. Between 2013 and 2015, there were over 2000 fatal overdoses in Illinois. The law is complicated further by the fact that the involvement of large scale supply chains makes these acts subject to federal and international law.

DNA_double_helix_45Justice delayed is justice denied, but in Illinois time can be a great solver of complex puzzles thanks to the use of DNA technologies. Recently there was a case in which a rape suspect was allowed to roam free thanks to a late identification of his DNA results. Criminal defense lawyers are also understandably concerned about the possibility that the interests of justice are not served best by inordinate delays. However there are instances where a delay could actually give the defense some space to mount a successful challenge to the evidence that has been presented by the prosecution.

The instant case was that of Javariee Reed (27) who was charged with sexual assault for an incident that occurred in 2007. The victim as 15-years old at the time of the incident and mentally disabled. The reason for the significant delay was the negligence of the South Suburban Police Department which had failed to act on information that was provided to it by the Illinois State Police about a possible DNA match. The case illustrates how a few mistakes on the part of the law enforcement agencies can lead to significant problems for not only the victims of crime but also criminal defendants.  

Running a Criminal Justice System Smoothly and Effectively

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Did you know that drug dealers can be held criminally responsible if their clients die from an overdose after purchasing their drugs? In Illinois, a drug dealer in this situation can be charged with reckless homicide. This is exactly what recently happened to an alleged drug dealer in Chicago known as “Big D.”

The Journal Times reports that the Burlington police discovered an unresponsive 28-year-old man passed out in his car at a gas station back in May. Officers tried to revive the man but unfortunately he passed away and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner indicated that the man’s cause of death was a fentanyl overdose, according to the Times. Fentanyl is an opioid-based painkiller that can be legally prescribed by a physician, but which is also sold illegally on the street.

As part of the investigation, police officers interviewed a witness who told the police that a person known as “Big D” had supplied heroin and other illegal drugs to the deceased victim shortly before his death. The dealer was identified and law enforcement officials arranged a sting operation under which the cooperating witness arranged to purchase drugs from Big D. Afterwards the dealer was arrested, charged with first-degree reckless homicide, delivery of narcotics, and conspiracy to manufacture or deliver heroin, and is being held on $100,000 bail.

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The Wisconsin State Journal reports that two suspects are currently in custody in Illinois in connection with a violent home invasion that took place in Madison last January. Allegedly, the two suspects robbed a 27-year-old man at gunpoint, forced the man into his apartment, and once inside bound the man and his girlfriend with duct tape. The couple claims that the robbers demanded more money and pointed a gun at their 3-year-old daughter’s head. Eventually, the father broke free of his bonds, lunged at one of the gunmen, and was shot multiple times. Thankfully all members of the family survived. Now that both suspects are in custody, they have been charged with several crimes, including false imprisonment.

What is False Imprisonment?

In Illinois, false imprisonment occurs when an individual’s personal liberty or freedom of locomotion is unlawfully restrained. Before a defendant can be convicted of false imprisonment the prosecution must prove the following two elements:

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The definition of child endangerment in Illinois is broad and therefore child endangerment charges are filed under a number of different circumstances. Under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/12C-5, a person endangers the life of a child if he or she knowingly:

  • Causes or allows a child under 18-years-old to be endangered, or
  • Causes or allows a child to be placed in circumstances that endanger the child’s life or health.

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The Chicago Tribune reports that a Chicago man is currently being held at the Skokie courthouse jail with bail set at $250,000 for allegedly Tasering a 79-year old woman during an attempted robbery. The man is charged with aggravated battery and attempted robbery after supposedly attacking the elderly woman while she was sitting in her car. The man’s public defender has released a statement indicating that the defendant does not have enough money to post bail. Therefore, he will remain in jail at least until his preliminary hearing which is currently scheduled for September 8th. But why did the court decide to set this man’s bail at $250,000? What factors does a court take into consideration when setting bail? This article provides a brief overview of what bail is and how it is set in Illinois.

