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  1. Possible Defenses in Drug Crimes

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    Unlawful Search and Seizure

    The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects your due process rights. This means that you and your property have the right not to be unlawfully searched and seized, or taken. Often times, it is not only what was found, but also the manner in which these things were found, that matter. For example, things such as illicit drugs found in ‘plain view’ or out in the open can automatically be seized and may give the officers probable cause to further search your property, and ultimately arrest you. However, if illicit drugs are found, but in the process of looking for these drugs, your fourth rights were violated, (and you did not consent to this search) these drugs may not be entered into evidence.

     

    Drugs Belong to Someone Else

    A common defense to any crime charge is to simply say you did not commit the act.  For example if there are several people in a house, and drugs are found in a common area, it is harder to prove who the drugs belong to. It is the job of the prosecution to figure out who the drugs belong to, and to not wrongfully accuse incorrect parties.

     

    Missing Drugs

    Oftentimes, the officers can testify to seeing a drug transaction but is unable to produce the actual drugs before the court. Seized drugs get transferred several times before ending up in evidence, therefore these drugs sometimes get lost in the process. When the actual drugs are missing, or the crime analysis for the drugs show they are not actual drugs, prosecutors risk having their case dismissed.

     

    Planted Drugs

    This may be extremely difficult to prove. A police officer’s sworn testimony carries a lot of weight in the courtroom. However, your attorney can file a motion, with the permission of the judge, which allows the police department to release the complaint file of the office. This file contains any complaints filed, and the information of the people who filed the complaint. If the officer has a history of complaints or of accusations similar to this, their credibility may be attacked before the court.

     

    Entrapment

    Law enforcement officials are allowed to set up sting operations, however entrapment occurs when officers or informants induce or provoke a suspect to commit a crime that he or she, otherwise may not have committed. Entrapment is not permitted. For example, if an informant or officer convinces or pressures a suspect into passing drugs to a third party, this may be considered entrapment. Most commonly, entrapment occurs when it is the state that is providing the drugs.

     

    Free Consultation by a Criminal Defense Attorney

    If you’ve been arrested on a drug possession charge, you may have defenses available to you that aren’t immediately obvious. The police officers may have improperly taken your statement, or mishandled the evidence, etc.   It is in your best interest to contact an attorney for a free evaluation of your case, to figure out if there are any other defenses you can have in a criminal case.

  2. Things to Know About Worker’s Compensation

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    Your injury must to be connected to your job.

    Not every job injury is automatically covered under workers’ compensation. Under Illinois law, in order to be covered under Worker’s compensation- the injury must arise out of and in the course of your regular job duties. Meaning the injury must happen while you are working and the injury has to be caused by your job duties. In Illinois, the law tends to be worker-friendly. Even if you think your injury might not be eligible for worker’s compensation, talk to an attorney to make sure your worker’s rights are protected.

      Remember 2 important deadlines.

    Under Illinois law, a worker who has been injured MUST notify their employers within 45 days of the date of injury. Also, the law allows the workers 3 years, from the date of injury, to file a claim. If you are receiving benefits, the deadline is 2 years from the last payment, or 3 years from the date of injury-whichever is later. However, the most important thing is file as claim as soon as possible. The sooner you do, the easier it become to prove the injury is directly related to your job duties.

    Only employees are eligible.

    Under Illinois law, employees who are injured on the job are guaranteed benefits (Even Part-time employees). However, neither independent contractors nor volunteers are covered. Sometimes the employer mislabeled the employees, so don’t assume you are an employee or an independent contractor-look into talking to an attorney before dismissing the idea of filing a claim for benefits.

     The insurance company is not on your side.

    Employers have workers compensation insurance. When an employee is hurt at work, the insurer is the one paying out benefits. The insurance companies make money by paying out less benefits, therefore they are not on your side. The adjuster for the insurance may seem nice and helpful, but it is their job to try to pay you less for your injury. If the insurance asks you to give a statement, chances are, they will try to use it against you, in any way they can.

    Hiring a lawyer is easier than you think.

