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Posted on in Criminal Law

Forced Confessions Do Not Prove GuiltLaw enforcement officials will say that the purpose of a criminal interrogation is to get the truth. However, some interrogators are more interested in getting a confession. There are documented cases of defendants being convicted based on false confessions. Even if the defendant later claims that he or she was coerced, a jury often believes that the initial confession must be the truth. Jurors think "Why would a defendant admit to a serious crime he or she did not commit?" It is difficult to prove that a confession was false, but those experienced in criminal law understand why a forced confession is unreliable.

Coercing a Confession

Police detectives conducting an interrogation know that it is illegal to obtain a confession through violence or threat of violence. Instead, most false confessions are obtained through psychological tactics. Interrogators will try to break the confidence of suspects so that they believe that confessing to a crime is their best option. Juveniles and people with mental deficiencies are most susceptible to coerced confessions. However, any suspect may eventually succumb to psychological pressure when interrogators:

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Illinois Revises Gang Member Contact LawAs of the beginning of the year, Illinois has revised a criminal law that critics claim was being used to unfairly target and arrest people on parole or probation. The revised law makes it a class A misdemeanor for certain people on probation to participate in gang-related activity. The previous version of the law was viewed as overly broad and resulted in parolees being arrested for simply being seen with someone in a gang. By changing the language of the law, lawmakers hope to reduce the number of arrests involving nonviolent offenders who are only guilty by association.

The Previous Law

The Illinois Criminal Code of 2012 included a law against “unlawful contact with streetgang members.” As a condition of parole or probation, a court can order a subject to refrain from direct or indirect contact with a known gang member. The law made violating this court order a misdemeanor. The only exception to the law was if the gang member was a family member or living in the same household. For people living in areas with high gang activity, avoiding contact with gang members can be difficult. They could be arrested for:

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Appeal Ruling Questions Constitutionality of DUI Testing LawAn Illinois appellate court recently overturned a man’s conviction for first degree murder, aggravated driving under the influence and failure to report a motor vehicle accident involving a death. There were several reasons that the court decided to send the case back for retrial:

  • The jury should have been instructed of a possible lesser charge of reckless homicide as an alternative to first degree murder;
  • The class 1 felony count of failure to report should not apply because it requires 30 minutes to have passed and the defendant was arrested about 10 minutes after the incident; and
  • Blood and urine samples should have been inadmissible as evidence because they were obtained by force and without a warrant.

The third point is potentially the most consequential because it questions the constitutionality of an Illinois law that allows police officers to force a suspect to give bodily fluid samples after a DUI arrest.

Case Details

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How Police Identify Drivers for DUI StopsPolice officers are always on the lookout for drunk drivers, but they must have reason to believe that a driver may be impaired before pulling him or her over on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, there is a wide range of driving behavior that can justify a DUI stop. As a driver, your innocent mistake may raise an officer’s suspicion. Even if you are sober, a DUI stop is risky because a misunderstanding may lead to erroneous charges.

Reasons for Stops

Police have enough justification to stop you if you have committed a traffic violation or are driving in a way that is a nuisance to other drivers. What may make them suspect a DUI is the nature of your infraction, the time of day and your proximity to establishments serving alcohol. Suspicious driving behavior may include:

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Privileged Information vs. Defendant Rights in Criminal CasesAn Illinois appellate court recently granted a defendant a retrial in his criminal case because the circuit court improperly allowed a testifying police officer to withhold important information regarding the case. The defendant had been convicted for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Law enforcement will try to protect information during a trial that it deems sensitive and likely to put people in danger. However, a defendant also has the right to know the full details of the case against him or her in order to present an effective defense. Courts are supposed to weigh the two interests, with disclosure becoming more important when the prosecution’s case relies on the information.

Surveillance Privilege

The recent drug possession case involved a police officer watching the defendant in order to catch him in the act of selling heroin. After allegedly witnessing the defendant conduct multiple transactions, the officer approached him. He was apprehended at the scene, and the substance in the bags he was allegedly selling tested positive for heroin. During the trial, the police officer refused to disclose the location where he surveilled the defendant because officers may still be using the site. The officer did confirm that:

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