Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

Why is the U.S. known as the 'incarceration nation?'

The United States isn't the biggest country in the world, nor are its laws the most Draconian. So why does the U.S. continue to have the highest prison population in the world?

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), roughly 2.2 million adults were behind bars in this country in 2016. Here are some of the reasons why:

Meth use is on the rise again, and it's getting deadlier

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is warning Americans that methamphetamine is fast becoming a major problem once again in American communities. Now, however, the already dangerous drug is frequently laced with a potentially lethal addition: fentanyl.

Much of the meth flowing in to parts of Illinois (along with Missouri and Kansas) isn't the home-grown variety that drug dealers used to have. In the last few years, meth has largely been moved into the area by the Jalisco New Generation Cartel in Mexico, and the cartel has figured out a way to produce a drug that is both stronger and cheaper than local operations can make in their home labs.

Do drug sniffing dogs violate your rights?

Police dogs often have various roles. Some can help locate missing children, detect cadavers, chase suspects and sniff out illegal substances. Though most people will praise a dog that helps locate a missing child, the situation can be different when the dog alerts an officer to illegal substances in your vehicle.

You, like many other people, may question the reliability of drug dogs and their ability to accurately alert officers to illegal substances. You may also wonder whether an officer has violated your rights by allowing a drug dog to sniff your vehicle even though you have not given any reason for an officer to suspect that drugs are inside your vehicle.

What is 'attempted' murder?

Murder is just about the most serious criminal charge anybody can face -- and attempted murder is treated no more lightly. If you're convicted of attempted first degree murder, for example, that's a Class X felony that carries a minimum 20-year sentence (with an additional 15 years tacked on if a firearm was used).

What exactly equals an "attempt" to kill someone? Under the law in this state, it's any kind of action that is "a substantial step toward" actual murder combined with the intent to follow through. Unless both of those items are true, you may not be guilty of attempted murder.

Is it illegal to use the company card for personal expenses?

Having a "company card" is a privilege that not every employee gets. Generally speaking, access to a company card is reserved for only the employees that are in the most trusted positions.

While some companies carefully watch the charges that go on those cards, others do not. As long as the balance gets paid and there doesn't seem to be any red flags on the account, companies will sometimes turn a blind eye to the "expenses" their employees charge -- as long as the bill gets paid.

2 found guilty of witness tampering in federal trial

Two people have been convicted of witness tampering -- among other charges -- in a federal drug case. The 46-year-old Michigan man is now facing life in prison. His co-conspirator, a 45-year-old Illinois woman, is facing 20 years behind bars. A third co-conspirator previously entered a guilty plea in the case.

The Michigan man learned the name of the person who assisted investigators in his drug arrest. Enlisting the help of his associates, he managed to contact the witness and asked them not to testify against him. He also found ways to pass information about the witness along to others, including through the use of social media.

What you should know about warrantless car searches

The Fourth Amendment generally protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers may, however, lawfully search your vehicle after a traffic stop without a warrant depending on the reason for your detention. Law enforcement officers can also lawfully search your vehicle with a warrant provided that you permit them to do so.

The law provides a person with a lower expectation of privacy inside a car versus in their residence. Police officers may conduct a warrantless search of your vehicle provided that they have probable cause that there's evidence related to a crime located inside of it. They may also search your car if they reasonably believe that they need to protect themselves from possible weapons or harm.

How do you defend against white collar charges?

White collar prosecutions usually take people by surprise. Sometimes, they have no idea that what they did was even illegal. Other times, they got caught up in circumstances that spiraled out of control before they realized it, and they simply never took the time to think about the potential consequences.

If you're facing charges, it helps to understand the kinds of defenses that can be offered in white collar cases. Here are some of the most common:

  • A lack of evidence: Each crime has specific elements that have to be proven. If the prosecution's evidence is weak, inconsistent or relies on witness testimony, which is prone to error or bias, you may find ways to discredit the case against you.
  • A lack of knowledge: If you were far removed from the actual criminal activity and can demonstrate that you never knew anything about what was happening, that can definitely help your case.
  • You lacked intent: If your actions were the result of a misunderstanding, confusion or mistake, it may be difficult for the prosecution to prove that you intended to do something illegal, especially if there's a logical reason behind your actions.
  • You were coerced: If someone threatened you or your family members with physical harm or something equally disastrous, you may have a valid defense. More than one person has been coerced into criminal activity by other people.
  • There was entrapment: The police have certain rules they have to follow. If agents or investigators used some kind of deceit to entice you to commit a crime, that could be a legitimate defense.

Can a work environment encourage white collar crime?

The motivation behind why a person carries out a particular action can play an important role in any given situation. In particular, authorities often look for motive when investigating crimes, and in some cases, people of interest may have no motivation to commit certain crimes, which make them less likely to be suspects. However, even if motive does exist, it does not necessarily mean that a person acted on his or her own accord.

You may have concerns about the type of information authorities are looking into if they suspect you of white collar crime. Even if no formal charges have come against you, you may already know about the investigation into your activities. If so, it is smart to start gaining information on what this means and what you can do.

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