Articles Tagged with criminal defense

joe-perales-117891-copy-300x198The practice notes for the rules of evidence remain an important cornerstone of justice in Chicago. Specifically, the court wants to hear, see, witness, and assess evidence that is accurate and timely. Without the rules of evidence, the court process is delayed, and the outcome is inevitably compromised. If we take the example of hearsay, it is clear that the courts wish to hear from the actual witnesses to a crime rather than second-hand stories that are subject to contamination, misinterpretation, and deception. Moreover, the access to direct evidence and witness testimony allows for cross-examination, an important verification and confirmatory aspect of the court process.

Defending attorneys should be well-versed in the allowable question and answer formats. It is a given that some clever lawyer somewhere is going to try to bend the rules by asking a leading or irrelevant question. The defendant must be prepared for the rigors of a cross examination. Many rape and sexual assault cases collapse for no other reason other than that the victim is unable to withstand the detailed and embarrassing process of cross-examination. The court does have decorum, but it is also not a place for false modesty. The judge and jury wish to hear things as they happened and as they relate to the charge that has been brought forward.

Facts Rule the Court

zjrupeakpzi-aidan-meyer-300x200There are few issues that are guaranteed to raise legal temperatures higher than that of “justified police shootings.” Issues of outright racism and civil rights have come to the fore as a consequence of this specific issue. The media has played its role in sensational coverage, which often masks the serious legal issues at stake. You only have to read about the Laquan McDonald case to understand some of the complexities involved.

The fact that the law is not very clear gives leeway to all sorts of interpretation. The law enforcement officers have assumed (incorrectly) that the law is designed to cover them at every opportunity. Meanwhile, the courts are left somewhat hopeless by the experience of having to litigate and mediate that which is nearly impossible to handle fairly. The charged atmosphere also means that consideration has to be given to the practicalities of how the verdict will be received.

The Starting Point

aaron-burden-149693-copy-300x225Although Chicago would like to make itself a friendly place for businesses, there are some types of businesses that will never be welcomed here. One of them is telemarketing fraud, an infringement on consumer protection laws. This offense has gotten the attention of legislative bodies and the wider legal community because it affects communities in a big way. A particularly resourceful criminal can defraud a whole segment of the community and leave them in difficult circumstances. It is for this reason that the offense is recognized as being serious and attracts prosecutorial interest whenever the facts are proven. Underpinning the law is the expectation that businesses will follow a code of ethics. Unfortunately, there are some industries that do not abide by such a code.

The self-regulation model has failed in a world of cutthroat competition. Those who play by the rules end up being priced out of the market whilst those who are taking consumers for a ride are given an expressway to seemingly insurmountable success. The law is clear about the obligations to sell in an honest manner, regardless of the temptation to take competition to its zenith. The victims are typically trusting and vulnerable. These have always been aggravating features in virtually any crime that you can think of in Chicago. The courts have continued the tradition of punishing those offenders who target the most vulnerable.

Reporting and Gathering Evidence

w33-zg-dnl4-rami-al-zayat-300x200Revenge porn is a crime that is gaining prominence in the age of social media. The law in Chicago took some time to catch up with the reality that some victims were being exposed to serious danger. By 2015, the state legislature had decided to write a law that set out the parameters for an effective prosecution. The leading instrument is 720 ILCS 5/11-46. At the moment revenge porn is considered to be a felony offense. In actuality, Chicago is in the minority when it comes to jurisdictions that have finally started criminalizing this type of behavior. Illinois is noted as the state with the strictest laws in this category. The crux of the offense is sharing nude or compromising images and videos of a person without his or her consent. One must have the unequivocal consent of a person in intimate images before those images can be shared.

It is entirely possible that images which are not extremely explicit can be considered to be part of a revenge porn offense. The charge can stick even if the person had originally consented to the recording of the image but was then unaware that the image was going to be distributed. Defense lawyers have argued that the definition is too wide and gives the court way too much discretion in determining what constitutes revenge porn. Chicago has different from other states in important ways as follows:

  • The intention to cause harm is not necessary for the charge to stick. All that is required is that the images or videos were distributed. Malicious intent can be an aggravating factor but its absence does not remove the charge.

mingyue-sun-153025-300x169The harrowing circumstances that typically surround a human trafficking case in Chicago means challenging work for a defense attorney. The crime tends to intersect with other serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault. That is why organizations like the Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation were formed in order to ensure that the victims get full justice. Chicago has adopted a two-pronged approach that complements local legislative arrangements with the provisions of the relevant federal law. At the same time the law enforcement agencies are paying a lot of attention to how the sex industry is directly and indirectly at the heart of these types of crimes.

