Articles Tagged with violent crime

Many residents of Chicago and the surrounding area view violent crime as something completely out of their control. Fighting violent crime in Chicago takes the coordinated effort of police and residents of the city.

So far this year, shootings and homicides have a downward trend according to police. To date, there have been 44 homicides compared to 80 at this point in 2018. That is a decrease of 55%. In January and February of this year, there were 214 shootings. The first two months of 2018 experienced 282. The number of people who were shot decreased to 253 in 2019 from 345 last year. There have been 40% fewer homicides compared to the same period last year.

Though the numbers have been dropping, Chicago is still plagued with a disproportionate amount of crime when compared to many other cities around the country. A violent crimes defense lawyer will be able to help with your case if you have been charged or arrested.

brandi-ibrao-1140359-unsplash-copy-300x225Chicago marked a memorable day on the calendar this month — January 14, 2019.

That was the first day in 2019 when there were no reports of gun violence in the city. The day before, three people were wounded after being shot, but no one was killed. According to police, most of the violent crime and killing in Chicago is related to gang activity. Members commonly fight over territory they feel is theirs or retaliate against perceived offenses by rival gangs.

The level of crime in the city has remained steady in recent years for the most part. Last year, the number of homicides decreased in many areas of Chicago but increased in other areas of the West and South sides. Neighborhoods such as West Garfield Park and Englewood are still seeing much violence that is gang or gun related.

alyssa-kibiloski-195807-copy-300x200Recent studies show that hate crimes in Chicago have increased by 20% between 2015 and 2016. New police data show that hate crimes are at a five-year high and have outpaced previous years. In fact, data show that since the last election, the number of victims of hate crimes has increased. People are treated differently, and the social dynamics of the city are shifting. Most hate crimes reported in the city have historically been toward gay men and blacks, but now they are increasingly toward Arabs, Muslims, and Hispanics. News reports continue show videos of city dwellers confronting women and men for wearing shirts that support other nations, other religions, and other races.

What Constitutes a Hate Crime?

Legally, hate crimes are any crimes motivated by some form of bias. Hate crimes are violent acts that target groups or individuals based on an identifier such as nationality, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Someone can be charged with committing a hate crime when he or she acts violently against a religious establishment or house of worship based solely on the nature of that institution. Expert attorneys know the latest changes that Illinois lawmakers have put into effect regarding these violent crimes.

hajran-pambudi-403848-copy-300x199The Charlottesville incident in August of 2017 is one instance of hate crime that brought about great destruction. It caused the death of a paralegal and two of the state troopers and the injury of several others. Racist undertones formed the root cause of the Charlottesville violence, and it is not an isolated incident.

The incidence of hate crime seems to be on the rise in the past few years, especially in the wake of the 2016 election results. Based on Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) statistics, the rate of hate crimes rose to an all-time high in 2016. Racial discrimination is a common reason behind the crimes, and this includes crimes against Jewish and Muslim people. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the country, including vandalism, harassment, and assaults.

Laws to Help Hate Crime Victims

Hilulaohaio-225x300Chicago has sought to deal with the increasing problem of hate crime using legislative means. The provisions of the Illinois Hate Crime Act (IHCA), 720 ILCS 5/12-7.1, are the leading authority on the management of the criminal process. The act creates an imperative on the state to prosecute but does not explicitly remove the opportunity for private civil cases to take place. Many victims take the opportunity to sue for damages, even when the aggressor is a public authority or their representatives. The range of options for the court includes actual damages, punitive damages, and additional costs, including attorney fees. At other times, the court may offer injunctive relief in order to stop the offending behavior from happening.

The criteria for what constitutes a hate crime can be fluid and those who offend have often used the ambiguity of definitions in order to attempt a get-out-clause for their behavior. Typically, they will claim that this is a case of freedom of speech, which is constitutionally guaranteed. For those who actually go on to commit acts of violence, the case is much simpler since the prosecutor can go for the assault line of questioning and later prove that hate-inspired motives were at play. A crime becomes a hate crime when it is motivated by perceived creed, race, color, gender, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, nationality and even membership of a particular group. Bigotry is at the heart of this crime and will be part of the Mens Rea during the prosecution.

The Importance of the Motivating Factors

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The Wisconsin State Journal reports that two suspects are currently in custody in Illinois in connection with a violent home invasion that took place in Madison last January. Allegedly, the two suspects robbed a 27-year-old man at gunpoint, forced the man into his apartment, and once inside bound the man and his girlfriend with duct tape. The couple claims that the robbers demanded more money and pointed a gun at their 3-year-old daughter’s head. Eventually, the father broke free of his bonds, lunged at one of the gunmen, and was shot multiple times. Thankfully all members of the family survived. Now that both suspects are in custody, they have been charged with several crimes, including false imprisonment.

