Friday, March 11, 2016

YOUR MIRANDA RIGHTS APPLY TO MORE THAN WORDS

We all know from TV that police are supposed to read you your rights—also known as Miranda warnings—after they take you into custody but before questioning begins. According to a recent Illinois appellate court decision, the term “questioning” can mean something besides verbally asking questions. It can take the form of police action.

In People v Wright, a police officer handcuffed the defendant, conversed with him about the crime, then took defendant to where he could see police questioning the mother of his children. After seeing the woman get into a police car, presumably arrested for a crime she did not commit, defendant began talking. The court held that the officer’s conduct was an attempt to get the defendant to confess. While Miranda generally applies to questioning, it can also apply to police practices. Therefore, the officer should have read defendant’s Miranda rights and defendant’s incriminating statements should be suppressed.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case to help present your best possible defense. If the police acted illegally, an attorney can bring a motion to try to get the evidence against you dismissed. Even if the police acted property and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

HOW RELIABLE IS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY?

HOW RELIABLE IS EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY? Illinois Courts were originally cautious about allowing experts to testify about the reliability of eyewitness testimony. But as a recent Illinois Supreme Court case noted “advances in DNA testing have confirmed that ‘eyewitness misidentification is now the single greatest source of wrongful convictions in the United States, and responsible for more wrongful convictions than all other causes combined.’”

In People v Lerma, the defendant was convicted of murder solely on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The trial court rejected defense requests to allow experts to testify about the reliability of that testimony. The trial court believed that since the eyewitnesses already knew defendant, they were less likely to misidentify someone they already knew.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the trial court’s reasoning, stating “This is the type of case for which expert eyewitness testimony is both relevant and appropriate.” The state had no physical evidence or confession.

In the past, Illinois courts were concerend about the overuse of expert testimony, However, the Lerma court noted there had been “a dramatic shift in the legal landscape, as expert testimony concerning the reliability of eyewitness testimony has moved from novel and uncertain to settled and widely accepted.” There is now a clear trend to allow eyewitness expert testimony to help the jury understand the characteristics of eyewitness identification.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)