Articles Tagged with Chicago criminal defense attorney

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225Few laws have done as much damage to the US criminal justice system as the “three strikes” rule that operates in places such as Chicago. The basic premise of the law is that if someone is convicted more than three times of the same or similar offenses, the judge can aggravate the crime to one that deserves a life sentence or an inordinately long prison sentence. The laws seemed reasonable at their inception because it was hoped that they would help to curtail recidivists and prolific offenders.

In reality, the three strikes rule has meant that the prison system is overcrowded with nonviolent offenders who are serving shockingly long prison sentences. It is indeed possible to have a longer prison sentence for a third offense of drug possession than a first instance of murder. Some legal experts have critiqued the law as being fundamentally unconstitutional because it touches on the privileges granted by the 8th Amendment to US citizens. Besides, the provisions deny defendants the right to a fair trial even when they have lawyers.

Tying the Judges’ Hands

alex-holyoake-202959-copy-300x200A number of legal issues arise when an employee of a company commits assault on one of its customers. The lines of liability can be blurred, not least because the crime occurs on a business premises. Moreover, the employees are deemed to be working on behalf of their company during office hours. A distinction has to be made between the personal liability of the employee and the corporate liability of the employer. A good lawyer is the key to success in any case.

The first critical consideration is that the employee who has committed the assault is criminally liable for those ctions. When it comes to the civil cases, the employer may be asked to compensate the customer for any demonstrated injuries. Such was a case when a number of ex-bouncers admitted to assaulting customers in a club based within the Chelmsford area of Chicago.

Case Study of Employees Who Commit Assault During Business Hours

esteban-lopez-234052-copy-300x200The Chicago legislature has recently put laws in place that allow farmers to grow industrial hemp. This is a replacement of the old regime under which such actions were barred. A system of permits ensures that issues of public safety and good conduct are taken into consideration. Hemp belongs to the family of the cannabis plant. Although it can be used as a narcotic in sufficiently strong concentrations, it is also used to make textiles as well as paper-based industrial products. Farmers could potentially earn an income from this plant that is also on the banned list of substances. The old law was caught between encouraging genuine commercial activity and preventing the large-scale production of potential narcotics. The initial plan was to allow the cultivation for research purposes and then move on to commercial production for non-narcotic usage.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is intimately involved in all the proceedings so as to ensure appropriate oversight. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) previously classified hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug. That meant that farms could not legally grow it, certainly not on an industrial scale. The classification was based on the findings that the drug had a high potential for abuse. Those who dispute the classification argue that hemp contains only trace elements of the offending substance known as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is indeed the psychoactive chemical that is known to create a high for marijuana users. Over time, a number of states (now numbering 16) have gradually legalized the production of hemp for commercial purposes. By 2014, Illinois had put legislation in place to allow for the growing of hemp by State Universities and the Department of Agriculture.

The Narcotic with Huge Potential

raban-haaijk-118657-copy-225x300The civil asset forfeiture procedure has been significantly changed over the past few years in Chicago. The most common tool used is that of confiscation orders in cases where a court process has started or is contemplated. One of the reasons for these changes is the increase in the sophistication and breadth of financial crimes. It was felt that the people that committed these crimes got to retain a large proportion of their criminally-acquired assets, hence making a mockery of justice. The end result was the overturning of the “crime doesn’t pay” mantra. Therefore, these procedures were tightened up in order to allow the victims and the prosecution authorities to target those illegally acquired assets.

The standard procedure is to dispose of or auction off the ill-gotten gains from criminality. The resultant funds are returned to the treasury but the judge may order that the victims be compensated. In addition, there is always the option for victims to sue the perpetrator for damages. One of the most controversial uses of this procedure has been to seize what is considered to be drug-related paraphernalia. The intentions behind the operation are to root out criminality from its source and main motivation. However, the end result is that poorer people are targeted and they end up losing everything on the basis of a suspicion. The forensic teams may find it difficult to distinguish legitimate from tainted assets.

The Rationale Behind the Confiscations and Seizures

jack-young-143113-300x200Even when a crime has been committed and a person has been convicted, there are opportunities for that person to get a discharge or reprieve depending on the circumstances. There are cases in which there is a public interest in overturning the verdict, conviction, and sentence as if they never happened at all. This is a separate procedure from a reprieve. It means that the criminal record is essentially expunged and the person continues on as if he or she never committed the crime or went through the court process. This person may even be entitled to compensation for wrongful convictions.

The process we are talking about is when a crime has been proven and the defendant has been sentenced, but he or she then gets a reprieve. This can be at the discretion of the governor of Chicago or even the President of the United States. A board may be convened to consider the institution of pardons and reprieves. A case in point is when President Obama authorized reprieves for a number of convicts who had been given long sentences for relatively minor drug-related offenses on the basis of the three strikes rule.

