Do Illinois Sex Offender Laws Violate Citizen Rights?

Illinois has a series of statutes that force convicted sex offenders to register and prohibit them from certain activities and visiting some places.

Now a group of sex offenders is challenging these laws accusing them of being too vague and indiscriminate.

The Sun-Times reported how earlier this year, five sex offenders filed a lawsuit requesting a judge to halt the enforcement of Illinois’ sex offender registration statutes.

Questions about Illinois sex offender laws

Questions about Illinois sex offender laws

Four Illinois residents and one former resident filed the lawsuit. It names Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Leo Schmitz, director of the Illinois State Police, as defendants.

The sex offenders claim several Illinois sex offender registry statutes are overly vague and are violations of their constitutional rights. The suit states:

“The vague prohibitions set forth in these statutes unconstitutionally interfere with the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, including their right to engage in free speech, their right to practice their religions, and their right to organize their family affairs.”

One of the plaintiffs claimed he can’t play golf because he fears he will be charged with a crime when he sets foot on a golf course, a place where children may be present. The suit stated:

“He was afraid he would be arrested or charged with a crime if he attempts to play golf at park-district owned facilities, even when no children are present.”

The lawsuit stated none of the five sex offenders re-offended since their convictions.

There is a real concern that Illinois’ laws concerning sex offenders are too wide and vague.

The law puts schools and playgrounds are off-limits. This is in line with statutes in many other states.

However, any facility providing programs or services for minors is also off-limits to sex offenders. The five former offenders argue this rule prevents them properly raise their children.  It can encompass churches, recreational centers or other public spaces.

According to the Illinois State Police website, someone on the sex offenders register can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor in public park buildings or on property comprising any public park. A public park includes a park, forest preserve, or conservation area run the state or unit of local government.

There are hundreds of parks in Chicago. This law appears to be very wide and vague, making for an uncertain climate for those on the registry.

The plaintiffs want the statutes replaced with less wide-ranging laws.

 

In recent years, laws targeting sex offenders have been challenged with some success. The U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down a law in North Carolina that made it an offense for sex offenders to use social media.

 

If you are facing a sex offense charge, this can have a very serious impact on your liberty, your family, your job prospects, and your future. Call our Illinois criminal defense team today for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.

Former Chicago Neo Nazi Fights White Hate Crimes

Hate crimes have never been far from the news headlines after the shocking events of Charlottesville in Virginia in August when neo-Nazis clashed with counter-protestors.

The work of one former American white supremacist movement leader from Chicago provides an insight into how so-called alt right groups operate.

The Chicago Tribune reported how nearly three decades ago, Christian Picciolini wrote racist propaganda, devised infiltration strategies and worked on mergers with similar organizations in the U.S.

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Today, Picciolini works to a different agenda. He’s the co-founder of Life After Hate, a nonprofit devoted to helping former neo-Nazis and other former extremists shed their former ideology.

He reported a surge in referrals since Donald Trump was elected president. They surged from two a week to five a day. He said contacts with his organization skyrocketed after a car plowed into a crowd protesting a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August.

Picciolini quickly became the public face of the backlash against white supremacist groups after the Charlottesville violence, reported the Tribune.

However, he has fought dwindling funding. He said the Trump administration in June rescinded a $400,000 grant he was receiving from the Department of Homeland Security in June. Post Charlottesville, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than $220,000.

Picciolini told the Tribune he believes the violence in Charlottesville was inevitable given the president’s rhetoric.

As a teen, Picciolini became involved in the white supremacist movement. He made his way through four high schools. At Eisenhower, he led a cafeteria sit-in of about a dozen students calling for a white student union.

The school took out a restraining order against him after he assaulted a black student and a black security guard. He was not allowed to receive his diploma with other graduates.

Picciolini joined the skinheads. At the time, Clark Martell, the former leader of the Chicago Area Skin Heads, and several members were jailed for smashing windows at synagogues and attacking a former member who befriended a black man. They painted a swastika on the wall of her home with her blood.

Picciolini became the most senior member of the gang and the anointed leader at the age of 16, reported the Tribune.

He opened a record store Chaos Records, in 1994. It was devoted to white power music. He also carried hip-hop music and other genres to make more money from the black clientele who he termed the enemy.  However, exposure to these customers changed his life.

He said black and Jews were the only people who showed him compassion.  He renounced his neo-Nazi past and eventually set up Life After Hate.

The events in Charlottesville shed a new light on neo-Nazis and raise questions about how much crime is committed by white supremacists.

An article in Slate linked white supremacist gangs to the killings of more than 70 people since 1995. That was the year when Timothy McVeigh, a man with an alt-right agenda killed 168 people in a bombing in Oklahoma City.

In 2015, Dylann Roof murdered nine people at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. He was convicted of murder and hate crimes and sentenced to death.

If you have been charged with a serious crime, please call our Chicago criminal defense lawyers at (312) 229-0008.

Crimes Committed on Facebook Live Are More Prevalent

Video streaming on Facebook was created for people to share videos of their family members, pets and good times. Alarmingly, it is being used by more and more criminals to film violent crimes.

In April, the killing of an elderly man in Cleveland in Ohio sparked fear, outrage and a national debate about social media.

Police said the victim, Robert Godwin Sr., appeared to have been chosen at random so as his gruesome last moments could be watched on social media.

Live streaming crimes are committed on Facebook

Live streaming crimes are committed on Facebook

A report on ABC noted Steve Stephens uploaded a video on Facebook of his alleged killing of Godwin. Stephens killed himself as police closed in on him, according to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. The video of the killing ran for about two hours before being removed by Facebook.

The crime led to a review by Facebook about how prevent crimes being streamed on the social media.

It was not the first time a violent crime has been posted on Facebook. In Chicago, two cases made national headlines.

In early 2017, police in Chicago arrested four people for allegedly torturing a teen and live streaming the incident on Facebook Live.

