Articles Tagged with criminal procedure

brandon-mowinkel-211936-unsplash-copy-300x200Facing criminal charges in Chicago is frightening. You likely are not sure where the case will go and if you will ever see your freedom again. Not every criminal case is open and shut. There might not be enough evidence to secure a conviction on the part of the prosecution. Maybe the expert witness testimony is not convincing enough for the jury. Or, maybe your testimony helps convince the judge or jury that you were not as involved in the commission of the crime as the charges suggest. No matter what, you need to build a strong defense to criminal charges.

Understand Your Rights

One of the most important steps to take in building a strong defense to criminal charges is understanding your rights. Everyone should know that they are protected by the Fifth Amendment in that they do not have to incriminate themselves when speaking to police officers or other investigators in regards to a crime. You are to be read your Miranda Rights by the arresting officer so that you know what you say can be used against you in court. With this in the back of your head, you should refrain from saying much when in custody.

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

LAPD_Arrest_North_HillsClients who are involved with the criminal justice system in Illinois are understandably intimidated by the processes and rules. That initial panic is the main reason why so many defendants make a host of mistakes that come back to bite them later on as the case is disposed of. The first issue to consider is that of adequate legal representation. The state-appointed attorney should be a last resort if there are absolutely no alternatives save from self-representation.

In serious cases such as murder, rape, or assault the court insists on legal representation. If the client is unable to come up with representation, then an attorney or public defender will be appointed on their behalf. Unfortunately the quality of representation is not as high as would have been the case if you select your own attorney. In any case, it is important to understand the various stages of the criminal case processes so that you are not taken by surprise:

  • Making a criminal complaint: A victim of crime will contact the law enforcement agencies to get help. This normally via the 9-1-1 call. Later on the victim may decide to press charges. In some cases the law enforcement agencies will press charges even where the victim refuses to engage with the process. This is because in Illinois (like the rest of USA) crimes can be committed against the state.