Archive, January 2017.

According to Illinois criminal code 720 ILCS 5, it is acceptable for an individual to use force against someone else when that person reasonably believes that this force is necessary to defend themselves or someone else against another party’s impending violence. This means that if you believed that force was necessary to use in order to protect yourself or another person, you are justified in taking such actions. The statute goes on to say, “However, he is justified in the use of force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm only if he reasonably believes that …
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Identity theft used to commit tax fraud is a serious criminal offense. It involves the process of stealing a person’s Social Security number and filing a tax return to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and cashing the proceeds. Billions of dollars are lost every year in this process, and the federal government has taken actions to strengthen security and go after offenders with heavy criminal sentences. If you have been charged with identity theft used to file a fraudulent tax return, your future and freedom are at stake, even if you did not commit the crime or know that your actions were …
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It can cost the police just $2 to haul someone to jail on a drug crime. These $2 drug test kits have been used for over half a century and tens of thousands of people are incarcerated because of them every year, according to ProPublica. In fact, 1.2 million people are arrested on an annual basis for drug possession, many of whom were brought in because of field test kits. But how accurate are these cheap drug test kits? The answer is not very. And, law enforcement agencies have known of their inaccuracies for a long time. In fact, in 1974 the National Bureau of Standards issued a statement …
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Even the most respected, honorable members of our community make mistakes. Sometimes, that mistake results in a violation of the law that leads to a felony. But not all defendants convicted on theft charges, for example, are given the same sentence. The court will decide punishment based on the criminal violation, circumstances surrounding the crime, the defendant’s prior criminal record, and other specifics. In some cases, only when the defendant has no prior criminal record, the charge may be dismissed and their record expunged. This is called the Offender Initiative Program. For an …
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You may not have heard about them before, but many courts are turning to risk prediction equations as a measure to make informed decisions regarding sentencing, bail, and early release. A judge’s own opinion on the matter may be overlooked in favor of these increasingly prevalent equations. But how accurate are these equations, and moreover, is there a risk of racial bias? The answer, unfortunately, is that there is a huge racial bias that goes a long way to making an already racist institute (the criminal justice system) even more so.
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