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Articles Tagged with Crime

gavelUnusual crime stories make the news on a regular basis, grabbing the imagination of the viewers and keeping them enthralled and glued to their television sets, not to mention increasing the network ratings. These crimes make huge splashes in the news and tantalize the audience with wild scenes of decadence and drama, like the latest soap opera or reality show. Most crimes of this caliber usually involve, money, murder, sex.

Chicago Woman Kills Mother While on Exotic Vacation

The Bali suitcase murder case involved a million dollar trust, an exotic vacation, angst between a mother and daughter, and conspiracy between lovers to commit murder. Heather Mack and Tommy Schaefer were convicted and sentenced to 10 and 18 years, respectively, for the murder of Mack’s mother. They will be serving their time in a Bahi prison. Mack, Schaefer, and Mack’s mother were on vacation when the murder occurred. Soon after being incarcerated, Mack gave birth to her daughter. According to Indonesian law, the baby will be raised by Mack in her prison cell until the child reaches the age of two years old.

In an effort to eradicate crime in the urban city of Chicago, the city officials are demolishing abandoned buildings that are magnets for drug users and drug dealers. The buildings targeted for demolition are known hangouts for gangs and drug dealers. Residents of the neighborhood have been asking Alderman Carrie Austin for years to get the city to take down these buildings. Happily, now, the city is listening to the neighborhood residents.

The Demolition of Buildings in Blighted Neighborhoods

The Chicago Police Department and the Department of Building and Safety have started demolishing the building structures located in the West Pullman neighborhood. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that these demolitions are necessary to fight gang violence and crime in the area. Chicago has torn down at least 14 structures and boarded up about 400 buildings so far. The structures being targeted for demotion are those that are located in high crime areas, those that have absentee owners and those that have no possibility of being repaired. See abc7news for more on this story.

What is the nature of crime and can it be controlled? From the beginning of time, starting with the story of Cain and Abel, society has been perplexed with crime and its impact on how we interact with each other on a daily basis. Perhaps it is an inevitability of the human experience. Wherever you have man interacting with each other, you will have the makings of criminal elements. For that reason, laws have been created in order to control this part of human nature to some degree, and to the extent possible.

Types of Crimes That Plague the Human Experience

There are many types of crimes and criminal acts ranging from homicide, burglary, arson, assault and battery, to name a few. Cities with a large population growth will have a percentage of all of these types of crimes taking place on any given day, on its streets, and in its communities. At risk for higher levels of crimes, for the most part, are our low income communities where unemployment, squalor, and what appears to be and acceptance of certain types of crimes seems to be the norm.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office reports that 44% of individuals arrested and brought to Cook County jail for intake on May 22 self-reported as mentally ill. Even if we assume that arrestees self-report at a higher rate because they believe claiming mental illness will grant them leniency, it is still an alarming number, and highlights the importance of hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney if you or your loved one suffers from a mental illness and is arrested in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs.

Mental Illness Not a Criminal Defense in Illinois

Illinois defines mental illness as “a substantial disorder of thought, mood, or behavior which afflicted a person at the time of the commission of the offense and which impaired that person’s judgment, but not to the extent that he is unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his behavior.” Contrary to what some may believe, a claim of mental illness is not the same as pleading insanity as a defense. The insanity defense requires that the defendant lack “substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct.”

A person suffering from a mental illness – for example, someone with post-traumatic stress, a type of anxiety disorder – would understand that assaulting his neighbor with a baseball bat is wrong, even though at the moment he was unable to control it. A person suffering from insanity would not believe the attack was wrong and, if successful in pleading insanity, would be absolved of all responsibility.

Is a person suffering from some type of mental illness – whether anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar, or some other illness that, for whatever reason, can momentarily impair his judgment – or even a person suffering from cognitive disabilities, such as a person with Down’s syndrome, held to the same standard as a healthy defendant?

Yes and no.

Mental illness is not a total defense to a crime in Illinois, and so even if both the prosecution and defense agree that the defendant suffered from a mental illness that impaired his judgment, a jury can still find him guilty of a crime. However, defendants often raise it as a defense in court to be granted leniency. And in some cases, the jury or judge will take the defendant’s illness into consideration when reaching a verdict or handing down a sentence, including sending them to an alternate treatment program where they can receive services, rather than simply locking them up in prison.

Mental illness is generally not a driving force behind the commission of crimes. A recent study found that only 7.5% of crimes are committed over the course of symptoms of the defendant’s mental illness, and that 66% of those also committed crimes related to other factors, such as drug abuse, homelessness or being poor. But for individuals suffering from mental illness, an experienced criminal defense attorney is more important than ever. Continue reading

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