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Joliet Family Law AttorneyIf you are a parent getting divorced in Illinois, you likely have questions about child custody. Many parents understandably worry about how a divorce will impact the amount of time they spend with their children. Some parents have additional concerns about how the other parent’s ability to care for the child appropriately. Regardless of your particular situation, if you are getting divorced in Illinois, it is important to understand Illinois laws regarding child custody and parenting time.

How is Parenting Time Decided in an Illinois Divorce?

Although we still use the term “child custody” to refer to general parenting duties after a divorce, this term is technically outdated. Illinois law now uses the term “allocation of parental responsibilities” to refer to parents’ decision-making authority and “parenting time” to refer to the time parents spend caring for their children.

Parents may design whatever parenting time schedule works best for their particular situation. If the parents can agree on a parenting time arrangement, they can submit the agreement to the court for approval as part of their parenting plan. Unless there is a reason that the parenting time agreement would not be in the child’s best interests, the court will approve the agreement and formalize it into a legally binding court order.

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Will County Criminal Defense AttorneyIllinois is known for its attention to the juvenile justice system. It was the first state in the country to create a separate justice system for those under the age of majority. This has been extremely important, as the juvenile court system often serves as a means for rehabilitating young people who are on the wrong path. This is different from adult criminal court in that there is a belief that children have more of an opportunity for change. However, there are still some instances in which a juvenile may be tried in adult criminal court. If you or a loved one were charged with a criminal offense in Illinois, it is important to understand what you may be up against. 

Juveniles Facing Charges in Adult Criminal Court

It’s important to note that there is never a time when a juvenile is required to be transferred to adult criminal court.

Juveniles who are over 13 years of age can only be transferred to adult criminal court if the prosecution can demonstrate that doing so would be in the best interest of the juvenile or of public safety as a whole. When coming to this determination, there are a variety of factors that the judge may consider:

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joliet property division lawyerMany financial issues will need to be settled during a divorce case, and determining how to divide marital assets and debts will often be one of the primary concerns that spouses will need to address. In some cases, the property division process may be fairly straightforward, but it can become more complex when a couple owns multiple types of financial assets. Retirement benefits are one form of property that can complicate divorce proceedings, and spouses will want to understand their rights regarding these assets and the methods they can use to avoid financial penalties.

Dividing Retirement Assets

Spouses may save money in multiple types of retirement accounts, including employer-provided plans such as a 401(k) or an individual retirement account (IRA) that they have set up on their own. Even though these accounts may be in one spouse’s name, they will usually be considered marital assets if contributions were made to the account during a couple’s marriage. Fortunately, determining the value of these assets can be fairly simple, and the balance of an account may be divided between spouses during the divorce process.

Pension benefits that one spouse is eligible to receive will also be considered marital assets, as long as the spouse was married while working in the job where these benefits were earned. However, determining the value of these benefits is not always easy, especially if the spouse does not expect to retire until many years or decades in the future. The best way to deal with these assets is to agree that a certain percentage of the benefits will be paid to the person’s ex-spouse. Usually, this percentage will be based on the number of years the couple was married compared to the total number of years they worked in the pension-eligible position throughout their career.

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joliet divorce lawyerThere are many reasons why married couples choose to divorce, including disagreements about finances or how children should be raised. However, many of the most contentious divorce cases involve infidelity. When one spouse has been unfaithful, the other spouse may experience betrayal, anger, and sadness, making it more difficult to reach agreements during the divorce process. Because infidelity can be an important part of why a marriage may be ending, spouses will want to understand whether this issue will play a role in their divorce proceedings.

Divorce and Marital Misconduct

Infidelity will be a highly consequential issue in a couple’s relationship, and because of this, spouses may expect that they will need to raise this issue during their divorce. However, there are only a few situations where this type of behavior may influence the decisions made during the divorce process. As difficult as it may be to ignore this issue, pointing out that a spouse who has cheated usually will not benefit the other spouse.

While infidelity may be a primary reason for the end of a couple’s marriage, there will be no need to mention this when filing for divorce. Illinois only recognizes “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce, so a divorce petition will only state that the couple’s marriage has broken down beyond repair. Similarly, Illinois law states that “marital misconduct” is not a factor that should be considered when dividing marital property or determining whether one party should pay spousal support to the other.

