Articles Posted in Criminal defense

Renewed focus on weapons charges is producing interesting, if disappointing, results. While arrests have doubled for possession of weapons charges, shootings remain high and frequently result in no arrest. The problem is that the majority of these arrests are targeting Black men but have not resulted in an overall reduction of violent crime. 

The race to get guns off the street ensures that police officers will use any potential pretext as a reason to search suspects. This can include innocuous traffic stops for tinted windows, the smell of weed, or a bulge in a fanny pack. Police believe that every gun recovered is a potential life saved. But lives are also destroyed in the process. However, the majority of weapons-related charges involve allegations of possession and not use. Violent crimes involving guns remain difficult to solve, and police have overwhelmingly charged Black men with weapons violations. Even as the number of possession-related arrests doubled, the number of violent crimes involving guns escalated over the same period. 

Statistics on Gun Possession Charges

A Chicago man is facing five charges in Racine County after leading police on a high-speed chase. He is charged with reckless endangerment, grand theft of an automobile, unlawful possession of a firearm, and felony counts of attempting to elude police officers. 

According to police, a deputy observed a white Infinity Sedan speeding on the I-94. The deputy began to pursue the vehicle, and road spikes were used to deflate the suspect’s tires. The vehicle began to lose one of its tires as it attempted to exit the highway. The suspect crashed the vehicle outside of a business and then began to flee on foot. The chase lasted for 16.7 miles reaching a top speed of 135 mph. 

Deputies apprehended the suspect and searched the vehicle finding a handgun with an extended magazine on the floor of the passenger side of the vehicle. According to the complaint, there was one bullet in the chamber and another 18 in the magazine. The suspect did not have a valid concealed carry permit. 

Two teenagers are facing charges after a Chicago police officer’s son was shot during a robbery. An 18-year-old and a 17-year-old allegedly held up a 22-year-old man at gunpoint at 1:48 am. The 17-year-old is alleged to have shot the victim, who turned out to be the son of a Chicago police officer. The victim was seriously injured in the attack. He is now listed in fair condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the chest. Both men have since been arrested and charged with two counts of attempted robbery with a firearm, one count of aggravated battery, and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

Robbery With a Firearm

Robbery is a theft crime but also a crime of violence. To prove robbery, the prosecution must establish that the defendant threatened the victim with force or actually used force in an attempt to take the victim’s belongings. In this case, the two used a gun to threaten and then shoot the victim. Robbery is considered a class-2 felony under Illinois and has a typical sentence of three to seven years. 

A Marissa, IL, man is facing federal charges for constructing a destructive device (a pipe bomb). According to police, the man intended to use the pipe bomb to blow up his former wife’s vehicle. He admitted to lighting the device and throwing it at people who confronted him inside his trailer park in April. The device, however, failed to detonate. A second suspicious device was also located inside his trailer. 

Possession of an unregistered destructive device is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison. 

Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device

A Chicago man has been charged with carjacking from an incident that occurred last March, according to a recent press release. The incident occurred in Mount Prospect, and Mount Prospect police initiated the arrest. According to the report, the incident occurred at 11 p.m. on March 19, 2022. A white Hyundai Santa Fe was stolen in the 1800 block of North Burning Bush Lane. The vehicle was recovered in Chicago three days later and was towed to Mount Prospect police headquarters. A stolen license plate was found affixed to the vehicle. The suspect was apprehended after fingerprint analysis on the license plate matched the suspect’s. The suspect’s bail was set at $200,000.

Vehicular Hijacking Charges

With the rise in carjackings all across the nation, authorities have been cracking down and filing charges against suspected carjackers. The State of Illinois takes carjacking very seriously. It is punishable by a sentence of either 4 to 15 years or when conditions can be considered aggravated, a term of 6 to 30 years. In some cases, carjacking charges can have enhancements that include the possibility of life in prison. 

Over the past decade, Chicago has placed restrictions on employers when they consider the criminal history of job applicants. These measures have been called “ban-the-box” ordinances. Chicago’s ordinance mirrored statewide requirements under the Job Opportunities for Qualified Applicants Act (JOQAA). On April 24, 2023, the City of Chicago passed substantial amendments to the ban-the-box ordinance, which is set to take effect immediately.

The purpose of the legislation is to prevent recidivism by giving those with criminal histories a better opportunity to find gainful employment and keep themselves out of trouble. 

Prior Ban-the-Box Restrictions

In an incident that was reminiscent of the murder of George Floyd, a Chicago police sergeant was charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct after pinning a 14-year-old boy to the sidewalk while off duty. During a bench trial, the sergeant was found not guilty of the charges, although he remains on leave after having his police duties stripped. The family says they plan on filing a civil lawsuit in the case.

A viral video of the incident made its way across social media, stoking animosity toward the sergeant and police in general. The sergeant could be seen with his knee on the boy’s back. The boy was face down, lying on the ground. 

According to reports, the officer believed that his son’s stolen bicycle was spotted near a Starbucks. The officer found the bicycle near a group of teens and waited to see if anyone would take it. The 14-year-old touched the bicycle to move it, and that is when the officer confronted him. The officer grabbed the teen, placed him in an arm bar, and pushed him to the ground. Then he placed his knee on the teen’s back. 

Governor Pritzker is considering expanding a program that allows first-time offenders to erase charges related to weapons possession. The law allowed those between the ages of 18 and 20 to participate in a program that, if successfully completed, would erase the charges from their record. The initiative is part of a broader effort to ensure the employability of young men in the Chicago area and across the state. 

The First Time Weapons Offender Program was passed in 2017 by a Democratic-controlled Congress as a five-year experiment. The program was extended again on a one-year basis, and now, it could be extended yet again. The new legislation would remove the age limit, shorten the probationary period, and allow the initiative to continue indefinitely. Thus far, however, the Governor has not signed the bill into law, so, as of now, the old provisions still remain on the books.

Eligibility for the First-Time Weapons Offender Program

Police stop and search vehicles every day in Illinois. If your vehicle is stopped and searched by law enforcement, it may be difficult to determine whether or not your rights were violated. Vehicle stops and searches in Illinois are based on the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, search warrants, and the plain view doctrine. Each stop, search, and encounter with law enforcement is unique and fact specific.

Lawful Vehicle Stops

A police officer may stop a car if they have reasonable articulable suspicion of criminal activity. For example, if an officer observes a driver violating a traffic law, they may lawfully stop the vehicle. Some law enforcement roadblocks, such as DUI checkpoints, may also constitute a lawful stop. If stopped, you are required by law to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance. However, the lawful stopping of a vehicle does not grant the officer an automatic right to search your vehicle. Without probable cause (subject to a few exceptions), the officer will need your express permission to search your car. Your permission must be voluntary, or without any type of coercion.

A Chicago man has been charged with using the popular social media platform Snapchat to solicit sexually explicit videos from minors. This is not a unique case, as those charged with sexual predation often use the internet to find victims. It is, however, illegal to attempt to solicit sexual photos and videos from individuals that the perpetrator knows are underage. The key here, however, is what the perpetrator knew at the time.

For that reason, when law enforcement approaches an individual that they believe is using social media platforms to sexually exploit children and teenagers, they have to tell the suspect what their age is. In these cases, they can establish that the individual was targeting someone they knew was a minor. It is not illegal, only unseemly, to ask women over the age of 18 for sexually explicit content. 

Analyzing Sexual Exploitation Prosecutions

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