Articles Tagged with criminal defense

matt-popovich-60437-copy-300x162Based on the strength of testimony from other Chicago cops and a Chicago judge, police officers Xavier Elizondo and David Salgado were recently found guilty of stealing cash and drugs and otherwise profiting on the drug trade they were supposed to be eliminating. The federal trial made national headlines because it detailed the type of corruption that goes on every day in Chicago. These police were accused and then convicted of lying on search warrants, using money and drugs from seizures to pay off informants who would provide anonymous information to judges who would then authorize illegal searches.

If you are concerned that this is a civil rights violation, then you are thinking about this the right way. So-called John Doe search warrants that have anonymous informants tattling on suspects were at the heart of the problem these two Chicago police officers caused. Nonetheless, these search warrants will continue to be used long after this trial has concluded.

Officers Remain Free

samara-doole-259144-unsplash-copy-200x300The body of 2-year-old Kirien Knox was found dismembered in Garfield Park Lagoon. The shocking details of the slaying moved those who witnessed the photos to tears. The man charged with the murder, Kamel Harris, has pleaded not guilty.

According to the prosecution, the boy’s mother, Lanisha Knox, left her son with Harris and five others at an apartment while Knox headed out to set up a new life in Iowa, get jobs, and find an apartment. At some point, Harris stopped responding to calls or texts made by Knox.

Police and the prosecution believe that, at some point, Harris “snapped” and murdered the boy and then tried to dispose of the body. However, they did not list a cause of death. They did, however, indicate that Harris snapped because the boy cried incessantly after a “painful reaction to milk.”

tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224If you remember back to the 1980s, there was widespread fear that Satanists were stealing babies, harming women, and otherwise committing mayhem against the nuclear family, God, and the American people. While many of the fears proved groundless hysteria, they were based, as most fears are, on isolated events that shocked the cultural morals of everyday people. One of these Satanic Panic events happened right here in Chicago and now, the killer is being paroled after nearly 35 years in prison.

Thomas Kokoraleis was a member of the Ripper Crew that kidnapped, raped, mutilated, and murdered over 20 women across the Chicago area. As a condition of his parole, however, he has to find a place to live. This can prove troublesome for a man who was convicted of kidnapping young women in their early 20s and then murdering them after raping them. The bodies that police found were sadistically mutilated. When he does find a place to live, he will have to register as a convicted sex offender and alert local authorities to his whereabouts. He will also likely be a prime suspect if any women turn up missing. His will be the first door that they knock on.

The Chicago Ripper Crew

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225In one of the more disturbing criminal trials of late, Kamel Harris will stand trial for the murder and dismemberment of a 2-year-old boy. The boy’s remains were found in the Garfield Park Lagoon. While the prosecution had extended a plea deal to Harris, the family put a stop to it amid concerns that their child was not being served justice.

Many states throughout the U.S. have recently passed some variation of a Victim’s Rights legislation that gives individuals who have been harmed by a defendant or their families more say in how the case is prosecuted. Critics of the legislation noted that defendants have only been accused of crimes, not convicted of them. It remains unclear what sort of impact victim’s rights legislation (Marsy’s Law) will have on the ability of defendants to get fair criminal trials.

What are the Charges?

rui-silvestre-703796-unsplash-copy-242x300Our criminal justice system was founded on the idea that it is better to let a man go free than to imprison him unjustly. For that reason, prosecutors are held to a very high standard of proof. In many cases, this proof is acquired using scientific means. However, sometimes these means are not so scientific and other times the methods of quality control are severely flawed.

In 2016, Judged Stuart Katz dismissed a complaint against a Chicago juvenile when fingerprint evidence was brought against him. The forensic officer involved in matching the prints was castigated in court after the Judge found a number of methodological flaws in the man’s work. The judge accused the Sergeant of being “oblivious” and “not caring about educating himself” in his own field or work. He went onto say that there appeared to be no audits or any method of verification and that they did not follow the basic procedures set forth by the FBI. The judge determined that the entire department needed to clean up its act or they would find it very difficult to enter forensic evidence into the record during future trials.