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Will County criminal defense attorney order of protection

Domestic abuse is a serious criminal offense in many states. According to the Illinois Domestic Violence law, any person who hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, threatens, or interferes with the personal liberty of a family or household member has broken the law. In many cases, a spouse may accuse his or her partner of abuse during their marriage. If the alleged victim fears for his or her safety, he or she can obtain an order of protection. This is a legal document that restricts the alleged abuser from doing certain things. For example, contacting the alleged victim via phone or coming within a certain distance of his or her home or work. Any violation of a protective order can result in serious penalties in Illinois. 

Types of Protective Orders

Often called a “restraining order,” an order of protection may be issued against someone who is accused of domestic violence. Basically, these types of orders prohibit an alleged abuser from continuing to threaten or abuse the person who obtained the order. Besides physical abuse, this may also include intimidation, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation. 

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Joliet criminal defense lawyer, arrested in Joliet,  police arrests, unlawful arrest, Illinois criminal caseNo one likes being arrested—not in Joliet and not anywhere else in the country. It can be an upsetting and frightening experience for you and for any family or friends who witness a police officer placing cuffs on you.

In light of recent police arrests across the country that have resulted in serious injury or death to the suspect being arrested, you may wonder what you should and should not do in such a situation.

Tips for a “Successful” Arrest Encounter

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Along with a criminal defendant’s right to remain silent, the right to have one’s case tried to a jury of “one’s peers” is one of the most important constitutional protections available for criminal defendants. This protection exists to help guarantee that a person is not convicted of a criminal offense through government overreach, but instead only upon evidence and testimony that convinces 12 individuals from the community of the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Juries are Supposed to Represent a Cross-Section of the Local Community

In theory, the 12 people who decide a particular Illinois criminal case are supposed to represent a “cross-section” of the community. That is, the individuals who sit on a jury to hear a particular case should represent the races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and education levels (amongst others) of average citizens in the community. If the community has a predominantly minority population, one would expect that a jury would be comprised of predominately minority individuals. This does not always happen, however.

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Joliet criminal defense attorney, restitution, property damageIt has long been a criticism of the criminal justice system that criminals are afforded greater protections and rights than the accused defendant. (This emphasis on the defendant’s rights is understandable when one considers that victims are not in jeopardy of being wrongly convicted and having their freedom and/or property wrongly taken.)

This criticism is not entirely unfounded: victims cannot choose whether the accused should accept a plea agreement, they cannot compel the accused to testify at trial and answer questions, and ultimately they cannot determine what sentence the accused should receive.

What is Restitution and Its Purpose?

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Joliet criminal defense lawyer, sexual assaultCharges of sexual misconduct, such as sexual assault, are some of the most serious criminal charges that can be levied against you. In addition to the possibility of prolonged periods of incarceration, sexual assault charges can damage your reputation and standing in your community (sometimes even if no conviction actually results). For this reason, prompt and decisive action should be taken as soon as possible to address any charges of sexual assault or misconduct.

Defenses Available to Defendants Charged with Sexual Assault

When you first learn that you are charged with sexual assault stemming from a sexual encounter with another, you may feel despondent and as if there is no hope. The prosecution may attempt to pressure you into accepting a plea agreement by trying to convince you that you have no defense. This is not true: depending on the facts of your case, you may have one or more defenses available to you:

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Will County criminal defense lawyer, heroin buyers, drug treatment programHeroin use and distribution is a serious problem in Illinois, and in particular Chicago and the surrounding areas. To help combat the heroin epidemic, the Chicago Police Department has developed a unique drug diversion program where the police can offer drug dealers the opportunity to enter into a drug rehabilitation program instead of facing jail time for drug-related offenses. Due to the success of the program, which has been in use since the spring of 2016, the Chicago Police Department has decided to scale up the program to see if more low-level drug offenders would be keen to the idea of seeking treatment instead of going to jail.

In March, law enforcement set up a reverse sting operation where they lured low-level heroin users to a location on the pretenses that the heroin users could buy dime bags of heroin, according to the Chicago Sun Times. The operation was the first time that the program had been extended to drug purchasers. Forty-one people who were caught as a result of the reverse sting operation elected to enroll in the drug treatment program rather than face jail time.

The idea behind the program is that if drug addicts are offered the opportunity to overcome their addiction, maybe they can be rehabilitated, which in turn would reduce the number of people who are addicted to drugs and and can reduce the number of people who commit drug-related offenses.