Four African Americans were arrested over the alleged beating and racial taunting of a white man with disabilities on Facebook Live.

A 30-minute video showed a man tied up with his mouth covered. He cowered in the corner of a room as he was kicked and punched.

The four people were charged with a hate crime, felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, reported CNN.

In March, a Facebook Live incident in Chicago again made headlines. A group of teenage boys in Chicago is accused of live-streaming the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl using Facebook, reported Forbes.

Police said at one point more than 40 people were watching the attack in Facebook but nobody called 911 or contacted the authorities.

The rationale for this disturbing growth in crimes recorded on social media is unclear.

However, Ray Surette, a professor in the department of criminal justice at the University of Central Florida, calls these incidents “performance crimes.”

He argues the perpetrators commit violent acts as if they were on a stage playing to an audience for attention.

 

Obviously, when crimes are filmed on Facebook Live or another medium, this is important evidence for prosecutors. If you have been charged with a crime, you should never discuss details or post evidence of it on social media because that material will be used against you.

If you have been charged with a serious crime, please call our Cook County criminal defense lawyers at (312) 229-0008.

 

Fentanyl is on the front lines of the Drug War in Chicago

Opioid addiction has morphed into the most significant drug crisis seen in decades on the streets of America. The drug fentanyl is on the front line of this new drug war.

Fentanyl is a synthetic painkiller that’s typically prescribed. Dealers add it to heroin with devastating effects.

The Chicago Tribune reported fentanyl was once a minor player in the drug crisis. However, the painkiller is 50 times more powerful than heroin and is directly linked to thousands of overdoses and fatalities.

Opioids are fueling the drugs crisis

Opioids are fueling the drugs crisis

The overdoses are centered on cities. In the nation’s 25 largest cities and the counties around them, fentanyl-related overdose deaths rose nearly 600 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to health departments

A report in the Washington Post noted 582 fatal overdoses linked to fentanyl in 2014. In 2016, the figure was a staggering 3,946.

Officials believe the number fatal fentanyl-related overdoses will be even higher in 2017.

Cook County, Illinois, saw a 2,700 percent increase in fatal fentanyl-related overdoses in those two years.

The number of deaths linked to fentanyl rose from 20 in 2014 to 562 in 2016. The city of Columbus in Ohio at the epicenter of the epidemic. The number of fatal overdoses went from 13 two years ago to 111 in 2016.

Fentanyl and the Origins of the Opioid Crisis

The current opioid epidemic originated in the 1990s. The American pharmaceutical industry developed a range of new opioid painkillers like OxyContin. These drugs were marketed as safer and less likely to be abused than their predecessors.

 Opioids started to be prescribed for a wide range of illnesses. In communities already hit by unemployment and substance abuse, some doctors dispensed these painkillers too freely.  When officials sought to cut down on illegitimate prescriptions, the street price of the opioids spiked. Many users turned to cheaper heroin, mostly imported from Mexico.

The issue became more serious when dealers started mixing illicit fentanyl to heroin to counter users who developed a tolerance.  The result was deaths spiking as users became addicted to a new family of powerful fentanyl-laced heroin.

In August, Attorney General Jeff Sessions vowed a federal crackdown on doctors and pharmacies that exploit the opioid crisis. 

In a speech in Ohio, one of the state’s worst impacted by the crisis, he detailed a new analytics program that will analyze drug prescriptions and sales, reported the New York Daily News.

A new opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit has been set up to operate in hard-hit areas of California, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. The units will investigate doctors and pharmacies that prescribe opioids at a higher level than their counterparts.

Drug dealing is taken very seriously in Illinois by federal and state authorities as well as robberies at pharmacies that are fueling the crisis. If you have been charged with this crime, please contact our experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyers at (312) 229-0008.

 

Former Attorney General Joins Fight to Make Cook County’s Bail System Fairer

Cook County’s cash bail system is under fire and facing reform amid concerns it violates the rights of the poor.

Recently Eric Holder, the former Attorney General in the Obama administration, joined the battle to reform the system across the whole of Illinois.

Cash bail systems are coming under fire across the country and Cook County’s is no exception.

Holder and his law firm prepared a memo at the request of Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli, reported WTTW.

Cook Country seeks to make bail fairer

Cook Country seeks to make bail fairer

It’s Holder’s opinion that Cook County is violating both the Eighth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution because the county is routinely setting bail amounts irrespective of defendants’ ability to make bail. The county is set to change the process.

Campanelli said an important recommendation is to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to consider setting up hearings to decide if defendants can even afford bail before setting an amount. The upcoming changes in Cook County are set to be replicated across the state.

In July, Cook County Chief Justice Timothy Evans ordered his bond court judges to steer away from a cash-for-bond system, warning it can violate the rights of the poor 

Up to 300 defendants are jailed every day in Cook County because they cannot afford to post bail of $1,000.

The political momentum for reform is gathering pace in Illinois and elsewhere. The Chicago Tribune reported prosecutors in Cook County will stop opposing the release of detainees held for certain nonviolent offenses because they can’t afford bonds.

Campanelli said in the recommendation:

“We can’t have people in Cook County looking at the present ability to pay and they are getting released on high bonds or high bonds with conditions but the rest of the state is being held in custody because they’re poor. So we need uniformity and we need permanency.”

The State of New Jersey has led the way in scrapping the cash bail system. Earlier this year, the Garden State eliminated cash bail this year for people accused of low-level crimes.  

A study four years earlier by a criminal justice consulting firm, Luminosity, and the Drug Policy Alliance found that nearly 40 percent of people in New Jersey jails were locked up in cells because they could not afford to pay their bail.

The state scrapped cash bail. Under the new law, judges either hold a defendant who is a danger to public safety or a flight risk, or release them before trial, possibly with a curfew or a GPS monitor.

At Abdallah Law, we can fight for your rights if you are being kept in jail due to poverty. Call us at (312) 229-0008.

