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Articles Posted in Kidnapping

A Chicago man was arrested last week after shooting his ex-girlfriend in the thigh; he also shot the girlfriend’s mother, who is a Chicago police officer, numerous times, and kidnapped his son. Charges are pending, but it is likely the man faces at minimum charges of attempted murder, aggravated assault with a weapon and kidnapping. When arrested, the defendant allegedly admitted to the shootings, asking police, “Did I kill her?” and saying, “I didn’t want this to happen, I didn’t want it to go this far.”

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Defense when Defendant Admits to Crime

In all criminal defense cases, the defense attorney’s goal is to get the best possible result for his client. The ultimate goal is an outright acquittal, where the defendant is found not guilty and walks out of the courthouse a free man. Yet in some cases, all the available evidence points to the defendant’s guilt, so an acquittal is not a viable defense strategy. This does not mean, however, that the defendant has no options – and it is these cases where an experienced criminal defense attorney can make all the difference.

We will assume, for this discussion, that the defendant’s statements to the police upon his arrest were in fact made, and that they are a true admission of his guilt. That confession, coupled with both shooting victims likely being able to identify him as the shooter, the defendant and girlfriend’s son being found in his custody, and the gun and spent casings being found in his car – assume again they are a match for the weapon used – all point to his guilt, and would make it difficult to argue a case of mistaken identity, accidental misfiring or self-defense.

The goal of the criminal defense attorney in this case, then, would be to work to get all or some of the charges reduced or dropped. The kidnapping charge has the potential to be reduced to child endangerment or dropped entirely. Technically the defendant’s actions meet the definition of aggravated kidnapping – he transported his son (because he did not have visitation with his son at the time, he is considered to have kidnapped him) while armed with a firearm and while discharging a firearm that caused great bodily harm to another person.

However, a case could be made that at the moment of the kidnapping, the defendant was actually acting in the child’s best interest. The child’s mother and grandmother had just been shot – leaving him alone and frightened in the middle of a crime scene was potentially more dangerous than the defendant removing him from the scene. The fact that the boy was soon found unharmed at the home of another family member adds additional support to reducing or dropping that charge.

The defendant is also allegedly a Gangster Disciple, a notorious Chicago-area gang. The prosecution may be willing to enter into a plea agreement for a reduced sentence in the defendant were willing to testify against any other current gang members. The defendant may also qualify as a participant in Chicago’s Gang Intervention Probation or Gang Violence Reduction Strategy programs.

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A Waukegan woman was sentenced to 24 months of probation and six months intermittent imprisonment, to be served via electronic monitoring and home confinement, for her role in the kidnapping, beating and sexual assault of another woman. The defendant helped her cousin, who was sentenced to 40 years in prison, kidnap his ex-girlfriend, but was not involved in the sexual assault or beating. The defendant was initially charged with aggravated kidnaping, but the charge was reduced to kidnaping due to her testimony against her cousin.

Chicago Plea Agreement

This is a case where the prosecution and judge made the right call, and highlights the importance of having an effective and experienced criminal defense attorney.

The defendant admitted to participating in the kidnapping, although she had no idea when she and her cousin stopped at the victim’s home that the kidnapping would happen. In the case of kidnapping, the fact that she was unaware of her cousin’s intentions is irrelevant. Under Illinois law, a kidnapping occurs when a person “knowingly…carries another from one place to another with intent secretly to confine that other person against his or her will.” Once the victim was placed in the defendant’s car and she drove off, she committed the act of kidnapping, because she knew she was transporting the victim to another location against her will.

The judge in the case admonished the defendant for failing to contact police once she realized what was going on. In this situation, it is probably safe to assume that since the defendant had no idea her cousin intended to kidnap the victim, she was shocked that he was capable of not only kidnapping, but the subsequent beating and repeated sexual assaults. She likely feared for her safety, which caused her to assist in kidnapping the victim and prevented her from reporting the sexual assault to police during the 21 hours the assault occurred.

While that fear was insufficient to get the charges against her completely dropped, it was a sufficient mitigating factor that, when combined with her willingness to cooperate with the prosecution and testify against her cousin, was enough to get the charges against her reduced.

An experienced criminal defense attorney knows that a jury trial is not always the wisest option. Sometimes the circumstances of the case, coupled with the willingness of the prosecution to negotiate, necessitate accepting a plea agreement. Accepting a plea agreement should not be considered defeat. Plea agreements, when properly structured through skillful negotiation by an experienced criminal defense attorney, not only save the defendant the stress and uncertainty of trial, but usually result in minimal prison time.

In this case, the defendant only served five months in prison following her arrest. Although home confinement and electronic monitoring is no fun, it is a better outcome than a conviction for aggravated kidnapping, which can add up to 25 years to the regular 18 – 30 months imprisonment handed down for kidnapping. Continue reading

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