Articles Posted in Criminal defense

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200Although the clemency law is meant to give a second chance to those who have been incarcerated, it can also be used to correct an injustice that has been committed as a consequence of faulty legislation. A case in point are the controversial laws that charge people with murder even if the person who actually did the killing is someone else. The felony murder rule is considered to be unfair, but politicians are unwilling to tackle it because of the fear of backlash from the public.

The basic premise of the law is that it is possible to charge someone for murder if someone dies during the commission of a list of felonies. This may not be so controversial if the dead person is the victim of the felony or an innocent bystander. However, it is an altogether different scenario if the dead person is an accomplice who was killed by the police or some other agency during an attempted apprehension.

The Case of Teenage Burglars

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225Few laws have done as much damage to the US criminal justice system as the “three strikes” rule that operates in places such as Chicago. The basic premise of the law is that if someone is convicted more than three times of the same or similar offenses, the judge can aggravate the crime to one that deserves a life sentence or an inordinately long prison sentence. The laws seemed reasonable at their inception because it was hoped that they would help to curtail recidivists and prolific offenders.

In reality, the three strikes rule has meant that the prison system is overcrowded with nonviolent offenders who are serving shockingly long prison sentences. It is indeed possible to have a longer prison sentence for a third offense of drug possession than a first instance of murder. Some legal experts have critiqued the law as being fundamentally unconstitutional because it touches on the privileges granted by the 8th Amendment to US citizens. Besides, the provisions deny defendants the right to a fair trial even when they have lawyers.

Tying the Judges’ Hands

alex-holyoake-202959-copy-300x200A number of legal issues arise when an employee of a company commits assault on one of its customers. The lines of liability can be blurred, not least because the crime occurs on a business premises. Moreover, the employees are deemed to be working on behalf of their company during office hours. A distinction has to be made between the personal liability of the employee and the corporate liability of the employer. A good lawyer is the key to success in any case.

The first critical consideration is that the employee who has committed the assault is criminally liable for those ctions. When it comes to the civil cases, the employer may be asked to compensate the customer for any demonstrated injuries. Such was a case when a number of ex-bouncers admitted to assaulting customers in a club based within the Chelmsford area of Chicago.

Case Study of Employees Who Commit Assault During Business Hours

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200The most serious crime on the statute books of Chicago is murder, although international terrorism is also getting right up there in terms of seriousness. Quite often, the case hinges on three major components:

  • The actual commission of the crime
  • The motives behind the crime

diana-feil-226524-copy-200x300It is a sad fact, but it is still a true one: Gun violence in Chicago, Illinois is steadily climbing higher and higher. The amount of gun crimes taking place in the city is reaching what some consider to be an epidemic level, making residents feel fearful and unsafe. Meanwhile, there are two opposing camps that are warring over the best way to deal with the gun crime rates in the Windy City: Those who feel that more gun control is needed, and those who feel like less is needed. With gun violence on the rise and crime rates at unpleasant numbers, it is making dealing with the law itself increasingly difficult.

The Second Amendment

Until recently, guns could not even be purchased inside of Chicago. The local laws banned the sale of guns within the city limits. However, in 2016, this law was ruled as unconstitutional. Strong advocates of the Second Amendment were thrilled, but those in favor of gun control were not quite so happy with the outcome. Whatever the case, it became a fact of life: Guns were easier to obtain in Chicago. There is little evidence at the moment that gun laws were being broken either before or after this occurred, so the jury is still out on any strong connection.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240In the legal world, few matters are as controversial as those that allow confiscation and forfeiture by the police. It is something that has dramatically polarized the two sides. It is rare that you will find someone who is neither truly “for” nor truly “against” these laws. Those who are in favor of the police departments being legally allowed to confiscate goods and money hold that law enforcement is taking away the proceeds of criminal enterprises. Staunch advocates, however, state that the police are nothing but thieves with badges who are taking the property of citizens without trials or due process. This issue is a complex one, to say the least.