4 Facts About Assault and Battery Charges In Chicago

Lots of people tend to think that assault and battery are the same thing.  The words are used together so often that it is easy to believe they are the same crime.  

While the two terms are similar, in Illinois, they refer to two different crimes with different levels of punishment.  

Battery Means An Offensive Touch

The legal definition of battery is when someone “intentionally or knowingly, and without legal justification, causes bodily harm to an individual or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.” (720 ILCS 5/12-3).  

In everyday language, battery is best described as an unwanted touch.  That is a very broad definition.  

Battery can be a form of sexual harassment (such as touching a private area of another person’s body) or a violent touch (such as punching someone).  It can also be an indirect touch, such as throwing something at someone or snatching something from them.

An interesting thing about battery is that the victim does not have to be hurt by the touch. Similarly, the batterer (the person who commits the battery) does not have to intend to hurt the victim.  

Also, if the victim is particularly sensitive and the batterer had no way of knowing that, it does not matter.  For example, shoving someone on the subway would not hurt an average person. But, the victim may have a condition which makes them particularly sensitive to pressure, and a shove to that person may cause a bone fracture.  

Even though there is no way to anticipate that a small shove would break that person’s bone, the shove would be a battery and the batterer may face civil and criminal liability for it.

Assault Means Placing Someone In Fear Of A Battery

Assault is a separate crime from battery, and it occurs when someone places another person in fear of being battered.  

For example, if someone raises a fist to another person’s face, dangles them out of a window, or makes a threat which the victim reasonably believes can be carried out (such as threatening to stab the victim when the victim knows the person making the threat is violent and has a knife in their pocket).  

Just as with battery, a person charged with assault does not have to intend to place the victim in fear.  They only have to intend to take the action to place the person in fear.  

An example is given above about raising a fist to someone’s face.  If the person who raised the fist is charged with assault and claims that he was just joking and would never actually punch the victim, he would still be guilty of assault, because the victim reasonably believed he was going to be punched.  

Battery And Assault Can Be Elevated To “Aggravated” Charges

Simple battery is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in hail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.  

The charge is elevated to aggravated battery when it causes severe injury or disfigurement, when it is committed with a deadly weapon or explosive, or when it is committed against certain victims, such as a child or a police officer.  

Aggravated battery is usually a Class 3 felony, which can result in three to five years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine.  

Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, which can result in jail time for up to 30 days and/or a fine of up to $1,500.  

Aggravated assault is assault with a deadly weapon or an assault against a child or police officer.  Aggravated assault is a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by one to three years in jail and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

There Are Defenses Available For Assault And Battery.  

Assault and battery are serious charges, but there are many defenses available.  An experienced criminal attorney has several ways to defend those accused of assault and battery.

For example, an attorney can show that the victim consented to the battery in some cases (for example, if the victim and the defendant agreed to fight each other).  An attorney can also argue that it is unreasonable to believe that the victim felt he was in danger of harm based on the circumstances.  

There are other defenses available, such as self-defense, defense of property, defense of others, or lack of evidence that may also be helpful in battery and assault cases.  

Even if a defendant is ultimately found guilty of battery or assault, an experienced attorney can work with the prosecution to ensure that probation is granted instead of jail time.  

Contact Abdallah Law Today

Assault and battery charges are not something that should be taken lightly.  These types of charges can interrupt careers, families, and cause people to be mislabeled as criminals.  

If you or a loved one is facing these charges, contact our offices today at 312-854-2677 for a free consultation

DNA May Exonerate Men who Served 23 Years in Illinois Jails

Murder is one of the most serious crimes on the statute book. Killing another justifiably carries a long prison sentence in Illinois

But what if the defendant did not commit the murder? Cases in which people serve time for crimes they did not commit are more common that we would like to believe.

Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fulton may have served 23 years for a murder they did not commit, according to the Cook State Attorney’s office.

A report on ABC News stated DNA from the murder scene in 1994 points to another suspect.

DNA may exonerate two men

DNA may exonerate two men

Lawyers for the two men were in court pleading for them to be released from prison in August,

They point to new DNA evidence that may exonerate the two men.

The case relates to the killing of Antwinica Bridgeman, a 20-year-old whose body was found in the basement of Coleman’s home.

Coleman worked on the grounds keeping crew at Comiskey Park. Coleman along with his neighbor, Darryl Fulton, were subsequently charged with Bridgeman's murder. Before his arrest, Coleman had no criminal history.

His attorneys say they are skeptical that he could have committed such a serious crime.

The ABC report noted DNA from Bridgeman's clothes and fingernails was consistent with a serial rapist who remains at large. Lawyers for the two men claim their convictions follow confessions coerced by Chicago police. One of the detectives on the case is accused of other instances of misconduct.

The report quoted Chanequa Allen, Coleman's daughter. She was just two- years old when her father was jailed for the murder and rape of Bridgeman. Coleman's family hope the DNA evidence will exonerate him.

Attorneys for Coleman are calling for a judge to release him on bond pending the results of further DNA tests.


A judge is scheduled to consider Coleman's request to be released on August 18. The Cook County State's Attorney's Office concedes that Coleman’s case is the subject of an urgent review. It has called on the lab to expedite the DNA results.

Illinois has been the scene of several high-profile miscarriages of justice including the so-called Murders in the Park.

If you have been charged with a serious crime like murder, it’s vital to hire experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyers. Call us for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.

Crime on the L, CTA Trains and Buses Rise, 90 Percent Goes Unsolved

The level of serious crime on CTA L Trains and buses has been rising in recent months in Chicago, concerning commuters. The level of unsolved crime has also made headlines after hitting 90 percent.

Serious crime overall on the CTA in Chicago rose 16 percent last year, fueled by thefts of cellphones and other items, reported the Sun-Times.

Public transport also saw some more serious crimes. An analysis from the start of 2015 through April 2017 found the most serious transit-related crimes in the city occurred on the L trains.

