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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:

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This summer, police officers across the United States have been cracking down on prostitution-related offenses. Sting operations aimed at stopping the solicitation of prostitution have been executed across the country, including several in Illinois. The Chicago Tribune reports that a recent sting operation in Arlington Heights resulted in 14 men being charged with the crime of soliciting a sexual act. The Arlington Heights police carried out the sting by placing ads on the internet designating a specific time and hotel for interested people to meet. When individuals arrived at the designated hotel room a female undercover agent greeted them. Additional officers were waiting to arrest offenders who offered money to the undercover agent for sexual acts and to charge them with misdemeanor solicitation of a sexual act.

What Constitutes Entrapment?

Typically, entrapment occurs when a police officer induces someone to commit a crime that he or she would otherwise not have been disposed to commit. Entrapment can be used as a defense to a criminal charge, and is often alleged by defendants who have been charged with solicitation of a sexual act. In Illinois, the legal test for entrapment is contained in 720 ILCS 5/7-12 and prohibits a criminal defendant from being convicted if their illegal conduct was either incited or induced by a public agent in order to obtain evidence for the prosecution of that person. However, entrapment can not be used as a defense if the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime and the public agent simply provided them with the opportunity to commit it.

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The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has a list of Chicagoans who are believed to be at risk of either killing or being killed. The police started compiling their Strategic Subject List three years ago in an attempt to save the lives of everyone listed, reports the Chicago Tribune. One by one, individuals on the strategic subject list are visited during a proactive well-being check. These checks, known as “custom notifications,” do not involve arrests but instead conversations and warnings. Officers warn listed individuals that they have been identified as being at risk for killing or being killed and that there are alternatives for safer lifestyles available to them. Depending on the circumstances, officers sometimes bring community activists or religious leaders with them during these well-being checks.

What Factors are Used to Generate Chicago’s Strategic Subject List?

The police have not precisely explained the factors that are being used to identify at-risk individuals for their Strategic Subject List. However, the department did tell the Chicago Tribune that they are focusing on the 1,400 individuals who are considered to be most at risk and that a person’s criminal record, age at first arrest, and whether the person has been previously shot are all taken into account. Some civil rights organization leaders in Chicago are concerned that the CPD is not telling the public which factors are being used to create the Strategic Subject List and worry that this lack of transparency may be masking racial profiling. The Police Department says that they will not release the precise combination of factors that are being used as doing so would undermine the program’s effectiveness.

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Last month an African-American teenager was fatally shot by the Chicago police at the conclusion of a car chase. An article on WMUR.com reports that the police attempted to pull over the 18-year-old as the Jaguar convertible that he was driving had been reported stolen. The teen refused to pull over, led the police on a chase through the South Side of Chicago, hit a police cruiser and a parked car, and eventually two police officers opened fire on him. The teenager died from his injuries and his family has since filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging wrongful death and excessive force.

The news is highlighting this shooting as the latest event in a string of violent confrontations between African-American communities and police officers in Chicago. Unfortunately, there have been several police incidents lately during which members of the community claim police officers used excessive force. Chicago’s Police Department is attempting to foster trust between officers and community members by arming their police officers with body cameras. The idea is that the cameras will record police interactions with civilians in order to provide evidence in case any misconduct occurs. However, police body cameras can only serve their intended purpose if they are turned on and functioning properly, which is not always the case. During the police shooting described above, the body camera of the officer who fatally shot the teen failed to record during the shooting. The police department reports that they are currently in a body camera pilot program and that officers received their cameras approximately eight to 10 days before the shooting. At this time it is not clear why the officer’s body camera was not recording at the time of the shooting.

Body Camera Laws in Illinois

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There is no doubt about it, this year Chicago is experiencing a serious spike in shootings and murders. In fact, ABC7  reports that there were 65 fatal shootings in July alone. What is to blame for this spike in violence? While there are undoubtedly many contributing factors, the head of the Chicago Police Union claims that police paperwork is in large part to blame. In an interview with DNAinfo the union leader explained that the problem does not exclusively stem from paperwork issues, but that the implementation of two-page Investigative Stop Reports has led to fewer police stops and, therefore, more violent crimes being perpetrated on the streets.

Chicago’s New Two-Page Investigative Stop Reports

Starting on January 1, 2016, Chicago’s old checklist contact cards were replaced with two-page Investigative Stop Reports. Under the old contact card system, every time a police officer interacted with a civilian on the street the officer would document the encounter via a simple checklist on an index-sized contact card. However, police officers are now required to document each encounter by filling out a two-page questionnaire. This new requirement means that police officers in Chicago are spending much more time filling out paperwork and much less time interacting with people on the street. An article from DNAinfo notes that during the first 11 days under the new policy there was a 79% decrease in police stops. The article states that there were just 3,916 investigative reports filed during these 11 days, compared to the 16,698 reports that were filed during the same period last year under the old system. This difference is clearly astronomical.