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New Law to Reduce Automatic Transfers for Juveniles

Joliet Juvenile CrimesBeginning January 1, 2016, fewer drunk driving juveniles will be automatically tried as adults in Illinois, thanks to a new law signed by Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this month. Proponents believe that the new measure is in line with similar systems in place in other states, and will help Illinois reduce the current law’s “disproportionate impact” on minority juveniles. While juveniles will still be permitted to be tried as adults, a large majority of cases will first require a hearing in juvenile court to determine the appropriateness of a transfer.

Need for Change

More than a century ago, Illinois was a pioneer in the fight against juvenile crime, establishing the nation’s first juvenile court system in Cook County in 1899. In recent decades, however, the “tough-on-crime” attitudes that had become prevalent across the county also took hold here at home. Prosecution became more intense and criminal penalties more severe, even for cases involving minors. Laws were created that allowed individuals as young as 15, and in some cases, even 13, to be automatically tried as adults for certain offenses. The focus on juvenile rehabilitation rather than punishment that led to the establishment of the juvenile court system seemed to have been blurred.

New Guidelines

With the stroke of a pen, Governor Rauner completed Springfield’s attempt to restore that focus. The new law eliminates the automatic transfer new law eliminates the automatic transfer to adult court for all individuals under the age of 16, regardless of the specific criminal charges. For 16- and 17-year-olds, automatic transfer will only occur for the most serious crimes, including murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and aggravated battery with a firearm.
In all other juvenile crime cases, the defendant will be granted a hearing before a juvenile court judge to consider the necessity for a transfer. The judge is expected to take a number of factors into account, including the defendant’s background, mental capacity, and potential degree of fault. Based on the individual circumstances of the situation, the judge may elect to transfer the case to adult court, or to keep it in the juvenile system.

Legal Help for Juvenile Offenses

If your child has been charged with a crime, you need a lawyer who is committed to helping your family every step of the way. Jack L. Zaremba is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet who fully understands the intricacies of the juvenile court system. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation and put our team to work in protecting your child’s future.

Reasonable Doubt: You Do Not Have to Prove Your Innocence

Reasonable Doubt

When you are facing criminal charges for something you did not do, including drug charges , property crimes , or any other type of illegal activity, it can be very overwhelming. You will likely feel enormous pressure to find some way to prove that you did not or could not commit the offense for which you have been charged. The challenge, of course, often lies in the fact that proving you did not do something can be extremely difficult. However, thanks to a long history of legal precedent that has become entrenched in U.S. laws, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution and its case must exceed all reasonable doubt.

Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Dating back centuries, a defendant is presumed to be innocent until he or she is proven guilty. However, for many years in the United States, courts were at odds over what was necessary to reach the standard of “proven guilty.” Some cases would utilize the “preponderance of the evidence” standard, which is still in use in civil court, which simply means that the defendant more likely than not committed the act of which he or she was accused.

In 1970, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the due process clauses in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution afforded defendants more protection . The Courts decision on the case In Re Winship, clearly established that the government must prove each element of its case against a defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. In practice, this means that if a even a single point of fact in the case creates a reasonable doubt in the mind of the judge or jury, the defendant cannot be convicted.

Creating Reasonable Doubt

At both the state and federal levels , prosecutors recognize the burden of proof in making their case. You, as the defendant, are not required to do anything to prove you innocence. Of course, an apathetic approach or declining to present an argument against the government’s claims can leave a jury with little choice but to accept that version as established fact.

A qualified criminal defense attorney can help you build a case that disputes the claims made by prosecutors. Again, you do not have to prove your side any further than creating reasonable doubt in regard to the government’s account of what took place.

If you have been charged with a crime that you did not commit, it is imperative to contact a Joliet criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who fully understands the burden of proof and how to responsibly create the reasonable doubt necessary to succeed in your case. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free consultation today.

Happy Hour Legal Again in Illinois

Illinois Happy HourWith the stroke of a pen, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner completed the state legislature’s effort to repeal a 26-year-old ban on happy hours. After moving through the State House and Senate fairly quickly this spring, the measure has been in the hands of the governor since the end of May. Governor Rauner’s approval of the bill last week was met with mixed reactions as some bar owners celebrated the possible opportunities while others worried about the potential impact to overindulgence and drunk driving .

Previous Ban on Discounted Drinks

During the late 1980’s, a new wave of awareness regarding impaired driving and drunk driving was sweeping the country. Advertising campaigns, interest groups, and even the United States Surgeon General expressed the need to curb the dangerous practice of driving under the influence (DUI). In 1989, Illinois lawmakers took action and passed a ban on happy hours and any other discounts on alcoholic beverages. The effort was designed to decrease alcohol consumption in public places, and therefore, the likelihood of DUI.

New Regulations and Freedoms

The repeal of the ban is effective immediately, and includes requirements for bartenders and servers to undergo responsible server training. It also permits an establishment to offer discounts on drinks containing alcohol for up to 4 hours per day and up to 15 hours per week. The discounts must be clearly posted for at least one week in advance and may not extend beyond 10 pm. Two-for-one and all-you-can-drink specials are not permitted, except for limited applications in private party settings. An establishment may not give away alcoholic drinks as prizes, nor encourage or permit drinking games. Violations of the new law can result in the revocation of an establishment’s liquor license.

Mixed Reaction

The response to the happy hour ban repeal has certainly not been unanimous. A number of bar owners have welcomed the changes, recognizing the business opportunities they may present. Others have been quite vocal in their displeasure, raising concerns regarding the behavior of drunk patrons and the increased risk of impaired driving. In between the two sides, law enforcement officials, especially downstate, did not seem to be too worried, citing personal responsibility, rather than drink discounts, as the variable in question.

As happy hours spring back up in bars and restaurants around the area, you must still be aware that DUI penalties can be serious and may impact your life for years to come. If you have been charged with driving under the influence, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet . Our knowledgeable team will review your case and help you understand the options available under law. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your initial consultation today.

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