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New Law Promises to Give Juveniles More Opportunities

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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.

Mistakes to Avoid If Arrested for DUI in Illinois

illinois dui lawyer

How much is a DUI arrest and conviction going to cost you?

Dollar Cost of DUI

According to the 2017 Illinois DUI Fact Book , the total cost of a DUI conviction can run as high as $18,000. That figure includes fines and court costs; lost wages due to time spent in court, jail, community service, or other court-mandated programs; and the incremental cost of high-risk insurance.

Non-Financial Costs of DUI

Consider, also, the costs that are not so easy to calculate in dollars, such as the stress on you and your family, the loss of leisure time, and the hassle of losing your driving privileges. Even a first-time misdemeanor DUI conviction will remain on your record and cannot be expunged, even if you receive court supervision rather than a conviction. That can cost you job opportunities, admission to some colleges, and scholarships. If you rely on medical cannabis, your medical cannabis card could be revoked.

Mitigating DUI Costs

You can reduce the toll that a DUI arrest takes on you and your family by avoiding these three costly mistakes:

Mistake 1: Admitting Consumption During a Traffic Stop

Suppose you are pulled over by the police for a moving violation like speeding or running a red light. The police officer may develop a suspicion that you are intoxicated and proceed to ask questions like, “How much have you had to drink tonight?” In this situation, it is better to say something like “I prefer not to answer” than to admit that you have been drinking, to reveal how many drinks you had, or to lie about your consumption. In short, do not provide the police with evidence that could be used against you.

Mistake 2: Consenting to a Vehicle Search

During a traffic stop, without probable cause such as seeing or smelling intoxicants, the police do NOT have the legal right to search your vehicle without your permission. If a police officer asks if they may search your vehicle or says something like “Can I have a look in your trunk?” you can simply say, “No, I do not consent to that.” There is no penalty to you if you say no. Furthermore, there is no upside for you in agreeing to a search, as the police will be looking for evidence they can use against you in a DUI charge or that can be used to support additional charges.

Mistake 3: Failing to Immediately Consult a Seasoned DUI Defense Attorney

If you are charged with DUI in Illinois, you actually have two cases to fight: (1) the civil penalty, which is the suspension of your driver’s license, and (2) the criminal DUI charge, which is punishable by fines, community service, and possibly jail time. The sooner you hire a local defense attorney with significant DUI experience, the better you will be able to mitigate the financial and non-financial costs of an arrest and potential conviction.

Protect Your Rights with a Skilled Joliet Criminal Defense Lawyer

At the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, we will examine all the details of your case and help you decide the best legal strategy for your defense. To protect your rights, contact a knowledgeable Will County DUI/traffic violations defense attorney at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.

Push for Full Legalization of Marijuana Continues in Illinois

marijuana legalization illinois

The ongoing campaign for the legalization of marijuana in Illinois shows no signs of slowing. As crimes related to cocaine, heroin and other opioids continue occupying the efforts of law enforcement agencies, advocates for legal recreational marijuana met with state officials late last year to pursue their agenda.

Expanded Medical Use Under Consideration

A new Bill before the Illinois State Legislature would expand the state’s medical marijuana program, making it available to more patients. It has even gained the support of some doctors from around the state who insist the new law could help fight the growing opioid epidemic.

Currently, approximately 27,000 patients qualify for medical marijuana in Illinois, and there are 40 conditions that allow patients to qualify, including cancer and AIDS. The new law, if passed, would allow a qualified individual to obtain a one-year medical marijuana card without fingerprinting or a criminal background check. The approval process would be reduced from two to three months to just 14 days.

Approval of Recreational Use Also Sought

In addition to expanded medical use, those favoring full legalization of marijuana addressed legislators on that topic late last year. Citing statistics from Washington state, a representative of the “anti-prohibition” effort presented a number of positive aspects arising from full legalization. The Illinois Bill would allow adults aged 21 and older to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana, as well as five marijuana plants.

Not all of the elected officials were convinced, however, as some expressed skepticism and indicated a desire to see more thorough research.

Is There a Timeline?

Some research indicates that as many as two-thirds of Illinois voters favor making marijuana legal if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol. The issue could hinge on the winner of the 2018 Governor’s race, with Spring of 2019 likely being the earliest that full legalization could be approved.

A Knowledgeable Joliet Drug and Narcotics Defense Attorney Can Help You

Although Illinois has changed some laws pertaining to possession of marijuana, law enforcement continues its efforts to charge and prosecute individuals caught up in the drug trade. Whether your involvement is recreational, due to an addiction, or part of something much larger, The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba can provide you with the help you need if you are charged with a drug crime. With our years of experience in criminal defense, we offer clients a meticulous and well-thought-out strategy to help mitigate any possible sentence or have charges dismissed completely. Contact an experienced Illinois drugs and narcotics criminal defense lawyer today at 815-740-4025 to schedule a free initial consultation.

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