Articles Tagged with criminal defense

markus-spiske-153537-200x300Cyber terrorism is a serious crime. Obviously, this falls on the higher end of the offenses that are committed on the internet. Chicago, like many states, is trying to update its laws in order to deal with these threats in an effective way, bearing in mind the fact that the technology is constantly changing. Likewise, there are employee training requirements for companies. The law firms that defend and participate in prosecutions are also coming to terms with the intricacies of the laws as well as the various regulations that have been put in place to regulate the activity that takes place on the internet.

One of the issues that has come to the fore is the possibility that in the pursuit of cyber legality, there is a danger of infringing on the privacy of Chicago citizens. The state and legislature are always willing to have more control over the activities of residents. However, that level of control might have serious implications in terms of protecting civil liberties and the integrity of the American Constitution. The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has been at the forefront of advocacy work in this respect so as to moderate some of the excesses that are proposed in prospective legislation.

The Quagmire of Data Collection

andreas-weiland-252613-copy-1-300x200It is not only Chicago that is grappling with the issue of self-defense in the law. The public interpretations of the law vary considerably, and some of them are not strictly accurate. This is one of those issues that has the power to raise other polarizing matters such as racial disparities when encountering the criminal justice system. On the other hand, there is a legitimate interest in ensuring that criminals cannot terrorize the wider population on account of the fact that they are the ones with the guns. If they are genuinely frightened for their lives, most reasonable people would agree that property owners have a right to defend themselves. This self-defense argument can go right up to the case of justified killings.

Of course, we cannot always predict what is in someone’s mind. For example, a racist person may shoot any black person they see on their doorstep without any genuine fear. That is when the courts are left in a dilemma. The person may say that they were frightened, but that may mask their true intention. It also does not help that the moment such cases come to the media attention, America is once again divided along class and racial lines. All of a sudden, you have very successful Go-Fund-Me campaigns for the suspect, which makes a mockery of the system and gives the impression that America is an incurably racist society.

Private Property and Private Rights

alyssa-kibiloski-195807-copy-300x200There is no doubt that the enactment of anti-abortion laws is one of the most important cultural war issues in the USA at the moment. Chicago is not insulated from the arguments for and against the practice. At the moment, there are certain prohibitions and exemptions that have developed over time in response to federal law and changes in the popular attitudes to abortion. There is a prohibition on abortions of fetuses that are considered to be viable. This is anywhere between 23 and 24 weeks. Exceptions to the rule are made when there is a risk to the life or health of the pregnant person. At the same time, the state is subject to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which effectively bans certain second trimester abortion procedures including extraction and intact dilation. This ban does not make exceptions for the health of the mother, a rather controversial configuration.

Although Illinois has a Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, it is not currently enforceable. Other provisions and regulations determine who is allowed and not allowed to administer “abortion care,” as it is sometimes euphemistically called. The current practice is to restrict the right to administer the care to physicians who have a valid license to practice in the state. Others who are allowed to administer medication abortion are advanced practice clinicians including physician assistants and advanced practice nurses. There are strict licensing and regulation requirements. Many of these fall under the Illinois Medical Practice Act. There are other professional statutes that may be applicable in this instance.

Attempts to Control the Practice

tim-graf-202490-copy-300x200Few laws have created the angst that is experienced in the stop-and-search era. The basic premise is that if you come from an ethnic minority, then the chances are that you will be more likely to be stripped and searched than a member of the mainstream community, which is primarily white Caucasian in this context. It is a violation of civil liberties. There are numerous reports of these powers being abused.

The law enforcement agencies may hide behind the notion that they are merely engaging in a consensual process, but consensus can never be achieved if one of the parties to the cause is so much more powerful and influential. The power of arrest and charge is particularly compelling to any would-be suspect when he or she is deciding whether or not to resist the arrest. The law enforcement agencies have attempted to report this as a practical matter of people from ethnic minorities committing more crimes more often than their mainstream white Caucasian counterparts. Other social researchers disagree with this premise because it does not account for the impact of the systemic deprivations with which these ethnic minorities have to contend.

Working Towards a Sustainable Model

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