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Pursuing Compensation After an Illinois Car Accident Involving a Drunk Driver

 Posted on August 03,2022 in Uncategorized

It is illegal in all states to operate a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Yet, this does not stop people from doing just that. Driving while you are intoxicated increases the chance that you will get into a car accident and unfortunately, DUI-related traffic accidents are common in the U.S. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were more than 10,500 deaths caused by drunk driving accidents in 2018, accounting for around 29 percent of all traffic deaths that year. Even if you are not killed in a drunk driving accident, you can be seriously injured. The state of Illinois gives you a few options when it comes to pursuing compensation after a drunk driving accident.

The Illinois Dram Shop Act

In Illinois, it is possible to pursue compensation from different responsible parties. Not only can you pursue compensation from the drunk driver themselves, but you may also be able to pursue compensation from the establishment that served the driver his or her alcohol. The Illinois Liquor Control Act (also known as the Dram Shop Act) is the legislation that allows bars, restaurants, and other establishments to be held liable for damages and injuries caused by a drunk driver that they served.

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Defending Against DUI Charges in Illinois

 Posted on July 27,2022 in Uncategorized

When it comes to criminal laws and punishments, each state creates its own. When it comes to driving under the influence, the legal BAC limit for almost all states is 0.08 (Utah recently lowered its limit to 0.05), but the consequences of breaking that law differ greatly between states. Some states, like South Dakota, have no minimum jail sentence or fines for first or second-time DUI offenders. Illinois has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country, with a first offense resulting in an administrative driver’s license suspension, fines and possible jail time.

Defense Strategies

Being accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a very serious matter. Even if you are not convicted, you can face a driver’s license suspension and the arrest may appear on your criminal record during a background search. It is crucial that you have help from an experienced DUI defense attorney if you are facing DUI charges. Your attorney will be able to examine your situation and determine what the best defense strategy would be for your case. Common defenses to DUI charges include:

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How is DUI Different When it Involves Marijuana?

 Posted on July 19,2022 in Uncategorized

When it comes to DUI, there is a critical difference between alcohol and illegal drugs such as marijuana. You probably know that drunk driving is only a criminal offense if your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or higher. This means that most people can have one or two beers in their system and not worry about legal liability.

However, when it comes to illegal drugs, Illinois law states that "any amount" in a person's system is unacceptable. In other words, if police find any amount of THC - the active ingredient in marijuana and cannabis products - in your system, you are guilty of DUI even if there is no evidence that you were impaired. Additionally, if you are arrested for a DUI where someone else is seriously injured, you can be charged with an "aggravated" DUI which carries stiffer criminal penalties.

Illinois Supreme Court Rejects "Medical Condition" Defense in Aggravated DUI Case

The Illinois Supreme Court recently reinstated an aggravated DUI conviction arising from a 2012 accident involving two vehicles in Shiloh. The defendant drove her vehicle over the center line and hit a truck. The truck driver, who was pregnant at the time, suffered "permanent disability" as a result of the accident, and the defendant's 14-year-old son was also seriously injured.

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Can a Drug Conviction be Used Against Me in a Future Case?

 Posted on July 07,2022 in Uncategorized

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:

  • The previous crime was punishable by death or a prison term of at least one year at the time of the witness' conviction; or
  • The crime involved "dishonesty or false statement" regardless of the punishment involved; and
  • In either case, the judge decides the "probative value" of letting the jury know about the prior conviction outweighs any "danger of unfair prejudice."

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Dealing With the Fallout from a Probation Violation in Illinois

 Posted on June 08,2022 in Uncategorized

If you have been convicted of a crime in Illinois, one of the more favorable outcomes is receiving a sentence of probation, rather than jail time or another sentence. Probation is almost like a second chance; it allows you to continue living in your home and going to work as usual, rather than being confined in jail. After your conviction, you will attend your sentencing hearing, which is where the judge will announce that you have been sentenced to probation. The judge will also decide what your probation requirements are, which can be things that you are prohibited from doing or things that you are required to do. Your probation is contingent on these terms, meaning you must follow them or you risk being incarcerated. If you violate the terms of your probation, a series of events will take place.

Receiving a Notice of Your Violation

There are a few ways you could be accused of violating the terms of your probation. If you were sentenced to unsupervised probation, you do not have a probation officer who is checking up on you, but you can still be arrested by police during your probation period. If you were sentenced to supervised probation, your probation officer will be monitoring you and can report when they believe you have violated the terms of your probation. Once a petition for violation of your probation has been filed with the court, you will receive a notice in the mail instructing you to attend your violation hearing. If you do not attend, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.

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How Do I get my Drivers License Back Following a DUI Arrest?

