Articles Tagged with Chicago criminal defense lawyer

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240Police reform in Chicago is not only a matter of public importance for the city’s residents; it also has an impact on other cities and states. If Chicago gets it right, this might turn out to be the blueprint for reform in other places. If it goes wrong, then other states and cities may be reluctant to implement their own police reform initiatives.

At the moment, there is a difference of opinion between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Hall. There are many interested parties, including members of the public, the law enforcement agencies, the courts, and even the politicians. The mayor had originally picked a watchdog group to oversee the process, but others think there should be more involvement from various community organizations. A federal judge has been called in to oversee the process. Some see this as a way to avoid working with the Trump Administration and the US Justice Department.

New Convictions and Cases

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200The 7th circuit appeal court has just considered the case of Joseph Doornbos. This case highlights some of the important things for residents of Chicago to consider when they are stopped and searched. It specifically looks at pat-downs and whether the police have to have reasonable grounds for suspicion before they act.

In this case, the search was done by law enforcement agents that were not in uniform (plain clothes agents). They confronted the suspect and tackled him to the ground as he was leaving a train station. Later on, they charged him with resisting an arrest, but he was acquitted on that charge.

The Issues of the Case

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200Although the clemency law is meant to give a second chance to those who have been incarcerated, it can also be used to correct an injustice that has been committed as a consequence of faulty legislation. A case in point are the controversial laws that charge people with murder even if the person who actually did the killing is someone else. The felony murder rule is considered to be unfair, but politicians are unwilling to tackle it because of the fear of backlash from the public.

The basic premise of the law is that it is possible to charge someone for murder if someone dies during the commission of a list of felonies. This may not be so controversial if the dead person is the victim of the felony or an innocent bystander. However, it is an altogether different scenario if the dead person is an accomplice who was killed by the police or some other agency during an attempted apprehension.

The Case of Teenage Burglars

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Access to bond and bail is meant to be a constitutional right, but there are certain requirements that might prove to be impediments to some people when they attempt to assert this right. Illinois requires that a person who is granted bail sets aside some money as surety of his or her appearance at the court. According to the provisions of 725 ILCS 5/102-6, the amount that is set is meant to be sufficient to deter the person from absconding. Of course, once the person absconds, the money is forfeited. Bail is meant to ensure that people who are not yet found guilty of a crime are not incarcerated for long periods of time under remand provisions.

There are times when the court sets out a cash bail to ensure that there are funds available to the court before the person is released. The courts will accept travelers’ checks, USD, and money orders. The violation of the bond terms can have serious consequences for both the surety and the suspect. As a starting point, an arrest warrant will be issued, and once the person is captured, he or she will find it difficult to secure bail in the future. In some extreme cases, the surety may be incarcerated if it is proved that he or she was acting under false pretenses in order to allow the suspect to escape from justice.

Implications for the Indigent Defendants

800px-One_US_dollar_note_0127_22-300x133The bedrock of the consumer protection laws in Chicago is the need to protect members of the public from unscrupulous business practices. Specifically, the law was written in response to consumer complaints that largely went unaddressed. It was noted that in some cases, the bureaucratic minefield of forms and procedures meant that consumers were unable to get to the decision-makers who might have made a difference. The laws were carefully designed in such a way as not to hurt the business community, a community that has contributed much to the prosperity of the state and its cities.

Putting the Consumer First

It is important to understand the fact that the law perceives the consumer to be a vulnerable entity that needs to be protected from powerful business interests. The “customer is right” ethos sometimes masks the manipulation of consumers in order to get them to spend more money on things that are most profitable to a given business. False advertising and even price mislabeling are common tactics. The consumers find themselves in a situation where they are effectively backed into unfair contracts. These arrangements are hard to exit without significant consequences for the consumer.

benjamin-voros-160962-300x200One of the current and most insidious forms of harassment is cyber bullying. It is now recognized as a serious crime in Chicago and prosecutors are highly motivated to go for those that continue doing it under the auspices of instrument number 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-7.5. The problem with such cases is the degree of difficulty in actually proving that everything happened as the victim described. Institutions such as schools have come up with bespoke policies that are designed to manage the risks. Some local ordinances demand such measures as a prerequisite to being licensed.

