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What You Can Do When You Are Accused of Petty Theft

Posted by on Oct 12, 2018 in Criminal Defense | 0 comments

Illinois has some tough laws against theft, and those laws can be used to destroy the lives of people who don’t deserve it. It’s an unfortunate situation, and it’s important to me that those who are accused of theft crimes know what the penalties may be and what they can do to avoid those penalties.

To begin with, let’s talk about what petty theft is. Petty (or petit) theft in Illinois involves the theft of between $150 and $300 of property from another. It’s on the smaller (or “petit”) side of theft, and so the consequences are meant to be somewhat scaled down.

Unfortunately, those consequences are still pretty severe. In Illinois, they include a fine of $2500 and a year in prison. That’s quite a serious punishment for accusations that can include the theft of office supplies and shoplifting.

Thankfully, there are defenses against these accusations that you can use to avoid those penalties. According to Illinois criminal defense lawyer Tom Bruno of Bruno Law Offices, some potential defenses include:

  • Claiming ownership of the objects you are accused of stealing
  • Claiming intoxication and therefore no intentional act of theft
  • Claiming mistaken identity, in other words, that you weren’t the person who committed the theft
  • Claiming that you forgot you had the items and accidentally took them
  • Using the fact the items were not found on you to prove you didn’t take them
  • A general lack of intent to steal

These defenses sometimes overlap and they may or may not apply to your case. The important thing is to use the defenses that are strongest for your situation to help prove that you either didn’t mean to steal anything or else outright didn’t steal anything.

Obviously, while on the surface these can seem like very straightforward defenses, you will still need a criminal defense lawyer’s help. It will take a strong acquaintance with the law and the evidence to make the defense strong enough to withstand a prosecutor’s efforts to paint you as a thief.

The Illinois criminal justice system is over-burdened because it so aggressively punishes those who are accused of the most minor crimes. There’s no reason those accused of a first-time petty theft charge should have to spend a year in prison, particularly if the circumstances surrounding their case are not straightforward. If you didn’t mean to steal anything, or if you didn’t steal anything, you shouldn’t be punished at all. Even if intent is there, we shouldn’t be taxing our already over-filled prison system to find more space for those who have done so little wrong.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the law will change any time soon and become more merciful, so the best we can do is make sure everyone accused of these crimes has the best defense possible. Use the tips in this article, and get the best lawyer you can, and hopefully, you can beat the charges against you.

Texas Rainstorms vs. Texas Natural Disasters

Posted by on Oct 10, 2017 in Natural Disasters | 0 comments

There are few things in this world I enjoy more than curling up under a blanket during a Texas rainstorm. I don’t care if it’s watching a movie, listening to music, or reading a book. The thought of being safe and sound in my own home while watching the chaos through my windows is so satisfying to me. I especially enjoy the sounds of thunder rumbling in the distance and catching a glimpse of white-hot streaks of lightning stretched out across the sky. But Buddy, my seven-year-old snuggle-monster of a pug, doesn’t appreciate it the same way I do. He just knows that it’s scary outside.

Hurricane Harvey was an interesting weather event, to say the least. Despite raining consistently for several days, I didn’t notice any thunder or lightning. On the first day the rain started, Buddy and I walked down to look at the park and saw the creek had risen so high that it covered the entire disc golf course! The winds were really strong, and we didn’t stick around for very long, but I could tell that mother nature was going to shake things up. It was weird how the winds seemed to go one way and then would abruptly shift and go a different direction, only to seemingly stop and then a mighty gust would almost blow me over. It was very strange weather indeed.

As soon as I got back to my house, I discovered a rude surprise; my neighbor’s tree had lost a giant limb and it had crashed right on top of my garage.

Just to clarify… This is not the type of neighbor that you can just go next door and ask for a cup of sugar. This is the type of neighbor who flings their dog poop in your backyard and pretends it didn’t happen because I guess they think German shepherds and pugs have similar bowel movements and the act would go unnoticed – only to be confronted about it later when there is a mysterious cluster of waaaaay-too-big-to-be-Buddy’s you-guessed-it in the back corner, and then lie about it to my face, telling me it’s “probably” pug-poo. Yeah, wonderful people.

They’re also the kind of people who call the cops on you for playing music on a Friday night at 9 pm without having the decency to ask that it be turned down first. Next thing I knew, there’s flashlights shining through all of my back windows and it looked like the whole SWAT team responded just to tell me to turn it down. Who does that!??!

Anyways, I digress. That neighbor’s tree fell on my house and I was super stoked. This was the perfect excuse for me to give a little payback and watch them sweat it with the insurance company. I was so excited!

