Articles Tagged with criminal defense attorney in Chicago

jomar-thomas-271602-copy-300x200The United States is one of the few countries with a judicial system founded on the principle of democracy. This system of justice offers us an orderly and peaceful way to decide criminal cases. Additionally, the judicial system punishes the ones found guilty, resolves civil disputes, and protects our civil rights. Thus, the judges in Chicago have to uphold the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Illinois. This is by interpreting and enforcing laws in individual cases. These judges and staff are always ready to do what it takes to maintain a court system that meets the highest standards of judicial performance.

One of the most notable changes and commitments is the introduction of electronic court systems in Chicago. This is not a new thing, especially for the federal court system, which went paperless more than 15 years ago. But, switching to the electronic court system is still a change that has dragged on in most circuit courts. Currently, you might even see some Chicago Circuit Court clerks spending their time carrying stacks of folders.

After years of relentless lobbying by frustrated attorneys, Chicago was able to take a step forward and join other counties in the digital world. This is ensuring that most of the businesses of the courts are done online, embracing electronic court systems.

sebastian-pichler-25154-copy-300x200When the need for a criminal lawyer arises, time is of the essence. Before you go ahead and hire just any criminal defense attorney, there are specific and important questions that one should ask. Here are some things to consider when consulting with an attorney.  

Discovery, Evidence, and Investigation

It is the responsibility of your lawyer to obtain and review all the items in discovery. That includes reports from the police, statements of the witnesses, audio and video tapes, photographs, and any other material that might have been provided by the prosecutor through discovery. Your attorney should also make copies of all material. The attorney should not only consider having you aware of the evidence that is there but also any other evidence that is probably missing. Who are the witnesses that should be interviewed, and what are they likely to say in court? What type of defense investigation is likely to be conducted in order to find the evidence that can disprove your guilt?

raban-haaijk-118657-copy-225x300The carjacking was one of the trendiest criminal activities in the 1990s. But, recent Chicago City data shows that after many years of steady decline, the crime of taking other people’s vehicles by force is soaring back into favor. The data revealed that through August, vehicle hijacking crimes increased by 30%. This is equivalent to 183% compared to 2015 crime rate.

The Loop experienced a 1200% increase in vehicle hijacking crimes as compared to 2015. River North’s vehicle hijacking rate went up by 500%. The popular 19th Police District includes Uptown, Lakeview, the north end of Lincoln Park and North Center. It experienced a 200% increase in vehicle hijacking crimes as compared to two years ago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, carjacking began to spike in 2016 when shootings and homicides skyrocketed. Crime in virtually every category rose. While the cause of this sudden spike was unclear, some security officers felt the furor over the viral video clip revealing police shooting a teen Laquan McDonald 16 times fueled the activity. This resulted in most security officers becoming less aggressive on the streets. This, in turn, emboldened criminals.

a-l-117960-copy-300x198If you are living in Chicago, Illinois, you might have your own car to get around the city. You need to drive to work, back home, and to different spots around town. Driving on your own to any destination is convenient. But, what will you do if your driver’s license is suspended? Have you violated any traffic rules? If so, do you know what the consequences are?

If your license has been suspended, it means that the authorities have taken away your privilege to drive. You can find the law about driving with a suspended license in Chicago, Illinois pursuant to 625 ILCS 5/6-303. Your penalty will depend on your reasons for having a suspended license.

Reasons Why You Might Have Your License Suspended

markus-spiske-153537-200x300Terrorism is the current concern of the cyber security community. The key legal principles are laid out at a national level. However, there are many other forms of cybercrime which are largely downgraded yet quite capable of harming people. This is not just a problem for Chicago, but for the entire world at large. As is often the case in these instances, the argument is about establishing the right parameters for upgrading a simple cybercrime into cyberterrorism or cyberwar. For example, internet trolling is rarely capable of meeting the standards of terrorism, yet it is also a serious crime that is often prosecuted by the authorities. Others have decided to define cyberterrorism as any form of cyber crime that involves nations or entire communities.

Some of the worst offenders under this law are not pariah states but individuals who have used their expertise in order to hack into government agency databases before strategically leaking the resultant data in order to cause maximum embarrassment to the government. Although WikiLeaks and Snowden might argue that they do not meet this criteria, the reality is that the US government considers their actions to be a threat to the state. Therefore, the prosecution process and the indicative sentencing might be a lot harsher than would be the case for other types of cybercrime. We might then argue that it is the state that determines the fine line between cybercrime and cyberterrorism.  

