A Chicago man was charged on July 1 with murder, which police believe was gang-related. The suspect was arrested on a warrant and allegedly confessed.
Defense in Illinois Murder Case
Defending against an Illinois murder charge is multi-faceted. The prosecution’s case must be attacked from all sides, beginning with the arrest and police interrogation.
Illinois Arrest Warrant
In order to be arrested in Illinois the police must have a warrant of arrest (or arrest warrant), or must reasonably believe that the person arrested committed a crime.
A warrant of arrest is issued by a court. If the arrest warrant was issued based on deliberate lies or a reckless disregard for the truth, it may be possible to have the warrant dismissed, along with any evidence the police may have uncovered when executing the warrant. In any murder defense, we will closely examine the arrest warrant to make sure the facts that resulted in the court’s issuance of the warrant are true.
Admissibility of Confession in Illinois Murder Case
The first line of defense in any murder case is challenging the prosecution’s assertion that they have caught the right man. In this case the defendant allegedly confessed to committing the murder. But that does not mean this is an open and shut case.
Any confession requires careful examination of the circumstances surrounding the defendant’s arrest and leading up to confession. If police failed to follow proper procedure, the confession may be considered inadmissible. If the prosecution filed charges based solely on the confession, having it ruled inadmissible in court may result in the charges being dismissed outright.
Factors that could lead to the defendant’s confession being deemed inadmissible include:
- Failure of the police to read the defendant his Miranda rights prior to conducting the interrogation;
- Failure to provide the defendant an attorney following a request for one;
- Continuing to question the defendant following his request for an attorney;
- Continuing to question the defendant out of the presence of his attorney once he has obtained one;
- Questioning the defendant under harsh or inhumane conditions, such as a four-day interrogation with no breaks;
- Whether the police or prosecution promised the defendant leniency in exchange for the confession, or;
- Whether the police fabricated evidence to obtain a confession.
Validity of Confession in Illinois Murder Case
If the police followed proper procedure in obtaining the confession, given that this is a gang-related case, we would look at whether it was a false confession. It is not uncommon in gang cases for members to take the fall for those higher-up in the gang, as a show of solidarity or as part of initiation.
If other evidence tends to dispute the fact that the defendant committed the murder, then the validity of the confession would be called into question. Such factors that may help prove the confession was false include:
- Lack of forensic evidence linking the defendant to the crime;
- Forensic evidence of another person found on the alleged murder weapon;
- Threats of harm made to the defendant or his family;
- Evidence calling into question the defendant’s ability to be at the murder scene at the time the murder was committed, or;
- Eyewitness descriptions of the murderer that do not match the description of the defendant.
Other factors that come in to play in a murder defense include:
- Deciding whether to invoke your right to a speedy trial;
- Whether we can work with the prosecution to come to a plea agreement, if a review of the evidence looks like a conviction is likely, or if you do not want to take your chances before a jury, or;
- Whether it is possible to obtain immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against someone else (for example, the head of the gang).