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Understanding Gun Laws to Combat Weapons Charges in Illinois

Will County Illinois Weapons and Gun ChargesChicago may be the epicenter of gun violence in Illinois, but it is not the only place in the state that experiences serious violent crimes as a result of illegal gun ownership. There were reportedly 1,117 deaths in the state of Illinois caused by guns in 2013. Just over half of all these were ruled homicides (52 percent). Just slightly below that came suicides, accounting for 44 percent of all gun deaths in the state in the same time period.

These staggeringly high numbers are just one reason that many advocate for stricter gun laws regarding the sale, possession, and ownership of a gun in Illinois. The logic goes that if the state was able to reduce the number of guns that are floating around, it would consequently be able to reduce the number of violent crimes perpetrated using such weapons.

A Hotly Contested Issue

Restricting gun ownership, however, has serious implications when considered in light of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees all citizens the right to bear arms. Advocates for gun control argue that certain types of guns serve no purpose other than to harm another human being. Critics may counter this argument with the acknowledgment that the Second Amendment makes no stipulation about what types of gun a person may possess. The most important way to deal with gun laws is to understand them. Only when a person has a full comprehension of what the state does and does not allow when it comes to owning and carrying a gun can he or she begin to make an argument against such laws—and to combat charges brought based on an alleged violation of them.

Current Illinois Firearms Laws

All persons wishing to own a firearm in the state of Illinois must first obtain a Firearm Owner’s Identification card (FOID). It is illegal to sell either a firearm or ammunition to anyone who does not possess an FOID—meaning that if you sell a gun online, for example, to someone without seeing their FOID, you may be subject to criminal charges. The state also requires that a person must wait before transferring ownership of a gun to a new owner—24 hours for a long gun (e.g. a rifle or shotgun) and 72 hours for a handgun.

The state of Illinois does allow the concealed carry of handguns, but a person must obtain an additional permit to do so. Concealed carry licenses are issued by the Illinois State Police and there are qualifying criteria that must be met. The state also allows minors under the age of 18 to possess and use firearms, but the Child Access Prevention law prohibits leaving a firearm unlocked and accessible to a person under the age of 14.

Seek Legal Help

Weapons charges can be very serious, so it is important to work with a lawyer who will protect your rights. If you have been charged with the unauthorized possession or use of a firearm, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation today.

U.S. Supreme Court Says Sixth Amendment Does Not Guarantee Speedy Sentencing

Supreme Court Speedy Sentence

As we have talked about recently on this blog, the right to a fair trial is one of the cornerstones of the American criminal justice system. Of course, amidst local and national concerns of false testimony by law enforcement and apparent flaws in forensic evidence processing, many wonder if a fair trial is an impossible ideal.

Be that as it may, the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” This means that a defendant has the right not only to a fair, public trial, but also a speedy one. The United States Supreme Court, however, has ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial does not extend to the sentencing phase once a defendant has been convicted.

Betterman v. Montana

The case before the high court essentially began with a guilty plea by a man in Montana for skipping bail in 2012 and failing to appear on charges for domestic assault. The man then waited in prison for more than 14 months for his sentence to be determined, much of the wait blamed on institutional delays by the court. The man was ultimately sentenced to seven years in prison, with four of the years suspended. He appealed his sentence on the basis that the 14-month delay violated his Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial.

The Court’s Decision

The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously agreed with the Montana Supreme Court that the Sixth Amendment does not apply once a defendant has been convicted. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion of the court, stating that the Sixth Amendment is intended to protect the rights of the accused, not the convicted. The right to a speedy trial is meant to alleviate the pressures of being publicly charged with a crime—and presumed innocent until proven otherwise—and that is in the best interest of everyone involved to move quickly to determine guilt. The court held that once guilt has been established, the Sixth Amendment no longer applies. In addition, the only available remedy available for violating a person’s right to a speedy trial is a dismissal of the charges. Such a remedy, Justice Ginsburg wrote, would not be in the interest of justice following a conviction.

Narrow Ruling

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, a defendant who has been convicted is not totally without rights. The court expressly acknowledged that its ruling is limited to challenges based on the Sixth Amendment. Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Sonia Sotomayor each wrote a concurring opinion suggesting that delays in sentencing may be better addressed by challenges based on the rights to due process guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Thomas wrote, “We have never decided whether the Due Process Clause creates an entitlement to a reasonably prompt sentencing hearing.” In agreement, Justice Sotomayor said, “I write separately to emphasize that the question is an open one.” Regarding the case at hand, the original defendant’s counsel clearly stated they were not advancing a claim regarding the Due Process Clause, so the court issued no opinion on the matter.

Experienced Criminal Defense Assistance

If you have been charged with a crime, you need a lawyer who will fight to protect your rights at every stage of the process. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Will County to discuss your case and to learn more about your available options. Call 815-740-4025 today for a free consultation at the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba.

Chicago Police Investigating Officers for False Testimony

Criminal False Testimony

When you are accused of any type of criminal activity, your right to a fair trial is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A fair trial presumes that everyone involved is invested in the equal application of the law, properly convicting the guilty, and acquitting those who are not guilty by legal standards. Of course, not every person will always tell the whole truth in court, even under oath. The concern becomes even more serious when the individual providing false, misleading, questionable testimony is an officer of the law. False testimony by police officers seems to be a fairly significant problem in Northern Illinois, as the Chicago Police Department has announced that six officers are now under investigation for false testimony regarding cases in which they were involved.

Investigative Reporting

The Chicago Tribune recently conducted an investigation which allegedly found more than a dozen examples of officers making false or questionable statements in court. This number does not include many more officers who may have created false reports but never testified in the courtroom. The involved cases ranged from large-scale investigations to small-time operations, and reportedly included testimony regarding a $50,000 brick of cocaine and a $30 bag of heroin. Some officers, according to the newspaper investigation, would even lie about the direction they were driving at a given time. Now, it appears, the Department is attempting to address the problem.

Promises of Action

“Police officers take an oath to enforce the law with the highest degree of honesty and integrity,” said a Chicago Police Department spokesman in a prepared statement. “And there is simply no tolerance or exemption for anything less.” The spokesman also confirmed that Internal Affairs is looking into the testimony of at least six officers. Depending upon the findings of the investigation, he said, the officers in question could face disciplinary action. The Department will also be conferring with prosecutors to determine the next steps in each case.

If the Chicago Police Department finds that any of the officers provided false testimony, it could call into question their credibility in any case on which they worked. It is difficult to say for sure how those other cases may be affected, but there is certainly cause for concern.

Get the Help You Need

Being accused of a crime is always serious. If you have been charged, however, based on a false report or statement made by a police officer, the road ahead can be even tougher. To discuss your case, contact a Joliet criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who knows the lengths to which some officers will go to secure a conviction no matter what the actual truth may be, and he is prepared to help protect your rights. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

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