Articles Tagged with Chicago criminal defense attorney

jack-young-143113-300x200The adage of “The Chicago Way” has been used to stereotype the city as a hub of crime. Bribery is a part of corruption and mismanagement, but its subtlety means that the crime is hard to prosecute. The fact that it erodes public confidence in the system means that the jail sentences for the crime are increasing. Most of the relevant cases focus on the behavior of politicians and public officials yet bribery can also lead to questions about the conduct of the person that is offering the bribe. In some cases, the bribe is not monetary but rather influences insidious levels of influence peddling, nepotism, and cronyism. The courts will have to untangle the web of deceit that is involved in cases in which a sophisticated criminal deliberately exploits a culture of bribery.

Chicago is unfortunate in having two former governors serving jail time for bribery-related criminality. The worst affected departments include justice, law, and administration because that is where the real power is. Bribery essentially involves asking people to pay you extra for doing your job or not doing your job. In some of the worst cases, bribery leads to other forms of criminality because the public official becomes negligent or corrupt in the execution of his or her duties. The belief that officials are powerful means that the courts are harsh on defendants who commit a breach of trust. The defense attorneys typically attempt to present their clients as low-lying officials who are at worst incompetent or naïve.

The Bribery Law as it Stands Today

Chicago_Stock_Exchange_7405590890-300x193The complexity of the securities and commodities fraud case list means that the legislation must be written in such a way as to encapsulate all the various forms of criminality that are involved. Typically, this means that there are many agencies that support the work of the prosecutor even if they are not directly involved in handling the criminal case (see the Lindstrom case). For example; there is almost always a civil aspect of the case management that focuses on recovering some of the lost funds in order to compensate the victims. For purposes of clarity and consistency, the courts have tended to separate the criminal from the civil aspects of the prosecution.

The other important consideration is the systemic malaise that is associated with securities and commodities fraud. These are some of the most important platforms for handling large scale trade. That means that vast sums of money are exchanged, sometimes relying on individual investors who sink in their life savings. It is therefore abhorrent to the courts that public confidence would be undermined by fraudsters who use the product in order to access their victims. That is why in some cases the punishments for this type of crime have appeared to be harsh. The courts are particularly concerned to ensure that the perpetrators do not get away with large stacks of cash when the victims are left to rely on the small comfort of a successful criminal prosecution.

Investor Agents with No Qualifications and Bad Intentions

les-anderson-207333-300x196The pyramid scheme has become one of the favorite conduits for confidence fraudsters to make illicit money on a grand scale. That is why organizations like the Federal Trade Commission were set up to fight this type of crime. Chicago, like many parts of the USA, is not immune to this scourge. For the defense attorney, pyramid scheme cases in Chicago present unique challenges which, although difficult, are not insurmountable. The fraudsters are always coming up with new ways to mask their true intentions and hoodwink an unsuspecting public. A case in point are the chain letters that ask for group contributions. There will be some people at the top who have the highest culpability as the masterminds of a criminal enterprise. The middlemen and middle women will have a range of roles that may determine their level of culpability once before the court.

The Criminality of Recruiting Unsuspecting Victims

The pyramid scheme may be deemed a form of confidence fraud because it promises that which is impossible to deliver. Like the Ponzi scheme, it is marketed on the basis of profit levels that are just not sustainable. The crime therefore reduces public confidence not only in the judicial system but also in the other structures that are designed for societal functionality, like the economic system. The requirement may not necessarily be monetary. Sometimes it is a call for your time or expertise in a particular field. Therefore, the crime focuses on the implicit deceit rather than merely restricting the jurisdiction to money alone.

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/02/Chicago_Stock_Exchange_Building.tif_-214x300.jpgThe breach of trust in insider trading is not as obvious as other forms of breach of trust. The basic premise of the law is that there is an implicit trust by members of the public that financial institutions will follow the letter of the law. However, there are those whose interest in fast profits far outweigh any moral considerations. They make use of their privileged access to information in order to make decisions that are advantageous to them whilst simultaneously expecting the public to take up the cost of their mistakes. The public is effectively being asked to gamble with all the odds stacked against them. This is the essence of insider trading and it is precisely the behavior that the courts try to punish.

Understanding the Basic Premises and Assumptions that Underpin the Law

The basic premise of a functional market is the freedom to trade and that requires information that is readily available, or at the very least legitimately acquired. The inside traders tend to skip this important step, with devastating impact on their business rivals. A classic case in point is where a trade is able to get a tip off a potential merger, acquisition, or redundancy. He or she then shares this vital information with favored accomplices so that they can make a quick profit or alternatively cut their losses. There have been some defendants who have pleaded innocence, arguing that they did not know what they were committing a SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) violation.

dsehnmrevfa-jeremy-paige-300x200The crime television niche has done much to highlight the intricacies of the solicitation of murder for hire. Like in all legal jurisdictions in the world, this is a serious crime in Chicago. It involves a certain amount of breach of trust by a loved one. For the media, it is a chance to revel in the wickedness of humanity, particularly if the story involves a faithless spouse who decides to put a lifelong companion to sleep. The rudiments of the crime are to be found in the provisions of 720 ILCS 5/8-1.2.

Needless to say, this is a serious crime that leads to the death penalty in some states. It is also an infectious crime in as far as more than one person may face charges. The one that commissioned the crime and the one that executed it are both charged together with any accomplices. That is not even accounting for the ensuing public scandal that is backed by sensational media reporting. For the ambitious defense lawyer, these crimes are a boon in as far as they are a fast track to fame.