What is Bail?

Simply put, bail is the amount of money that a court requires in exchange for releasing an accused criminal defendant from custody while he or she awaits a day in court. Money paid as bail is refundable and is returned to the defendant after he or she appears for the court date and satisfies any other conditions of bail. However, if the defendant skips town or does not appear in court for some reason then that bail is forfeited. The idea is that defendants who have posted a seizable bail will be strongly incentivized to show up at court for their trials.

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A new study out of the Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health finds that lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of gun crimes in the United States. The study traced the origins of every firearm recovered from crime scenes in 2008 and found that in roughly eight out of ten cases the perpetrator had been in illegal possession of the gun at the time of the crime. The study focused on how legally purchased firearms ended up at crime scenes and found that more than 30% of the guns had been stolen.

However, firearms enter the black market in a variety of other ways, as well. For example, an article from the Washington Post notes that many guns wind up on the black market via “straw purchases.” A straw purchase occurs when an individual with a clean record purchases a gun from a legal dealer and then passes the gun along to someone else who could not legally purchase the weapon. Gangs often orchestrate straw purchases and sometimes even have a designated member who maintains a clean record in order to furnish other gang members with firearms. According to a study conducted by the University of Chicago Crime Lab, criminals in Chicago also tend to acquire illegal firearms mostly via personal connections.

Who is Legally Prohibited from Owning a Firearm in Illinois?

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Last month, African American teenager Paul O’Neal was killed when a Chicago police officer shot him in the back during a controversial arrest. This shooting has outraged the African American community in Chicago and has worsened the already strained relationship between the police and the community. In fact, Fox News reports that three Chicago gangs are plotting to shoot police officers in retaliation. Apparently the Chicago Police Department (CPD) alerted its officers last week that three local gangs, the Vice Lords, the Black Disciples, and the Four Corner Hustlers, met in order to exchange guns and discuss plans to shoot CDP officers.  

Penalties for Killing, Harming, or Intimidating a Police Officer

Under federal law 18 U.S.C. § 1121, it is a capital offense to intentionally kill a state or local law enforcement officer or employee, who is working with federal law enforcement officials during a criminal investigation,:

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Back in 2013, a woman was found dead in her Southwest Side Brighton Park apartment with her throat slashed. The deceased woman’s husband disappeared before her body was found and the police put out a warrant for his arrest. Authorities suspected that the husband fled to Mexico after killing his wife, and so the Chicago FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force coordinated an international manhunt to look for him. It took a few years, but the wanted man was arrested in Mexico earlier this year and was extradited back to the United States just last week, reports Fox 32. According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the man was charged with one count of first-degree murder and is currently being held without bail.

What is Extradition?

Extradition is the transfer of a wanted person from the country in which the individual is hiding to the country that wants to put them on trial. Extradition can also occur between states within the United States. Whether or not a country agrees to turn over a wanted person often depends on whether or not the countries involved have signed an extradition treaty with each other and what the provisions of that treaty are. The United States has extradition treaties with many countries around the world, including Mexico.

Baseball_capThe Chicago Tribune reports that the Naperville police are offering a $1,000 reward for information about the motorist who exposed himself to a 15-year-old girl on July 15 near Prairie and Charles Avenues. Apparently the suspect, a white male in his mid-40’s to early-50’s, drove past the girl as she was riding her bike down the street, stopped a short distance in front of her, and emerged from his vehicle wearing only a baseball cap. The police note that the man covered his genitals and did not say anything as the girl biked past him. While the girl was not physically harmed, the man will still likely face a public indecency charge if the police are able to find him.

Public Indecency in Illinois

Public indecency, referred to as indecent exposure in some states, is a criminal offense in Illinois. While some people view flashing as a harmless act, exposing yourself under some circumstances can land you in a lot of legal trouble. Under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/11-30 any person who is 17-years-old or older commits the crime of public indecency if he or she engages in either of the following acts in a public place: