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New Law Prevents Domestic Violence Calls from Leading to Eviction

Joliet Domestic ViolenceIn the last several years, neighborhoods and towns around Illinois and throughout the country have been enacted laws intended to reduce crime. Some of them, however, have had serious unintended consequences, particularly for victims of domestic violence. Presumably designed to make cities safer, these laws, known as “crime-free” or “nuisance property” ordinances impose fines and penalties, up to including eviction, on landlords and tenants who attract a certain level of police or law enforcement attention. Last month, though, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a measure that prevents local authorities from punishing tenants who require police assistance for sexual or domestic violence situations.

Noble Aims and Unintended Consequences

The Chicago Tribune reports that more than 100 cities and towns in Illinois have some form of a nuisance ordinance currently in effect. Nearly 40 of them directly punish tenants and landlords for too many calls to the police, regardless of the activity in question. To be fair, many municipalities have never applied the ordinances to domestic violence calls, or at least they claim they have not. Oak Forest Police Chief Gregory Anderson insists that his department does not punish those who truly need help, but that the ordinance has been a tremendous help in reducing drug-related crime.
Other towns, however, seem to have a bigger problem. In many cases, domestic violence victims were left with a serious dilemma: call the police, get help, and risk being evicted; or remain silent and continue being victimized. The fear of losing their homes was, in fact, causing the opposite effect than that intended by the ordinance. Instead of reducing crime, the laws were leading to the underreporting of sexual and domestic violence.

Bipartisan Efforts for Change

The push to amend existing nuisance ordinances was led in various communities by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois. The effort was spearheaded in the Illinois legislature by Senator Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, and quickly gathered support on both sides of the aisle. Senate Bill 1547 was drafted to exclude sexual violence, domestic violence, and concerns related to persons with disabilities from any crime-free or nuisance property laws in the state. Landlords and tenants could still face penalties for excessive law enforcement calls, but not those “made with the intent to prevent or respond to domestic violence or sexual violence.”
The measure passed both the House and Senate without significant opposition earlier this year and was signed by the governor in August. The new law goes into full effect on November 19, and local authorities around the state have begun amending their policies.

Trustworthy Defense Lawyer

While calling the police regarding domestic violence can no longer get you evicted in Illinois, it could lead to criminal charges. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you deserve representation from a lawyer who is committed to protecting your rights. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. Schedule your free consultation by calling 815-740-4025.

Governor Refuses to Add PTSD to Medical Marijuana Conditions List

Joliet medical marijuana PTSDIllinois Governor Bruce Rauner continued to demonstrate his unwillingness to amend the state’s medical marijuana pilot program until it finally gets off the ground by illegal drug possession "> vetoing a proposal that would have added several ailments to the list of qualifying conditions. The proposed measure would have added, among others, post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, allowing those suffering from the condition to seek medical marijuana treatment legally. The governor’s decision is not sitting well with many across the state, including a number of veterans groups who believe that Illinois needs to keep up with other states, especially when it comes to offering aid to those who have sacrificed and served.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Once known as shell shock and battle fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious psychiatric condition that can affect an individual who has experienced or witnessed a particularly troubling or terrifying event. The event typically involves the infliction or threat of serious harm or violence, and may include wartime combat, a violent crime, auto accident, sexual assault, or natural disaster. PTSD can cause intense feelings of fear, helplessness, anger, nervousness, anxiety, depression, and other physiological and psychological symptoms.
While there is no cure for PTSD, its symptoms are often treated with antidepressants or blood pressure medications. Medicinal treatments are commonly provided in conjunction with psychotherapy to help the affected person develop coping skills and to work through fears. However, according to many military veterans and a growing number of more progressive mental health professionals , marijuana may provide a measure of help and relief to those who suffer from PTSD.

Growing Pressure

To date, twelve states and the District of Columbia have approved PTSD as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in their jurisdictions. This number represents roughly half of all states that have any type of medicinal cannabis program. Veterans groups, in particular, were hoping that Illinois would join them. “It makes me angry because I don’t think they are researching the whole situation,” said Mike Malstrom , veteran and member of the Marine Corps League.

According the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Illinois is home to more than 720,000 military veterans, including more than half a million wartime vets. For its part, however, the VA insists that the effects of medical marijuana on PTSD have not been adequately studied and will not make an official recommendation regarding its use.

Help for Drug Possession Charges

As the Illinois medical marijuana program finally gets going, those without a qualifying condition and valid registration card can still be prosecuted for marijuana possession. If you are facing such charges, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba . We will evaluate your case and work with you to protect your rights and your future. Call 815-740-4025 for your free consultation today.

Defending Drug Possession Charges

Joliet drug possessionIf you have been arrested on charges of illegal drug possession , you may feel like your options are very limited. It may seem nearly impossible to consider anything other than your life and your future crashing down around you. While you should certainly take any criminal charges seriously, including those for drug possession, a dedicated lawyer can help you realize that a successful defense is possible and that the case is probably not as clear-cut as it may appear.

Burden of Proof

As with any criminal matter, proving your guilt is entirely up to the prosecution. In order to convict you of drug possession, prosecutors must show beyond reasonable doubt that:

• You knew the substance in question was an illicit drug or controlled substance; and
• You knew the substance was in your possession or within property under your control.

The second point also includes what the law refers to as “constructive possession,” which can be used in several scenarios. Constructive possession is defined as the legal possession of something without being in a person’s direct physical control. For example, if you and your roommate each have a key to a locked cabinet in your home and illegal drugs are found in that cabinet, you both could be charged with possession. Similarly, prosecutors may attempt to prove that drugs in the trunk of your car were under your constructive possession since the vehicle belongs to you.

Possible Defenses

Building a solid defense against drug possession charges , of course, depends on the specific circumstances of your case. We may be able to show, for example, that drugs in question did not belong to you and that you were not aware of their presence. Since it is up to the state to prove they did belong you, creating a reasonable doubt is sufficient. If drugs were found on your physical person, disputing actual possession may be a bit more difficult, but we can explore other defense options with you.

The other primary element of a drug possession charge is the manner in which the evidence against you was found. Drugs that were discovered and seized in an illegal search can lead to all charges being dropped. We can review the police records and appropriate documents to determine the validity of any search and fight to get improperly seized evidence thrown out, along with the charges of possession.

For more information about building a defense against drug possession charges, contact a tenacious Will County criminal defense lawyer today. Attorney Jack Zaremba is a former prosecutor who will use his knowledge and experience to help you avoid a conviction and protect your future. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, introductory consultation.

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