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911 Law, underage drinking, Lake County criminal defense attorneyFor several years, the state of Illinois has granted immunity from criminal prosecution to individuals who call 911 for another person in danger of overdosing on heroin or other dangerous drugs. Lawmakers and proponents of so-called “Good Samaritan” laws believe that by offering immunity, a person with the ability to take action and save a life is more likely to do so if they are not in fear of criminal repercussions. Earlier this year, the Illinois legislature took the concept a step further, approving a measure that would offer similar protections to underage drinkers seeking emergency medical assistance.

Responding to the Dangers

The new law, set to take effect January 1, 2016, was signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in late August. Supporters of the bill believe that those in a position to help are often paralyzed by the thought of getting in trouble with the law themselves. House sponsor Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood cited a particular example from within his district. “People were reluctant to call for help, but someone did,” he said. “And then both the teenager and the friend who called ended up getting citation for the situation.” Similar amnesty laws have been put into place in various places around the country, including many college campuses, and surveys indicate they are having desired effect.

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post-conviction, appeals, Cook County criminal defense attorneyFor some criminal defendants, their cases are not over once they have been convicted. The U.S. and Illinois Constitutions have many safeguards in place to prevent wrongfully convicted people from remaining locked up. However, it often takes a skilled lawyer to help navigate all of the rules and procedures that govern post-conviction relief.

What Happens Once You Have Been Convicted?

In a criminal case, once you have been convicted, you will be sentenced. In some cases, you are able to remain free on bond waiting for your sentencing hearing. In others, you may be taken into custody and begin serving time while you wait for your formal sentencing hearing.

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white-collar crime, 2008 recession, Illinois criminal defense attorney In the wake of the 2008 economic recession, many politicians began to speak out against the seemingly unjust laws that allowed for the white-collar criminals who perpetuated the crash to walk free. Banks themselves were deemed “too big to fail,” meaning that the executives who manufactured the crash through unsavory business practices that left many American families bankrupt never faced retribution for their crimes. In the vast majority of cases, corporations were slapped with legal fines—most of which registered minutely, if at all, on corporate profit and loss statements—but most individuals behind the actions were never even questioned in court. In large part, this is because the unsavory behavior was not technically illegal, and no legal structure is currently in place to aggressively pursue the individuals who act on behalf of corporations. This could be changing.

In mid-September, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it was issuing new guidelines to pursue white-collar criminals, in which they personally—and not only their company—would face retribution. The Justice Department said in a memo that these new laws were in direct response to criticism that the Obama administration had not done enough in the wake of the 2008 recession to pursue punishment for the individuals responsible.

Furthermore, the new guidelines do not allow for corporate executives to pass the buck. The law does not allow for low-level employees to take the blame for a corporation accused of criminal wrongdoing. The Justice Department asserts that, even when a corporation offers a ‘fall-man,’ the company itself—and its high level executives—will also be held accountable.

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automatic transfer, new law, Schaumberg Criminal Defense LawyerAlthough a ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court last fall affirmed the constitutionality of automatic transfer of juveniles to adult court in certain cases, the state’s High Court urged legislators to review the existing process. In People v. Patterson, the Supreme Court determined that, while process in juvenile court is not a guaranteed right of a defendant, more judicial oversight and discretion would help improve effectiveness of the criminal court system. As of now, the court opined, the use of mandatory transfers fails to address the individuality of a situation, which is often necessary in juvenile cases.

House Bill 3718

In response to the urging of the Supreme Court, a measure was introduced to the Illinois House in February of 2014 designed to reduce the use of automatic transfers to adult courts for juveniles. With the help of sponsors Representative Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, and Senator Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, the bill was passed by both the House and Senate fairly easily and sent to Governor Bruce Rauner for approval earlier this summer. Governor Rauner signed the legislation in August, and the law is set to take effect on January 1, 2016.

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warrantless, dog sniff, Northbrook Criminal Defense AttorneyWhen you are going though an airport, you understand to a degree that civil authorities are looking to keep air travel safe, and sometimes that means that your luggage may be subject to dog sniff by an animal trained to detect explosive materials. Like it or not, submitting to such measures is part of the trade-off in being granted the privilege to travel by air. Your home, however, is a different story. Under the constitution, you are protected against unlawful search and seizure of your property which, as the United States Supreme Court has decided, includes a warrantless sniff for drugs by a police dog.

Warrantless dog sniffs were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Florida v. Jardines back in 2013. In that case, police had received a tip that Miami man was growing marijuana in his home. A detective went to the home and after observing for 15 minutes without approaching the door, brought a drug-sniffing dog onto the premises. The dog apparently detected the scent of marijuana and alerted his handler. Based solely on the behavior of the dog, police obtained a search warrant and proceeded to search the home, finding a number of marijuana plants.

At trial, the warrant and seized plants were suppressed on the grounds the warrant was based on an unreasonable search—the sniff conducted by the dog. On appeal, however, the appellate court disagreed, holding that the sniff was legal. The Florida Supreme Court, and ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with original trial court that a warrantless sniff of a person’s home violates the individual’s Fourth Amendment rights. In the opinion of the high court, law enforcement has the right to approach a home without a warrant like any private citizen, knock, wait for a response, and engage in conversation with the home’s occupant. Introduction of police dog, however, is deemed by the court to be an elevated level of investigation that requires a warrant issued on the basis of probable cause.

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