Policing for Profit

To understand the law in Chicago, one must first understand what civil forfeiture and confiscation means and how it would apply to the person being affected by it. The standard rule of law used in Chicago dictates that police may confiscate property, including money, that meets certain criteria. These criteria are simple and, to some, are far too broad: Law enforcement officers have to believe that the property was used in a crime, is intended to be used in a crime, or has been obtained in connection with a crime. As you can see, this is a straightforward, if broad, list.

markus-spiske-153537-200x300Cyber terrorism is a serious crime. Obviously, this falls on the higher end of the offenses that are committed on the internet. Chicago, like many states, is trying to update its laws in order to deal with these threats in an effective way, bearing in mind the fact that the technology is constantly changing. Likewise, there are employee training requirements for companies. The law firms that defend and participate in prosecutions are also coming to terms with the intricacies of the laws as well as the various regulations that have been put in place to regulate the activity that takes place on the internet.

One of the issues that has come to the fore is the possibility that in the pursuit of cyber legality, there is a danger of infringing on the privacy of Chicago citizens. The state and legislature are always willing to have more control over the activities of residents. However, that level of control might have serious implications in terms of protecting civil liberties and the integrity of the American Constitution. The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has been at the forefront of advocacy work in this respect so as to moderate some of the excesses that are proposed in prospective legislation.

The Quagmire of Data Collection

alyssa-kibiloski-195807-copy-300x200There is no doubt that the enactment of anti-abortion laws is one of the most important cultural war issues in the USA at the moment. Chicago is not insulated from the arguments for and against the practice. At the moment, there are certain prohibitions and exemptions that have developed over time in response to federal law and changes in the popular attitudes to abortion. There is a prohibition on abortions of fetuses that are considered to be viable. This is anywhere between 23 and 24 weeks. Exceptions to the rule are made when there is a risk to the life or health of the pregnant person. At the same time, the state is subject to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which effectively bans certain second trimester abortion procedures including extraction and intact dilation. This ban does not make exceptions for the health of the mother, a rather controversial configuration.

Although Illinois has a Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, it is not currently enforceable. Other provisions and regulations determine who is allowed and not allowed to administer “abortion care,” as it is sometimes euphemistically called. The current practice is to restrict the right to administer the care to physicians who have a valid license to practice in the state. Others who are allowed to administer medication abortion are advanced practice clinicians including physician assistants and advanced practice nurses. There are strict licensing and regulation requirements. Many of these fall under the Illinois Medical Practice Act. There are other professional statutes that may be applicable in this instance.

Attempts to Control the Practice

esteban-lopez-234052-copy-300x200The Chicago legislature has recently put laws in place that allow farmers to grow industrial hemp. This is a replacement of the old regime under which such actions were barred. A system of permits ensures that issues of public safety and good conduct are taken into consideration. Hemp belongs to the family of the cannabis plant. Although it can be used as a narcotic in sufficiently strong concentrations, it is also used to make textiles as well as paper-based industrial products. Farmers could potentially earn an income from this plant that is also on the banned list of substances. The old law was caught between encouraging genuine commercial activity and preventing the large-scale production of potential narcotics. The initial plan was to allow the cultivation for research purposes and then move on to commercial production for non-narcotic usage.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is intimately involved in all the proceedings so as to ensure appropriate oversight. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) previously classified hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug. That meant that farms could not legally grow it, certainly not on an industrial scale. The classification was based on the findings that the drug had a high potential for abuse. Those who dispute the classification argue that hemp contains only trace elements of the offending substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is indeed the psychoactive chemical that is known to create a high for marijuana users. Over time, a number of states (now numbering 16) have gradually legalized the production of hemp for commercial purposes. By 2014, Illinois had put legislation in place to allow for the growing of hemp by State Universities and the Department of Agriculture.

The Narcotic with Huge Potential

asia-chang-32003-copy-300x169Chicago is a modern city that has shown commitment to fighting climate change and protecting natural resources. This is particularly important within the context of the US government’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Many cities like Chicago are taking localized steps to ensure that the sustainability agenda is not lost in the midst of federal quarrels over the appropriateness of specific interventions. These are some of the key issues that are taking center stage in terms of the laws on clean energy and environmental protection:

  • Energy Credits: In order to encourage the use of solar power, renewable energy credits have been put in place as an incentive for businesses and individuals that want to make a difference. The Illinois Power Agency has, for example, developed a supplemental procurement plan that makes up to $30 million available under the Renewable Resources Fund.
  • Community Foundations: In an effort to localize the sustainability agenda, the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation has instituted a grant program that specifically targets the increased use of efficient energy. This work extends to corporations, non-profit organizations, local authorities, educational institutions, and other relevant agencies. The idea is to lead by example.