Have Questions About Your Case? Check Out Some of Our Law Firm's FAQs
Dealing with any kind of legal matter inevitably leads to a number of questions. We have created a list of some of the questions we hear the most in our Edwardsville law office, but please give us a call if you have a question that is not answered here.
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The law has changed permitting usage of Cannabis.
Beginning January 1, 2020 residents can possess up to 30 grams of plant cannabis. Lower limits are allowed for concentrate and edibles. Out of state residents may possess a lesser amount. Only licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted to sell initially. However, other businesses will be granted licenses as time progresses. Users must be 21 or older and have restrictions upon usage. Businesses may be designated as authorized usage areas. See my blog for more specifics on the limits and prohibitions.
How Long Does a Child Sex Abuse Victim Have to Sue Her Abuser?
Pursuant to a recent change in Illinois law, a victim of child sex abuse has 20 years after he/she reaches the age of 18 (and sometimes later) to file lawsuit. The change in law took effect on January 1, 2014. It was the result of a combination of issues including sexual abuse by clergy cases. The law changes the old five (5) year statute of limitations that had been controlling. The new law obviously broadens the scope of lawsuit that can be brought in civil court.
How do I Choose the Best Criminal Defense Attorney to Represent Me?
You are arrested for a serious misdemeanor or felony. You are taken to jail, processed, and (hopefully) bond out of jail. You are worried about the impact the charge can have on your future. Will you lose your job, family, freedom, and will you have to pay very large fines or costs? These are all some of the questions most persons charged with a crime worry about. Your next step is to choose a criminal defense attorney to represent you. Questions you have about this process are:
1. How much do I have to spend for an attorney?
2. How do I know if the attorney is one of the best in his field of practice?
3. How do I begin the process of hiring an attorney?
The first question is an important one. You've heard the saying "you get what you pay for". This is usually very true when hiring an attorney. The most experienced attorneys typically cost the most too. This is due to their large case load and time requirements. The best attorneys know how much time need be devoted to a case to accomplish the best result. As an example, I know how much time is required for a typical murder representation. My fees are set accordingly. I know many attorneys that will charge a small fraction of what I do for the mere fact that they won't thoroughly process the facts/evidence nor file the necessary motions. Only those attorneys with the best case success actually understand the steps necessary to win the case. This success only comes through much trial practice and experience. If you want the best opportunity to win your case spend the money on a successful and experienced attorney.
The only way to know if the attorney you want to hire is the best in his field of practice is through his reputation. Unfortunately objective reports regarding the attorney's successes don't exist. I publish some of my successes on my web site. You can access the local court's records (usually online) and do a name search of that attorney. If they carry a heavy case load it is probably a good indicator that they are well respected. If you have access to a family attorney who doesn't practice in the criminal defense area his/her recommendation is probably a good place to begin. This sometimes doesn't lead to a good lead if the family attorney has a "friend" who dabbles in criminal defense. So, you need to be careful when relying upon a family attorney's lead. Ask the attorney questions such as "how many trials have you conducted?", "what is your success ratio at trial?", "have you tried cases similar to the one I'm charged with?", "Have you tried cases such as this in front of the judge and against the prosecutors I have assigned to this case?" Your attorney should be able to point to specific cases and even by case number if need be so you can check with the circuit court to see if in fact he has done as he claims. Run the attorney's name through a google search to see if any media articles return for trial successes. One caveat to this is that oftentimes the media does not include the defense attorney's name when they win a case. I have no idea why this is but such is the case. For the more serious cases or high publicity cases the defense attorney's name is usually included.
Lastly, you can either contact an attorney through his main telephone number, send an email request for information or even inquire with a letter (if incarcerated). Most attorneys will respond in short order to your inquiries. Most attorneys also do not charge for an initial consult regarding criminal defense.
What is the best way to handle an SIUE student's Cannabis or Drug Paraphernalia Misdemeanor Charge?
A cannabis pipe or marijuana grinder are discovered in a car. Everyone in the car denies ownership. All are students at SIUE and all are issued citations for Drug Paraphernalia Possession. The student is now faced with a serious misdemeanor offense that may remain on their background check for the rest of their lives. Will this impact their ability to find employment after graduation?
I am asked this type of question frequently. The best defense for these charges is to push hard for a dismissal. If the facts don't reach the level of beyond a reasonable doubt don't take a plea deal to the charge. If, however, the facts are strongly in the State's favor, you should attempt to resolve the case either through negotiations that result in a dismissal or by amending the charge to a non-drug offense. Both options require counsel who can effectively negotiate those outcomes.
I have used all methods above and been very successful doing so. As an example, I had a recent SIUE student who received not one but two separate cannabis possession charges. He was facing very high fines and a conviction for one of the offenses. I was able to negotiate a full dismissal after he completed drug classes. He did not pay any fines for the citations either.
