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New Illinois Law Encourages Probation for Low-Level Offenders2017 brings some good news for certain low-level offenders who could be facing a prison sentence. A new law effective Jan. 1, 2017 requires judges to review presentence reports and give reasons why an offender is being sentenced to jail time if the crime is a Class 3 or Class 4 felony and the offender has no prior violent convictions.

Thus, if you are convicted of a crime that could be punishable by probation or conditional discharge, and you have never been sentenced to either before, a judge must explain why a prison sentence is appropriate.

This law should have the effect of reducing the number of offenders sentenced to a prison term and increase the number of offenders receiving probation. Supporters of the law say that it will:

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Police Take Winning Lottery Ticket During Drug RaidA woman in Decatur, Illinois lost her winning lottery ticket when her home was raided after her boyfriend was suspected of dealing drugs. The winning scratch-off ticket was worth $50,000.  How could the police do this legally?

The answer is that there is a procedure in Illinois called asset forfeiture that allows police to seize property that is suspected to be related to a crime or the fruit of a crime. In the case of the winning lottery ticket, police believed that the ticket was purchased using proceeds from drug dealing.

A trial court ruled that the lottery ticket could be returned to the girlfriend, who was the person who scratched the ticket off. However, the appellate court reversed, holding that police could keep the ticket and the winnings.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_internet-crime.jpgCyberstalking is more than just Google searching or Facebook snooping. Under Illinois law, cyberstalking is specifically defined act and is punishable by prison time under the law.

There are two types of cyberstalking scenarios. Generally, they are:

  1. Harassment of another on at least two separate occasions through electronic communication that causes the target to fear for his or her safety (or the safety of another) or that causes the target emotional distress.
  2. Creation and maintenance of a website for at least 24 hours that is accessible to one or more third parties that make harassing statements or communicates a threat of bodily harm to another.

Cyberstalking is a class four felony.  Class four felonies are punishable by one to three years in prison. Additionally, a fine of up to $25,000 could be imposed. Illinois law also provides for specific laws against cyberbullying for school children.  

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Illinois felony charges, Wheaton criminal defense lawyerEmployment is needed to maintain a fulfilling and consistent lifestyle, yet earning a living from the employment available to you is not always possible. Those who have been convicted of a felony often struggle to find gainful employment. Thankfully, there have been some improvements made in recent years. However, a national analysis of the programs and protections that enable employment for felony offenders recently revealed that Illinois still has a long way to go in reducing recidivism rates throughout the state.

Where Recidivism and Employability Intersect

One might assume that recidivism and employability are not connected. After all, if an offender wishes not to reoffend, then they will simply avoid doing so, right? Not exactly. Those who struggle to obtain gainful employment after they have already paid their debt to society may return to criminal activity to support their family. It is not that reoffenders are immoral or simply do not care (at least not in all cases or circumstances). The reasoning may be is that it is difficult to stand by and watch your children or spouse go without food and basic necessities because you are unable to obtain employment.

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probable cause, reasonable doubt, illinois criminal lawyerWhen it comes to criminal cases, there are three basic phrases that are often confused: reasonable suspicions, probable cause, and beyond a reasonable doubt. The following provides an overview of what these terms really mean and how they may affect your case. Any or all may be used, and the legal requirements for each are different, so be sure to consult with our criminal defense lawyers for a more in-depth understanding of how each term may or may not apply in your situation.

Reasonable Suspicion

Of all the terms used to describe the events that may lead up to an arrest, reasonable suspicion is the least demanding in terms of evidence and the reliability of that evidence. It is also where a lot of cases start. Essentially, it requires only that the officer has reason to believe that someone has (or is in the process of) committing a crime. Examples that may be considered valid reasonable cause could include stopping an erratic driver on suspicion of intoxicated driving and weapons frisks if the officer has reason to believe that the person being detained could be armed and dangerous.

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