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Illinois Law Protects Those Who Seek Help in Overdose Situations

will county heroin

Over the last several years, the number of deaths associated with drug overdoses has skyrocketed. In 2015, more than 52,400 individuals died as the result of a drug overdose. Last year, estimates place the number of deaths at around 59,000. These statistics indicate that overdose deaths now claim more lives each year than auto accidents and shootings.

Of course, public service campaigns and educational outreach programs have attempted to convince individuals to stay away from addictive drugs, but, unfortunately, they do not seem to be working all that well. States around the country have noticed a marked resurgence of heroin, along with fentanyl—a synthetic opioid that is often wildly unpredictable and dangerous. In light of the growing problem, many states, including Illinois have enacted laws that offer a level of immunity to a person who seeks help during a possible overdose situation.

Eliminating Fear

Consider a scenario in which you and some friends are having a small party at your house. Without your knowledge, one of your friends brought heroin with him, and during the course of the party, he goes into the bathroom. A few minutes later, you hear a crash, so you open the bathroom door to find your friend on the floor, and he appears to have overdosed. What should you do? If you call an ambulance, will the police come and decide that you were responsible for the drugs because it was your house? Will you be arrested? And, what about your friend? Even if he gets medical help, will he go to jail?

Making Help Accessible

In 2012, Illinois lawmakers decided that the fear of criminal penalties should not dissuade individuals from seeking help in an emergency situation. They passed a law that offers limited immunity for an overdose victim and the person who seeks medical attention on an overdose victim’s behalf. Specifically, the measure—sometimes referred to a “Good Samaritan” law—provides that neither a “person who is experiencing an overdose” or a “person who, in good faith, seeks or obtains emergency medical assistance for someone experiencing an overdose” will be charged with a felony for drug possession as the result of the call for help. The police may also not use the information provided by the call for help as probable cause for obtaining a warrant or conducting a search.

Important Exceptions

It is important to realize that the law does not offer complete immunity from prosecution in every situation. Possession charges may still be possible depending on the amount and type of drug present at the scene. For example, immunity is only guaranteed for up to three grams of heroin or cocaine or six grams of LSD or PCP. Immunity may also not be extended if the police already had probable cause or reasonable suspicion to conduct a search or to execute an arrest.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you have been arrested and are facing drug possession charges as the result of helping someone suffering from an overdose, contact an experienced Joliet drug crimes defense attorney . At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we will work hard to protect your rights and to provide the responsible -representation you deserve. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

First-Time DUI Offenders Have Options under Illinois Law

Joliet DUI

Charges of driving under the influence are always serious. Intoxicated driving creates significant danger not only to the drunk driver, but to anyone else who may be sharing the road. As such, penalties for DUI can be severe, even for a first offense. However, in an effort to prevent future violations, provisions in Illinois may allow a first-time offender options to reduce some of the punitive and legal consequences.

Maximum Penalties

An individual convicted of DUI in Illinois for the first time faces a number of potential penalties. His or her driving privileges may be suspended for six months, and, if chemical testing was refused at the time of arrest, the suspension will be enforced for one year. In addition to license suspension, a conviction also carries up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fines, not including court costs and other fees. A first DUI offense also remains on the driver’s record, adding to the potential penalties of future convictions.

Common Options for First-Time Offenders

Despite the maximum penalties being possible under law, many first-time offenders may be eligible for reduced penalties due to the fact that they have no previous DUI's on their record. Most drivers are also able to avoid jail time following a first offense, particularly in the absence of other circumstances that may justify a jail sentence. A first time offender is generally required to pay a fine of a least $1,500. This is in addition to court costs, fees for license reinstatement, and expenses related to alcohol awareness classes or other requirements that may be mandated in lieu of harsher penalties.

Help from Qualified DUI Lawyer

Facing any type of criminal charges can be a frightening experience as the consequences to your life may be severe. However, with the help of a skilled legal professional, you may be able to negotiate alternatives to the most severe penalties, allowing you to more quickly recover from a difficult situation. If you have been charged with driving under the influence and would information on the options available to you, contact an experienced Joliet DUI defense attorney today for a free consultation.

Criminal Arrest Procedures

will county arrest procedures

Criminal prosecution typically begins with an arrest. It is important to understand Illinois law regarding arrest procedures because if the authorities violate a defendant’s rights from the get-go, it could prejudice the state’s case. The following comes into play when a peace officer is allowed to make an arrest:

1. The officer has a warrant ordering that person’s arrest;
2. The officer has reasonable grounds to believe there is a warrant for that person’s arrest (issued in Illinois or in another jurisdiction); or
3. The officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person is committing or has committed a criminal offense.

(Note that Illinois law requires the arresting officer to ask the arrestee if he has minor children at home. If so, the officer will assist the arrestee in finding someone to look after them.)

Anyone who watches television has probably heard the term “citizen’s arrest.” In Illinois, such an arrest may be performed by any person who has reasonable grounds to believe a criminal offense (other than an ordinance violation) is being committed.

Differentiating Between a Warrant, Summons and Notice

It is also important to distinguish between several legal terms of art that can be confusing: a “warrant of arrest,” a “summons” and a “notice to appear.” A warrant of arrest is a written court order directing a peace officer to arrest a specific person. However, that is not the only procedural mechanism for effectuating an arrest. For example, a summons is a written court order commanding a specific person to appear in court at a stated time and place. A court may issue a summons whenever it is authorized to issue a warrant of arrest. Similarly, a notice to appear is a written request (issued by a peace officer rather than a court) to appear in court at a stated time and place. The officer may issue a notice whenever he is authorized to make a warrantless arrest.

The court summons must:

• Be in writing;
• State the name and address (if known) of the person summoned;
• Explain the nature of the offense;
• Include an issuing date and municipality/county;
• Be signed by the judge (including his title); and
• Command the person to appear in court at a specified time and place.

The notice to appear must:

• Be in writing;
• State the name and address (if known) of the person;
• Explain the nature of the offense;
• Include the signature of the officer who issued the notice; and
• Request the person to appear in court at a specified time and place.

A court may issue a summons or a warrant of arrest if the person fails to appear.

Keep in mind that a warrant will not be quashed (and a person who is in custody for a criminal offense will not be discharged) due to technical irregularities in the warrant, unless the irregularities affect the substantial rights of the defendant.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. This includes an unlawful arrest. If you have been arrested and suspect that your rights have been violated, contact one of our Will County criminal defense attorneys today. We can assist those in Frankfort, Joliet and the surrounding area.

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