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Articles Posted in Criminal defense

One thing many folks are not aware of is that double jeopardy, the legal concept by which an individual can only be tried once for the same crime, does not apply across jurisdictions. While it is exceedingly rare for the federal government to pursue a prosecution that was already lost at the state level, it is much more likely in cases when the defendant is acquitted. It is also more likely in cases where the federal government has a valid reason to pursue the charges under federal law, and the cases they do pursue after failed state prosecutions tend to be high-profile high-stakes cases like Rittenhouse’s trial.

The jury was made aware by the judge that if they convicted Rittenhouse on any of the homicide charges, it would reduce the likelihood of a second trial filed by the federal government. On the other hand, it increased the possibility that Rittenhouse would be convicted in this trial. In other words, the jurors were instructed as to the consequences of their decision. 

What Federal Charges Could Rittenhouse Face?

With the Kyle Rittenhouse trial now entering its waning hours, much and more has been written about the justifiable use of force in self-defense situations. In the Rittenhouse case, the prosecution is failing to overcome the statutes that make exceptions for the lethal use of force in certain situations.

The prosecution had hoped to introduce evidence that Rittenhouse had gone to the riot in order to “defend property,” but was rebuffed from introducing that evidence. Further, the prosecution was unable to uncover any social media evidence that indicated that Rittenhouse went there for the purpose of doing armed combat with “commies.” That would have been the smoking gun (no pun intended) they needed to pursue a strong prosecution against Rittenhouse. Unfortunately, they never uncovered that smoking gun. And while we can all question why Rittenhouse was allowed to enter a war zone with a gun and the type of parenting failures that had to go into that decision, the jury will not be able to take that into account.

That means that the prosecution is stuck arguing that Rittenhouse did not act in self-defense once he got to Kenosha. Since the one guy was going after his gun and the other guy tried to hit him with a skateboard, the prosecution will likely not overcome their burden of proof.

When you think of gun trafficking charges, you generally think of hit TV shows like The Sons of Anarchy. On the show, the bikers formed an uneasy alliance with the Irish Republican Army who manufactured guns for sale on American streets. The bikers made alliances with the cartel and were generally a mass distributor of weapons to criminal organizations. In other words, they dealt in quantity. While gun trafficking like this does occur, it is much more likely that weapons trafficking charges will take on a more modest form.

In one local case, four men were charged with the illegal sale of weapons on the streets to individual buyers. The guns were purchased at gun shows around the country, distributed to a St. Louis defendant who moved the guns into Chicago, where they were distributed to a street-level dealer who sold the guns on the black market. All of this is outside the regulatory framework of gun sales. That makes it illegal. However, it is much easier to pull off a scheme like this than it is to be responsible for managing international distribution over the ocean. Hence, it is much more common to see weapons trafficking charges take this form rather than criminal organizations acting as logistics to gun manufacturers. 

From the Street Level Up

15 members of the Sin City Deciples and a 16th individual have been charged with federal racketeering and drug conspiracy charges. The Sin City Deciples are a motorcycle gang that hails from Gary, Indiana. They are accused of trafficking stolen property, drugs, violence, extortion, and other crimes related to their outlaw motorcycle club. According to the indictment, the Deciples made money by trafficking in cocaine and heroin while extorting other MCs to pay them dues. Among the allegations are that Deciples showed up armed at a rival MCs club to force the members to wear their Sin City insignia. 

Preparing the Case Against the MC

The indictment has just been handed down, but allegations against the club go back as far as 2009. The club was formed in 1967. The indictment states that the 16 individuals were involved in drug enterprises to distribute cocaine and heroin through networks within Indiana. The prosecution has decades worth of sales to undercover agents and the organization has been infiltrated enough that there is evidence of discussions concerning club business that will be presented by undercover agents. 

A Chicago government official is being charged with having repeated sexual contact with a 16-year-old lifeguard. The administrator is 32 years old. This is the latest in an evolving scandal involving sexual misconduct against Chicago parks lifeguards, including allegations of sexual abuse and sexual assault. The park official will face two felony counts of criminal sexual assault and abuse of a minor victim. The employee quit his job after he was confronted with allegations of misconduct. He is the fourth park employee to resign over allegations of sexual misconduct this year. 

