Blog posts tagged in felony charges
If you are charged with a violent crime in Illinois, you have the right to a fair trial. On television legal dramas, you often see crusading prosecutors make powerful opening or closing arguments designed to sway a jury's emotions. In real courtrooms, however, prosecutors need to stick to the evidence. They are not ethically or constitutionally permitted to inflame the jury with prejudicial language.
Court Reverses Attempted Murder Convictions Following Prosecution Misconduct
For example, a prosecutor who repeatedly refers to a defendant as a “criminal” during opening arguments may violate that defendant's right to a fair trial. Indeed, an Illinois appeals court recently overturned the convictions of two co-defendants after a prosecutor did just that. The underlying criminal case involved three Chicago police officers who were shot and injured while attempting to execute a search warrant against one of the defendants.
If you are on trial for a violent crime, such as assault and battery, prosecutors will make every effort to discredit you in front of the jury. Should you choose to testify—and remember, the Constitution protects your right to remain silent at trial—prosecutors may look to introduce evidence of prior criminal convictions to attack your credibility.
How “Impeachment” Works in a Criminal Trial
In legal terms, this is known as “impeachment.” Illinois courts have strict rules about what kinds of information may be used to impeach a witness. For example, evidence of a witness' prior criminal conviction is admissible under the following circumstances:
If you are facing felony charges, it is important to make sure the court respects all of your constitutional rights. While even the best judges make honest mistakes, such errors can prove costly when you are facing the loss of your freedom and the permanent taint of a felony conviction. Therefore, a defendant should never hesitate to object—or in some cases appeal—when a judge fails to follow the law.
Murder Conviction Overturned After Judge Kicks Out Defendant's Grandmother
A recent Illinois case illustrates how a seemingly minor procedural error can be a big deal in a felony case. The defendant here was tried for murder. A jury convicted the defendant and the judge sentenced him to 100 years in prison.