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Articles Posted in Criminal defense

In 2021, Chicago set a 25-year record for the number of reported homicides. In 2022, Chicago police are being chastised for making a record low number of arrests. According to recent data, arrests have been made in only 12% of reported cases which is the lowest number since the statistics were first recorded in 2001. Additionally, murders are up a reported 3% since 2020 and sexual assaults have climbed 27%. 

What’s going on? Well, the answer, predictably, falls along political lines. Conservatives want to blame “woke reforms” for the lack of arrests while “woke reformers” are blaming the police for “malicious compliance” with newer policies aimed at reducing police interactions.               

Going Out There and Not Doing Anything                                                                                                                                               

An Illinois man has been charged with a felony hate crime after attacking an LGBTQ-friendly bakery. The bakery sparked controversy after announcing a “family-friendly drag show” online. The threats and vandalism forced the bakery to cancel the show. Now, a 24-year-old Illinois man is facing felony charges related to vandalism plus the hate crime intensifier. The man, along with others, is accused of leaving feces on the doorstep, harassing employees, and making in-person and online threats. He also inspired a group of people to join in. Those people left a sign outside the business that said, “pedophiles work here.”

The man accused of vandalizing the bakery was caught in the act. A local resident saw him breaking windows and spray-painting messages that police described as hateful. After the incident, the bakery reported that they would cancel the drag show over safety concerns of the performers. 

What is Going on Here?

As more becomes known about the Highland Park massacre, the ability of the shooter, Robert E. Crimo III, to legally purchase an AR-15-style weapon is under intense scrutiny. Police say that there were two red flags with Crimo, but none of them made it to the attention of federal authorities who handle FOID card applications. Crimo was legally able to purchase the weapon in the Chicago area.

Family members say that they had no warning of the attack. Authorities say that Crimo was the recipient of mental health services after a failed suicide attempt. Afterward, the police removed several knives and a sword from Crimo’s apartment after he threatened to “kill everyone.” Neither of these triggered an arrest giving authorities no good reason for denying Crimo the FOID card. Now, many are wondering what more could have been done to stop the senseless attack on the July 4th parade. 

Crimo has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. While Illinois does not have the death penalty, the federal government could opt into the prosecution to pursue the death penalty against the defendant. It remains unclear if terrorism charges will be filed, but it not typical for American citizens to be charged with terrorism. That may change as more mass shootings for political reasons plague the nation. 

An off-duty police officer accused a teen of stealing his son’s bike. The teen believes he was profiled only because he was Black. The ensuing altercation was caught on video and the family is calling for the DA to press charges. In the video, the officer can be seen pressing his knee into the teen’s back in a scene eerily reminiscent of the George Floyd incident. 

The teen’s friends intervened on his behalf as the officer accused the teen of stealing his son’s bike. The teen appears to be the only person with brown skin in the area at the time, according to the family. The officer works for Chicago P.D. but the incident happened in another jurisdiction, Park Ridge. The incident is being investigated by both Chicago and Park Ridge P.D. There has yet to be an announcement whether criminal charges against the officer will be pursued. 

It is completely unclear why the officer thought the boy had stolen his son’s bike, if the bike looked like a previously stolen bike, or what was going on in the officer’s mind at the time he chose to detain the boy while off-duty. What is clear is that the officer conducted no investigation, did not ask the boy any questions, and did not have the authority to pursue the matter without more information. 

Details are beginning to emerge about the suspect in the recent Weathertech shooting. According to reports, 37-year-old Charles McKnight is accused of shooting and killing another 37-year-old man and wounding two others. McKnight was found in possession of some of the victim’s belongings. Two Weathertech employees confronted McKnight near the end of his shift after they accused him of stealing the personal belongings of another employee at gunpoint. An argument ensued and McKnight shot at the men confronting him. 

McKnight worked for a temp agency and managed to pass a background check although the press was able to discover that McKnight had been arrested several times for minor offenses. McKnight was never prosecuted on any of those charges which ended up being dropped. All the offenses were minor offenses such as simple battery and disorderly conduct. According to the temp agency, they use another company to conduct criminal background checks and McKnight’s came back clear. 

One of the victims was treated and released from the hospital while the other is in critical condition. McKnight will likely face one charge of first-degree murder and potentially two charges of attempted murder. His bond has been set at $5 million.

