Articles Tagged with Chicago criminal defense

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

3scbuulajgg-matthew-hamilton-300x200Chicago has stringent accident laws that are designed to punish those who leave the scene of an accident without exchanging their information with the other parties involved. Although some members of the public consider this to be an intrusion, the reality is that it is one of the tools designed to enhance public safety. It means that hit-and-run incidents will be few and far between. Moreover, the fact that the police are summoned means that there is less room for disagreement about the nature of the interventions at a later stage. Leaving the scene of an accident is a criminal offense in Chicago and may land the defendant in jail if he or she cannot provide a convincing explanation for that behavior. The best thing to do when involved in an accident is to wait for the police and call your lawyer.

The lawyer will ensure that the defendant does not say anything that is unduly incriminating or even harmful to his or her cause. The rationale is that accidents happen. If the individuals are properly insured, then there is no question about costs because those will be met by the insurer. Running away from the scene raises doubts as to whether there are other underlying factors that the defendant is not addressing in terms of his or her criminal culpability. The police may decide to investigate further as a means of understanding what has happened and why it has happened. It helps to travel with your driver’s license or even some reference to your insurer so that they can be reached in case you are unconscious.

Classification of the Offense and Possible Consequences

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The city of Chicago actively pursues those it believes to be guilty of corporate fraud. It is an offense that has the potential to affect many citizens as well as provoking the interest of federal agents. The complexity of such cases means that the use of a suitably qualified defense attorney is important to any defendant. The multiplicity of victims and perpetrators can make it difficult to decipher a single line of defense. For example, the whistleblowers may also become potential victims. The case management also incorporates a lot of research, particularly of a technical nature. The law as it stands calls for a high level of specificity before the charge can stick. That means identifying not only the defendant but also the modus operandi.

Intent is an important indicator of guilt, and its absence can make a case collapse. That is why the defense attorney will often try to portray his or her client as being well-meaning but rather incompetent. By contrast, the prosecutor will often seek to portray the defendant as being calculating, cunning, and sophisticated. Needless to say, the level of sophistication is critical in determining the severity of the punishment at conviction. The courts will consider the victim impact statements, which might be diverse depending on who was affected by the alleged crime.

Applying the Complex Strictures of the Law

800px-Handcuffs01_2008-07-27-300x200Nobody really likes to get arrested unless they are running away from an even greater threat to their lives. Therefore, the crime of resisting arrest in Chicago is not as uncommon as one might first assume. Currently this is considered to be a misdemeanor which is a follow-on offense that is separate from the original reason why the person is being arrested in the first place (see People vs Wishard). The law requires complete compliance with the law enforcement agencies unless there are some other compelling reasons such as a health emergency. Some over-zealous officers use this law in order to intimidate and then implicate citizens for purposes of blurring some other type of evidence. Quite often when an officer is caught up in dubious shooting episodes, he or she invariably come up with a defense to the effect that the shooting was justified because the suspect was resisting arrest.

Legal Implications and Strictures

Needless to say, an attorney is important in such cases, not only because he or she is able to challenge the version of events that is presented by the government agency, but also because an attorney can help the panicked suspect not implicate him or herself further. You would be amazed at how many criminal cases are effectively surrendered by the defendant on the first night in a cell precisely because he or she volunteers information through disorganized semi-confessions. One of the problems with the law relating to resisting arrest is the fact that it is so vaguely worded that it can encompass a wide range of behavior that would in some instances be reasonable and in others less reasonable. Similarly, the sentencing guidelines for the misdemeanor are extensive and varied. They include fines, probation, community service, and custody. The criminal record can provide some challenges in the future with respect to employment prospects.  

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Local agencies in Illinois are getting concerned about the increasing use of designer drugs, particularly as it relates to driving offenses. Incidents of bizarre behavior that is clearly out of the ordinary are being reported regularly. It is almost as if there is something in the water but the truth is much simpler; drugs are to blame and the law enforcement agencies are of the view that it is about time someone did something about it. The clinicians call it Alpha-PVP while the street-smart call it Flakka. Although this is a relatively new drug, it is noted for its highly addictive qualities. Some have compared it to Bath Salts, but it is much worse. Dozens of overdose deaths are being reported or suspected, and the strange behavior that it induces in its fans includes running around the streets in the nude.

Worse still, Flakka is a combination and co-dependency drug which is preferred by those that are already heavily addicted. The challenge for the law is whether to deal with production, consumption, or distribution or all of them together; the latter being a complex and resource-heavy task. To make matters worse the designer drug trade is based on the ability to create permutations and versions of the same drug using various combinations of the active ingredients. Consequently these research drugs are outside the current specifications of the law and yet they are as dangerous (or even more dangerous) than their parent counterparts. The shipping trail starts all the way to Asia before making its clandestine journey all the way to Illinois. A lot of disguise and misrepresentation is involved since the narcotics and stimulants are disguised as legal products, hence evading the legal controls.

Should the Federal or Local Government Crack Down?

A Chicago man out on bond for a sexual assault charge was arrested recently for an unrelated murder. The defendant, who is accused of raping three girls last year along with eight other men, allegedly shot two men on Chicago’s west side; one of the men died at the scene, while the other suffered a gunshot wound to the arm.

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Chicago Defense of Unrelated Crimes

This case is a criminal defense attorney’s nightmare – a client, out on bond, gets arrested for committing a second crime. And in this case, the second charge is worse than the first. But it does raise a variety of possible defense tactics, whether it is the same attorney representing the defendant on both charges, or if the defendant has one attorney for the sexual assault charge and one for the murder charge.

Of course, the typical defense against both crimes would be present here. Defense against the sexual assault charge would include:

  • Mistaken identity;
  • Lack of DNA evidence tying the defendant to the sexual assault;
  • Consensual sex, if DNA evidence is present;
  • The defendant was forced to participate in the sexual assault by the other participants, under threat of great bodily harm (committing a crime to prevent injury is not a true defense, but may result in a lesser sentence due to mitigating circumstances), or;
  • The victims fabricated the story in retaliation for some unknown slight, or because they were later embarrassed to have consented to sex group sex.

Defense against the murder charge would include:

  • Mistaken identity;
  • The defendant was not the one who fired the gun (this would require ballistics analysis by a team of forensic experts); or
  • The defendant fired in self-defense (if it can be proven he was the one who fired the gun).

But, assuming the prosecution has enough evidence to take both cases to trial, the two pending cases give the criminal defense attorney leverage in negotiations to enter into a plea agreement or to have the charges reduced.

The defendant is one of nine men allegedly involved in the 2013 rape of three women. In a gang rape, it is likely that one of the men was the ring leader; there may be one or more men who have committed prior sexual assaults that the police have not linked them too. If the defendant can help the prosecution bolster its case against other men involved in the rape, or if he has knowledge of any unsolved sexual assaults any of the defendants may have been involved in, the defense attorney may be able to strike a deal with the prosecution for a reduced sentence or a reduction in charges in either the murder case, sexual assault case, or both.

Likewise, the criminal defense attorney can leverage the defendant’s testimony in the murder case to seek a reduced sentence in either the sexual assault case, the murder case, or both. If the co-defendant in the murder case was actually the one who pulled the trigger, and the defendant is willing to testify to that, thus allowing the prosecution to gain a conviction on heightened charges, the prosecution may be willing to strike a deal.

It is always the goal of any criminal defense attorney to achieve an outright dismissal of charges, or to obtain an acquittal in court, for his client. But when the evidence shows that the defendant is likely to be convicted, an experienced criminal defense attorney knows when to use any leverage available to help his client win a reduction in charges or a reduced sentence.

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