Establishing the Factual Basis for the Prosecution and Defense

The process of gathering evidence is quite complex in these cases, which is why it is advisable to first consult with the best attorneys before presenting any defense. The fact that there is an aspect of conspiracy significantly increases the range of punishments that are available to the courts. The Illinois legislature has been coming up with new bills and amendments that are designed to cover the loopholes that were left behind by the federal law. Of particular interest is the use of the affirmative defense, one which is applicable in 28 other states. The law is contained within the provisions of SB 1588.

greg-rakozy-203292-225x300The Ponzi scheme deservedly has a very bad name in Chicago because it inevitably leads to the process of bankrupting investors. It is confidence trickery at the highest level and with grand impact. The best definition of a ponzi scheme is one in which investors are only paid through the investor’s own money. Therefore, the investor is simply giving money to the leader of the scheme and making no discernible profits. The fraudulent investment has been made famous by the likes of Madoff but before that, there were very many victims that went unaided. The courts have classified it as a white collar crime based on the financial implications of its enactment and the fact that it inevitably involves a level of fraud.

For the defense attorney, the person accused of a Ponzi scheme represents unique opportunities and challenges. First of all, it is more than likely that the prosecutor will have a long list of victims with impact statements to sway the jury. Secondly the evidence is there but the last remaining ingredient is to prove the mens rea or the thought process that goes into committing fraud. Some defendants argue that promising great profits is not a crime but rather a sign of misguided ambitions. However, the courts are of the view that promising profits that are clearly unrealistic and knowing that they are unrealistic is a fraudulent activity that must be punished accordingly.

Preparing a Convincing Defense

tim-evans-88330-300x200The crime of bank fraud is sometimes thought of as being harmless given the fact that it involves big powerful corporations and rarely involves any violence. However, the courts take it seriously and are quite capable of imposing significant penalties for it. The technical definitions of the crime include the illegal acquisition of assets, money or property by any entity or institution through deceit and dishonesty. Given the concern about an implied leniency against white collar offenders, bank fraud has sometimes been elevated to the level of a federal crime.

According to the Bank Fraud Act, the prosecution is free to label and pursue the crime depending on the amounts involved and the method that was used. A level of sophistication as well as conspiracy will always be aggravating factors. On the other hand, the court will also consider the victim impact statements. Although the media coverage may often be sensationalist, the courts are at pains to demonstrate that they are bound by the sentencing guidelines as well as the facts as examined from the viewpoint of giving as much weight as possible to the intention of the legislature when the law was enacted.

Developing a Theory and Practical Basis for a Defense

https://www.chicagocriminallawyerblog.com/files/2017/01/550px-Censored_rubber_stamp.svg_-300x261.pngThe 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:

sve4luszh70-ant-rozetsky-300x200Just like in many jurisdictions, Illinois takes vehicular hijacking to be a particularly serious crime as listed in the provisions of the legislative instrument number 720 ILCS 5/18-4. Upon conviction, the defendant can expect a term of imprisonment that ranges anywhere from four to 15 years. There are specific aggravating and mitigating features that the defense attorney should pay careful attention to.

If the judge believes that the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating features, they can raise the sentencing range to six to 30 years. In exceptional cases, a whole life term may be imposed. Therefore, it is clear that this is the type of offense in which the court has wide discretion. It also means that the defendant will require first-class legal representation in order to bring the categorization down to the lowest end of the seriousness scale.

Procedural and Substantive Considerations in the Legal Framework

The laws and rules relating to orders of protection in Chicago normally stem from domestic disputes. Typically, spouses seeking orders of protection are estranged or facing domestic violence. However, that does not mean that the law does not touch on other domesticated arrangements including the relationships between roommates and family members. This is a serious legal process that has significant financial implications for the party that is found to be at fault. It can even lead to a criminal record which filters down to job security, visitation rights, and custody disputes. That is why defendants in such cases will fight tooth and nail to ensure that an order of protection is not listed against them. Needless to say that the faults in writing the legislation, the police procedures as well as its wide implications has meant that it is open for abuse. This abuse is primarily associated with the application for protective orders based on false or incomplete information.

The Role of the Attorney in Getting Justice

Fact finding is an essential aspect of the protective order and will ultimately determine whether it is allowed or not. Therefore it is the responsibility of the defendant’s attorney to ensure that all relevant facts are considered. Some might be aggravating whilst others might be mitigating. The classic defense position is to maximize the mitigating issues whilst simultaneously minimizing the aggravating aspects. So far the courts have not been too vigilant in punishing those who cause them to issue unwarranted orders of protection. For example, there is sparse use of the perjury provisions of the law in these cases; partly due to the inherent belief within the criminal justice system that orders of protection lie more within the ambit of family law than criminal law.