Crimes on trains and buses go unreported

Crimes on trains and buses go unreported

Since the start of 2015, police recorded 1,906 so-called “index crimes,” including killings, robberies, rapes, and burglaries.

In 2016, a woman was stabbed to death on a CTA Red Line train. Witnesses said a man stabbed his girlfriend repeatedly.

Jessica Hampton, 25, was stabbed in the neck while riding a southbound train near the 47th Street station following an argument, apparently, over a child, investigators said.

Arthur Jones, a 29-year-old man arrested for the killing on the CTA Red Line train was reported to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. Cook County public defenders said he had been living at a nursing home to address his mental health issues, the Sun-Times reported.

The low clear-up rate of crimes on trains and buses was apparent in the recent reports.

The Sun-Times noted 2,007 serious crimes occurred at L stations and bus stops and on CTA trains and buses last year.

Just 134 of them have been solved, with arrests made, according to records provided by the Chicago Police Department, which patrols the city’s part mass transit system — a 6.7 percent crimes-solved rate.

The bulk of crimes reported on public transportation were classified as “larceny-theft”. Police noted — 3,101 of these crimes on CTA trains and the bus systems over just over two years. Of the 1,442 thefts in 2016, 2.6 percent were solved.

City police said they are aiming to step up law enforcement on public transport. Police said efforts are being made across the city that include providing additional training to detectives in finding and processing video surveillance footage from trains and buses.

However, the report noted CTA doesn’t keep statistics on offenses that occur in the suburbs on buses or trains or at stations.

If you have been accused of a crime on Chicago’s trains or buses, the evidence against you may be flimsy. Please call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

Attorney General Claims Link Between “Criminal Aliens” and Chicago Crime

The Trump administration has frequently claimed there is a link between immigrants and crime. It’s a perception that is rejected in Chicago where the administration is fighting legislation against so-called “sanctuary cities.”

In August, Attorney General Jeff Sessions targeted “criminal aliens” in Chicago.

Sessions’ attack was a response to a lawsuit filed on Aug. 7. Chicago is seeking to block the Justice Department from withholding federal grant money for policing “sanctuary cities.”

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Chicago is one of the sanctuary cities the federal government is taking aim at, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Chicago’s Police Department does not question the victims of crimes, witnesses and other law-abiding residents about their legal immigration status.

The city won’t use an individual’s immigration status alone as grounds for detention. The city also imposes strict limits on the interaction between police officers and federal immigration (ICE) agents.

The city’s stance has set the scene for a stand-off between Chicago and the federal government.

Sessions pulled few punches in early August. He said the city was a trafficker, smuggler, or predator’s “best friend. He warned Chicago will lose more cash to fight crime. Sessions said:

“Respect for the rule of law has broken down. In Chicago, their so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies are just one sad example.”

The AJC story noted how the Trump administration’s insistence on an alleged link between illegal immigrants and spikes in crime is questioned in academic and other circles.

 The AJC contacted the Department of Justice asking for data to back up Sessions’ claim.

The DOJ referred to a 2016 study by the Murder Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that monitors unsolved homicides and calls for improved crime reporting.

That study found Illinois has the lowest homicide clearance rate in the nation. However, the poor clear up rate appears to be caused by poor record-keeping methods at the Illinois State Police Department.

Chicago police have previously distanced themselves from claims that immigrants are fueling the recent spike seen in crime.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said an interview with NPR in August that the vast majority of violent crimes in the city are committed by “homegrown people.”

Most of the offenders are born and raised in Chicago. Instances of undocumented immigrants committing crimes are violence are nominal, he said.

The AJC referenced a 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences that indicates Immigrants are less likely to commit crime than natives.

The study went further and suggested some impoverished areas that see an influx of immigrants are revitalized and see a fall in crimes.

If you have been charged with a crime in Chicago, it’s important to receive experienced legal representation. Call our Chicago criminal defense team at (312) 229-0008.

 

 

Woman is Chased, Shot 12 Times and Killed in Chicago’s Logan Square

Fatal shootings are commonplace in Chicago, but a homicide when a woman was shot 12 times and killed in Logan Square made headlines.

The Sun-Times reported the 33-year-old woman died after she was chased down and shot numerous times in the Logan Square neighborhood on the Northwest Side.

The Sun-Times reported that Laquesha L. Holmes, was near Spaulding and Cortland when a black Dodge Charger with tinted windows approached her and a man got out.

The man chased Holmes down the street. He fired several shots into her, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Woman is shot dead in Chicago domestic

Woman is shot dead in Chicago domestic

The authorities said Holmes was shot 12 times. She was taken to Stroger Hospital where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy found she died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The shooter fled the scene. Members of the community said the killing was believed to be a domestic incident.

A longstanding friend of Holmes, who lived close to her in the South Shore neighborhood described her as a “wonderful mother and person” to her four kids.

Domestic violence is common in Chicago. The City of Chicago states about a third of women in America report being physically abused by a boyfriend, husband or partner at some point in their lives.

About 30 percent of Americans know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past 12 months.

Although men may be victims of domestic violence, women are up to eight times more likely than men to become victims of attacks.

In Illinois, domestic violence may be a misdemeanor or a felony. It’s generally a Class A misdemeanor, carrying one a jail term of one year, probation, a fine, or another sentence.

Domestic violence becomes a Class 4 felony if the defendant's criminal history includes at least one previous conviction for domestic battery or if the crime falls under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act by including the following elements:

§  Battery using a firearm,

§  Battery involving a minor, or

§  Battery involving sexual assault

Class 4 felonies lead to a prison sentence of one to three years. Additionally, a prosecutor might request additional punishment based on the accused’s criminal history or the state's sentencing extension laws.

An aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony in Illinois carrying a sentence of three to seven years in prison or probation. It can be charged when a defendant knowingly or intentionally causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to the victim or when a person committing domestic battery strangles another.

