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zjrupeakpzi-aidan-meyer-300x200Chicago is one of those cities that is conscious about the impact of human economic activity on the environment. You need a competent and qualified lawyer to ascertain your rights, privileges, duties, and responsibilities under the current regime. The state has put in place a number of interrelated regulations that are meant to ensure that there are some limits to human behavior in this respect. There is an implicit agreement with the local community that they will submit to the state for the greater public good. The issues of environmental protection are contentious. It is therefore not surprising that some people believe the state should adopt a hands-off approach in this respect. Nevertheless, there are certain minimum standards that are enforced in Chicago.

The environment is defined way beyond the ecological conceptualizations that many people associate with this section of the law. The environment can include land, air, water, and even space. The idea is that the public should be able to enjoy these amenities and facilities in a responsible way so as not to deplete or damage them. Some of the benefits of environmental protection are not restricted to the current generation but are more to do with the future generations. This is what is known as inter-generational solidarity, in which one generation is able to see beyond its immediate interests in order to protect natural resources for those that come after it.

Penalties for Unacceptable Behavior

andreas-weiland-252613-copy-1-300x200It is not only Chicago that is grappling with the issue of self-defense in the law. The public interpretations of the law vary considerably, and some of them are not strictly accurate. This is one of those issues that has the power to raise other polarizing matters such as racial disparities when encountering the criminal justice system. On the other hand, there is a legitimate interest in ensuring that criminals cannot terrorize the wider population on account of the fact that they are the ones with the guns. If they are genuinely frightened for their lives, most reasonable people would agree that property owners have a right to defend themselves. This self-defense argument can go right up to the case of justified killings.

Of course, we cannot always predict what is in someone’s mind. For example, a racist person may shoot any black person they see on their doorstep without any genuine fear. That is when the courts are left in a dilemma. The person may say that they were frightened, but that may mask their true intention. It also does not help that the moment such cases come to the media attention, America is once again divided along class and racial lines. All of a sudden, you have very successful Go-Fund-Me campaigns for the suspect, which makes a mockery of the system and gives the impression that America is an incurably racist society.

Private Property and Private Rights

taduuda-76960-copy-300x200The pension system has been under a lot of scrutiny following a supreme court hearing on the 8th of May, 2015 which came to the conclusion that some of the provisions of the existing law touching on pensioner rights were unconstitutional. Pensions are some of the biggest expenditures for any corporation, especially the government of Chicago.

The legislature had proposed certain austerity measures that were meant to deal with the growing deficit within the pension fund. However, consumers felt that they were getting a raw deal in an arrangement that would mean that they had even less to retire on than before. Public sector workers that already have the golden standard for excellent pensions were some of the most vocal opponents of the new provisions.

The growing crisis of pensions has tasked everyone from trade unions to members of the legislature. At the last time of asking, the pension deficit was in the region of over $100 billion. This is considered to be unsustainable since taxpayers are no longer willing to be liable for a pension system that often exceeds their own private arrangements in terms of costs and even benefits.

3scbuulajgg-matthew-hamilton-300x200If you were to ask any experienced defendant whether he or she would want to be represented by a public defender, the results might indicate a high level of unwillingness. This reluctance to place trust in a public defender is a consequence of years a negative reputation, which has been reinforced by a system that employs many people who have no business working in criminal justice, let alone any other helping profession. At the same time, we know that many of the people who are charged with a criminal offense do not have the funds to hire an expert attorney to represent them. The national statistics indicate an indigence level of about 80% amongst all arrestees.

Since poor people make up a disproportionately large segment of those who are arrested for felonies, the services of the public defender become an important cornerstone of the criminal justice system. Negligent and incompetent public defenders not only let down their immediate clients but also reduce public confidence in the system. This might mean that innocent people decide to abscond rather than take their chances with a system that has been shown to be unfair and unpredictable.

It is all too easy to write off the public defender as a practically failed attorney who cannot make it in the commercial world. We also question whether these defenders provide value for money. At the same time, we know that some public defenders are among the most committed and hardworking members of the legal community. What, then, is the problem that makes them yield such poor results?

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/03/197px-Copyright.svg_.pngThis aspect of Chicago law belies the widely held misconception that theft is associated with only tangible things. Copyright theft or intellectual property infringements have attracted the attention of the Chicago legislature because they are a key component of the trade relations with major partners such as China. The economic impacts can be quite significant. The current law protects a range of potentially valuable items such as:

  • Mathematical Formulas
  • Practice Notes

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/01/550px-Censored_rubber_stamp.svg_-300x261.pngThe law of public indecency in Chicago is complex precisely because it touches on the interaction between personal freedom and societal norms. What some consider to be harmless exhibitionism may meet the statutory minimum for the crime of public indecency (see People v Reed). Generally speaking, society has condemned indecent exposure in public as an unacceptable occurrence that must be punished. Sometimes, however, people who are engaged in perfectly harmless activities are suddenly subjected to a complex criminal investigation under these laws. However, it must be noted that the law enforcement agencies in Chicago have used an even-handed approach in these cases.

