Articles Tagged with Chicago criminal defense attorney

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.

dmitry-ratushny-64773-copy-300x199Unfortunately, Chicago has acquired a reputation for child trafficking and is one of the crisis points recognized in the national strategy. Some of the people involved are supposed to be intimate partners who end up turning on the victims and forcing them to engage in indecent employment for little or no compensation. The practice is sometimes fueled by an illicit drug and sex work industry. Grooming is a very important step in getting someone to give up his or her rights, and that is where children are particularly vulnerable. They lack a sense of judgement and the perpetrators tend to look for those who are on the margins of society. Runaway kids are especially susceptible to this type of crime and the social service agencies in Chicago have attempted to do some preventative work.

In previous times, the law was insensitive to the fact that the victims may be engaging in illegal activity through no fault or volition of their own. That is why it was important to focus instead on the pimps who stand on the wayside in order to capture the illegally-acquired largesse from the trade. There are instances in which the victim is offered support whilst the perpetrator faces the full weight of a criminal prosecution. The reality is that many victims are so traumatized and frightened that they end up not raising a complaint in situations in which their cooperation is of the utmost importance.

A Comprehensive Strategy

3scbuulajgg-matthew-hamilton-300x200Knowledge of sentencing guidelines is not only important for those defendants who have been found guilty of a crime in Chicago, but it is also important for those who intend to enter a guilty plea or have a reasonable expectation of being found guilty. The guidelines act like a framework within which the court is expected to operate. They offer guidance to the judge as to the minimum and maximum sentences anticipated depending on the facts of the case. The range can be quite significant, and many offenses lie in the middle. It is for this reason that a sliding scale of punishment has been adopted.

Understanding the Difference Between Potential and Actual Punishments

Unlike some jurisdictions where sentencing is a technical and artificial exercise of matching index points to a punishment scale, Chicago, like the rest of the USA, demands a much more sophisticated approach. This includes weighing up the relative aspects of the aggravating and mitigating features. Two people who have been involved in an identical crime might get significantly different sentences under the guidelines. The public may perceive this to be unfair, but in reality, it is a reflection of the true nature of crime in which the differences are often more important than the similarities.

wil-stewart-24563-copy-300x200Public consumption is a controlled activity. The laws relating to public intoxication in Chicago are designed for the express purpose of protecting the public from the effects of alcohol and other drugs. In any case, anyone that is caught with a DUI and a blood alcohol level that exceeds 0.08 is immediately liable for prosecution. The open container laws mean that you can be charged even if you did not consume the product. The implicit assumption is that there is no other legitimate reason for opening a container of alcohol unless you intend to consume it. Clever defending attorneys may try to play about with the syntax of the statute but the spirit of the law is clear.

The statute states that it is illegal to transport, carry or possess any container with alcohol when they are within a passenger area of a car whilst on a highway. Those who are still opening cans of beer and placing them in the cup holder as they drive are actually committing an offense, even if they can prove to the court that they never actually drank the alcohol. Even more heinous is the idea of holding the can in one hand whilst driving. Not only does that break the rules on public consumption of alcohol, but it is also potentially dangerous driving, which is taken seriously by the courts.

A Complex Law that Captures Both Drivers and Passengers

patrick-schopflin-38860-copy-300x200Chicago has instituted a number of stringent requirements for children or minors being in possession of alcohol. The Minor in Possession (MIP) laws are unique in they focus on the one with parental or supervisory responsibility as being an exception clause. For teenagers, the MIP laws tend to capture those who are drinking and driving whilst under age. The penalties will typically also include the suspension of the driver’s license in order to reflect the specific circumstances in which this crime is committed. The law is written in such a way that you can be charged with Minor in Possession infringements even if you were not drinking at the time. The key constituent elements of the crime are all about carrying alcohol rather than just consuming it.

There has been some discussion as to whether the law has a built-in privacy provision that would protect dwelling places from prosecution. This is in addition to the usual political process of legislating. In reality, most of the enforcement takes place on the road or in bars/public drinking places. Unless the information about the crime was discovered during an alternative investigation, it is not a given that the law enforcement agencies will invade the privacy of your home in order to assess whether you are in contravention of the Minor in Possession laws. The specific wording of the law says that the law is intended to capture those who have alcohol on them in a public place or a place that is open to the public when they are not 21 years of age.

Possible Penalties and Sanctions