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.
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.