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CRIMINAL DEFENSE AND FAMILY LAW

Genealogy Testing: A New Frontier for Criminal Investigations?

DNA genealogy systems are increasingly being used to link perpetrators with a crime.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) operates a central DNA database for the country, and Illinois is considering joining the eleven states that already use the process to help their police departments identify criminals. And it’s not just the perpetrator's DNA that may be linked to a crime – a family member’s DNA may wind up pointing the finger at a criminal as well. Sites commonly used by genealogists, such as GEDmatch.com, can help generate a DNA profile that can lead law enforcement to a related individual. If you have...

Can Legal Medications Result in a DUI?

Driving under the influence of prescription medications can be as deadly for drivers as driving under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. Consequently, even if the doctor prescribed your medication, both prescription and over-the-counter drugs could potentially lead to a DUI. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National Roadside Survey, more than 22 percent of drivers tested positive for illegal, over-the-counter or prescription drugs. It can be difficult to assess just how prescription medications affect an individual, since effects of drugs vary widely, depending on the medication, how it was taken and the person taking it.  Some drugs are...

Illinois Supreme Court to Hear Youth Crime Case

When children commit terrible crimes, should they be punished for most or all of the rest of their lives? Is our criminal justice system providing what children need to rehabilitate and become useful members of society? How much prison time is too much for crimes committed at an age when brains and judgment are not fully developed? In an attempt to deal with these issues, the Illinois Supreme Court will hear the case of Demetri Buffer, who received a 50-year prison sentence without parole for a crime he committed when he was 16. The plaintiff’s argument is that this sentence, 25...

A Major Shortcoming of Child Psychiatric Care in Illinois

Hundreds of children under the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are being held inside psychiatric hospitals for weeks or months, even though they have been cleared to leave. These children are supposed to be moved out of these hospitals to environments such as foster homes or residential treatment centers while receiving treatment, but often the DCFS fails to find appropriate placements. Unnecessary and prolonged hospitalizations harm children and families and are a failure of our state’s ability to care for suffering children. These long stays often have detrimental effects on children and can cause them...

What Common Knowledge Gets Wrong About Adoptions

Many people longing to be parents never even begin the adoption process because of fear that they may not qualify. Unfortunately, by counting themselves out too soon, they wind up depriving themselves of a chance to become a parent as well as depriving a child from having a good home. Adoption establishes you as a child's legal parent, with the same rights and responsibilities as having a natural child. The process of adoption is complex, involving providing medical history, character references, and having your background checked. Still, most people can go through the process successfully and wind up with a child. Choices for...

Across the Atlantic, Studies Debunk Myths About Divorce

When it comes to divorce, having more money can often mean more problems. The Securities Exchange Commission defines a high asset or high net worth couple as a couple whose net worth exceeds $1,000,000, excluding the value of their primary residence. If you fall into this category, dividing your property during the divorce process can have complications and concerns with financial, tax, and other issues that other couples do not face. How big of a problem this becomes depends on what assets are involved, whether there are child custody and parental responsibility issues, and how willing you and your divorcing spouse...

Across the Atlantic, Studies Debunk Myths About Divorce

Are people who stay together in marriages happier than those who divorce, and are populations with higher divorce rates less happy? It’s a well-known fact that divorce is increasingly common in the United States, with about 40% to 50% of married couples divorcing, according to the American Psychological Association. However, the divorce rate varies substantially among states, and even more when you compare the U.S. to other western countries. Surprisingly, a study has shown that one of the happiest countries in Europe has one of the highest divorce rates. Divorce, dividing property, deciding what is best for children, and other family law issues are...

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

Probable cause is a fundamental principle in our criminal justice system. The concept stems from a requirement in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution that says "no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause.” However, the term isn’t defined in the Constitution, so it is subject to interpretation by the courts. Probable cause must usually be met before police make an arrest, conduct a search or get a warrant. This means that police who wish to arrest or search someone, or get a warrant to do so, must show that they have probable cause to take these actions.  Probable cause can make the...

Why One Study Suggests Divorce Might Be Caused by Nature, Not Nurture

Are the chances of your marriage ending in divorce written in your genetic code and predetermined even before your wedding day?  It is already accepted as fact that your chances of divorce are increased if you are the child of divorced parents.  But is this tendency the result of nurture – because you learned this behavior from watching your parents; or is it caused by nature – because you inherited an assortment of genes that lead to behaviors that are not compatible with marriage? A new study published in Psychological Science by Jessica Salvatore and Kenneth Kendler, of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric...

Marijuana Laws Continue to Drive Conversation in Illinois

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...

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