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Chicago criminal defense attorneyThe criminal justice system in Illinois was designed with two primary goals in mind. First, those convicted of breaking the law, in most cases, are provided with opportunities to rehabilitate themselves and turn their lives around. The second goal is punitive in nature, meaning that actions have consequences, and when a person commits a crime, he or she is subject to certain penalties which vary depending on the offense.

In some cases, however, a person may be convicted of a crime that he or she did not commit. A wrongful conviction can be tragic, as a lengthy prison sentence and other penalties can be devastating to the convicted individual and his or her family. But, as a recent case from Chicago demonstrates, being wrongfully convicted is not always enough to deter some people from a life of crime.

A $25 Million Settlement

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyThroughout the country, states and local jurisdictions have been looking for ways to help drug offenders turn away from a destructive lifestyle and toward becoming more productive members of society. Initiatives such as the Deferred Prosecution Program in Cook County have shown great promise in rehabilitating non-violent offenders while helping them avoid lengthy prison sentences and other harsh criminal penalties. This week, a program with similar goals in a neighboring county began seeing results, as Will County Adult Redeploy Illinois recognized its first graduating class.

Adult Redeploy Illinois

Created as a diversion program for non-violent offenders, Adult Redeploy Illinois (ARI) was established by legislation in 2009 based on a similar program that has been used in the Illinois juvenile justice system for a number of years. The aim of ARI is to reduce the number of offenders being sent into the state’s prison system and to ease the associated burden on taxpayers.

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyWhen you have been charged with a crime—especially a non-violent crime such as drug possession—a criminal defense attorney will do everything he or she can to help you avoid a conviction. In some situations, however, the circumstances and the evidence against you may simply be too much. Or perhaps you really did possess illegal drugs or otherwise committed the crime of which you have been accused. While such a situation may seem hopeless, nothing could be further from the truth. There are several options that may be available to help minimize the penalties associated with your prosecution. One of the most common ways of reducing a sentence is by reaching a plea agreement with prosecutors.

What is a Plea Bargain?

A plea bargain or plea agreement is the result of a series of negotiations between prosecutors and a criminal defendant—usually handled through his or her attorney. In many cases, the negotiations also include a judge who has the authority to approve alternative sentencing options in advance. When developing a plea agreement, prosecutors will generally offer to lessen the defendant’s sentence by reducing the number or severity of the charges against the individual. Sometimes, a plea deal will even allow the defendant to participate in deferred prosecution or other diversionary programs instead of receiving a standard conviction and sentence. In return, the defendant will usually need to plead guilty or no contest to the agreed upon charges.

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyA large number of criminal cases—particularly those involving illicit drugs or illegal firearms—hinge on the evidence seized by law enforcement during searches. A police search of your property, including your home or car, with very few exceptions, requires one of two things: your voluntary consent or a properly obtained search warrant issued by a judge. It is almost never a good idea for you to allow a warrantless search of your property to proceed. At the same time, if the police have obtained a search warrant, you must be careful not to interfere with the search.

How Is a Search Warrant Issued?

According to the Illinois Constitution and Criminal Code, a search warrant can be issued by a judge on the basis of probable cause. Unlike many other states, Illinois allows a warrant to be issued “upon the written complaint of any person under oath or affirmation.” This means that a judge does not need to wait for a sworn affidavit from a law enforcement officer. Any private citizen can provide a sworn statement that identifies the person and/or place that should be searched and things that should be seized.

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyWhen you think of a police search, you may picture law enforcement officers going through your personal belongings looking for illegal drugs, unlicensed firearms, and other evidence that could be used against you in a criminal proceeding. This scenario is certainly one type of police search, and one that generally requires a warrant or your express permission, but there are other types of searches as well.

An Important Question

One of these is a type of search that our founding fathers could never have foreseen when drafting the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as it involves modern digital technology. Thus, two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court was tasked with determining whether the search of a person’s cell phone constitutes a search as defined by the Fourth Amendment and whether a warrant in necessary to allow such a search.

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