Articles Tagged with Chicago criminal attorney

The SAFE-T Act was set to go into effect on January 1st of the new year. However, the no-cash bail provision of the bill was deemed unconstitutional by an Illinois judge. The Illinois Supreme Court put a halt on the legislation, which will likely force legislators to revisit some of the provisions of the bill.

While those on the right have derided the legislation as being soft on crime and making the streets less safe, the left believes that the criminal justice system unfairly favors those with money. Ending cash bail is one way to make the system fairer. However, it is not clear that either side is correct, and in all of the confusion, necessary reforms are falling by the wayside. 

Had the Supreme Court not stepped in to block the legislation, cash bail would have survived in the counties that sued to block the measure. With some counties participating and others not, the court blocked the legislation until it could review it more carefully and determine if any of the provisions of the law violated the state constitution.

A recent television series documented a case in the United States revolving around a man accused of murdering his wife. In the criminal case, the prosecution used testimony from an expert witness to claim that the man staged the 911 call and was actually himself the murderer. He was convicted based on the testimony of a sergeant who interpreted the 911 call as being staged. A jury convicted the man on that basis.

The basis for the witness’s testimony is a little-known method of lie detection promulgated by police departments and the FBI. According to these departments, you can tell if a person is lying by interpreting linguistic cues and stress in their voice. Of course, there is little scientific basis for this, and there has been no testing to determine the veracity of these claims. That’s not the problem, however.

In most cases, we would laud anyone who wanted to endeavor to determine if there was any method to determine if someone was lying by studying their vocal cues. That’s not what’s happening here, however. Instead, the police departments are assuming that they can do this without subjecting their procedures to peer review. Even those most familiar with the theory have publicly stated it should not be used to convict individuals. Nonetheless, there have been 100 cases (at least) throughout the U.S. in which 911 call analysis or vocal stress interpretation.

A Chicago man is facing criminal charges for his role in the January 6th protest-turned-riot on Capitol Hill. He is facing federal charges, including assaulting a federal law enforcement officer, destruction of government property, and civil disorder.

Thus far, over 950 have faced charges related to January 6th. Arrestees hail from all 50 states. This individual earned the online handle “RailMixer” after he used a broken piece of metal railing to ram the doors of the Capitol. 

The defendant can be seen on video swinging a metal railing or bicycle rack to bring down the doors of the Capitol. He is also seen swinging his arms at police officers. The man won some acclaim from the internet for his conduct that day, and his image was circulated along with the tag “railmixer.” Eventually, these images made their way to the FBI website, where they were requesting information on the January 6th rioters. The FBI began interviewing associates of the eventual defendant, and through an attorney, the defendant reached out to the FBI.

While the media may have you believing that ending cash bail means allowing anyone charged with a crime to go free, the matter is not so simple or so haphazardly employed.

Imagine if you are charged with a crime you did not commit based on a witness misidentifying you. You don’t think it can happen to you? Well, it can. Now, if you have money, you just pay your way out of jail and wait for the charges to be dropped because the case is not strong enough. But what if you do not have the money to pay for the bail? You then have a choice. You can either plead guilty to the crime to get the matter settled and be on about your life, or you can fight the charges, stay in jail, and hope the system works the way it is supposed to. Since you have little faith in that happening for you, you end up taking a plea deal to get out of jail. In other words, the poor can be leveraged into plea deals simply to avoid being stuck in jail. 

Is that fair? Of course, not. While some folks want to make the rules fairer, others are convinced that society would fall apart if we did not leverage the poor into false confessions based on the deprivation of their freedom. 

Billionaires and Republican donors are out in full force raising the ire of their constituencies against San Francisco’s elected District Attorney. San Francisco is miles away from Chicago in terms of gun violence, population size, and murders per year, but voters are ready to pull the plug on their District Attorney. Why are progressive prosecutors having such a difficult time even in liberal cities like San Francisco?

For decades, the Americans have been treated to only one position on crime: You are either “tough on crime” or you are not. If you are “tough on crime” then you are one of the good guys. If you are not, then you are aiding and abetting criminals. It is all very simple and appeals to the sort of black and white thinking that people employ when they are fed up with a situation. Do San Francisco residents have due cause to be fed up with their elected prosecutor?

Black and White

The police have begun to move on a murder that occurred in 1998 after DNA evidence linked two men to the crime scene. The one man agreed to testify against the other and now, the defense team representing the other man has moved to gain access to the witness and co-conspirator’s medical history. The idea is to suggest that the defendant lacked the ability to remember that he committed a murder in 1998 or any of the details concerning that murder. In other words, they want to suggest that the individual is so unreliable, their testimony should not be admissible in court.

The court has agreed to give the defense access to the witness’s medical records. From this, they will be able to build a defense that the witness is either simply saying what the police want to hear in exchange for testimony against the other defendant and his ability to recall details from such a long time ago is compromised by psychiatric illness and intervention.

Is This Tactic Likely to be Successful?

Larry Ray is going to prison, perhaps for life, after a New York jury convicted him on 15 counts all related to the exploitation and extortion of his daughter’s friends. Ray managed to convince his daughter to allow him to move into the dorms shortly after he was released from prison on a securities fraud conviction. 

Ray managed to convince one victim that she had poisoned him and owed him reparations. The woman paid between $10,000 and $50,000 per week to make amends, at one point even performing sex work to make payments. Another woman revealed that her life was turned upside down when she met Ray. She was on track to become a medical doctor when she became romantically involved with him. He would often ask her to have sex with other men while he videotaped it. 

The entire scheme appears to have hinged on Ray using a Svengali-like ability to manipulate those around him. Ray was able to convince several students that they had poisoned him after he agreed to let them stay at his apartment. To make amends, they did as Ray asked, including giving him a lot of money, performing yard work, and more.

A Chicago area man is facing multiple felonies in Michigan after he showed up at a rural parochial school for unknown reasons. Police were called to the school, but the man had already left. He was found later at a local McDonald’s. Police confronted the man and asked for identification. The man said his ID was in his vehicle, but when he got back inside, he drove his car directly into the police SUV and drove off. Eventually, the vehicle skidded off the road and the driver abandoned it. The suspect took off on foot where he was eventually apprehended. He is now facing multiple felonies related to assault with a vehicle on an officer. He is facing a separate charge of driving with an altered or forged driver’s license.

No one, however, knows why the man was in rural Michigan at the time. The man has no ties to the local community and appears to be entirely out of sorts with his environment. Nonetheless, he did use a motor vehicle to strike a police vehicle with a police officer inside it. So, despite the fact that he may be fighting off an undiagnosed mental illness, he will face consequences for those actions.

What are his chances of pursuing an insanity defense?

Kyle Rittenhouse has been eating up the headlines, but a recent verdict in favor of the prosecution may salve any lingering misgivings about his acquittal. Three men have been charged with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. The men approached Arbery on the street believing that he was loitering around a home that was under construction so that he could find something to steal. The men detained Arbery under a centuries-old citizen’s arrest law that has since been repealed after furor over the Arbery case.

Travis McMichael was convicted of malice murder, which is similar to first-degree murder in Illinois. It was the strongest conviction the prosecution was able to attain. McMichael’s son was charged with felony murder as was a third man who broke the case wide open by publishing a video of the murder.

But the case almost did not make it to trial. Now, the first prosecutor who was presented with the case is facing charges of prosecutorial misconduct for her role in preventing the case from going to trial. The state’s attorney general has charged the prosecutor with prosecutorial misconduct and corruption. She recused herself from the case when it became known that she and the McMichaels knew one another. She is accused of attempting to influence the prosecution of the case in favor of the defendants.

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?

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