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Chicago Illinois Criminal Defense Blog

What to do when you witness police brutality

While most police do their jobs well, there are plenty of instances around the country where cops take advantage of their position. Many police officers use excessive force to deal with suspects. Unfortunately, many of these officers get off with a slap on the wrist. A report from Mic showed that 98 percent of cops accused of excessive force never got a formal charge for committing a crime. 

You may witness such an event when walking down the street. It is easy to mind your own business and move along, but it is vital to try to hold officers accountable for their actions. Here are some vital steps anyone can take when they see an officer abusing his or her position. 

Who is eligible for a Certificate of Innocence?

A Certificate of Innocence will go a long way in helping you put your life back together if you face wrongful conviction of a crime.

Attorneys used this document earlier in the year for the release of two men who had served decades in prison for a murder they did not commit.

Is there a difference between murder, homicide and manslaughter?

Colloquially, many people interchange the words murder, homicide and manslaughter. In all instances, someone has died. But, is there a legal difference between the three? In fact, the words all mean slightly different things. This post will dive into the nitty gritty of both terms.

 

What to expect when you’re facing criminal charges

The legal process that follows criminal charges involves many more steps than your run-of-the-mill traffic citation. The first thing to do after being charged with a crime is to understand the necessary legal procedures you’ll need to take.

Take a look at these steps to better set your expectations for what’s to come and how to handle it.

Do you know your Miranda rights?

Many Americans have heard a fake or real police officer reading someone his or her Miranda rights. It could have been either from movies and TV or from hearing it in-person. If you are still not familiar, Miranda rights begin with an officer saying, “You have the right to remain silent.” 

Here is a brief explanation if you don’t know what Miranda warning rights are or how they can protect you.

Why you should reconsider self-representation

If you are facing criminal charges, it may seem daunting to figure out how to handle the case. Finding legal representation is the first and perhaps most critical step to ensuring your case goes forward in the best way possible for you.

You may feel temptation to skip this step and represent yourself. Self-representation may seem like a simple solution to your legal needs, but it rarely – if at all – is as effective as having the help of a trained and experienced attorney. If you are worried about the cost or time constraints of finding legal counsel, know that you can find a qualified attorney without sacrificing your finances.

Is it against the law to film police in Illinois?

Video recordings have helped to clear the names of the thousands of innocent people who have been falsely accused of crimes. While most people understand the value of recording police encounters, they aren't aware of how they can do so without breaking the law. You have the right to protect yourself by filming your interactions with law enforcement and knowing the law can help you to feel confident when pulling out the camera.

Here's what you should keep in mind if you ever come across on-duty officers.

4 problems with the Chicago PD's gang database

Critics have slammed the gang member database. How will the Chicago PD respond?

The Chicago Inspector General has held several public hearings related to the Chicago Police Department's gang member database, gathering feedback and concerns from critics and civil rights advocates. Some have long argued that the city's list of "known" individuals with gang affiliations is problematic and violates civil rights.

Should civilian oversight board have the power to remove police?

When it comes to police department reform, communities are looking for ways to have more power in holding officials accountable. In Chicago, one group wants the community to have the power to fire a superintendent.

The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability released a proposal that suggests a seven-member civilian board be given the power to fire the city's police superintendent. It also calls for the mayor to retain the ability to fire a superintendent as well.

The alliance has been working on this proposal for over a year, after the Mayor's Police Accountability Task Force recommended the city create a community oversight board. Thirteen community groups are involved with the alliance.

Notable Results

  • Accusation: Attempt First Degree Murder
  • Facing: 30 years in prison at 85%
  • Result: Post-conviction petition granted
  • Accusation: Solicitation of a Prostitute, Obstructing Justice, Battery
  • Facing: 365 days in jail, loss of legal residence
  • Result: All charges but battery dropped, one year expungeable supervision
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