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Rolling Meadows, IL criminal defense attorney

When it comes to the people responsible for a crime, in some cases, it can be more than just the offender who is held responsible for the commission of the crime. This is the basic idea behind the concept of criminal accountability. In the state of Illinois, it is legal for a person to be arrested and charged for simply knowing about a crime that someone else committed. While this may seem unfair, the law of accountability has actually helped Illinois law enforcement with the prosecution of criminal organizations and gang members. However, the law of accountability can also unfairly and unjustly convict innocent people of crimes that they did not commit and should not be accountable for.

What Is the “Law of Accountability” in Illinois?

Many states across the country, including Illinois, have created laws that are known as accountability laws, which allows the state to convict individuals of crimes that they did not commit, but that they were “accessories” to or “passive participants” in. Specifically, the Illinois Criminal Code states that a person is legally accountable for the actions of another person when they have the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of a crime and they aid, abet, agree, or attempt to aid another person in the planning or commission of the offense.

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illinois-wrongful-convictionsWhen you have been caught and accused of a crime, the legal procedure that should follow can quickly take a turn for the worse if the investigators pursue coercive interrogation. A great example of the horror that might unfold is the story of Juan Rivera, who spent 19 years in prison for a rape/murder that he never committed. His story is just one example of the many stories coming out of the term of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, who is accused of promoting torturous techniques to force people to confess.

A new law in Illinois is aimed to reduce the number of wrongful convictions that have led to high numbers of exonerations across the state. Known as Illinois SB1006, recordings of interrogations in violent crime cases will help to protect accused individuals. The interrogations in Rivera’s case were not recorded and in his case it was simply his word versus the police officers he was accusing.

This is not Illinois’ first attempt to address the issue of wrongful convictions. In 2003, a law sponsored by Barack Obama (at the time a state Senator) required homicide interrogation recordings. Although this was a big step forward, accusations of only rape or other violent crimes might have put other individuals as the same situation as Rivera.

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