When a court grants a request for probation, the defendant must still serve at least 60 days in prison. A defendant with a previous conviction for aggravated domestic battery must receive a sentence of three to seven years in prison. The may be extended to 14 years if the prosecutor can meet the criteria established by state law.

Find out more about domestic violence charges here or call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

 

 

Hot Summers and Homicides – Does Weather Impact Crime?

There’s a common perception that hot weather drives up crimes like homicides in big cities. However, while hot summers tend to see more crimes, not all types of offenses are susceptible to temperature changes.

A study in The Chicago Tribune looked at police data from the start of 2012 to June 2017.

It took 1.5 million incidents into account, including drug charges, larcenies, and shootings and correlated them with changes in average daily temperatures.

Study looked at heat and homicides

Study looked at heat and homicides

The study showed some types of crime increase with temperatures but others do not.

The Tribune built a model that attempts to predict the number of crime incidents, per type, of offense for every 10 degrees increase in temperature.

The model found the crime of battery, which includes shootings, is the offense most closely linked to the weather. When temperatures rise, so do batteries. There is also a strong link between higher temperatures and theft and criminal damage.

Contrary to popular belief, the number of homicides does not spike when temperatures increase, nor do drug crimes. The study showed a slight correlation between higher temperatures and burglaries

The climatic data for the model was derived from the Midwest Regional Climate Center.

It’s not the first time a link has been made between hot weather and violent crime.

An article in The Atlantic noted the most detailed study in this area was carried out by psychologists Ellen Cohn and James Rotton of Florida State University.

The pair studied offenses over 24 months in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The study found violent crime rises with temperature, but only up to a point.

After the mercury reaches 80 degrees, violent crime falls because people become more lethargic, the study found.

Rising levels of violent crime in Chicago over the last two years led to federal assistance this year. Although the relentless rise in homicides in Chicago appears to have stopped, the city still leads the national murder table and homicides are running at about the same level as in 2016, reported the Washington Times.

If you have been arrested for a violent crime, contact Abdallah Law for a free and confidential case evaluation.

5 Facts About Chicago Gun Shows

Lots of politicians and other public personalities claim that gun shows are a loophole in the legal process of buying, selling or trading firearms. They claim that gun shows are a way for people to bypass the law and purchase a gun without being subjected to background checks or licensing requirements.  

Below are the facts about gun shows in Illinois.  

1. Gun Shows Are Defined By Statute

Illinois statute defines a gun show as “an event or function: (1) at which the sale and transfer of firearms is the regular and normal course of business and where 50 or more firearms are displayed, offered, or exhibited for sale, transfer or exchange; or (2) at which not less than 10 gun show vendors display, offer, or exhibit for sale, sell, transfer, or exchange firearms” (430 III. Comp. Stat. 65/1.1.).  

Gun shows are usually advertised as such, and while they are normally large public events, they can be small, single dealer functions.  

2. People Who Purchase From Commercial Sellers At Gun Shows Must Pass A Background Check

Current Illinois statute requires that commercial sellers must perform background checks on prospective purchasers of guns at gun shows.   This means that if a gun store or otherwise licensed gun manufacturer or seller has a booth at a gun show, they must perform a background check on anyone who wishes to purchase from them.

This is the same rule that applies to gun stores and other gun related businesses.  Most of them are governed by federal gun laws; and some states, like Illinois, place further restrictions on the purchase, sale, or trade of firearms.  

If that is the rule, why do some people claim there is a loophole?  

3. Individual Sellers In Some States Do Not Have To Perform Background Checks

However, that is not the case in Illinois.  In many states, private gun sellers do not have to perform background checks on prospective gun buyers.  

This means a person who is not a commercial gun seller can rent a booth at a gun show and sell firearms to gun show attendees without performing background checks, asking for a license, keeping a record of the sale, or even asking for identification of the purchaser.  

This loophole is known as the “Brady bill loophole.” The justification for this is that the government should not interfere with the private sale or transfer of goods.

While that is the law in some states, it is not the case in Illinois.  An individual in Illinois who wishes to purchase a firearm must have an FOID card to do so, regardless of whether the purchase is from a commercial or a private seller.  

A private seller who wants to sell guns at a gun show must verify that the purchaser’s FOID card is legitimate with the Department of State Police prior to the sale.  Once the FOID card is validated, the buyer and seller only have 30 days to complete the transaction.  

4. Out Of State Buyers Have Limited Purchasing Power 

Gun shows are open to the public, meaning attendees can be residents of states other than Illinois.  

Gun show attendees who do not live in Illinois are limited with regard to what they can purchase.  Non-residents can purchase ammunition, rifles, or shotguns if they are residents of Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, or Wisconsin, or if they are a resident of another state and have a valid non-resident hunting license.  

Non-residents cannot purchase handguns at gun shows.  

5. There Are Penalties For Violation Of These Provisions

In Illinois, anyone who knowingly sells or transfers a firearm to an individual who is ineligible to possess a firearm (e.g., a felon) or does not have a valid FOID card is guilty of a Class 3 felony.

Any seller who is already monitored by the federal government, such as a licensed gun retailer, can lose their license to sell firearms if they do not follow the required procedures, which include verifying the purchaser’s FOID card and keeping a record of all purchases, sales and trades for 10 years after the transaction.  

There are also some benefits to following these laws. For example, if a private seller gains permission to sell a gun by clearing the transaction with the Department of State Police prior to the sale, then the seller cannot be held liable for any crimes that may be committed in the future with the gun that they sold.  

If the person does not get the permission of the Department of State Police, however, they may face civil liability for illegal activity or harm caused by the firearm.  

Contact Us Today

The team here at Abdallah Law is knowledgeable about the laws surrounding gun shows in Chicago and greater Illinois.  Contact our team at 312-854-2677 for a free consultation today. 

More than 5,000 Illegal Guns Are Seized in Chicago

Hopes that gun crime is being brought under control on the streets of Chicago are challenged by the number of guns seized.

