It’s never a bad thing when the crime rate drops in your city, and that’s especially true when the crime in question is homicide. Few criminal acts are more devastating than intentionally taking someone’s life, because there’s no way to take it back and no chance of recovery. Victims expand well beyond the person who dies to their friends, family members, and even their community.
Perhaps that’s why Chicago city officials were so quick to trot out the FBI’s most recent uniform crime report, which shows that our city’s homicide rate dropped by more than 3% from 2012 to 2013 – rather significant when you realize this means 86 fewer homicides. It’s a far cry from this time last year, when we were being called the murder capital of America.
But if you read the linked article above, you’ll quickly discover there’s only a drop in certain neighborhoods. In fact, some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city actually saw their homicide rates go up, and over 50% of all the homicides in Chicago happened in these 10 areas.
What this means for the people who live in these areas is two-fold:
- You need to take extra care to ensure you and your loved ones are safe.
- You might find that your neighborhood is soon targeted more by police who are trying to crack down.
What’s Your Defense against Charges in Crime-Ridden Areas?
From the statistics above, it seems pretty clear the police need to do a better job of protecting Chicago’s most vulnerable citizens. But while increasing police patrols in some of our more dangerous neighborhoods may discourage illegal activity, it can also lead to civil rights violations and other illegal practices by those who are supposedly out to protect us. If there’s anything our country should have learned from New York’s stop-and-frisk debacle, it’s that targeting leads to unintended problems.
Here are some possible defense strategies to consider if you are charged while in one of these dangerous neighborhoods:
Self-defense. If someone tries to harm you and you end up hurting them while attempting to protect yourself, this needs to be considered. At the very least, it should be a circumstance that mitigates your charges and gets them lessened, but in some cases, it might be enough to have the charges dropped altogether. A good criminal attorney will know how to use the available evidence to show you were only acting to keep yourself or those with you safe.
No probable cause. When areas are flooded with beat cops to prevent crime and the going is slow, it’s not unheard of for police officers to go looking for trouble – even when they have no real reason to suspect it. While most cops don’t do this, it’s still something to watch out for, because the police shouldn’t be coming after you unless you give them a reason to do so.
Profiling. Similar to the above, police are not allowed to treat you like a criminal just because you happen to be hanging out in a specific neighborhood or wearing certain kinds of clothing. And they definitely can’t target people because they’re from a particular race or ethnic group. This type of behavior is most common when people are charged with theft, drug possession, or for carrying a weapon. If you believe you are a victim of profiling, tell your attorney so they can use all of the tools at their disposal to attempt to prove this.
Remember that a charge doesn’t mean a conviction, no matter where you live. Stand up for your rights and protect your future by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney with a track record of success.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, Murder, and drug crimes.