A white Chicago officer has been officially charged after an altercation with a Black woman who was walking her dog. The defendant has since resigned from the police force and has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct. The 52-year-old officer resigned prior to an official disciplinary hearing. 

The altercation ensued when the officer found a woman walking her dog along the beach. The officer detained the woman and told her the beach was closed. The woman said she felt threatened and asked the officer to step back. At that point, the officer grabbed the woman. The incident was not only caught on bodycam but a bystander recorded much of the altercation. 

The victim told the press that she believed the incident was racially motivated. She also said that she did not believe that all cops were bad people, but this particular cop was a bad apple. As a criminal defense attorney, you wish that people remembered the entirety of the cliche. A few bad apples can spoil the bunch. 

Pursuit issues have long been a public safety problem, but the majority of these issues are related to vehicles. Police are afraid that pursuing vehicles can result in pedestrian deaths, personal injury lawsuits, auto injuries, and property damage. They are likewise afraid of making a bad situation worse. It is more complicated by the fact that fleeing a police officer is itself a criminal act and in some states, the stakes are very high. While you will not see prosecutions like this in Illinois, certain Southern states can charge you with murder if a police officer murders your friend who is also fleeing police. In other words, there is a lot of controversy over pursuit of suspects, how to do it safely, and how to avoid lawsuits.

What we have not seen is a foot pursuit policy. This is largely because if a police officer accidentally steamrolls a bystander, they are not critically injured in the process. Nonetheless, foot pursuits do result in avoidable shootings and one of the most recent examples of this involved a 13-year-old boy. 

It is believed that the new foot pursuit policy will help prevent shootings related to minor offenses. Police will now have an identifiable policy on when they are allowed to place themselves, bystanders, or the suspect in danger. This should help reduce the overall number of police interactions.

Here’s the story. The police showed up at a woman’s house claiming that someone had called in saying she discharged a weapon inside of her home. They found a .22 caliber single-shot Remington rifle on the property and promptly charged her for possessing a weapon without a FOID card. The weapon had not been discharged, and witnesses at the apartment complex said they did not hear a gunshot. It turned out that the call was made by an estranged ex who wanted to engineer a criminal prosecution against the defendant.

The defendant argued that Illinois’ FOID Law was unconstitutional. The circuit court agreed and vacated her prosecution. However, the Supreme Court was asked to rule on the Constitutionality of Illinois’ FOID card law and would not rule that it was unconstitutional. The prosecution may be remanded back to the circuit court leaving the prosecution unclear under the law. Below, we will discuss the law and why it may be unconstitutional.

Is Illinois’ FOID Card Law Constitutional?

A 19-year-old man and seven others are accused of forcing their way into a Louis Vuitton store and stealing an estimated $77,000 in merchandise. In this case, each of the bags had trackers in them, and police were able to recover the trackers along the interstate. From the trackers, they were able to recover a palm print along with “other evidence” that placed one suspect at the scene of the crime. 

In terms of retail theft, the type of charge you face is related to the value of the merchandise. The law was updated in the past few years and now it is a felony to steal any merchandise valued at $1,000 or more. Prior to that, you only had to steal $150 worth of merchandise to qualify for a felony. However, due to inflation, the law was updated to reflect the minimal amount of buying power that $150 represents.

Those charged with felony retail theft can never expunge the offense from their record. Those charged with misdemeanor retail theft can. Hence, the stakes are quite high for 19-year-olds charged with retail theft. The state will still have to prove that the value of the stolen merchandise was greater than $1,000. Additionally, the palm print evidence may not be as strong as fingerprint evidence.

Billionaires and Republican donors are out in full force raising the ire of their constituencies against San Francisco’s elected District Attorney. San Francisco is miles away from Chicago in terms of gun violence, population size, and murders per year, but voters are ready to pull the plug on their District Attorney. Why are progressive prosecutors having such a difficult time even in liberal cities like San Francisco?

For decades, the Americans have been treated to only one position on crime: You are either “tough on crime” or you are not. If you are “tough on crime” then you are one of the good guys. If you are not, then you are aiding and abetting criminals. It is all very simple and appeals to the sort of black and white thinking that people employ when they are fed up with a situation. Do San Francisco residents have due cause to be fed up with their elected prosecutor?

Black and White

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