This year, Chicago police officers seized nearly 5,200 guns off the streets - about 100 more than this time last year, CBS Chicago reported.

However, the figure does not automatically mean more gun crimes are being committed. Officials with the Chicago Police Department say Chicago’s increased investment in crime-fighting technology is helping officers.

Illegal guns are seized in Chicago

Illegal guns are seized in Chicago

The police department said in July shootings fell from 1,868 last year to 1,624 to date this year. Gun arrests are up in the city with 2,401 this year compared to 1,820 in 2016.

Murder arrests have also risen. Police charged 152 people with murder year compared to 138 in 2016.

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told CBS News repeat gun offenders have become bolder because of the lack of accountability in Illinois. He hopes tougher gun laws will change that state of affairs. Johnson said;

“My goal isn't to incarcerate more people. My goal is to send that message that if you pick up a gun, you'll pay the price for it.”

Johnson said the real key to solving many the firearms crimes is less new technology but help from the community in neighborhoods that are sick of the violence.

We have noted how the feds are helping Chicago.  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is lending Chicago technology that police say will help close thousands of gun cases opened every year.

The National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) gives state, federal, and local partners an automated ballistic imaging network. It allows the capture and comparison of ballistic evidence from bullets to help in investigations and prevent violent crimes involving firearms.

Our experienced Chicago criminal defense attorneys are well aware of the seriousness of gun crimes in Chicago, a city that makes national headlines regularly.  Call us at (312) 229-0008.

 

 

Convictions That Bar You from a Gun Owner’s Card in Illinois

A gun owner’s card in Chicago is officially called an owner's identification (FOID) card. It is issued by the Illinois State Police. You can’t legally possess a firearm or ammunition in Illinois without one.

Basically, three types of criminal records bar you from being given a FOID card. They are:

·         A conviction for any felony

·         A domestic violence conviction

·         A conviction within the last five years for battery or assault with a firearm.

Guns themselves are not registered under the system. A FOID card licenses the gun owner or the user of the firearm. The guns themselves are not licensed or registered at all.

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Regulation of gun ownership is mandated under federal and state law. Illinois has some of the strictest controls in the country. Nevertheless, demand for firearms is rising in Chicago as it falls in much of the rest of the country.

The Gun Control Act was passed in 1968 following the assassinations of President John Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It imposed stricter licensing and regulation on the firearms industry including new categories of firearms offenses. The act bans the sale of firearms and ammunition to felons and certain other prohibited Individuals. 

However, the Illinois law requiring a FOID card dates back to 1967, even before the federal regulations were passed.

As well as banning mail-order firearm sales, the federal law lists characteristics the disqualify you for gun ownership.  The Illinois law is even more stringent. You cannot carry a weapon

1.    If you are under 18 years old even if concealed;

2.    You are under 21 years old and you have been convicted of a misdemeanor other than a traffic offense or are adjudged delinquent;

3.    You are a drug addict

4.    You have been a patient in a mental hospital within the past five years;

5.    You suffer from mental retardation;

6.    You are confined in penal institution; and

7.    You are a convicted felon.

Two of the federal prohibitions deal with criminal records. It’s a federal crime for anyone with any kind of felony, or any misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, to possess a gun or ammunition.

Federal law makes it an offense to have a firearm if someone has taken out an order of protection against you that prohibits you from having a gun.

Violating the federal firearms law can lead to large fines, and land you in prison for up to 10 years.

In Illinois, it’s a crime to possess a firearm or ammunition without a FOID card. The circumstances depend whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor. Illinois law is in line with federal law in stating you can’t get a FOID card if you have either a felony conviction or a domestic violence offense on your record.

You must be an Illinois resident to receive a card and to be at least 21 years old. If you are under the age of 21, you need written consent from a parent or legal guardian, who must be eligible for a FOID card.

Illinois is also in line with federal law by stating you can't get a card if you are the subject of an order of protection that specifically prohibits having guns.

In Illinois, you can’t get a card if you were convicted of an offense like an assault, a battery, aggravated assault or violation of an order of protection, in which a gun was used or possessed in the last five years.

Nobody under 21 can get a FOID card, even with potential permission if they have been convicted of any misdemeanor outside a traffic offense or is an adjudged delinquent.

If you fall foul of the strict firearms possession laws in Illinois, you can end up facing serious consequences. Call our Chicago criminal defense firm at (312) 229-0008.

Outrage over Federal Plans to Increase Asset Forfeiture

Asset forfeiture is one of the most controversial aspects of the criminal justice system. It allows property to be seized before a defendant is convicted or even charged in some cases.

After a retreat from use of the practice in recent years, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised the Department of Justice will seek to increase the use of asset forfeiture by state and local police forces.

Asset forfeiture means police can seize cash and property. Critics of the system claim it represents policing for profit and some state legislatures have sought to rein it in.

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However, in remarks to the National District Attorneys Association meeting, Sessions said he wants to use asset forfeiture more.

In his prepared remarks he promised a new directive on asset forfeiture. He singled out drug traffickers.

He said the federal government plans to develop policies to increase forfeitures, stating no criminal should be allowed to “keep the proceeds of their crime.”

Some of the shortcomings of these proposals were highlighted in Salon magazine.

The article pointed out it’s not just criminals who become victims of asset forfeiture.

The terms of federal laws and many U.S. states allow the seizure of property or cash without the authorities convicting or even charging anyone with a crime.

This procedure is known as civil asset forfeiture. Large amounts of money are collected by police forces which often use the procedure to fill their coffers.

The Washington Post reports the federal government is taking more money from citizens than burglars.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General has found that since 2007, the DEA seized more than $3 billion in cases in which owners were never even charged with crimes.

Despite the efforts to widen asset forfeiture at a federal level, a bill recently passed in Illinois aimed to restrict it.

This June the Illinois legislature passed a bill that tightened the state's civil asset forfeiture laws and shifted the burden of proof onto the government to show why it should be permitted to keep the seized property.

