Man Jailed for 385 Days on False Felony Charges Awarded $1 Million by Jury
Generally speaking, Chicago citizens trust police officers to serve and protect them, and to arrest and investigate offenders suspected of committing dangerous misdemeanor and felony crimes. However, when the police go beyond the bounds of their duties, and arrest an innocent person, the people’s faith in the criminal justice system deteriorates. The situation is further aggravated when the police are found guilty of falsifying the original charges that put an innocent person away in jail. The deprivation of a person’s liberty on falsified charges such as battery, assault, or drug possession, can cause public outrage, and a jury to award monetary damages to the former suspect after he or she is freed.
A case from Cook County demonstrates the public intolerance of a police arrest based on trumped up felony charges. The events that led to the victim’s arrest based on false police work occurred in 2006, but the conclusion of the case comes after the verdict in a civil lawsuit. According to NBCchicago.com, 42-year-old Chicago resident John Collins was arrested in 2006 after police pulled him over. Mr. Collins, a barber in Chicago, had just left his salon. The arresting city of Chicago and Chicago police officers alleged at the time that Mr. Collins had spit on them and kicked them. However, after spending over one year in jail on charges of aggravated battery, Mr. Collins was acquitted.
Newsone.com reports that after his acquittal, Mr. Collins decided to initiate a civil suit against the City of Chicago for the false charges that landed him in jail. The Cook County jurors ultimately awarded Mr. Collins $1 million in damages. The report notes that the city’s officials are disappointed with the verdict, and may seek an appeal.
Under Illinois law, the crime of aggravated assault can be based on the location of the conduct, the status of the victim, or the fact that the assault was committed with a firearm. In terms of location, if the assault was committed against another person who is in a public way, public property, a public place, or a sports venue, the offender may be charged with aggravated assault, rather than assault. If the victim was a peace officer, school employee or teacher, physically handicapped or elderly, fireman, or had other protected status, then the assault may also be charged as an aggravated assault. Finally, if the assault was committed with firearm under a number of different circumstances, it may be charged as an aggravated assault. Most aggravated assaults are Class A misdemeanors. However, in some cases, such as an assault against a police officer or firefighter performing his or her official duties, it may be a Class 4 felony. Some assaults committed with firearms may also be Class 3 felonies.
Mr. Collins was fortunately able to gain back his freedom and avoid having a felony conviction on his record. If you have been charged with violating criminal laws in Illinois, you should immediately seek out the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Goldman & Associates today for a confidential consultation.