Articles Tagged with criminal defense attorney

tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224Juries in Illinois and other states have been asked to measure the reliability of latent fingerprint evidence for decades. Latent fingerprints are collected samples of hidden fingerprints in a crime scene. Examiners use them to relate with those that are known to come from recognized sources. Forensic science is crucial in examining crime and assisting in the verdict for innocence or guilt at court hearings.

Questions concerning the sufficiency of several forensic subjects are arising daily. In 2009, a report was issued by the National Research Council that claimed that most latent fingerprint analyses were scientifically unjustified. It also said that some forensic disciplines had no credibility at all.

However, many reports still regard it as scientific injustice. In 2016, a group working on latent fingerprint analysis concluded that the forensics were not justified. The groups say that such assertions have brought false convictions and arrests. The American Association for the Advancement of Science made conclusions in a report. They said latent fingerprint examiners should stop claiming concealed fingerprints come from one source. Furthermore, they should particularly stop saying they could prove as much without errors.

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200In Chicago, the government has pushed legal help for juveniles involved in murder cases. This means that whenever the police interrogate juveniles, a lawyer should be present. This includes the juveniles who are younger than 15 years of age and are involved in sex or murder offenses. Illinois lawmakers believe that this will diminish the cases of false confessions. This law was proposed only last year. Before, the state only necessitated legal representation for kids younger than 13 years of age in the cases of murder or sex. This was applicable even when the juveniles were not the criminal investigation targets.

Governor Rauner propagated justice for children when he signed SB2370 on August 22, 2016. Public Act 99-0882 came into effect on January 1, 2017. The new bill was sponsored by two Democratic legislators. They said that juveniles aged 14 and 15 years old should certainly get legal protection. The bill included the following stipulations.

  • Videotaping is required by police officials in all the questioning sessions of youth under 18 years of age for any felony, sexual offense, or misdemeanor cases. The court will not permit the confession if it is not recorded on videotape.

W._S._Gilbert_The_Duke_of_Plaza-Toro_BriberyChicago has never been able to quite shake off its sometimes unwarranted reputation as a corruption center in the USA. Take the case of a city insider who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for taking bribes in a scandal that ironically involved jumping red light cameras. The appropriately named John Bills is not alone in the long list of high ranking and low ranking government officials who soon find that they are in need of an excellent criminal defense attorney. The scale of the case and the sentencing are fairly atypical. The court heart that Mr. Bills took up to $2 million in euphemistically labelled “gifts.” His services included sending large red light camera contracts to Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., a company based in Arizona.

If you are looking for the key ingredients of bribery then this case is as good as any in terms of demonstrating them. First of all you have someone in a position of authority who uses that authority to illegally secure pecuniary advantage in exchange for abusing his offices. There are elements of discriminatory and unlawful behavior which means that certain bids for tenders are never treated fairly for no other reason than the fact that they did not pay the authorizing officer a bribe. Such a crime reduces public confidence in the system and judges are particularly harsh in exercising their discretion. Of course it is possible to reduce the maximum sentence if there are mitigating factors. Some of those mitigating factors include an early confession, cooperation with the police, restitution, and examples of good public works.

The Dangers of Plea Bargaining

800px-thumbnailRecently, President Barack Obama pardoned a number of people who had been given mandatory sentences for drug trafficking that many in the legal profession considered to be excessive. More worrisome was the notion that the judge in a court case lost the right of discretion at sentencing because the mandatory sentencing law had already effectively predetermined the outcome of that phase of a criminal trial. The law had the tragic effect of sending people to prison for virtual lifetimes for the possession of a few grams of cocaine, when convicted rapists and murderers were being given much shorter sentences. What became clear was a need for sentencing reform with reference to mandatory penalties. Illinois is considered to be one of the more liberal or progressive on this issue, but there are still contentious points.

Status of the Law in Illinois

According to the Controlled Substances Act, it is a criminal offense to manufacture, possess or deliver a controlled or counterfeit substance. The law applies to analogs of controlled substances. In order to deal with the generic drugs that are extracted from an original formula, the act also affects those substances that are intended for human consumption but are listed within Schedule I and II of the said act. The law was designed to have a sliding scale of punishments that was heaviest for those actors that engaged in illicit trafficking as well as those who headed the profit chains for those activities. The rationale was that those who benefitted from the drug trade were somehow insulated from its consequences and the relatively lenient punishments meted out to them emphasized the impression that they were not as culpable as those who actually used or distributed the drugs.

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The Wisconsin State Journal reports that two suspects are currently in custody in Illinois in connection with a violent home invasion that took place in Madison last January. Allegedly, the two suspects robbed a 27-year-old man at gunpoint, forced the man into his apartment, and once inside bound the man and his girlfriend with duct tape. The couple claims that the robbers demanded more money and pointed a gun at their 3-year-old daughter’s head. Eventually, the father broke free of his bonds, lunged at one of the gunmen, and was shot multiple times. Thankfully all members of the family survived. Now that both suspects are in custody, they have been charged with several crimes, including false imprisonment.

