Posted by on in Criminal Law
Sleeping Judge Not Enough for MistrialYour trial when facing criminal charges is a vitally important moment in you life. A conviction can result in a prison sentence and will remain on your record. So, you may be understandably offended if a judge or juror falls asleep during your trial. The action implies that your trial is not worth staying awake for. You may even seek a mistrial on the grounds that a judge or juror was not paying proper attention during the trial. However, Illinois courts have ruled that an isolated incident of a person napping during a trial is not enough reason to cast doubt on the trial’s outcome.

Recent Example

A defendant recently appealed his first-degree murder conviction, on the grounds that there should have been a mistrial after a judge apparently fell asleep during testimony. The trial transcript shows an exchange between both counsel and the judge following a video testimony. The judge did not respond to repeated requests to turn the lights back on until a clerk reportedly poked him to wake him up. The jury eventually found the defendant guilty, and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. The defense counsel filed a motion for a mistrial, claiming that the judge had fallen asleep multiple times during the trial. The judge denied both the motion and the allegation, stating that:

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Unlawful Search Dismisses Drug Possession ConvictionAn Illinois appellate court recently overturned a man’s conviction on the charge of unlawful possession of methamphetamine with intent to deliver. The defendant successfully argued that Illinois state troopers unlawfully seized and searched his vehicle before discovering the narcotics. A lower court had dismissed his request to suppress the evidence. Without legal evidence of narcotics possession, the appellate court ordered that the charge be dismissed.

Case Details

Six days before the defendant’s arrest, an undercover state trooper met the defendant in order to purchase narcotics. The defendant allegedly provided the state trooper with a small tube containing methamphetamine, but no money was exchanged. On the date of the arrest, the undercover trooper informed the state police that he believed the defendant was transporting narcotics. Police located the defendant’s vehicle, and a state trooper pulled him over for driving seven miles per hour over the speed limit. While the trooper was questioning the defendant and checking for any outstanding warrants, another trooper arrived with a dog trained to identify the presence of narcotics. The dog alerted the trooper to possible drugs in the car. The defendant allegedly gave his verbal consent for the troopers to search the vehicle, but they did not find any narcotics or evidence of hidden compartments. State police then transported the defendant and his vehicle to a local police station, claiming that impending rain would threaten the safety of the troopers at the scene. When at the station, the police began a second search and received written consent from the defendant. The troopers found tubes containing narcotics, located near the vehicle's air filter. The defendant was charged and later convicted, resulting in a 15-year prison sentence.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law
Being Charged with Criminal Transmission of HIVSexual assault cases, such as rape, hinge upon proving whether there was consent between both parties. Some consensual sex acts are also criminalized. Illinois law makes it illegal for someone to knowingly transmit HIV to an unaware person. The victim does not need to be infected in order for charges to be brought. Conviction on a criminal transmission of HIV charge is a class 2 felony, which can result in three to seven years in prison and fines of as much as $25,000. There have been situations where offenders with HIV have purposely or recklessly infected victims by having unprotected sex. However, spite can motivate some former lovers to make the criminal accusation.

Defining Criminal Acts

Since first adopting the criminal transmission of HIV law in 1989, Illinois has made several changes that narrow the scope of the offense. Not all sexual acts pose a reasonable risk of transmitting HIV. According to the law, there are three ways someone can criminally transmit HIV:

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Illinois Ranked 19th Among States with Strictest DUI LawsA recent study comparing state laws for driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances concluded that Illinois has the 19th strictest DUI laws in the country. Arizona has the strictest laws, while South Dakota is the most lenient. According to the research findings, Illinois is stricter in its DUI laws than neighboring states Indiana and Wisconsin, which tied for 37th.  The study suggests that Illinois may have harsh penalties for DUI convictions but can in some ways be considered moderate compared to other states.

Metrics

The study looked at the criminal penalties resulting from DUI convictions and practices meant to prevent DUI incidents. Researchers selected several metric categories and assigned each state a point value based on their compliance or strictness with the category. The categories included:

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Illinois Study Suggests Racial Bias Exists in Traffic StopsThe Illinois Department of Transportation is required to compile an annual study of traffic stops in order to identify whether there is racial bias in who gets stopped. Cooperating police departments throughout the state submit their traffic stop data from the previous year, including:

  • The total number of stops;
  • The reasons for stops;
  • The duration of stops; and
  • The outcomes of stops.

The drivers involved are sorted into one of six racial categories: White, African American, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian and Native Hawaiian. Researchers use the data to determine whether drivers of certain races are more likely to be stopped, issued a citation or subjected to a vehicle search. IDOT released its study of the 2016 traffic stop statistics in early July. According to the data:

  1. The total traffic stops increased by seven percent from the previous year. There were 2,022,332 stops in 2015 and 2,169,796 stops in 2016. The number of stops has been between 2 million and 2.2 million since 2013. Nine more police departments participated in the 2016 study than in 2015, which may account for some of the increase.
  2. Minority drivers are 38 percent more likely to be stopped than white drivers, which is up from 25 percent last year. White drivers made up 61 percent of the total drivers stopped in 2016, followed by African Americans at 22 percent and Hispanics at 14 percent. However, the study measures the likelihood of being stopped based on the ratio between the percentage of stops that involved minorities and what percentage of the total drivers are minorities.
  3. Traffic stops in 2016 lasted for an average of 11 minutes. African Americans and Hispanics were slightly above the average at 12 minutes. Asian and Native Hawaiian drivers averaged 10 minutes per stop.
  4. Half of Hispanic drivers who were stopped received a citation. Forty one percent of all stops resulted in a citation, which is down from 46 percent last year. Whites and African Americans were least likely to be cited, both being at 40 percent.
  5. Police were more likely to search vehicles of African American and Hispanic drivers but more likely to find contraband in the vehicles of white drivers. About one percent of all traffic stops resulted in a vehicle search. Police conducted searches in slightly more than one percent of traffic stops involving African American and Hispanic drivers, and slightly less than one percent of white drivers. Police found contraband 30 percent of the time when searching vehicles of white drivers, and 24 percent of the time with minorities.

Conclusion

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