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Chicago Criminal Law Blog

Neighborhood Safety Act, the long-awaited criminal justice reform bill, now in effect

In February 2015, Governor Bruce Rauner signed an executive order forming the Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, a statewide taskforce whose express duties included devising workable solutions to help reduce the state's prison population by 25 percent by 2025.

As we previously discussed on our blog, the commission fulfilled its work admirably, providing an initial report with 14 recommendations in December 2015 and a final report with 13 recommendations in January 2017. Fast forward to the present and the governor has now signed a criminal justice reform bill incorporating several of these recommendations, otherwise known as the Neighborhood Safety Act, into law.

Minor in possession laws in Illinois

We all know you can get in trouble for having an open container of alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol or possessing some controlled substance. However, there are specific laws that govern minors when it comes to alcohol and drugs. They're called minor in possession laws (MIP) and they make it crime just for a minor to have alcohol in their possession, regardless of where they got it or if they were even drinking it.

In order to be convicted of a MIP, they only have to prove:

Debunking popular myths about bank robbery charges -- III

Over the last two weeks, our blog has been discussing how the crime of robbing a bank -- so often overlooked in the popular press and so often glamorized by Hollywood -- is viewed in the eyes of the law. Specifically, we've focused on how it's defined and why it's treated as a strictly federal crime.

We'll conclude this discussion in today's post, examining the severe punishments called for by federal law for those found guilty of bank robbery or, in other words, why these charges cannot afford to be dismissed by anyone.

Debunking popular myths about bank robbery charges -- II

Last week, our blog began discussing bank robbery, a crime that seems to generate little news coverage owing to the frequency with which it is perpetrated, and has long been glamorized in popular films and television shows. We also explored how this reality sometimes causes people to view it as a viable option if they've fallen on hard times, meaning they believe that the risk is worth is worth it, as the stakes are relatively low in the event they are apprehended.

As we'll continue exploring in today's post, this is a huge mistake, as bank robbery is a strictly federal crime, such that the stakes are actually incredibly high.

Debunking popular myths about bank robbery charges

Bank robbery is a crime that you often see covered briefly covered and pay little attention to given that it seems to occur so often, seldom involves physical harm and fits the definition of the so-called "victimless crime."

If you have a hard time believing this, think about the last time you saw a report on the 10 pm news discussing a robbery at a local bank branch. Chances are you good that it didn't receive more than 10-15 seconds of coverage as part of a local "crime roundup" story, and featured nothing more than a brief description of the incident, a grainy surveillance picture and a promise that law enforcement was investigating. Indeed, your thoughts were likely focused more focused on the imminent weather forecast.

ATF remains committed to preventing gun sales in pot-friendly states -- II

In our last post, we provided a bit of a history lesson concerning the landmark Gun Control Act of 1968, which outlaws any "unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance" from purchasing a firearm.

Specifically, we discussed how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the law enforcement agency tasked with carrying out the law, has adopted a particularly draconian stance toward marijuana users, outlawing any sale of guns and ammunition to users of this Schedule I drug owing to the risk of "irrational and unpredictable behavior."

ATF remains committed to preventing gun sales in pot-friendly states

When it comes to gun ownership and illegal narcotics, it would be no surprise to anyone anywhere to learn that the federal government has a zero tolerance policy. Indeed, this stance can be traced all the way back to 1968 when Congress passed the landmark Gun Control Act of 1968, which makes it illegal for an "unlawful user and/or an addict of any controlled substance" to purchase any sort of firearm.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, tasked with carrying out the law, set strict limits thereafter, including the introduction of a longstanding provision outlawing the sale of guns and ammunition to users of marijuana, a Schedule I drug, citing the risk of "irrational and unpredictable behavior."

How the federal government diagnoses Medicare fraud - II

Last week, we discussed just how shocking it can be for medical professionals, who have spent so much time pursuing their education, advancing their careers and building a reputation, to discover that they are under investigation or facing federal charges for some manner of Medicaid fraud or abuse.

Specifically, we spent some time exploring how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines these two broad and incredibly important terms. In today's post, we'll continue delving deeper into this issue, examining the types of conduct that fall under either heading.      

Trial date set for prosecution of felonies against lawmaker

The federal prosecution of a former United States congressman from Illinois could take months to complete. This is particularly true where the charges involve 24 counts of the misuse of government and campaign money for personal use. The prosecution involves former Congressman Aaron Schock, who faces trial on various serious felonies, including wire fraud, theft of government funds, and filing false tax returns.

Recently, his attorneys filed for a delay in the criminal trial that was scheduled to start on Feb.7. The defense claimed that there are voluminous documents that must be studied and used as evidence in the case. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of Illinois responded that it did not object to a continuance, and a trial date was set for July 11.

How the federal government diagnoses Medicare fraud

As a medical professional -- physician, nurse or pharmacist -- there was perhaps no more satisfying moment than when you walked across the graduation stage to receive your diploma, the personification of all your academic achievements.

However gratifying as this moment was, it really represented only the first step on an otherwise demanding career path that has necessitated the acquisition of professional licensure, the establishment of a strong professional reputation among peers, and, of course, the building of trusting relationships with patients.

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