If you have questions about the best legal manner in which to resolve this type of misdemeanor offense please call my office so we can discuss.
I Have Been Wrongfully Arrested. What Can I do About it?
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense when you did nothing wrong you may have the right to file a lawsuit against the police officers who caused you to be charged. If you were charged with a misdemeanor offense typically the police can be sued directly as they are the persons who caused you to be charged. If you were charged with a felony offense you may still be able to sue the police despite them not being the actual persons who charged you. You can file a lawsuit in either federal or state court depending on the factual issues. A Section 1983 lawsuit addresses excessive force and wrongful arrest as well as other violations of your constitutional rights. A state lawsuit can allege malicious prosecution, Battery and other common law theories. You may include state theories in your federal rights lawsuit if you file the case soon enough. I prefer filing these cases in federal court for the reason that you will get to trial quicker. As an attorney I can also be compensated by the police for my attorney's fees spent in prosecuting the civil rights case for my client.
Damages which you can seek against the police include emotional distress, pain and suffering, medical bills, disfigurement, and attorney's fees you paid to defend you in an underlying criminal case which is the basis for a wrongful arrest lawsuit. Aside from those damages, an attorney can seek his fees for prosecuting the civil suit pursuant to Section 1988 of the Civil Rights Act. The potential risk of paying the attorney fees is oftentimes of foremost concern for insurance companies defending these actions. It is not uncommon for $100,000+ attorney's fees being awarded against the police when a civil rights plaintiff wins their case.
The process is fairly straightforward. Identify what information you need prior to filing the lawsuit. In Illinois State lawsuits your statute of limitations is one year. In Federal courts your civil rights statute of limitations is two years. File the lawsuit. Serve the parties. Complete a case management conference and discovery then defend the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment. If you make it past that point you will present your case to a jury (or judge).
I have sued police for many wrongful arrests and excessive force. I have settled most cases and won the cases that don't settle. As of this date I have not lost a single civil rights case. If you believe you have a civil rights claim please call me to discuss.
Will a person arrested for DUI lose their license?
This is the number one question I receive related to DUIs. The short answer is yes. You will lose your license for a periof of either 6 or 12 months depending on whether the officer writes you the suspension (SSS) for blowing .08 or above, or refusing the test. The SSS begins 46 days after the notice of SSS is completed by the officer. The reason for the 46 day delay is to afford the defendant an opportunity to contest the suspension in court. The first month of the SSS is what we term "hard time." This means there is no ability to drive legally during the first month of SSS if it stays in effect. However, the client may opt in to what is called MDDP. That is a program authorized by statute and monitored by the SOS It allows the person to drive with a BAIID installed in their vehicle. The Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device is paid for by the motorist. Each month / bimonthly period the device is "swapped out" of the vehicle by an approved mechanic. The data contained therein is downloaded and submitted to the SOS who then reviews it. The average cost of the BAIID is $750.00 / $1,500 for either a 6 or 12 month suspension period. At the end of the SSS the motorist pays a reinstatement fee to the SOS in the amount of $250.00.
There is a way to attack the SSS. Its called a Petition to Rescind the SSS. The client can contest four different issues in that hearing. The burden of proof is upon the motorist to win the hearing. The issues that may be raised are:
1.Did the officer have reasonable suspicion to initially stop the motorist?
2. Did the officer have probable cause to arrest the motorist?
3. Did the officer read the WTM to the motorist?
4. After reading the WTM to the motorist did he/she submit to a test / or refuse and were the results .08 or higher?
Winning the SSS hearings is difficult and usually only 10% of the petitioners win.
What type of damages can someone recover after being injured in an auto accident?
When you are seriously injured in an auto accident, your one and only immediate concern should be healing and getting healthy again. However, as you're able to leave the hospital and begin your recovery at home, the reality of the situation may begin to sink in for you.
You're probably thinking something along the lines of, "Who is going to pay for all of this? I definitely don't have the money to pay all of these medical bills."
You were not responsible for the accident and because of that, you should not have to pay anything out of your own pocket. This is where an experienced personal injury attorney can step in and make sure you are properly compensated.
In the beginning, many people only see the amount of money they owe different doctors and want to recover those funds. However, with car accident damages, you need to look at the big picture: past, present and future. This is not just about what happened to you and what is happening to you now; we need to think about how your injuries are going to affect your life in the long run. You could be entitled to damages that may include compensation for:
- Current medical bills and future medical expenses
- Lost wages and future lost wages
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
The insurance company may be trying to pressure you into accepting a settlement, but you should not accept anything until you speak with a car accident attorney at Polinske & Associates. You may think the insurance company's initial offer seems fair, but your attorney will help you look at all the details and figure out how much more you could ultimately be owed.
Ready to talk? Give us a call or fill out our online contact form.