The vote followed an investigative report from Reason earlier this year showing lower-income neighborhoods of Chicago were hit hardest by asset forfeiture by law enforcement.

If you have been arrested for a crime and subjected to asset forfeiture you should contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense lawyer at (312) 229-0008.

Chicago Lyft Driver is Latest Ride Sharing Driver to be Charged with Rape

Ride hailing services have expanded rapidly across the country in recent years. However, concerns about the behavior of drivers have also come to the fore following sexual assault prosecutions.

Recently in Chicago, a Lyft driver was arrested on July 19 on charges of zip-tying and raping a 25-year-old woman at knifepoint in his vehicle.

A report on NBC noted Angelo McCoy, a 48-year-old driver from South Sawyer Avenue, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and unlawful restraint. McCoy had a bond hearing. He was held in lieu of $90,000, according to reports.

Ride hailing services are linked to rapes

Ride hailing services are linked to rapes

In many alleged sexual assault cases, a victim was reported to be intoxicated.

The NBC report said the 25-year-old victim had consumed a large amount of alcohol on July 7. She was out with friends in the River North neighborhood. The report said she ordered a ride home from Lyft on North Clark Street and fell asleep in the vehicle.

The NBC report said when she woke up, the young woman realized the car she was in was heading away from her home. She asked the rider to get out. McCoy is accused of driving her into an alley and holding her captive for two hours, according to prosecutors.

They alleged McCoy was wielding a knife. He got in the backseat, grabbed the woman by the throat and tied her hands behind her back using zip ties. The victim said three people down the alley did not respond to her screams. Prosecutors said McCoy took the woman’s phone and driver’s license, and later demanded cash.

Prosecutors say McCoy drove away with the woman in the car but she was able to escape from the moving vehicle.

Scott Coriell, a spokesman for Lyft, said of the sexual assault allegations:

These allegations are sickening and horrifying. As soon as we were made aware of this incident, we deactivated the driver’s account and did everything we could to assist law enforcement.”

The alleged crime is the latest in a list of incidents involving ride-hailing drivers in Chicago.

In 2016, Alexander Marrero, an Uber driver was charged with the sexual assault of a 23-year-old passenger. 

When prosecutors set out their case against Marrero, claiming he undressed and raped an unconscious woman, he became the third Uber driver to face sexual assault charges in Chicago since late in 2014.

Also last year, Jason Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver was charged over a shooting spree that left six people dead in Michigan.

If you have been charged with a serious offense like sexual assault, it’s important to hire an experienced Cook County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.

5 Types of Vehicle Searches in Chicago

While a personal vehicle seems like a place that should receive a high level of protection from government searches, it receives much less protection than a home and can be searched without a warrant under certain circumstances. 

1. Search Incident to Arrest 

Generally, police should have a warrant to search personal property.  While a vehicle is personal property, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as search incident to arrest.  

If a person is arrested after a legal traffic stop, her car will be impounded and an inventory search conducted.  The inventory search includes writing a report listing all items located in the vehicle, and contraband located in the search can be used against the owner of the vehicle. 

2. Plain View

If police enter a home and see a piece of contraband out in the open, they may confiscate the item and charge the homeowner with its possession even in the absence of a warrant.  This is known as the plain view exception to the warrant rule.  

The plain view exception applies to vehicles in much the same manner as it applies to homes. If an officer conducting a traffic stop sees contraband such as drug paraphernalia or a weapon, he has a right the right to seize the items in view and hold the defendant accountable for the related possession charges. 

If the police seize an item under the plain view doctrine, they will most likely end up searching the entire vehicle.  

This is because the contraband seized under plain view will provide police with probable cause to arrest the driver of the vehicle or passengers, and as discussed above, once the driver of a vehicle is placed under arrest, police have the authority to do an inventory search of the contents of the vehicle. 

3. Consensual Searches

If the driver of a vehicle consents to a search when requested by police, then he loses the protection of the warrant requirement.  

A driver can limit the areas the police search.  For example, the driver could say “You can search the cabin but I don’t consent to a search of the trunk,” or any other limitation.  

If the police do not have a warrant and do not otherwise have authority to search the vehicle, such limited consent is acceptable and the police must respect it.

If police request to search a vehicle and neither the driver nor the passengers limit or refuse the search, the police can search the entire vehicle. 

4. Terry Frisk 

If the police have reasonable suspicion that a person is armed that officer may conduct a frisk of the outer clothing of that individual.

If during this frisk the officer feels what knows to be a weapon the office may recover what he felt. The officer may not recover anything other than a weapon during this frisk.

5. Invalid Searches

If an officer searches a vehicle after an unjustified traffic stop or when the search does not fit into one of the exceptions above, it is an invalid search.  

This means that the officer was not authorized to search the vehicle and, therefore, and evidence obtained during the search cannot be used against the driver or passengers in court.

For example, if an officer found a small amount of cocaine in the glove compartment of a vehicle after he pulled over a driver, and it is determined that the driver did not violate any traffic laws, then the driver cannot be penalized for possession of cocaine.

Likewise, even if the officer is allowed to conduct a search, he cannot go beyond that scope of the search.  For example, if an officer makes a valid traffic stop and discovers that the driver has a past conviction of assaulting an officer, he would probably be justified in searching the driver and the interior of the vehicle for dangerous weapons.  

However, if the officer takes the drivers wallet out his pocket, looks inside, and finds a small amount of heroine, it would be inadmissible because the officer was only allowed to search for weapons, and it is not reasonable that weapons would be located in someone’s wallet.

Contact Abdallah Law Today

If items were located in your vehicle that led to charges being filed against you, our team will work hard to defend you.

Contact Abdallah Law today at 312-854-2677 for a free consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney.   

Man Sentenced to 10 Years Over Shooting At Correctional Officer in River West Bar

A man who fired at least twice at a now deceased Cook County correctional officer has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Mario “Booty” Orta pleaded guilty to the shooting in River West in 2015, reported the Sun Times.

