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Three Myths Regarding Illinois Marijuana Laws

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Currently, eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Other states—including Illinois--have made medical marijuana legal if it is prescribed by a medical doctor for specified conditions. In Illinois, however, it is still against the law for anyone else to purchase, use, or carry marijuana . There is a lot of misinformation regarding cannabis and the laws which govern its use. Below are three of the most popular myths regarding marijuana laws.

1. Police Must Identify Themselves

Television and the big screen have perpetuated several myths about police and marijuana . One of these misconceptions is that if a person asks an undercover police officer if he is indeed law enforcement, that the office must admit to his identity. This trope is often used in so-called “stoner movies” in which the main characters use marijuana heavily, but it is simply not true. A police officer has the authority to pretend to be someone else in order to catch and prevent criminal activity. In sting operations or investigations, police may pose as drug dealers or other criminals in order to bring offenders to justice.

2. Police Need a Warrant to Search Your Car Even If the Officer Smells Marijuana

Citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, however, motor vehicles are treated differently than homes. The "automobile exception" refers to the rule that police officers do not always need a search warrant to search a person’s car. Police must have probable cause to search a car, which can include things they see, hear, or smell. In 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court first authorized a police search of a suspect’s car if the officer claimed to be able to smell marijuana in the car.

3. Suspects Not Read Their Miranda Rights Are Free to Go

The Miranda Warnings are a series of statements that many fans of crime TV shows may have memorized. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.” Although television and movies make it seem that every individual is read these rights immediately upon being arrested, this is often not the case.

Police are only required to read an arrested individual their Miranda rights and offer them access to an attorney being interrogated. If you are arrested on marijuana charges, the evidence found in your possession may be enough to warrant prosecution without the need for further interrogation. Even if the officer never reminded you of your Miranda rights, your charges are likely to stand anyway.

Facing Drug Charges?

While low-level possession of marijuana is no longer a crime in Illinois, possession of larger amounts can result in felony charges. If you are facing charges related to drug possession or sale, a Joliet drug and narcotics criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and help you understand your legal options. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba for help building an aggressive defense strategy. Call 815-740-4025 and schedule a free consultation today.

Illinois Expands the Sealing and Expungement of Criminal Records

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Anyone who has been arrested or convicted of a crime in the past can tell you how having a misdemeanor or felony record can hinder one’s ability to apply for a job, housing, a loan, or even admission into school. However, the outlook for offenders may be looking up with the implementation of new laws dealing with the expungement or sealing of criminal records in Illinois.

New Laws Offer Relief

Two bills passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2017 are expected to help ex-offenders find employment and other opportunities while saving the state money. These bills made the following changes to Illinois law:

• An ex-offender can apply to have their criminal record sealed from public view by filing an application in the court where they were convicted. The process requires the applicant to notify the prosecutor and police department involved in their arrest and the prosecution of their case, and, if no objections are brought, the court can grant the request. Future viewing of the record would be limited only to those who obtain a court order that allows them to do so.
• The second bill passed automatically expunges juvenile arrest records that do not result in an adjudication of delinquency, as well as other records after a certain period of time has elapsed. This will not include sexual offenses, most types of violent crimes, and other crimes considered serious in nature. However, even juvenile records that have not been expunged will be sealed from viewing by the general public.

These new laws are expected to make finding work easier, as research shows that unemployment is very high among ex-offenders. High employment not only costs the state money, but it is believed to put public safety at risk. Additional research indicates that ex-offenders who are able to find employment are less likely to re-offend, and many believe that reducing the rate of early recidivism also has the ability to reduce crime, since ex-offenders are less likely to commit crimes once they are married and start a family.

Clear Your Record With the Help of a Knowledgeable Illinois Expungement Attorney

A criminal record can follow you around for a long time. Whether you made a mistake when you were young or are ready to put indiscretions of the past behind you, relief is now available. Most arrests and convictions for misdemeanors or felonies can now be expunged or sealed, and an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you clear or seal your criminal record from public viewing. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba provide the knowledge and resources necessary to assist clients who desire a fresh start free of past problems. Contact a Joliet expungement lawyer today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation.

New Law Promises to Give Juveniles More Opportunities

joliet juvenile lawyer

The nation’s first juvenile court system was established in Cook County, Illinois, in 1899. The system was intended to address the reality that adolescents are different from adults. Unlike “adult” courts, juvenile courts traditionally focus on educating and rehabilitating young offenders and keeping them from returning to a life of crime. In the nearly 120 years since the founding of the first juvenile court, the stated goals of such systems have remained the same, but many people believe that bureaucracy and red tape have made it nearly impossible many young people to start over again after making a mistake. Thanks to a new law that went into effect at the beginning of this year, however, most juvenile offenders will now qualify for the automatic expungement of their records.

A Historically Large Problem

In the spring of 2016, the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission released the results of an analysis of the state’s juvenile court system. The study looked at juvenile arrests from 2004 to 2014—1.85 million arrests in all. Of those arrests, only 5,310 were ever expunged from the record of the arrestees. This amounts to just three expungements for every 1,000 arrests, a number which includes arrests that did not lead to findings of delinquency or convictions.

Epungement is the formal legal process through which all records of an arrest are destroyed, deleted, and otherwise made inaccessible. A record that is not expunged will continue to show up on background checks for employment, housing, and educational purposes. The study revealed that the overwhelming majority of juveniles arrested in Illinois were never afforded the opportunity to start adulthood with a clean slate.

A New Approach

In August of 2017, the state legislature and Governor Bruce Rauner took definitive steps to help juveniles fresh starts by passing a measure that creates an automatic expungement process for young arrestees. If a juvenile arrest does not result in a finding of delinquency—roughly the juvenile equivalent of a conviction—the arrest will be automatically expunged from the person’s record. Expungement is possible for other offenses—with exceptions for certain violent or sexual crimes—but the person will need to wait until two years have passed since the case was closed.

The new law also makes juvenile records less accessible to the general public. Lawmakers hope that the updated approach will allow young people to avoid having a single mistake or lapse in judgement from following them for the rest of their lives.

Call for Help Today

If your son or daughter has been arrested and is facing charges in juvenile court, you need an attorney who will fight to protect his or her rights. Contact an experienced Joliet juvenile defense lawyer to discuss your options today. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation with Attorney Jack L. Zaremba.

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