Understanding How the Crime is Committed

The intent is important in determining whether the offense is a mere misdemeanor or whether it meets the criteria for a felony. It is not the case that indecent exposure is an infraction, although this is a widely held misconception of the law. You should not expect that you can get away with merely paying a small fine. In the worst case scenarios, you can get a substantial term of custody as well as compulsory registration on the sex offenders list. The provisions of 720 ILCS 5/11-30 set out the legal premise for the law as follows:

DSC_0289-300x201The criminal justice system has always been stacked unfavorably against the poor, not just in Chicago but across the globe. There is no better place to test this hypothesis than to consider the procedures and law relating to the source of bail hearing (see 725 ILCS 5). Defendants who are charged with drug-related offenses in Chicago will immediately be subjected to a bond hearing. This is designed to assess the money that is required to be posted in order to allow for release from custody pending the case conclusion. The District Attorneys (such as the one in Cook County) have developed a practice model in which the prosecutor requests the judge to hold a hearing about the source of bail funds prior to the bail being posted. Clearly, this is an attempt to ensure that tainted money is not channeled back through the court system. The source of finding may also provide the prosecutor with further evidence of the defendant’s criminality.

Tying the Defendant in Knots

Although the law was designed to capture hardened criminals with extensive networks of resources, the reality is that it merely makes life tough for the small time dealer who has to rely on terrified friends and family to post bail to a court that is potentially going to imprison them all. That is why an experienced defense attorney is important – to ensure that the procedures are applied correctly, consistently, and fairly. The starting point is understanding the fact that not all drug charges warrant a source of bail hearing. The entry point is that of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver or alternatively the manufacture of such a substance. Typically it is only the large quantity cases that will warrant the punitive aspects of the hearing.

800px-WashingtonWells_CTA_071230Even as the USA becomes more and more liberal when it comes to human sexuality, there are certain boundaries that are not to be crossed, such as outraging public decency as defined in the Chicago law. Indecent exposure is the nightmare waiting to happen for many commuters and park patrons. Although members of the public are generally aware that indecent exposure is socially unacceptable, they rarely comprehend the seriousness of the crime until they are experiencing it firsthand. In certain situations, this crime can become a felony with all the attendant consequences. There may be a few rare cases in which the police allow the offender to get away with a slap on the wrist, but those are not the norm. Not only do the sentencing guidelines include fines, they also make reference to long jail time.

Understanding Public Indecency Charges

The basic rules for public indecency charges are set out in 720 ILCS 5/11-30. There are a few things to note from the perspective of the defending attorney. First of all, the minimum age for criminal culpability in this context is 17 years, so age verification will be a key aspect of the defense strategy when appropriate. The conduct that falls under this law is varied, but there are a few important qualifiers and indicators of what is generally considered to be indecent exposure or public indecency in a prosecutorial context:

Marijuana_jointThe possession of marijuana in Chicago straddles the thin and ambiguous line between criminality and socially risky behavior (see The Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) 7-24-099). Some have reached the conclusion that the continued criminalization of marijuana in Chicago is against the public interest and represents a waste of precious police resources. For example the state attorney’s office in Cook County has already indicated that it will dismiss minor pot cases as part of their overhaul of the criminal justice system.

Others may wonder whether it is appropriate for a DA to have such wide discretion to the extent that they can effectively decriminalize activity that is criminalized under statute. In some ways the debate boils down to practicality and commonsense. If every single low level offense was prosecuted, the DA would never have the time to go after the big drug overloads. Moreover there is general public acceptance that there are people who use marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes without intending to or actually causing any harm to members of the public.

A Law in Suspense

AMBER_Alert_(17727122854)Kidnapping has often been one of those crimes that captures media headlines and the national imagination. The endless post-court investigations are a cottage industry in themselves. Illinois is not much different from other parts of the US in considering kidnapping to be a serious felony that attracts significant periods of custody as punishment. However, there are situations that are not as clear-cut as the law would have it. For example, in some cases the so-called kidnapper is a parent or guardian to the victim and the report is merely part of an ongoing custody dispute. It is generally accepted that this is one area of the law in which expert advice is of the essence. Most courts would not countenance a defendant representing him or herself in a case such as this in which the potential penalties can be stiff.

Parents and the Dirty Deeds of Divorce

It is not uncommon for warring parents to devise clever means of escaping unfavorable jurisdictions. A classic case in point is taking the disputed child out of the state so as to avoid being subjected to family court rules that are favorable to the other party. In effect it is a despicable abuse of the court process as well as the children involved. However, others might argue that it may be the only way for the aggrieved parent to maintain contact with his or her children. The courts have traditionally taken a strict view of parental kidnapping given the possibility that the victim may end up suffering serious consequences including death.