The FBI is Just as Bad

simon-migaj-423321-unsplash-copy-300x200On January 21, an individual was arrested for allegedly kicking his girlfriend in the stomach and killing her unborn child.

A neighbor told police that she heard a woman screaming at approximately 3:30 in the morning on January 19 before calling authorities. A 19-year-old woman then informed law enforcement that she had severe pain in her stomach because her boyfriend kicked her multiple times after the two had an argument in their apartment.

After the altercation, the boyfriend, 22-year-old Kahlil Ellison, fled the scene but was swiftly apprehended and taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies. Authorities reported the argument was over a cell phone.

kevin-gent-219197-copy-300x200On January 16, 2019, an Aurora woman was arrested and charged with three counts of felony aggravated battery and three counts of misdemeanor domestic battery at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora. The charges were spurred by a video of the incident captured by a witness who in turn called 911. The woman is accused of dragging her five year old child by the hair and holding him down and pinching his neck, causing bruising, according to The Chicago Sun Times.

What are the Punishments for Aggravated Battery and Domestic Battery?

In Illinois, aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of between two and a half to five years with a potential fine of up to $25,000. In certain cases, this sentence can be extended to up to 10 years if certain aggravating circumstances exist. A previous felony conviction within the last 10 years or if the battery is committed against a victim 12 years of age or younger are just two of the aggravating factors that can be considered. Domestic battery is considered a Class A misdemeanor (although it can also be charged as a felony in some cases) and can be punished with up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2500. It is important to note that domestic battery is a misdemeanor that, upon conviction, even if you are sentenced only to court supervision, can not be expunged from your criminal record. This differs from many other misdemeanors and further exemplifies the seriousness of the charge.

thomas-dils-678849-unsplash-copy-200x300A Chicago resident was charged with killing his mother on Christmas Eve.

A representative from the Chicago Police Department stated 25-year-old Robert Wallace allegedly left the body 67-year-old Betty Wallace in a garbage can a short distance from her home on the far south side of the city.

Employees of Streets and Sanitation found the mother’s body on December 24th when removing trash in Morgan Park at the 108000 block of South Prospect Avenue. According to police, she had sustained blunt trauma injuries to the head and her legs showed signs of stab wounds.

javier-villaraco-235574-copy-300x225When faced with a murder charge in Chicago, you have options. You do not have to immediately admit to the crime. You also do not have to take your chances with a jury to see if it will convict you. Murder is a serious charge, if not the most serious charge, so you need to have a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side to craft a strong defense to the charge. Today, we will examine the common defenses to second degree murder charges so you can fight for your freedom.

Claim Insanity

You have likely heard it on the news before and it might be a good defense for you to attempt if charged with second degree murder, and that is to claim insanity. Even if claiming insanity is permitted in your jurisdiction, it does not mean that it will clear you of the responsibility associated with second degree murder. You could be issued a guilty verdict with mental illness attached to it, which means you still knew what you did was wrong. In other jurisdictions that permit full insanity, if you can prove your mental illness, then you will not be held accountable for the crime.

sebastian-pichler-25154-copy-300x200Facing a criminal charge in Chicago can ruin your life if you do not know where to turn. Relying on the public defender will not always put you in the best situation. You need to consult with an experienced private criminal defense attorney so you can best fight the charges levied against you. Working with a criminal attorney who is experienced with the crime you have been accused of committing will help you build a defense that can lead to the charges being either dropped or reduced. Let’s examine the traits of a strong criminal defense attorney so you know what to look for when choosing an attorney to represent you.

Experience That Speaks for Itself

One of the first things you need to look for is the attorney’s experience. It is understandable that an attorney has to start his or her career somewhere, but do you want it to be with your case? Now is not the time to risk your freedom just to give a newly minted attorney a shot at winning his or her first case. The strongest criminal attorneys will have a track record that speaks for itself.