The Implications of the Charge and Conviction

Gallaecia_petrea_02-57c-200x300The lack of clarity about the law on obstruction of justice (and the significant leeway that is afforded the law enforcement agencies) make this one of the most controversial areas of legal practice. Those misgivings notwithstanding, a charge of this nature brings serious consequences. Quite often defendants are caught off guard because they imagine that trivial instances of Disorderly Conduct are nothing more than being obnoxious. Later on they discover that they are facing a daunting rap sheet. At other times the obstruction appears to be relatively innocuous. A case in point is the provision of false information either after being prompted or without being prompted following a traffic incident.

The Rationale for the Law and Administrative Provisions

Currently the law is listed under the provisions of legislative instrument number 720 ILCS 5/31-4. This is a felony and that has implications for the charging process. The prosecutor has two choices. The first option is to use information while the second is known as an indictment. The defense attorney must have exceptional skills and knowledge about the law as well as its practice in order to defend any of these routes adopted by the prosecutor.

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/01/U.S._Court_House_Chicago_Ill_72168-300x194.jpgUpon arrest, a defendant is normally taken through a preliminary hearing according to the provisions of statutory instrument number 725 ILCS 5/110-5. This is a critical step for the defense lawyers because that is when a finding of probable cause is considered. It can be undertaken by either a judge in chambers or the grand jury. The litmus test is the preponderance of evidence. This evidence is adduced through testimony and some limited cross examination by the prosecutor. Defending attorneys sometimes complain that this stage of proceedings is so obviously dominated by the prosecutor that they can literally set the agenda from the word go.

The finding of a probable cause then leads to the arraignment and assignment. The rules and practice in Chicago is to take no more than two weeks after the preliminary hearing or grand jury indictment. The presiding judge first assigns the defendant his trial judge. This is the senior judicial officer that will hear the case right through the determination of innocence/guilt, including the consequent punishment phase. The reason for using one judge are rooted in the need to ensure consistency and fairness. In any case, it is expected that the trial judge will have an intimate knowledge of the case which might become critical when handling matters of appeal.

Advice from Seasoned Attorneys

800px-Seized_firearms-300x200One of the most common crimes in Chicago is that of the unlawful discharge of a firearm. This article focuses on some of the aggravating and mitigating features that might influence the sentencing process. It is important for the attorney to note that some of these features are precisely the points of argument that might be used to challenge a finding of guilt or sow seeds of reasonable doubt amongst members of the jury (see the procedures in the Gerardo Hernandez–Rodriguez case). Generally speaking, recklessness without malicious intent is treated more leniently than in situations where the defendant has deliberately gone out of his or her way to use a firearm to commit another crime.

Chicago remains one of the harshest when it comes to gun laws, even though gun crime continues to rise. For the courts all that this trend has achieved is to increase the level of aggression amongst lawyers on both sides of the case. One area of particular interest is the level of injury compared to the original intent of the assailant. Shooting in the air is considerably less serious than shooting at a crowd. Typically, the aggravated form of the crime is automatically upgraded to a felony, which significantly increases the risk of long term custody.

Key Issues in the Pre-Trial Phase

w33-zg-dnl4-rami-al-zayat-300x200The internet has not only opened up new avenues of communication, but has also created an entire category of crimes that require bespoke responses from the legislature. It is from that perspective that Chicago has come up with an internet solicitation legal framework which captures cyber sex crimes (720 ILCS 5/11-6.6 for enticement), among other things. On the other hand, the rules as they exist have left the door open for vigilantes and ingénues to entice otherwise ordinary citizens into compromising situations. The web sting has become an effective tool for police to target suspected pedophiles and other types of online offenders. More recently the phenomenon of revenge porn and unsolicited sexting has plagued legislatures across the globe. For the defense attorney, entrapment might be one of the critical issues that needs to be examined.

How the Law is Designed and Implemented

For a person to fall within the ambit of the law, they must knowingly engage in acts that amount to criminality, but the lines are blurred when undercover agents effectively encourage predisposed people to engage in illegal acts. At other times the law is the only way of being able to capture those sophisticated offenders who have a secretive network of contacts that are able to access some of the most offensive material that is currently available on the internet. Typically the offender is so unsympathetic that the public is unable to pay any attention to the civil liberties issues that may have been raised during his or her arrest, trial, conviction, and sentencing. Ignorance and apathy remain key characteristics of the type of offender that engages with the internet in this way (see 720 ILCS 5/11-6 for indecent solicitation and online sexual solicitation rules). Some may consider it relatively harmless to surf certain pages while others are simply unaware that they are breaking specific laws in Chicago.

800px-Kneaded_eraser-300x199For many offenders, the sentence handed down by the court is only the beginning of their punishment. In some ways a criminal record as mandated by the Criminal Identification Act is a much more difficult condition to deal with because it is permanent and insidious. Most people will make judgements about the capabilities and proclivities of an individual based on their criminal record. The people making these judgements are not party to the original case or any of the mitigating circumstances that could explain the person’s behavior at the time. More importantly, the criminal record leaves no room for real rehabilitation. All it does is to ensure that convicted people are forever consigned to the shadowy world of illicit activities. There have been many critiques of the criminal records system over the years including its role in increasing recidivism. However public opinion at the moment is ambivalent about the possibility of expunging records.

A Redemptive Scheme in Chicago

Chicago is one of the states that is exploring new ways of rehabilitating offenders. This is done through the process of sealing or expunging a criminal record for certain offenses, offenders, and circumstances. It is never a clean break because if the media has reported the case then all that is required is a Google search to get everything back up again. Many employers and potential spouses increasingly do those Google searches so either way the individual is stuck with their record unless they change name by deed poll. It is only the most experienced attorneys that are able to successfully get rid of a criminal record. Unfortunately most defendants are so traumatized by the criminal justice process that they end up giving up on any future hopes of redemption. They simply let the record lie as it is stated and resign themselves to a life on state benefits.