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Will County criminal defense attorney, felony theftIf you find yourself facing shoplifting charges, how will you know if the charges against you can be upgraded to include felony counts? While most citizens are likely to understand the basics of shoplifting, in Illinois there are laws that specifically target retail theft and are stricter than those in other states. Working with an experienced theft defense attorney is your best course of action for receiving the advice and counsel needed to face these potential challenges.

When Does Shoplifting Become a Felony?

The most basic definition of retail shoplifting is any instance when a person is alleged to take, possess, carry away, or transfer any retail merchandise; however, the intent to deprive the merchant of full value must be proven. Under this definition, a crime is said to be committed should the accused pay for the merchandise, but not pay full value—as if one were to change a price tag or “under ring” at checkout.

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Strict or Lenient? Find Out How Illinois DUI Laws RankIllinois is in the middle of the pack when it comes to which state has the strictest DUI laws. According to a study by WalletHub, Illinois ranks 19th in its survey of DUI laws across the 50 states and Washington, D.C.

The five states with the strictest DUI laws are:

  1. Arizona (the most strict)
  2. Georgia
  3. Alaska
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Nebraska

The states with the five most lenient DUI laws are:

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My Spouse Can Get My Domestic Battery Charge Dropped … Right?Domestic battery charges in Illinois are a serious matter. A fight or argument that escalates and gets out of hand can easily result in law enforcement being called and you being placed in handcuffs. If criminal charges are filed against you, the first offense of domestic battery can result in a jail sentence of up to one year. If you have prior convictions for domestic battery, you may face between one and three years in prison. Because a conviction for domestic battery can result in such severe consequences, individuals charged with this offense may make every attempt to have the charges reduced or dismissed altogether.

The Victim’s Testimony is Important – But Not Necessarily Critical

One of the more common methods of seeking a dismissal that domestic battery defendants attempt to employ is to speak with the victim him- or herself and ask that he or she have the charges dropped. Setting aside for the moment any consideration of whether the defendant’s act of contacting the identified victim in a domestic battery case would violate the defendant’s conditions of bond, this method is not as effective as it might first appear.

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Your Miranda Rights and Your Illinois Criminal ChargesAny fan of police dramas or law enforcement reality shows should be familiar with the Miranda warnings: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you by the court.” These warnings – named after the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which first required these warnings to be given – are a common feature in many Will County criminal cases.

When are Miranda Warnings Required?

However, law enforcement officers do not always give these Miranda warnings. While there may be some consequences to this decision, they may not necessarily be as serious as some criminal defendants might think:

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Joliet Traffic ViolationsMany Will County residents believe that a traffic violation is a minor legal issue that does not require the assistance of an attorney.  Unfortunately, many people do not realize that even a minor traffic violation can result in serious consequences. You should consider consulting with an attorney for Joliet traffic violations. 

Traffic Violations in Will County

A driver in Joliet can be charged with many different types of traffic violations including:

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lawful traffic stop in illinois, Will County traffic lawyerThe sight of flashing emergency lights in your rearview mirror is never pleasant. Depending on your circumstances, you may feel annoyed that your travel is interrupted – or you may be terrified of what will happen next, especially if you just left a bar or party where alcohol was served. You may even be confused as to why you are being pulled over, especially if you believe you were driving in a safe and prudent manner. A knowledgeable Joliet defense attorney may need to examine the facts of your case to determine if the officer’s stop of your vehicle was lawful.

Reasonable Suspicion is Needed to Stop a Vehicle in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a law enforcement officer needs reasonable suspicion that you have committed or are in the process of committing a crime before he or she can stop your car and investigate. Reasonable suspicion requires something more than a mere “hunch” or “gut feeling” that you are connected to criminal activity. This is satisfied if at the time law enforcement stops you the law enforcement officer:

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top reasons to hire an attorney, joliet criminal defense lawyerIf you have been charged with a crime, a criminal defense attorney can challenge evidence and effectively negotiate with prosecutors. However, if negotiating is not in your best interests, the lawyer has the option to present the case to a judge or jury to prove your innocence. It is important to take precautionary measures with dealing with a criminal charge. You could have a public defender handle your case, but if the charges are serious enough, hiring an experienced attorney can be better for your future.

1. A criminal defense lawyer can provide an in-depth analysis of your case.

You and your criminal attorney can sit down and speak privately about your case. At that time, you will be able to discuss and review the prosecutor’s evidence. Your attorney will then investigate the allegations and give you an honest and confidential review of your situation.

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