What is False Imprisonment?

In Illinois, false imprisonment occurs when an individual’s personal liberty or freedom of locomotion is unlawfully restrained. Before a defendant can be convicted of false imprisonment the prosecution must prove the following two elements:

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Last month, African American teenager Paul O’Neal was killed when a Chicago police officer shot him in the back during a controversial arrest. This shooting has outraged the African American community in Chicago and has worsened the already strained relationship between the police and the community. In fact, Fox News reports that three Chicago gangs are plotting to shoot police officers in retaliation. Apparently the Chicago Police Department (CPD) alerted its officers last week that three local gangs, the Vice Lords, the Black Disciples, and the Four Corner Hustlers, met in order to exchange guns and discuss plans to shoot CDP officers.  

Penalties for Killing, Harming, or Intimidating a Police Officer

Under federal law 18 U.S.C. § 1121, it is a capital offense to intentionally kill a state or local law enforcement officer or employee, who is working with federal law enforcement officials during a criminal investigation,:

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There is no doubt about it, this year Chicago is experiencing a serious spike in shootings and murders. In fact, ABC7  reports that there were 65 fatal shootings in July alone. What is to blame for this spike in violence? While there are undoubtedly many contributing factors, the head of the Chicago Police Union claims that police paperwork is in large part to blame. In an interview with DNAinfo the union leader explained that the problem does not exclusively stem from paperwork issues, but that the implementation of two-page Investigative Stop Reports has led to fewer police stops and, therefore, more violent crimes being perpetrated on the streets.

Chicago’s New Two-Page Investigative Stop Reports

Starting on January 1, 2016, Chicago’s old checklist contact cards were replaced with two-page Investigative Stop Reports. Under the old contact card system, every time a police officer interacted with a civilian on the street the officer would document the encounter via a simple checklist on an index-sized contact card. However, police officers are now required to document each encounter by filling out a two-page questionnaire. This new requirement means that police officers in Chicago are spending much more time filling out paperwork and much less time interacting with people on the street. An article from DNAinfo notes that during the first 11 days under the new policy there was a 79% decrease in police stops. The article states that there were just 3,916 investigative reports filed during these 11 days, compared to the 16,698 reports that were filed during the same period last year under the old system. This difference is clearly astronomical.

police officersThere have been several incidents recently where a Chicago Police Officer has been involved in conduct that was either illegal or borderline illegal. This should not reflect on the hundreds of officers that are outstanding in the performance of their duties, but unfortunately, it does. The responsibility should be laid at the feet of the administrators that turn a blind eye to problem officers who create an atmosphere of mistrust in their communities.

The Chicago Police Department recently came under fire over the perceived “code of silence” with respect to giving any evidence of potential police corruption within a precinct. A federal court judge has given a green light for Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be called before the court to give testimony regarding this practice. This court ruling may have significant ramifications for the way the police department will be required to conduct their investigations into internal affairs going forward.

The actions of police departments across the nation have been placed under microscopic scrutiny due to several highly politicized incidents involving law enforcement and the neighborhoods that they patrol. In several incidents, the police have been exonerated. Even so, some believe that cover ups do occur. In such a climate, any possibility that evidence of true police misconduct is being covered up by a “code of silence” will lead to mistrust, especially in those communities that need the police the most.

43724062_51f3a21a88Street gang violence in the inner cities has become a way of life. News reports about shootings and killing on any given weekend is now Monday morning’s “yawn” story. But how can that be? Young men and women being shot down in the streets become just another statistic. A life lost, snuffed out by an “unidentified” assailant, is how the story goes. The assailant cannot be identified even though the probability of the residents of these closed neighborhoods not knowing who does what in the community is slim to none. Law enforcement’s hands are tied because of the desensitization and unwillingness of neighbors in the communities to get involved.

Sometimes You are Just in the Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

An adjunct to the tragic story of Lee McCullum is the equally tragic story of Tiara Parks, the 23 year old girlfriend of McCullum. Parks was also the daughter of a Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy, a college student and a working mother. It is not known at this time what the possible motive for this murder was. Two other individuals were wounded in this drive-by shooting, one in the leg and one in the back. During the time of the shootings, there were approximately twenty people in the area, standing around as Parks and her companions were shot down as they exited their car in front of the Haley Elementary Academy. It is also unknown at this time if Parks or either of her companions, or all three of them, were the targets of this shooting.

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