    Set up an initial consultation and ask questions. Consultations for worker’s compensation cases are free. Also, you do not have to pay anything for an attorney to take your case- the attorney’s fee is covered under your settlement or a sum of past benefits owed. Attorney’s fees are covered under a contingency basis. Your regular benefits checks are completely yours. Oftentimes, hiring an attorney significantly increases the value of your case.

  3. New Law in Illinois Requires Hairstylists to Watch for Domestic Violence.

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    Starting January 1, 2017, hairstylists will be required by law to have special training on how to handle conversations about sexual assault and domestic violence. This law extends to cosmetologists, aestheticians, hair braiders, nail technicians, and barbers. Under this new law, the state’s 88,000 licensed beauty professionals are expected to take an hour-long course designed to teach them to recognize signs of domestic abuse, how to address the issue, and how to navigate the conversation around domestic abuse. Although, the new law does not require stylists to report these incidents to the authorities, advocates hope that this new training will allow the safe space for the client to discuss the issue with the hairstylist, and ultimately become conscious of the problem and how to seek help.

     

    Legislators worked closely with Chicago Says No, a non-for-profit organization that works to develop laws against domestic violence and sexual assault. This new law also stems from the increase in domestic violence cases in Illinois. The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority reported an increase of 99,795 offenses from the year before. By learning more about the signs for domestic violence, and the resources available, hairstylists will be able to help victims though these difficult and often dangerous situations. Supporters of this law are considering extending this type of training to other occupations such as bartenders.

  4. Charges and Convictions for Possession of a Controlled Substance

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    Under Illinois law , the penalties for Possession of a Controlled Substance or PCS, are laid out under: Act 720 ILCS 570/1 et seq. Possession of drugs can either be a misdemeanor or felony. Possession of cannabis (known as marijuana) is usually a misdemeanor offense. A misdemeanor offense is punishable by no more than one year in jail.

    However, possession of a controlled substance is usually a felony criminal offense. The sentence for a felony offense is one year or more of incarceration. For example, a typical possession of a controlled substance charge, such as cocaine would be a Class 4 felony.

    All controlled substances are classified by the Act are either Schedule I, Schedule II, Schedule III or Schedule IV substances.

    A Schedule I controlled substance is defined as:

    1) has high potential for abuse; and

    2) has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or lacks accepted safety for use in treatment under medical supervision.

    The following drugs are considered Schedule I controlled substances:

    • cocaine
    • methamphetamine
    • heroin
    • ecstasy
    • psychedelic mushrooms
    • LSD
    • peyote

    Generally, all recreational drugs (drugs with no accepted medical use) are considered Schedule I controlled substances. The possession of cocaine makes up about 80% of all possession of controlled substance cases.

    The other types of controlled substances, Schedule II, III, and IV, are considered to have some type of accepted medical use, but still have a high potential for abuse.

    Possession of cocaine or heroin is a Class 4 felony (1-3 years prison) as long as the weight of the substance is less than 15 grams. If the weight is 15 grams or more, then the offense is enhanced to a Class 1 felony (4-15 years prison).

    Probation is possible for both a Class 4 and Class 1 felony, however if the defendant violates probation, which is extremely easy to do, they will be re-sentenced according to the Class they were charged with. For example, if a defendant is convicted of a Class 4 felony, and given probation, if that defendant violates probation- they could be sentenced to 1-3 years in prison. While a defendant convicted of a Class 1 felony, given probation, and violates probation- could be sentenced to 4-15 years in prison. So even though probation may be allowed for either, it is still important to try to reduce the charge to a lower class felony.

    If you have any Possession charges or questions and need help, please contact our office.

  5. THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT DUI’s

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    As the holidays approach, we find ourselves surrounded with cheer and joy…and also a lot of alcohol. There is one DUI arrest for every 137 licensed drivers in the United States. Chances are most of us know someone that has had a DUI, and the number of DUI’s tend to increase around the holiday season.

    -Don’t Drink and Drive

    Just don’t do it. It’s not worth the consequences of fines, losing your license, or a potential accident.

    -Your Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) has nothing to do with alcohol tolerance.