I called my insurance company right away and talked to Angie (she’s the best), but apparently, if the tree fell on my property, it’s my insurance that handles the claim. Huh, I didn’t know. I did a little searching online and came across this great website that had a lot of helpful information about everything Hurricane Harvey and insurance. I’ve got it bookmarked now and it’s already come in really handy as a resource. Williams Kherkher put a lot of information together in one place, it’s really convenient. As much as I love the rain, Hurricane Harvey was not fun, and I’m hoping the rest of hurricane season stays dry.

Negligence and Car Accidents

Posted by on Jun 15, 2017 in Car Accidents | 0 comments

Car accidents can happen anytime and anywhere. In fact, even a single mistake while on the wheel can be very devastating. But in a sense, car accidents are understandable if they happen because of legitimate reasons, like innocent driver errors.

Negligence, on the other hand, is a different story. Drivers, vehicle manufacturers, and road maintenance providers can be negligent in a way that can cause car accidents. Whoever is at fault, the fact that there are serious damages will not change.

The website of the Amerio Law Firm has enumerated the most common damages in car accidents, including the obvious financial burdens such as medical costs for the victims, repair costs for the car damages, and emotional burdens such as emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and worst, loss of relationships due to death.

Driver negligence

Drivers can be considered negligent when they do reckless behaviors, such as distracted driving, drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs, driving while fatigued or sleepy, speeding, street racing, tailgating, and weaving. But even simple behaviors like not using turn signals, rushing through yellow traffic lights, and not yielding to stop signs and pedestrians can also be considered negligent.

According to the website of this Sheboygan accident lawyer, those who have been hurt of car accidents because of someone else’s recklessness may have legal options, which is good news.

Manufacturer negligence

Designers and manufacturers can be considered negligent when there are inherent flaws in the design of the car or its parts or defects caused by the manufacturing process. This is particularly problematic for airbags, brake systems, door latches, seatbelts, and tires, as they can be the primary causes of injuries and accidents.

Like drivers, designers and manufacturers can also be held liable, if they are clearly the ones at fault and not the driver’s lack of maintenance or care towards his or her car.

Maintenance provider negligence

Construction companies and maintenance providers of roads can also be considered negligent, especially if the roads have poor designs or materials that easily break or if there are malfunctioning equipment such as broken traffic lights.

They can be taken to court if the accident is clearly their fault, like on instances where potholes make vehicles lose control and crash and defective traffic lights create right-of-way issues.

The Consequences of a DUI Charge

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in DUI | 0 comments

The Consequences of a DUI Charge

Anyone caught driving while drunk can be charged with any of the following offenses: Driving under the influence (DUI); driving while intoxicated (DWI); or operating under the influence (OUI) – all these are drunken driving charges, (the difference lies only in the terminology used in the state where an offender is arrested and charged).

Drunk-driving is the cause of more than a third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., which is more than 30,000 every year. In 2010, the US Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics registered 13,365 fatal car accidents, while the number of those arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or both, was 1.4 million.

In all states, driving with a 0.08% (or higher) blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is a crime, and though the severity of punishment imposed on offenders vary from one state to another, there is one certain uniformity in all jurisdictions – the punishments are severe.

A first offense DUI is usually treated as a misdemeanor; it could be raised to a felony charge, however, if the alcohol-impaired driver injures or kills someone, of if his/her BAC level is higher than the 0.08% (in some states, a third or fourth DUI offense can automatically lead to a felony charge).

Federal and state authorities are hell-bent on catching violators of the anti-drunk driving law, thus, they are sharp and focused on observing any signs of drunk-driving, like swerving, braking erratically, driving too slowly, stopping for no apparent reason and zig-zagging across the road. For this same end, they set up sobriety checkpoints to catch alcohol-impaired drivers or measure the level of alcohol impairment in drivers who seem drunk.

A DUI felony entails costly fines and at least one year jail time (maximum of one year imprisonment is allowed in a misdemeanor charge). In some states, a felony leads to other heavy sentences, such as:

Mandatory installation of an Ignition interlock – a device that prevents a vehicle from starting if it detects in the driver a BAC level that is higher than what is considered a safe level (about 0.02%);

Administrative license suspension (ALS) – a law that authorizes law enforcers to confiscate a driver’s license if the driver fails a chemical test. This can last for 90 days – 180 days, during which driving privileges may be limited to/from work;

Open container – the Open container law, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), requires states to prohibit the possession of open alcohol beverage containers, as well as the consumption of an alcoholic beverage, in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a public highway.

