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Study Suggests Tests for Marijuana Impairment Not Based in Science

Joliet Marijuana DUI Lawyer

Even as Illinois lawmakers consider a bill that would, for the first time, provide a marijuana intoxication standard for charges of driving under the influence (DUI), a new study claims that the foundation for such standards is seriously flawed. The study even went so far as to suggest that setting legal limits of THC in a driver’s blood has no scientific basis and that comparing the effects of alcohol and marijuana on a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely is not an apples-to-apples comparison.

BAC and THC Levels

Across the country, a driver found to have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 is considered to be under the influence, as decades of research have supported a relationship between BAC levels and impairment. With the increase in legalized use of marijuana, including recreational use in several states and medical use in about two dozen, including Illinois, lawmakers and law enforcement officials have been looking for a similar way to relate marijuana impairment to a quantifiable standard.

Thus far, six states have enacted laws that base charges of DUI for marijuana on the levels of THC—the chemical in marijuana that produces the effects of the “high”—found in the driver’s blood. Similar measures are being considered in a number of other states, with one in Illinois expected by many to be passed soon. The Illinois law would set a DUI standard of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, while others around the country vary from state to state.

Troubling Research

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an offshoot of the American Automobile Association, released a study this month that challenges the idea that a “quantitative threshold” can be effectively used to determine a driver’s level of impairment. Reviewing more than 5,000 case reports, the study found that quantitative analysis of THC levels would have misclassified a substantial number of drivers, either as impaired or as not impaired when a Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) showed otherwise. In other words, many who failed the SFST would have been under the legal limit, while many who passed the SFST would have been well above the legal limit.

The Foundation recommends training law enforcement officers to detect driver impairment rather than relying on number-based standards that are not scientifically valid. It remains to be seen how, if at all, the study will affect public policy in the states with existing standards and those who are considering enacting them.

Charged With Drugged Driving?

If you are facing charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you need an attorney who is ready to fight for you. Contact experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer Jack L. Zaremba today to schedule your free consultation. He will meet with you to discuss your case and help you find a resolution that protects your rights and your future.

Domestic Violence Defined: What Does Illinois State Consider Abuse?

Joliet Domestic Violence Lawyer

Domestic violence is among one of the most controversial topics in both public and private arenas and is a serious matter throughout the world of criminal law. Every state enforces different laws to address domestic abuse, but there are certain circumstances that are considered to be criminal offenses across the United States, regardless of where you live. All are direct threats to a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Is It Really Abuse?

The state of Illinois recognizes that domestic violence comes in many forms. Words hurt, as does mental agitation, manipulation, and any act that forces a person to experience something against their will. Any of the following circumstances are considered by the state to be valid, serious cases of abuse:

• Harassment - Stalking, following, or watching someone to the point where they are uncomfortable, unable to function, or go about their day normally are all forms of harassment. If it interferes with someone’s personal space, distracts them from work or other important obligations, or negatively impacts them emotionally or physically, it is a crime.
• Physical Acts - Physically restraining someone from entering or leaving a space, hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, or forcing someone to have sexual intercourse through coaxing or physical force are all valid domestic violence offenses.
• Forced Will - If someone forces you, a child, or other family member to witness any form of abuse, including physical, verbal, and sexual abuse, then it is considered domestic violence. These actions invoke terror using intimidation and fear tactics in order to exert power and control over an individual.

Other serious domestic violence criminal offenses include the mistreatment of the disabled and elderly. If someone denies a disabled person access to the care they need or prevents an ill family member from getting the help they need to manage their symptoms or take care of their health, they are abusing that individual.

Does It Count?

If a family or household member has initiated or engaged in domestic abuse, then Illinois law considers it a crime. Spouses, former spouses, parents, siblings, or anyone who at one point shared a home together or might potentially share a child together are considered to be a part of the “household.” Even two people who are dating and not married are considered by law to be a part of a “household” if one of the partners commits an act of violence against the other.
Domestic violence is a crime that has far-reaching consequences and long-lasting effects on its victims, but Illinois criminal law has evolved since the enactment of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The law has made it possible for police officers to better protect victims, their family members, and anyone else impacted by the abuse at the scene of the crime.

Facing Domestic Violence Charges?

If you have been accused of domestic battery or any other criminal offense related to domestic violence, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba understands the justice system and is prepared to provide you with an aggressive, responsible defense against any and all charges. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

Charges Dismissed Against Man Convicted of 1957 Murder

Joliet Lawyer

A legal process consisting of several steps led to the dismissal of murder charges against the man previously convicted of what had once been the nation’s oldest cold case. According to the law, the man could potentially face similar charges in the future, but prosecutors close to the case claim that further prosecution is highly unlikely.

Cold Case “Solved”

In December of 1957, a 7-year-old girl was abducted near her home in Sycamore, then a farming town in DeKalb County. Her body was found some five months later. The case remained open for more than five decades. In 2012, a man who had been questioned by the FBI in 1957 was suddenly back in the spotlight, despite apparent evidence that he had not been in Sycamore at the time of the abduction. Based on a photo lineup using a 50-year old image of the man, an eyewitness—who was with the victim the night of her disappearance—identified him as the person who approached them. The man was subsequently convicted in a bench trial and was sentenced to life in prison.

Vacated Conviction and Dismissal

Dekalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack began reviewing the conviction last year. He believed that his predecessor was wrong in the decision to prosecute, and that the case and evidence did not truly support the conviction. He filed a motion to vacate the conviction, which was controversially granted by Dekalb County Judge William Brady. In his decision, Judge Brady overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial for the previously-convicted man. The man was then released from prison on his own recognizance.

Schmack, however, was not done. Further investigation prompted him to file a second motion, this one asking for full dismissal of the murder charges. This week, Judge Brady agreed and dismissed the murder charges without prejudice. The family of the victim has expressed outrage at the judge’s ruling and has requested the appointment of a special prosecutor. A hearing on that request is scheduled for June.
Without Prejudice

The dismissal without prejudice means that the charges against the man are no longer outstanding, but could potentially be refiled without constituting double jeopardy. While the U.S. Constitution guarantees that a defendant cannot be tried twice on the same charges, the vacated conviction and dismissal of the charges effectively means that, in the eyes of the law, the charges never existed. A dismissal with prejudice means that the judge would have been ruling on the man’s innocence or guilt rather than the procedure, thereby barring future prosecution. Judge Brady refused to do so, saying that it was not his role in this instance. Thus, if supported by evidence, new charges for murder could be legally possible. State’s Attorney Schmack has expressed no intention of prosecuting the man again.

Faced With a Confusion Situation?

If you have been charged with a crime that you did not commit, an experienced Joliet criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your future and your rights. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba fully understands the law and the lengths to which some will go to secure a conviction, no matter how thin the evidence against you may be. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free, confidential consultation today.


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