wrongful conviction, criminal law, Illinois criminal defense attorneyA man who spent more than 27 years in prison for crimes he did not commit has agreed to a $16.9 million settlement with the District of Columbia. The settlement was announced a federal jury was preparing to determine damages in the case. Earlier this week, the same jury found that two D.C. homicide detectives fabricated at least part, if not all, of the confession the man allegedly made to a police informant, leading to the man’s conviction in the 1981 rape and murder of a Georgetown University student. The detectives were also found to have withheld evidence in the cause, prompting many to call for an investigation into their handling of other criminal cases.

In 2009, the man’s original conviction had been overturned, when DNA evidence exonerated him of the crimes. The exoneration has already prompted internal reviews by the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. attorney’s office. The case marks the first federal civil rights ruling over a wrongful conviction in D.C., but is similar to a 2012 Illinois verdict that held the city of Chicago liable for $25 million in damages as the result of a wrongful murder conviction.

Common Causes of Wrongful Convictions

While intentional actions on the part of law enforcement can certain lead to a defendant being wrongfully convicted, there many other factors that can contribute as well.  These often include:

  • Mistakes by eyewitnesses: The human memory is notoriously unreliable in many stressful situations, and witnesses may remember details and events differently than they actually occurred;
  • Bad science: Testing methods and commonly-accepted “truths” are often not quite as accurate as prosecutors may want to believe;
  • False confessions: Interrogation procedures and other methods of producing a confession or guilty plea have caused many defendants to admit to crimes they did not commit and were nowhere near; and
  • Informants with ulterior motives: Police and investigators frequently rely on the assistance of informants, some paid and others rewarded with reduced sentences of their own. It is not uncommon for an informant to provide false information simply to better his or her own outcome.

One final contributor to many wrongful convictions is the inadequate performance of defense attorneys. Defense counsel is often assigned to defendants who cannot afford attorneys by the court, and lawyers with too large of a workload may not spend the necessary time and energy to fully investigate their cases.

At our law firm, providing comprehensive, responsible legal representation is always our top priority, no matter how dire a case may seem. If you have been accused of a crime that you did not commit, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer. We will investigate the circumstances of your arrest from top to bottom and will work with you in protecting your rights under the law. Call 847-253-3100 to schedule your free initial consultation with the Cosley Law Office today.







Posted in Criminal Defense |

divorce, children, Rolling Meadows family lawyerIn today’s modern world, divorce has become a simple fact of life. Pundits and religious leaders can debate forever over the perceived cultural and moral changes that have led to the widespread acceptance of divorce, but the reality remains unchanged. Sometimes, marriages fail, and sometimes, before they fail, those marriages produce children. A parent going through a divorce is often faced with a number of difficult decisions, each one driven by the same thought: “Is this the best thing for my child?” While such an approach is certainly understandable, there are some things that any parent should keep in mind when the end of his or her marriage becomes a possibility.

Getting Out May Be Necessary

“Staying together for the kids” is a long-held mantra for many parents who feel trapped in a bad marital relationship. However, the maxim may be starting to lose its strength, as parenting and family experts are beginning to realize that doing so may be counterproductive. The idea of remaining in an unhealthy marriage evolved as the result of parents believing that their children “deserved” a traditional, two-parent household, almost no matter what. Research is now showing that while the two-parent part is important, the single household part is not a requirement. It is often better for a child to have two happy, divorced parents than two miserable, married parents who fight constantly and make the home a much less healthy environment.

Trial and Error

As you and your soon to be ex-spouse work toward an arrangement regarding the care of your children and parenting time, you both need to accept that you are not perfect. You are both people who will make mistakes, even with the best of intentions. When mistakes happen, find a way to fix them, and communicate with your ex about what caused them so you can prevent them in the future. For example, if you insisted that you be responsible for getting your children to and from school every day, but the reality is proving to be more difficult that you realized, it is ok to admit you were wrong. Ask for help, and work out a better solution. Not only will your children be fine, they will also learn important lessons about addressing obstacles and creative problem-solving.

Love Your Children

Above all, try not to lose sight of loving your children each and every day. No matter how difficult the relationship between you and your ex may be, allow him or her to love them too. You are bound to express that love in different ways, of course, but if the two of you can keep their well-being as your top priority, you will find a way to make it work. Even when it is difficult, your children will be able to withstand just about anything, as long as they feel loved, validated, and supported by both parents.

If you are thinking about divorce and have questions regarding how the process may affect your children, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows family law attorney. At the Cosley Law Office, we are committed to helping families through the divorce process, allowing for a healthier, more productive future. Call 847-253-3100 to schedule your free initial consultation today and let us help you build the new life you deserve.





Posted in Child Custody | Tagged , , , , ,

discharge of a firearm, weapons offenses, Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense AttorneyA 14-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department faces up 15 years in prison on charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm, stemming from an off-duty incident that occurred last November. Cook County prosecutors allege the officer fired five shots in the direction of another off-duty officer from a suburban municipal police department when the suburban cop tried to stop the Chicago officer for driving drunk.

Dangerous Driving and More

According to court records, the Chicago officer and his off-duty officer friend were driving along 111th Street, when the off-duty Merrionette Park officer saw them nearly hit a street vendor. The Merrionette Park officer pulled alongside the erratic driver, showed his badge, and noticed the Chicago officer was holding an open beer. The officer followed the car when it pulled away, calling 911, eventually stopping behind the car near the Morgan Park police station. At that point, prosecutors allege that the Chicago officer got out of his car and aimed his gun at the pickup truck in which the Merrionette Park officer was riding. As the truck pulled away, the Chicago officer allegedly fired five shots at the truck, hitting the vehicle at least once.

The officer was released on $50,000 bond and has been on desk duty since the incident nearly a year ago. Interestingly, statistics collected by the Citizens Police Data Project show that the man has been the subject of at least 19 complaints since 2006, including last year’s shooting incident, but has not been disciplined as a result of any of them thus far.

Discharging a Firearm

Firing a weapon at a person or a vehicle that the shooter knows to be occupied by a person is considered aggravated discharge of a firearm under the Illinois Criminal Code. The offense is a Class 1 felony and is punishable by sentences ranging from probation up to 15 years in prison. Of course, firing a gun in a crowded city like Chicago is also very dangerous, as the judge presiding over the officer’s arraignment noted, “Those bullets could have gone anywhere. They could have hit a 9-year-old child.”

Legal Help for Weapons Charges

If you have been arrested on any type of weapons charges, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. We will evaluate your case and assist in developing the best strategy for mounting an effective, responsible defense. Call 847-253-3100 today to schedule your free initial consultation at the Cosley Law Office and get the sound legal advice you deserve.







Posted in Violent Crimes, Weapons Offenses | Tagged , , , , , ,