    It doesn’t really matter how you feel. Even if you feel ‘tipsy’ or ‘buzzed’, and think you’re ok to drive, your BAC is an objective reading of how much alcohol is in your blood stream. Your alcohol tolerance rises and falls with the frequency of one’s drinking, but the BAC remains constant, and dependent on how many drinks you’ve consumed.

    In fact, the measuring number for DUI’s in Illinois is .08%, which is a very small amount of alcohol; so much so, that you may not feel any effect at all.

    -Police Officers are trained to notice even subtle signs of alcohol consumption.

    If a police officer pulls you over- they may look for alcohol side effects: this is anything from the smell of alcohol on your breath, glossy eyes, to slurred speech. If the officer has reason to believe you have been drinking, he may ask you to take a Field Sobriety Test (FST). These tests are meant to measure if your balance, coordination, and comprehension are impaired by alcohol.

    -There are 2 types of breath tests for a DUI.

    One breath test is given before the arrest, and at the site you were pulled over, and the other is given after the arrest, and usually given at the police station.

    Test 1-Portable Breath Test

    You can refuse to take the pre-arrest, portable breath test. However, once you’ve refused this test you will most likely be placed under arrest and taken to the police station.

    *Remember: you have the RIGHT to refuse this test and it is in your best interest to REFUSE THIS TEST.

    Test 2- Chemical test         

    At the police station, you will be asked to take another test.

    Illinois has an implied consent law, which means the state of Illinois requires you to take a breath, blood, or urine test if you arrested for a DUI.

    If you refuse to submit to this test, you may be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension.

     

    Ultimately, the best rule is call a cab and not risk it. Be safe and happy holidays.

  6. Report Issued Recommending System Reform in Illinois Asset-Forfeiture Laws

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    Asset forfeitures occurs when state law enforcement seize or take personal property from individuals. This seizing is oftentimes the result of property that law enforcement believes to be involved, or used in illegal activity. The type of property seized varies from vehicles, real estate, cash, or other personal property.

    However, this process of seizing an individual’s personal property does not require that individual to be convicted of a crime, and in some cases, it doesn’t even require that individual to be charged of a crime. Nevertheless, when these individuals attempt to get their property back, they often find the process time-consuming, expensive, and often unsuccessful.

    In Illinois the counties with the highest forfeitures are: Cook county, Lake county , Will county , and Rock county.

    Although forfeiture cases are decreasing (in 2005 there were 8,745 forfeitures valued at more than $25 million, in 2015 there were 2,950 forfeitures valued at more than $13 million), these cases still remain a significant issue in Illinois.   So much so, that organizations that often find themselves on opposite ends, have come together to issue a 32-page report against the current Illinois asset-forfeiture laws.

    The American Civil Liberties Union and Illinois Policy Institute estimated that state law enforcement agencies made $319 million by seizing personal property in Illinois from 2005-2015. In the first-ever joint report between the ACLU and IPI, the organizations lay out 10 recommendations for improving Illinois’ problematic forfeiture laws.

    Among them, the report calls for system reform, asking that legislators insist on ‘fair legal standards’ in all forfeiture cases. For instance, the report recommends legislators require a criminal conviction before personal property is taken, with the burden of proof falling on the government.

    Also, the report recommends an increase in transparency, allowing news organizations and researchers access to accurate forfeiture information. The report also recommends money from forfeiture cases to be deposited into general funds instead of allowing law enforcement agencies to keep it, in order to decrease the incentives to engage in ‘policing for profit’.

    The full report can be found here: http://www.aclu-il.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/civil-asset-forfeiture.pdf

  7. What to do When Arrested in Illinois?

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    What to do When Arrested in Illinois?
    In an arrest, a police officer, state trooper, or sheriff restrains your freedom of movement. The arresting officer may take you into custody, or you may be stopped, verbally or physically, for questioning about a crime. At the time of your arrest, the arresting officers should inform you they have a warrant and produce the warrant for your review. If they have criminally charged you, ask the nature of the criminal charges.

    -Things to Remember While Being Arrested: (more…)