What is False Imprisonment?

In Illinois, false imprisonment occurs when an individual’s personal liberty or freedom of locomotion is unlawfully restrained. Before a defendant can be convicted of false imprisonment the prosecution must prove the following two elements:

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The Chicago Police Department (CPD) has a list of Chicagoans who are believed to be at risk of either killing or being killed. The police started compiling their Strategic Subject List three years ago in an attempt to save the lives of everyone listed, reports the Chicago Tribune. One by one, individuals on the strategic subject list are visited during a proactive well-being check. These checks, known as “custom notifications,” do not involve arrests but instead conversations and warnings. Officers warn listed individuals that they have been identified as being at risk for killing or being killed and that there are alternatives for safer lifestyles available to them. Depending on the circumstances, officers sometimes bring community activists or religious leaders with them during these well-being checks.

What Factors are Used to Generate Chicago’s Strategic Subject List?

The police have not precisely explained the factors that are being used to identify at-risk individuals for their Strategic Subject List. However, the department did tell the Chicago Tribune that they are focusing on the 1,400 individuals who are considered to be most at risk and that a person’s criminal record, age at first arrest, and whether the person has been previously shot are all taken into account. Some civil rights organization leaders in Chicago are concerned that the CPD is not telling the public which factors are being used to create the Strategic Subject List and worry that this lack of transparency may be masking racial profiling. The Police Department says that they will not release the precise combination of factors that are being used as doing so would undermine the program’s effectiveness.

27554520141_9b38f83133According to the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, approximately 77% of women who are currently incarcerated are victims of abuse. This figure is staggering and is part of the reason why this nonprofit helped to pass Illinois’ new domestic violence law, SB0209. SB0209 is important because it allows being a victim of domestic violence to be a mitigating factor at sentencing. A mitigating factor is any information presented to the court, generally about the defendant or the circumstances surrounding the crime, that has the potential to reduce the defendant’s sentence or the crime charged. Therefore, SB0209 was passed in order to enable courts in our state to reduce a defendant’s sentence if he or she was a victim of domestic violence.

Bill SB0209: History of Domestic Violence as a Mitigating Factor

According to  SB0209, if a defendant is or was a victim of domestic violence, and the domestic violence tended to excuse or justify his or her criminal conduct, then evidence of the abuse can be a mitigating factor at sentencing. In order to claim being a victim of domestic violence as a mitigating factor, the defendant must prove the following by a preponderance of the evidence:

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Pop quiz: If suspected of committing a crime such as sexual assault, when should you talk to an attorney, before or after interrogation? Some people charged with a crime think they know the answer to this question, but sadly, many find out too late that they did not.

Police officers are required to advise you of your Constitutional “right to counsel” (Mirandized) before they start questioning you after an arrest. If you state at any time during the process that you want to exercise your right to counsel, the interrogation must stop and you will be permitted to talk to your attorney. If you do not ask to speak to an attorney, the interrogation will continue and anything you say can be used against you during a trial, if any.

There are some crimes that carry with them such a stigma that once accused, the taint sticks whether the accusation can be proven or not, such is the accusation of “sexual assault.” Notwithstanding the fact that there are many actual, provable cases of criminal sexual assault, for instance, the case where the Rabbi admitted sexually assaulting a young boy who was member of his synagogue (see DNAinfo.com), there are far too many where the accusation, without more, becomes the basis for the conviction.

marijuanaWhether you are facing charges of possession of a controlled substance or illicit drug, or you have been charged with trafficking with the intent to sell or distribute illegal drugs, there are many legal defenses available to you. Depending on which, if any, is applicable, you can greatly reduce the severity of your sentence, especially if it is your first offense. Some of the key defenses are discussed here.

Denial of Ownership

Denying ownership is the common defense put forth in a drug crime and is often quite successful. You should not claim ownership of any drugs if you are searched or your premises are searched, or if you are in a place the police raid and drugs are found; instead you should exercise your right to remain silent and immediately contact an attorney.

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A Chicago man is being held on $2 million bond and is being charged with reckless homicide of an unborn child, among other charges. Bail was set at $2 million Saturday for a man accused of causing a Northwest Side crash that seriously injured a pregnant woman and killed her unborn child. On Wednesday, August 12, the Chicago man allegedly crashed into a parked Mazda Protégé in which the pregnant woman was sitting.

Fetal Homicide Laws in Illinois

Maybe you were not aware that you can be charged with murder if a pregnant woman’s fetus dies as a result of your action. Illinois statute defines and penalizes for intentional homicide of an unborn child, voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide of an unborn child, respectively. These statutes define an “unborn child” as any human individual from fertilization until birth.