According to Kershaw County DUI lawyers, many of those are arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), often claim that they have only had a few drinks or that they are not intoxicated, despite what a breathalyzer test says. These common excuses, however, do not often hold up in a court of law.

Alcohol-related charges have serious consequences, and a conviction for a DUI crime can dramatically affect a person for the rest of his/her life. Thus, anyone who has been charged with a DUI may find it wise to call a DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to start preparing a valid legal defense that will save him/her from further legal problems.”

Defamation in Social Media

Posted by on Dec 29, 2016 in Defamation | 0 comments

Social media is a place where we can connect and interact with others. It has become a place where we can reach a wide audience, may we personally know this audience or not. Because of the range of social media, the need for moderation has risen. Social media sites have rules and regulations to prevent pornographic and other inappropriate materials such as defamatory statements. But still, defamation in social media remains to be an issue.

According to an informative article from the website of a Charleston defamation lawyer, defamation involve the following:

  • A false or defamatory statement that has been made and published
  • The statement is about or is in reference to a specific victim
  • The statement is unprivilaged and has been published to a third party
  • The statement has caused special harm to the victim or is extremely defamatory regardless of whether it has caused harm or not
  • The accused is the one who really made the statement

These statements online may be in the form of articles, blog posts, comments in posts, status updates, or statements in chat rooms and listservers. They can have negative effects not only in your reputation, but your overall relationship with others. This can cause damages involving employment and other opportunities.

Statements of Fact

Statements that are declared as facts but are not are some of the defamatory materials you can encounter online. For example, if a person has written a review about your restaurant and claimed that your restaurant has a cockroach infestation, that person’s statement may be considered defamatory, because it damages you and your restaurant’s reputation and may reduce sales. However, you have to prove that the statement is actually false.

Statements of Opinion

We all know that there is a fine line between fact and opinion, but some facts like to disguise themselves as opinions and some opinions like to pretend to be facts. For example, if the same restaurant reviewer claims that his cockroach infestation is merely an opinion, he can still be held liable.

Even if he says “I think this restaurant has a cockroach infestation,” it can still be damaging for you and your business. If the people read his reviews with loyalty and view him as an authority, they may see this opinion as a fact, and therefore believe that your restaurant is indeed infested by cockroaches and need to be avoided.

Social media is there to better our lives. It helps us connect to old and new audiences. But also remember that it is not without problems, and one of its issues that can negatively affect us is the easy distribution of defamatory materials, like the statements of facts and opinions.

How Criminal History Affects Divorce Proceedings

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in Divorce | 0 comments

No one can deny the fact that going through a divorce can be an extremely difficult and emotionally challenging time. Aside from the emotional pain that comes with the dissolution of a marriage, divorcing couples will also have to contend with important legal details such as property division and child custody agreements. Couples that fail to come to an amicable agreement regarding these details will usually have to bring their dispute to court, where decisions will be left to a judge.

In a contested divorce, a judge is expected to make a ruling that will be fair and beneficial for both parties involved. A judge is expected to take into account the arguments made by each spouse in favor of one decision, as well as the point of view of any children that might be involved in the proceedings. However, a number of different factors might cause these expectations to bend in a different direction. Such decisions are mostly applicable for divorce proceedings where one of the parties involved has a notable criminal history.

When one of the spouses has a criminal offense on their record, their chances of being granted a favorable ruling during a divorce can become seriously impeded. For example, as noted by Marshall & Taylor, P.C., a parent might not be granted visitation rights if he or she is proven to have a history of alcohol or drug abuse, as well as a history of domestic violence. Meanwhile, criminal offenses related to white-collar crimes such as identity theft and fraud might also influence a judge’s decision regarding the division of a couple’s property and assets.

Because divorces involve high-stake decisions, it’s no surprise that having any criminal offense on one’s record can have a great effect on how proceedings will turn out. If you need help sorting out the legalities involved in divorce, do not hesitate to seek out legal counsel in order to learn more about your options.

Motorcycle Accidents: Results of Carelessness or Negligence

Posted by on Jul 10, 2016 in Motorcycle Accidents | 0 comments

A motorcycle is an excellent means of transportation. Besides being fuel-efficient with regard to gas expenses, it can also enable the rider to easily drive through tight spots and past heavy traffic. The only major worry for motorcyclists is their vulnerability to possible severe injuries due to the lack of protective gears other than the helmet. Thus, to help protect riders from serious harm, the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), the largest motorcycling organization around the globe, enjoins its members and encourages all other motorcycle riders to always wear additional protective gears, such as gloves, a jacket, and the appropriate pants and footwear, whenever they will ride. All these, of course, should be worn with a helmet that complies with the standard of safety that the US Department of Transportation requires.