Some defense attorneys have expressed concern that the zeal to prosecute may lead to a violation of the defendant’s civil liberties. What was once accepted as normal conflict between and amongst teenagers is now a crime that can land someone in jail. Others point out that the resultant criminal record is an overly excessive punishment for the crime. On the other hand, it is noted that cyber bullying can lead to serious consequences for the victim including self-harm and even suicide on some occasions.

Key Ingredients of the Crime

Hilulaohaio-225x300Chicago has sought to deal with the increasing problem of hate crime using legislative means. The provisions of the Illinois Hate Crime Act (IHCA), 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, are the leading authority on the management of the criminal process. The act creates an imperative on the state to prosecute but does not explicitly remove the opportunity for private civil cases to take place. Many victims take the opportunity to sue for damages, even when the aggressor is a public authority or their representatives. The range of options for the court includes actual damages, punitive damages, and additional costs, including attorney fees. At other times, the court may offer injunctive relief in order to stop the offending behavior from happening.

The criteria for what constitutes a hate crime can be fluid and those who offend have often used the ambiguity of definitions in order to attempt a get-out-clause for their behavior. Typically, they will claim that this is a case of freedom of speech, which is constitutionally guaranteed. For those who actually go on to commit acts of violence, the case is much simpler since the prosecutor can go for the assault line of questioning and later prove that hate-inspired motives were at play. A crime becomes a hate crime when it is motivated by perceived creed, race, color, gender, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, nationality and even membership of a particular group. Bigotry is at the heart of this crime and will be part of the Mens Rea during the prosecution.

The Importance of the Motivating Factors

benjamin-voros-160962-300x200The computer has been used to commit crimes, right from its inception. More recently, the city of Chicago has had to contend with the reality of cyber extortion. The state has certain duties and liabilities which include investigation and prosecutorial powers. The essential ingredients of the crime are that the offender gets the victim to do or not do certain things in order to avoid being harmed. The internet is then the conduit through which they make the threats, agree the illegal contracts and collect on them. Hackers have found the computer to be perfect for blackmail and ransom notes. One of their favorite tricks is to obtain sensitive information from an organization and then threaten to publish it unless their demands are fully met.

The demands invariably include monetary compensation but the standards of the crime can still be met even if money does not exchange hands. At other times the hackers will plant malicious information or programs for which only they have the key. That means that unless the victim accepts their demands, they will let the program wreak havoc. That havoc might involve wiping out the entire database of company information. Hackers may even deny an organization access to its own files in order to ensure that they can comply with the extortion demands. The range of victims is startling including municipalities, hospitals, government agencies and even private individuals.

A Violation of Privacy and Property

800px-Andaman_Celluler_Jail_Cell_Door_4150238-300x225There has been much public debate about how and why the law as it stands is relevant to the daily lives of people in America. It is therefore not surprising that the enactment of the Chicago law on unlawful restraint has exercised lawyers on both ends of the spectrum. Some perceive it to be a vanguard of protections from potential kidnappers. Others are less complementary and perceive it to be full of inconsistencies. This article considers some of the legal and practical issues that would be relevant to the work of a defense attorney in these cases.

An Overview of the Relevant Rules

First of all, it is important to note that the original conception of the law was designed to address those who held others against their will and without the appropriate authority. Therefore, this law is a precursor to the measures that punish various forms of kidnapping. The constituent elements of the crime include the prevention of free movement without proper authorization.

sve4luszh70-ant-rozetsky-300x200Just like in many jurisdictions, Illinois takes vehicular hijacking to be a particularly serious crime as listed in the provisions of the legislative instrument number 720 ILCS 5/18-4. Upon conviction, the defendant can expect a term of imprisonment that ranges anywhere from four to 15 years. There are specific aggravating and mitigating features that the defense attorney should pay careful attention to.

If the judge believes that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating features, they can raise the sentencing range to six to 30 years. In exceptional cases, a whole life term may be imposed. Therefore, it is clear that this is the type of offense in which the court has wide discretion. It also means that the defendant will require first-class legal representation in order to bring the categorization down to the lowest end of the seriousness scale.

Procedural and Substantive Considerations in the Legal Framework