Investigating and Classifying the Crime

Healthcare fraud has been raised as a matter of concern not only in Chicago but in the country as a whole. It raises the costs of providing healthcare and also means that vulnerable people who need support are left behind. The cases in this category are unique because they often provide a corporate entity that is tasked with the role of distributing healthcare services. The large scale Medicare fraud occurs within the modalities of overcharging the state or alternatively charging it for services that were never delivered. In either case, the consequences for those involved can be dire. They could lose the license to practice and may be banned from government contracts for a considerable period of time.

Over time, a number of fairly consistent patterns of offending have emerged. First of all, there are three main modalities including Medicare Fraud, Medicaid Fraud, and Kickbacks. Each of these modalities are united by deceit and illegal benefits. For example, overbilling has been a persistent problem in Medicaid and Medicare programs, despite the stringent protective measures that were adopted by Congress and local legislatures. In some cases, the service provider is so overwhelmed by paperwork and bureaucracy that they end up making inadvertent mistakes. Obviously the courts will take into consideration both the act and the intention behind it before passing judgement.

Damaging the Integrity of the System

igor-ovsyannykov-208345-300x200It used to be that currency creation and distribution was the sole responsibility of state agencies, such as the central bank. However, the advent of non-official and bespoke currencies has meant that there are many people who are inadvertently breaking the law. The definitions of currency have expanded so much that the law sometimes appears to be contradictory. Some of the industries that are affected in Chicago include staffing agencies and factories. Moreover, there are some online currencies such as Bitcoin that lie outside the traditional strictures of currency controls. In the worst case scenario, there is an actual factory of illegal tender. Some of these crimes can lead to significant terms of imprisonment.

Key Ingredients of the Crime

The first criterion relates to how the currency was manufactured or distributed. As stated earlier, the expectation is that only the state can make currency. It is for this reason that the federal agencies might be involved since states do not currently have the right to make currency. The case law indicates that currency schemes are sometimes considered to be a much more serious offense than counterfeiting of even forgery. Some of the constituent aspects of the crime are legislated under the instrument number 720 ILCS 5/17-0.5, but that instrument also talks about other forms of deception and fraud which may not necessarily relate to currency schemes.

800px-Compact_bolt_cutters_215mm-300x134Crimes or accusations of inference and supposition ought to be relatively easy to defend because of the lack of clarity surrounding them. However, the reality is that the legislation has been written in such a way as to favor the prosecutor and the accusing officer. The basic tenets of the law under the provisions of statutory instrument number 720 ILCS 5/19-1 are that if you are caught with paraphernalia that could be used to commit a crime; then the authorities are well within their rights to accuse you of the intention to commit that crime.

That is not always the case in all crimes, but in the case of burglary the principle more or less operates as described above. That then leads the defense counsel to determine what exactly constitutes crime-related paraphernalia. In this, as in many other things, the law is still lacking in clarity. For example, something like a bolt cutter could be used for legitimate carpentry operations as part of a professional undertaking. At the same time, it remains one of the most common tools that home burglars use in order to gain access.

Developing the Rules Through Experience law of public indecency in Chicago is complex precisely because it touches on the interaction between personal freedom and societal norms. What some consider to be harmless exhibitionism may meet the statutory minimum for the crime of public indecency (see People v Reed). Generally speaking, society has condemned indecent exposure in public as an unacceptable occurrence that must be punished. Sometimes, however, people who are engaged in perfectly harmless activities are suddenly subjected to a complex criminal investigation under these laws. However, it must be noted that the law enforcement agencies in Chicago have used an even-handed approach in these cases.

Understanding How the Crime is Committed

The intent is important in determining whether the offense is a mere misdemeanor or whether it meets the criteria for a felony. It is not the case that indecent exposure is an infraction, although this is a widely held misconception of the law. You should not expect that you can get away with merely paying a small fine. In the worst case scenarios, you can get a substantial term of custody as well as compulsory registration on the sex offenders list. The provisions of 720 ILCS 5/11-30 set out the legal premise for the law as follows:

file000340814082Home invasions have been the fodder for criminal defense attorneys in Illinois for ages. Recently there has been a growing conversation around the response of the homeowner and whether he or she is legally protected. States like Florida have a stand-your-ground provision which has sometimes led to tragic consequences. To make matters worse, some of these incidents are alleged to involve an element of racial animus. One need only look back at the circus surrounding the George Zimmerman case to realize that self-defense is never as simple as it looks on paper when the laws are first drafted.

Burglaries are going to continue and defense lawyers are going to continue to use every trick in the book to get an acquittal or generous sentence for their clients. This article highlights some of the important considerations for the law as it stands but also the implications for defendants and homeowners.

A Law that is a Series of Compromises and Interests