The media report showed surveillance video played a major part in the prosecution. The video showed he fired at least twice at the correctional officer. The bullets did not hit the officer.

Orta changed his plea to guilty and was sentenced in July to 10 years in prison, according to court records.

Bar shooting led to charges

Bar shooting led to charges

The 30-year-old defendant was charged with attempted first-degree murder, unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a gang member.

Prosecutors said Orta was one of three men who were part of a shooting outside the now closed down Funky Buddha Lounge in the 700 block of West Grand.

Correctional officer Michael Raines did not die as a direct result of the shooting incident. However, his family claimed his death from an overdose of fentanyl-laced heroin was linked to stress from the shooting.

The shooting highlights gang activity in Cook County. According to reports, Raines and his girlfriend left Richard’s Bar just north of downtown. As they were walking on to Milwaukee Avenue to their car they heard gunshots. Raines ran toward the shooting. He had a Ruger LCP .380 semiautomatic pistol in his back pocket.

Police said Orta and Fernando “Fern” Lopez, both 27 — were part of a street gang. They left the Funky Buddha, with friends, according to police records.

They attempted to escape from an accident scene. Raines drew his Ruger and identified himself as a police officer. He ordered Lopez to drop his gun. Instead, prosecutors said, Lopez turned toward the officer, and Raines shot him.

In a subsequent struggle surveillance footage showed Orta shooting at Raines at least twice. The Sun Times report said Raines was not hit. Lopez ended up with 10 gunshot wounds.

Raines suffered problems after the incident. He was reprimanded for using a handgun that was not qualified with through the Cook County Sheriff’s Training Institute.

After the shooting his parents told detectives he developed serious emotional problems and aggravated an old back injury in the struggle. They said these issues were a catalyst for his fatal drug overdose.

The sentence reveals the tough stance Chicago takes on gun crimes and street gang members. If you have been charged with an offense of this nature, please call our Chicago criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation at (312) 229-0008.

Report Finds New Technology is Failing Criminal Defendants

New technology has had an impact on the criminal justice system as much as every other walk of life. However, the impact of automation has not always been positive for the defendant.

In a recent article, the New York Times reported on how computer programs are keeping some defendants in jail.

The private ownership of many of the systems used in the criminal justice system is the root of the problem.

New technology poses issues for defendants

New technology poses issues for defendants

The article said many of these automated criminal justice technologies are largely privately owned and are sold for profit.

Because of the commercial nature of the system, the developers view the products as trade secrets. They routinely refuse to disclose details about how their systems work, even to criminal defendants and their attorneys in the legal process - under a protective order or during criminal proceedings or parole hearings.

It can be a massive uphill battle for the defendants and their attorneys to find out how these systems work in order to prove innocence.

The Times cited the case of Glen Rodriguez, an inmate in New York State. Rodriguez was denied parole despite having an almost flawless record of rehabilitation. The decision was based on a reading on a computer system called Compass.

Rodriguez carried out his own research and proved the Compass system returned an erroneous result.

Very few defendants have the expertise to carry out this kind of research.

Another alarming case is that of Billy Ray Johnson from California. He was sentenced to life without parole for sexual assaults and burglaries he did not commit.

In the case, the prosecution relied on the results of a software program called TrueAllele that analyzed traces of DNA from the crime scenes.

When a defense team expert attempted to examine the source code in court he was told it was a trade secret. The court would not allow the code to be disclosed to Johnson’s attorney.

The case was heard before the California Court of Appeals. It upheld the trade secret privilege ruling by the lower court. The decision is being used across the country to prevent defendants discovering details about automated systems that could prove their innocence.

The Supreme Court is currently considering hearing a case, Wisconsin v. Loomis, that raises similar issues about new technology. If the justices decide to hear the case, they will get the opportunity to rule on whether sentencing a defendant based on a risk-assessment system that has been ruled a secret, violates a defendant’s rights.

Automation may make the administration of justice easier but it is also penalizing defendants in some cases.

If you believe your prosecution was based on flawed automation you should contact our Illinois criminal defense lawyers at (312) 229-0008 or see our case results.

Fraudster is Sentenced to 70 Months for Scam on Girlfriend’s Family

Scams can involve big businesses or they can occur closer to home when victims don’t suspect it.

Recently in Chicago, a fraudster was sentenced to 70 months in jail for a massive scam on his girlfriend’s family.

The Sun Times reported Randall Rye won the trust and heart of his girlfriend and her family for more than two years.

The California-based family of Jacqueline Dittrich believed she had met her future husband. They had no reason to disbelieve him when he told them about a successful trading algorithm. The family and some of their friends invested $1.72 million into his firm, Faster than Light Trading LLC.

Fraudster is jailed for 70 months

Fraudster is jailed for 70 months

However, the enterprise proved to be a scam. Rye spent the money on trips to exotic locations and sporting events like the Super Bowl and the Masters golf tournament.

He blew $110,000 on 14 tickets to see the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.

Dittrich said she only realized her boyfriend had duped her and her parents out of their life savings when she received a call from the FBI. She didn’t even get the chance to break up with him.

Rye escaped overseas but was picked up when he returned to the United States for a brief visit.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman sentenced the 26-year-old scammer to 70 months in prison. He accused him of a “mammoth betrayal of trust” in a Chicago courtroom.

Rye was ordered to pay back the $1.72 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty in April to wire fraud.

Rye’s defense attorney said he was not sure why the fraudster committed his crimes.

He was described in court as a “mini-Madoff” who moved to Illinois from California in 2013 by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani. The statement was a reference to Bernard Madoff who was sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

The feds said Rye read a few books on trading but had no formal knowledge. His algorithm was pure fiction.

As the Madoff case highlighted, scams and white collar frauds can attract very heavy sentences and are often prosecuted on a federal level. If you have been charged with a serious crime of this nature, call Abdallah Law at (312) 229-0008.