The Bond Hearing

During the defendant’s bond hearing, which was set at $250,000, the attorney moved to reduce the bond amount to a tenth of that number or $25,000. In cases like this, it is typical for the prosecution to move for a very high bond amount. The defense moves to reduce the bond amount to something that is within the defendant’s means. The defense mentions specific aspects of the defendant’s life. This can include the fact that they have no criminal record, are gainfully employed, and have ties to the community. In this case, the prosecution responded to the bond reduction motion by reminding the court that the defendant knew that the victim was underage. Of course, this is simply an element of the crime they have to prove. You must knowingly have sex with someone who is considered a minor. A minor cannot dupe you into having sex by misrepresenting their age. Bond was not, however, reduced in this case. Nonetheless, the judge found that the defendant presented a “clear and present danger” to the community.

A 28-year-old man is facing charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual abuse, and criminal sexual assault after an attack on a spa worker. Police say that the woman was folding towels when the suspect entered the spa and forced her into another room. Video surveillance shows her being grabbed by the hair. A struggle ensued and eventually, the spa worker was able to escape. She called a friend from a nearby alleyway who eventually phoned the police.

Against the advice of his public defender, the suspect admitted to entering the spa but said the worker became upset with him when his credit card was declined after a massage. Video surveillance appears to show a man pulling the victim into a room by the hair. The same video shows the woman leaving the room to phone the police. 

Against the advice of his counsel, the defendant will take the position that he was targeted by the complainant because he could not pay for the massage. 

It is becoming more and more of a newsworthy topic to discuss why specific suspects are not being charged with crimes related to specific incidents. In the most recent example, a man who was stabbed is now demanding answers after the suspect charged with his stabbing was released. 

According to reports, the man was out with his brothers when a group of other men approached him and began beating him. The victim identified one of the men who stabbed him but was later released. Now, he is demanding answers. 

Police were able to confirm that a person of interest was interviewed at the scene, but no one was charged. The Cook County State’s Attorneys released a statement saying that the totality of the evidence was insufficient to pursue charges. They also said that Chicago P.D. agreed with this decision, which may or may not be true. 

Over the last year and a half (during the COVID pandemic) there has been a 30% increase in the use of ankle monitors to keep track of criminal defendants. The issue was related to the COVID pandemic and the ability of the prisons to keep prisoners safe from the infection. Prisons and jails tend to be rife with infections, and keeping infections at bay can be costly and difficult. Meanwhile, counties and prisons are responsible for inmates and can be held liable for failing to ensure their health and safety. 

During the pandemic, Cook County opted to place more individuals on ankle bracelets than keep them in holding centers. Many have been on ankle monitors for over a year while awaiting something to happen. Part of the problem is that those released on ankle monitors have already paid hefty bail prices meaning that they will be taxed doubly for the same crime. It is not surprising that the majority of those facing this problem are Black. However, a growing number of defendants on ankle monitors are also accused of violent crimes, occasionally murder. This ensures that no matter what side of the aisle you fall on, you can recognize the inherent shortcomings in this process.

Ankle Monitors, House Arrest, and County Jails

Necromancy is the act of wielding the dead against the living. Necromancers have the power to manipulate souls or bodies and use them at their will. While necromancy is not real and is more the stuff of fantasy novels, there are some who actually perform necromancy for personal gain. For example, using the social security numbers of dead Americans to file fraudulent tax returns and gain access to stimulus payments that you’re not entitled to is using the dead to for personal gain and profit. 

Now, a 50-year-old Chicago woman is facing 10 counts of wire fraud, six counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of making false statements to the SBA, and one other count of possessing forged documents with the intent to defraud. However, she is facing zero counts of tax necromancy.

Tax Necromancy

Most people have a grave misunderstanding of entrapment and how useless it is as a defense in court. Most folks believe that the cops cannot “generate crime.” They can. In fact, they do it as a part of sting operations all the time.

In one case, a federal agent let it slip that he was sitting on a stash of cocaine bricks valued at about $2 million. He got a few associates to help him with the stash, but they were all arrested for criminal conspiracy and drug trafficking. One of the crew was a recovering heroin addict who could not afford to go into recovery although his health was failing. The addict was charged with two weapons violations, even though he never touched a gun, and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The amount of cocaine was high enough to trigger a mandatory 10-year sentence under federal guidelines.

Now, you may be inclined to think that the story above is entrapment, but it is not. Even though there was no real crime, all the drugs belonged to the ATF, and the men would not have been there but for an ATF agent telling his drinking buddies that he had a goldmine, all the men will be charged with conspiracy to traffic cocaine they did not know existed until the ATF agent told them.

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