Gang Violence in Chicago
Chicago has a reputation for having more violent crimes than any other city in the country, and much of this is due to gang violence. The Chicago Crime Commission estimates that there are 70 to 100 gangs in the Chicago metropolitan area, with membership estimates ranging from 68,000 to over 150,000.
According to an ABC news report, last year brought a record number of shootings and the most homicides in two decades. There were 3,550 shooting incidents and 762 murders last year, averaging two murders and nearly 10 shootings every day. Violence in Chicago is mostly on the south and west sides, in areas with a history of gang conflicts.
If you are accused of a gang-related crime in Illinois, it is a frightening and serious situation since a conviction can negatively impact your life forever. Prosecutors look to inflict the strongest punishment, so you need all the legal help you can get to defend your rights.
The experienced and seasoned Illinois criminal law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., understand the seriousness of your situation and offer aggressive representation for clients facing criminal charges. We know the courts and the criminal justice system and how to plea bargain, negotiate guidelines and recognize when to take your case to trial. Gang-related crimes that are prevalent in Chicago include, but are not limited to the following:
- Assault and Battery
- Auto Theft – Carjacking
- Breaking and Entering
- Drugs: Dealing – Possession – Manufacturing – Trafficking
- Gun Possession – Illegal Firearms
- Home Invasion
- Homicide – Murder – Attempted Murder
- Robbery, Armed Robbery
- Shootings – Drive-by Shooting.
The RICO Act Relating to Gangs
Illinois has a Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Act (RICO), which is part of the federal Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 that deals with criminal organizations, including gangs. The act is written to let federal and state officials work together to prosecute people involved in criminal activity ranging from drug offenses to gun crimes and murder.
In 2012, Illinois passed the Street Gang Rico Act, designed to help both state and local officials round up suspected gang members and charge them as members of criminal organizations. Conviction under the Act can mean long imprisonment and steep fines.
In Illinois, crimes involving the RICO Act are considered a Class U Felony and can mean sentences of 1 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000, depending on circumstances of the crimes. Some serious Class U Felonies can bring prison terms of as long as 30 years.
Factors Increasing Violence
According to ABC News contributor John Cohen, a law enforcement expert, there are three factors that may be behind the increasing violence:
- An increase in gang activity and violent behavior by career criminals
- An increase in the availability of illegal guns and an increase in criminals’ willingness to use them
- Increasing reluctance by law enforcement to engage in proactive, violence prevention policies due to worry that a split-second decision will make them the next person accused of police brutality.
Other factors leading to the prevalence of gang activity include:
- Gang members believe community residents will take their side instead of law enforcement’s.
- Social issues, including lack of education or employment, create a feeling of hopelessness for young people and help them gravitate toward the violent gang lifestyle.
- Gangs can give young people a sense of family, belonging, and protection.
- The lack of other ways to earn money to support a family.
- A boring, purposeless existence leads to bursts of bravado and retaliation for the loss of other gang members and loved ones.
What Should I do if Accused?
If you are accused of a gang crime in Illinois, remember you are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court. You have a right to a jury trial and to be represented by an attorney.
If you are arrested, stay calm and do not resist arrest. You have a constitutional right to remain silent, known as Miranda rights, and the police must inform you of these rights if you are arrested. However, they are not required to do so if you are not under arrest and not in custody.
You should always immediately ask to speak to an attorney before answering questions. An experienced defense lawyer can advise you on your rights and be with you during questioning, and may be able to influence charges against you and keep you from being arrested.
Remember, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. You and your attorney do not have to prove that you are innocent; you only need to show that the prosecution has not proved the case to be “a moral certainty.”
Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation.
When you are accused of a gang crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can find. The criminal defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process to come up with an effective defense strategy. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
We are aggressive litigators and will work with you to answer all your questions and make sure you fully understand the facts surrounding your case. We represent clients in DuPage County, Will County, Cook County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, and the greater Chicagoland area.
Delaying can only make your situation worse, so call 630-305-0222 today to schedule your free initial consultation.