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CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND FAMILY LAW

A Drug Charge Can Plague You for Years

It might have resulted from just a youthful experimentation with drugs, but a drug charge can impact you long after it occurs.  If you are convicted, you will have a criminal record that will affect your employment and educational opportunities, limit your ability to get decent housing, ruin your relationships, and rob you of self-esteem. While more than one in four adults in America has a criminal record, most do not threaten public safety and will not go on to commit future crimes.  Most recidivism occurs within three years of an arrest; after that, rates decrease to the point where people with...

When Profit Plays a Role in Policing

Illinois and federal law both allow law enforcement agencies to take cash, land, vehicles and other property they suspect may be involved in illegal activity from people charged with crimes, even if they have not been convicted.  This is called asset forfeiture, and it means private property can be permanently confiscated for the benefit of law enforcement without the owner's even being charged with a crime. The federal civil asset forfeiture laws were expanded in 1984 as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act (CCCA) due to anxiety over increasing crime, especially drug-related crime. While a paper by the National Bureau of Economic...

The Best Places in Illinois to Raise a Family

If you are living in Illinois or planning to move your family here, there are relevant facts you should know about the family-friendliness of your area.  Although the economy in our state has been struggling for years, with billions owed in past-due bills, there is some good news for Illinois in general.  Our state can boast having the 11th best school system in the country, rising home values, and some of the country's top employers. Some of our cities rank high in additional factors that making them some of the best places in Illinois to raise a family. To determine the...

Does the "Mental Illness" Argument Muddy Waters on Gun-Ownership Debate?

With the proliferation of mass shootings across the country, it’s no wonder that there is increased debate about the issue of mental illness when it comes to gun ownership. The statement that is often heard is that “guns don’t kill people, people do.”  But guns make it easier to kill, especially on a large scale, and mental illness may increase the chances that people will wind up using them, frequently against themselves. While there are many ways to kill people, there is no doubt that guns are the most effective, deadly and accurate method to commit violence. Eighty percent of people...

April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month

Child abuse is a major problem in our society, with more than 3 million reports of child abuse made in the United States each year. People abused as children often go on to abuse their own children, and the cycle can continue for generations. Everyone can help children and families break the cycle, but most people are not aware of how to do it.  For this reason, April has been designated as Child Abuse Prevention Month, with the goal of educating people about common signs of abuse and what can be done to intervene. The earlier abused children get help, the...

In Chicago, a Vicious Cycle of Tickets, Debt and Bankruptcy

You wouldn’t think that a parking ticket could lead you to bankruptcy, but in Chicago it happens all the time. Each year the city issues more than 3 million tickets for parking, vehicle compliance and automated traffic camera violations, for amounts ranging from $25 for broken headlights to $250 tickets for parking in a disabled spot. If you pay tickets in a timely manner, the matter ends, but what if you can’t afford to pay or forget to do so?  Ticket debt and penalties pile up, especially in the city’s low-income neighborhoods, where people have less money to pay tickets even...

Chicago Voters Reach Consensus on Bias of Justice System

If you think the criminal justice system is biased and broken, you are right in tune with most voters in Illinois. According to a new poll from Southern Illinois University, 73 percent of state voters, both Democrats and Republicans, think the state spends too much money on incarceration and not enough on education and treatment. In Illinois, more than 43,000 prisoners are incarcerated in prisons built for only 32,000, and nearly half of ex-prisoners return to prison within three years. If you have been arrested for a crime in Illinois, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney that you can...

Ex-prisoners who earn more money are less likely to return to a life of crime. As a result, it is no surprise that recent research by college professors Amanda Y. Agan of Rutgers and Michael D. Makowsky of Clemson shows that a higher minimum wage and earned income tax credits (EITCs) can make the difference between building a life outside of crime and returning to criminal activity and winding up back in jail. Unfortunately, the United States imprisons more people than any other country, and as many as one in three American adults have some type of criminal record. If ex-prisoners who try...

What is the "Divorce Capital" of Illinois?

Divorce is rampant throughout our country, with about 40% to 50% of married couples divorcing, according to the American Psychological Association. For remarriages, the divorce rate is even higher. Interestingly, the divorce rate varies substantially among states. And even within the same state, there are cities where the divorce rate is much higher than the statewide rate. 24/7 Wall Street reviewed US Census figures that identified the city in each state with the highest percentage of divorces among people over 15, based on population data of five-year averages through 2016. In Illinois, the city that wins the dubious title of “divorce capital”...

For better or for worse, alimony laws are changing, thanks to the giant tax overhaul signed into law in December, 2017.  One of the provisions of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removes the 75-year-old tax deduction for people making alimony payments. The new rules do not affect people who have divorced or signed a separation agreement before 2019; however, if circumstances in a divorced couple’s lives change, the alimony situation can be readdressed and the new laws may come into play. While the writers of the law feel that the rules will be fairer to divorcing couples, many divorce...

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