 Posted on May 14,2022 in Uncategorized

Drunk driving in Illinois carries both civil and criminal penalties. On the criminal side, a person convicted of a first DUI offense faces up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Separately, the Illinois Secretary of State's office can "summarily" suspend the license of any driver who either fails a blood-alcohol test or refuses to take one at a police officer's request.

A summary suspension is a civil matter. This means the Secretary can suspend your driver's license even if you are never charged or convicted of a criminal DUI offense. Additionally, while you can challenge a civil summary suspension in court, the state's burden of proof is much lighter than in a criminal prosecution.

License Suspension Upheld Despite Police Losing Evidence

For one thing, the burden is on the defendant, not the state, to establish there are grounds to rescind the civil suspension. Only after the defendant makes this "prima facie" case does the state have to produce evidence supporting its decision. Even then, the state only needs to prove its case by a "preponderance of the evidence" rather than "beyond a reasonable doubt," as it would in a criminal DUI proceeding.

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Can a "Consensual" Encounter With Police Lead to a DUI Charge?

 Posted on May 09,2022 in Uncategorized

Normally an Illinois police officer must have probable cause to stop you on suspicion of a DUI. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects all individuals against "unreasonable" seizures by the police. However, what if an officer stops to speak with you for another reason and subsequently discovers evidence that suggests drunk driving?

Court Reinstated Driver's License Suspension

The Fourth Amendment does not apply to "consensual encounters" with the police. In other words, if you speak to the police voluntarily, and not under coercion or detention, you cannot later invoke the Fourth Amendment to claim any evidence obtained against you was an illegal search. Of course, it may not be obvious to you at the time that an encounter was "consensual." Consider the following case in point.

Recently, an Illinois appeals court had to decide whether to reinstate a suspended driver's license. A trial court previously decided to exclude evidence of DUI obtained by a police officer on Fourth Amendment grounds. The appeals court said the judge applied the law incorrectly and reinstated the suspension.

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When Can the Police "Stop and Frisk" You?

 Posted on April 04,2022 in Uncategorized

You are walking down the street minding your own business. A cop approaches you and starts asking questions. After a few moments, the cop decides to frisk you and discovers illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia in your pockets. You are arrested and charged with possession.

Is this legal? Can the police just "stop and frisk" you without a warrant? Unfortunately, in many cases they can and do. Illinois courts afford police wide discretion to conduct stop-and-frisk searches where a "reasonably prudent person" would believe his or her "safety was in danger."

In theory, police are entitled to conduct these types of warrantless searches to protect against a person with a dangerous weapon who might try to hurt someone. But in practice, stop-and-frisk often leads to over-broad policing that unfairly targets certain groups. The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois notes that Chicago police disproportionately target African-Americans, who represented "72 percent of stops, yet constitute just 32 percent of the city's population." Additionally, the majority of stop-and-frisks do not recover dangerous weapons or any other illegal activity.

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What are Common Defenses to Robbery Charges in Illinois?

 Posted on March 24,2022 in Uncategorized

Charges involving violence against another person are often prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law. Illinois is no exception. Any form of robbery is considered a felony under Illinois law. Robbery occurs when a person knowingly takes property from a person or in the presence of an individual by using or threatening force. Robbery charges can also be considered aggravated robbery if you indicate that you have a firearm or other weapon during the robbery. Robbery is a serious crime that can have serious consequences if you are convicted.

Basic robbery is classified as a Class 2 felony, which carries a minimum of three years and a maximum of seven years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. In some circumstances, robbery can be charged as a Class 1 felony, which carries four to 15 years in prison. Aggravated robbery is always charged as a Class 1 felony.

Robbery Defenses

Most people would agree that a favorable conviction or sentence would be devoid of jail time. If you are arrested for robbery, you are not automatically guilty – you must be found guilty. Arguing for your innocence will likely include these common defenses to robbery charges:

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4 Things to Be Aware of Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Case

 Posted on March 16,2022 in Uncategorized

Unfortunately, medical malpractice is a common occurrence in the United States. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical negligence is the primary cause of death for more than 250,000 people each year. This puts medical negligence at the third leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Sadly, medical errors and negligence are usually preventable, meaning most of those deaths were unnecessary and at the fault of the doctor. One thing people can do after they or their family members experience an injury from a medical error is file a medical malpractice case. However, these cases can be complicated, so before you pursue a medical malpractice claim, here are four things you should know:

1. The Burden of Proof Lies Completely With You

In medical malpractice cases, the victim has the burden of proof. The physician does not have to prove that he was innocent; you and your lawyer have the responsibility to prove that the physician’s mistake was the reason that you suffered an injury. You must also demonstrate the actual losses you suffered because of the doctor’s error, such as additional medical treatment, disability, and pain and suffering.

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