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tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224The trial of Brendt Christiansen, the man accused of murdering Chinese exchange student Yingying Zhang, has begun. Amid claims that there is surveillance evidence showing Christiansen admitting Zhang into his car the night she was murdered, the prosecution will introduce evidence gathered by his longtime girlfriend, who wore a wire for federal investigators, against Christiansen at trial. She will claim that Christiansen repeatedly indicated to her that he wanted to be a serial killer and made other inflammatory proclamations.

Defense attorneys, however, are questioning her sanity and her competency to bear witness against her former boyfriend. They are attempting to subpoena psychiatric evaluations of the former girlfriend citing that it is relevant to the quality of her testimony. Additionally, the witness, referred to only as T.B., will provide evidence that she introduced him to the “BDSM lifestyle” which vaguely translates into fetishists who enjoy bondage and domination. 

“Damaged and Unstable”

dmitry-bayer-1376680-unsplash-copy-300x200For the first time, executives whose companies peddled billions of dollars worth of opioids and created millions of addicts are having criminal charges thrown at them. This represents a marked departure from civil lawsuits filed by individual states that sought to recover medical costs related to the opioid epidemic.

The prisons are filled with street-level dealers and major players who trafficked in drugs like heroin and fentanyl. However, those who did so above the law have been, more or less, untouchable until now.

Federal authorities are now targeting major executives of opioid medication companies with similar charges related to drug trafficking. With so much nationwide sympathy for the lives that these companies have destroyed, it is quite possible that these criminal charges will be successful.

elti-meshau-208526-unsplash-copy-300x199A former Elgin resident has pled guilty to attempted murder and aggravated arson charges stemming from a 2017 incident. She was accused of entering her ex-boyfriend’s house in Roselle and then stabbing and attempting to suffocate a woman she found there. She then attempted to set the townhouse on fire. The woman she attacked and another man in the home were injured when they jumped out of a second floor window to avoid the fire that had been set. She then was accused of stealing a car to flee the scene. She has been held on $2 million bail since her arrest in July of 2017. She entered her plea in DuPage County court with the knowledge that she would be sentenced to 28 years in prison, according to The Daily Herald. At the time of her arrest, she was also facing additional charges of home invasion and possession of a stolen vehicle.

Attempted Murder in Illinois

Attempted murder in Illinois is a very serious charge. It is considered a Class X felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

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.