Implications of the Reprieve of Discharge

zjrupeakpzi-aidan-meyer-300x200Some defendants who are deemed to be indigent might be debating whether it is worth their while to get an attorney to represent them in a criminal case. They might rationalize their decision on the basis that there is a good alternative for making use of the public defender or any other court-appointed attorney for legal advice. That is not something that we would advise. You should have legal representation of some sort in any case . If you can, make sure that you hire one because someone whom you have paid is within your control. You can motivate or demotivate them using the payments that are advanced. The public defenders are only there due to a service calling and their obligations as professionals. That means that their work is mainly guided by the strictures of the institutions within which they operate.

Those strictures may not necessarily be in the best interest of the defendant. For example, following an outcry about authorities that are lenient on criminals, there have been significant budget cuts that tend to target the public defense fund. The problem with such an arrangement is that it leads to reduced services and even impaired quality in terms of delivering a standard of defense that is in the interests of justice. There are many people who are convicted and sentenced for no other reason than the fact that they have committed the cardinal sin of not having sufficient money to pay for a good lawyer. This is a situation that defendants should avoid because a conviction can have significant and unintended consequences.

Making the Best Use of the Legal Resources Available

mingyue-sun-153025-300x169The crime that is antisocial behavior is not marked by some grand event or big scandal that can be curtailed through legal controls. Rather, it is a series of events and misdemeanors that eventually add up to a toxic atmosphere of disorder in the streets of Chicago. Indeed, this is the type of crime that is most likely to be closer to the citizenry because it happens to them on a daily basis. The fact that the crimes, when looked at as individual incidents rather than as a whole, do not meet the gravity and sensationalism that is required to capture the attention of our contemporary 24-hour media cycle means that victims often suffer in silence. They protest, but when they realize that nothing is going to be done about it, they accept antisocial behavior as part of the cost of living in some parts of Chicago.

From a legal point of view, this is a situation that is no longer sustainable. There is an expectation that the residents of Chicago will be able to enjoy their neighborhoods in peace without being disturbed by criminals. At the same time, the legislation must be written in such a way as not to go overboard. The fight against crime and its causes can seep into hyperbole and grand political gestures that do not deal with the underlying problems. For example, legislating against drunken behavior is not enough when youth are idle due to unemployment. The authorities must take a systemic and holistic approach to resolving these entrenched problems.

Setting up a Reasonable and Workable Regime

wil-stewart-24563-copy-300x200The prosecutor or defending attorney who deals with underage drinking in Chicago is probably one of the busiest in the business. This is a law that catches the people who are most vulnerable to breaking it. At the moment, the minimum drinking age is 21 years, but some consider it too high with the suggestion for a reduction to as low as 16 years of age. It is important to note that this is a law that not only captures those who infringe on it directly but also parents who host the offenders. That means that legal ramifications of underage drinking can go beyond merely arresting and releasing an impulsive teenager.

There are certain unique parts of the law that are designed to capture the realities of life in Chicago. For example, recognition is given to the fact that some parents legitimately allow their children to drink alcohol as part of religious ceremonies. The provision comes with a supervisory requirement, which otherwise makes it a crime. Therefore, the parent must be supervising the child when he or she is consuming alcohol for religious purposes. Moreover, such activity must only take place within the confines of the family home and nowhere else. Otherwise, it is still a crime.

Responsibilities and Terms

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Any death in custody is a tragedy on a personal level, but it also raises civil rights issues that cannot be ignored. For example, race and class are important predictors of vulnerability of incarcerated individuals. Many of the people that die in custody are poor and ethnic minorities. Whether the police admit it or not, the public perceives systemic abuses that culminate in the violation of people’s basic and fundamental rights. The case of Laquan McDonald is no longer that unique. The typical narrative seems to be that of a white officer shooting an unarmed young black man. Although the law enforcement agencies try to argue that this a reflection of criminal proclivities, the reality is that the disproportion is so great as to cause public disquiet.

In the courts, the judges are primed to believe the law enforcement agencies until and unless there is irrefutable evidence against them. The introduction of the video camera and smart phone has meant that local vigilantes can poke holes into the official story that is provided by the police. Whether this is a positive development is open to debate. The mantra of institutional racism has become a catchall phrase for all the ills and mismanagement that are associated with law enforcement agencies across the board, and not just within the precincts of Chicago.

When the Duty of Care is Not Met

spenser-h-194645-copy-300x195Chicago is a city that has long been criticized for failing on transparency, accountability, and justice issues. Some of these criticisms are not based on fact but are rather like urban myths. They grow and have lives of their own, the facts of the matter being largely inconsequential. The city has adopted a unique approach that takes into consideration the views and perspectives of those who work within the criminal justice system. Hence, there are proposals for a sitting or retired judge to oversee the entire process. This inclusive approach brings the police into the fold rather than treating them as sworn enemies of civil liberties.

Other cities have a somewhat different approach to reform. They consider their own law enforcement agencies to be fundamentally anti-people. Therefore, the reform process is necessarily imposed on them rather than being a natural progression towards organizational development. In this case, the format is that of a public inquiry with all the requisite appearance of interrogations and investigations.

Not surprisingly, some members of the Chicago police forces are not entirely pleased with the latter approach. They believe that they too are part of the reform agenda and desire to provide high-quality services to the citizenry. Even when mistakes are made, they are nothing more than that. It is not a case of corrupt agencies taking away the rights of the people.