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Cook County Law Blog

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.

3 reasons marijuana is not harmless

As times change and each generation sheds new taboos, some things become socially acceptable that might not have been a few years earlier. This is certainly true of marijuana. Though still illegal in most states, it is a common reference in pop culture and increasingly viewed as innocuous. While it may not have the addictive potential or physical danger of harder drugs, it is still far from harmless.

According to the Chicago Tribune, some counties in Illinois will have the option of potentially legalizing marijuana, but until then, everybody should be aware of the reasons it is not as innocuous as it may seem. The following three are reasons enough to stay away from cannabis. 

What is the difference between theft and robbery?

If you are thinking about taking something that you believe is yours or that does not belong to you from someone else’s home or car in Chicago, you could be committing theft or robbery. Both are crimes that can get you time behind bars, a criminal conviction and haunt you for the rest of your days. 

You may think that theft or robbery charges are the same, but they are not. They are two different crimes that carry separate penalties. It is important for you to know the difference between them so you have a better understanding of what you may be up against if you find yourself facing criminal charges. 

Alternative sentencing in Chicago for nonviolent crimes

If you have committed a nonviolent crime, you do not need to automatically assume you will have to serve some jail time. Due to the overcrowding of jails and prisons, more alternative sentencing options are becoming available for certain offenders in Chicago.

Going to prison is unlikely to make any positive changes in your life. Therefore, it is important that you hire an attorney who is very familiar with these more effective alternatives and how to get you into them.

3 common pieces of evidence used in murder cases

People die of natural causes every day, but sometimes there is foul play involved and a death turns into a murder case. When police then start searching for a suspect, they will likely base their conclusion on a few key pieces of evidence. Of course, citizens trust that law enforcement will handle evidence carefully and adhere to standards of due diligence in building a case against any one potential suspect. According to Time, the city of Chicago has one of the highest murder rates in the nation, with nearly 28 homicides for every 100,000 residents. Those suspected to be guilty of or involved in a murder should be aware of the following three kinds of evidence that law enforcement may use against them.

Eyewitness accounts

3 potential defenses against armed robbery charges

Armed robbery is a serious criminal accusation. If you are facing such charges, it is imperative that you understand your legal rights. A conviction will likely make it difficult to find employment or housing, so if you want to restore your life to normalcy, you should fight the charges. An attorney can help you understand the legal system and partner with you to defend your case.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there are more than 350,000 robberies in a given year, but your case does not have to be a statistic. A strong defense is imperative. The following are some of the factors that may be impactful in presenting yours.

What to do if you are facing criminal charges

Being accused of a crime in Chicago is a serious thing. Whether you are facing charges of drug possession with intent to sell or felonious assault, the steps you take immediately afterward can impact your fate. Because the criminal justice system can be intimidating and challenging for alleged offenders to navigate through, it is important for you to learn your options to avoid complications, delays and mistakes with your case. 

Here is a brief overview of what you can do to improve your outcome when you have criminal charges pending against you. 

What could be considered prosecutorial misconduct?

Sometimes, people convicted of crimes win new trials. Often, this is due to prosecutorial misconduct. After all, prosecutors must follow a code of ethics, and when they resort to shady tactics, they undermine defendants’ rights to receive a fair trial.

Here is a look at some examples of what may constitute prosecutorial misconduct.

Understanding DNA transfer

Understanding DNA transfer

If you have ever watched a true crime special on TV or even just listened to court proceedings, you might get the impression that DNA evidence is the be all end all in proving a defendant’s guilt. DNA—the genetic material contained in each of a person’s cells—can be used to determine certain details in a criminal case, but according to scientific experts, it is far from infallible. There are several things to take into consideration when it comes to the role of DNA in criminal prosecutions.

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