The 2012 record of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on motorcycle accident shows 112,000 motorcycle mishaps; of this, 93,000 caused riders serious injuries, while 4,957 claimed riders’ lives. This only means that while it is true that motorcycles provide lots of conveniences, these also cause great risks. Majority of motorcycle accidents, according to The Benton Law Firm may be blamed on drivers of cars and trucks who do never anticipate a motorcycle on the highway, changing lanes immediately if they do not see a larger vehicle in the lane.

While head-on collision is a major cause of fatality among motorcyclists, there are many other forms of mishaps that can severely injure and leave them with an amputated limb or permanent disability. It is a sad fact, however, that so many of these accidents are actually due to negligence or carelessness of the riders themselves, by the driver of the other motor vehicle involved or by someone who never really did his/her job (like a city or local government personnel in charge of keeping roads safe from accidents). These acts of negligence or carelessness are followed by many different kinds of wrong results: poor riding skills; drunk riding; collision with fixed objects (such as a lamp post or railings); overspeeding; lane splitting (an occasion wherein a motorcycle rider passes between two slow-moving or stopped vehicles, like during heavy traffic flows); a driver (of another vehicle) failing to notice an approaching motorcycle while making a left-hand turn; other vehicles denying motorcyclists their right of way; another vehicle tailgating a motorcycle; poor vehicle visibility and/or stability during inclement weathers; defective roads; roads not cleared of hazards; and so forth.

Since negligence can be dispelled through simple acts of diligence, a negligent or careless act resulting to an accident is, therefore, very much preventable. However, being someone else’s fault, the victim has the right to pursue legal action against the liable party for whatever present and future damages his or her injuries may result to. Seeking the assistance of a highly-qualified personal injury lawyer or motorcycle accident lawyer may help the victim know and understand his or her legal rights and options.

How to Find the Best Car Insurance Policy that Suits your Budget and Specific Coverage Needs

Posted by on Mar 18, 2016 in Car Insurance | 0 comments

New Hampshire and Virginia are the only two states that allow their drivers to show financial responsibility through state-allowed means in lieu of having car insurance. In New Hampshire, it is enough that drivers deposit cash or post a bond with the state to be able to comply with the state’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility requirements; in Virginia, on the other hand, drivers may simply pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee to their state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Financial responsibility refers to a driver’s capability to pay for damages in the case of an at-fault accident. In the US, the most common way to prove this capability is by purchasing car liability insurance.

The type of auto liability insurance required of drivers depends on what is mandated by their state. There are, however, two major types of insurance policies: the tort insurance coverage and the “no-fault” insurance coverage. Tort insurance coverage, which is mandated in the 38 tort states, allows victims of accident to bring legal charges against the at-fault driver. The purpose of these legal charges is to seek compensation which will cover cost of medical treatment, loss of income, and pain and suffering. Compensation is to be paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance provider.

In no-fault states, however, compensation is paid by the respective insurance providers of the drivers involved in the accident, regardless of whose fault the accident is. Without the need to seek compensation from the at-fault driver, no lawsuit, therefore, needs to be filed by the victim. There are nine states where the no-fault coverage is required: Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota and Utah. The remaining three states of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Kentucky also recognize the no-fault coverage; however, these states allow their drivers to purchase the tort policy if they rather choose to.

According to the Insurance Research Council, millions of drivers rather choose to discontinue paying their insurance premiums after they have renewed their driver’s license and car registration. This is more costly and risky. If drivers really need to have coverage but do not want to pay for an expensive policy, then they can ask any independent car insurance firm for insurance quotes. These quotes are intended to help drivers find the rate that best suits their budget and individual coverage needs. Besides being truly helpful and effective, these quotes are also free.

Hours of Service Violations by Trucking Companies

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Driving Hazards | 0 comments

Drivers of 18-wheelers have a large responsibility when they are on roadways. According to this West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys website, due to their immense size and weight, accidents that may be a simple fender-bender with two regular size vehicles can become serious when a semi-truck is involved. One of the most common causes of truck accidents is truck driver error caused by fatigue. While there are laws in place to regulate the amount of hours a truck driver can work, many employers blatantly ignore them and overwork their truck drivers, leading to severe exhaustion that can cause unsafe driving behavior.

The federal laws that are in place to set the rules for truck driver hours are known as hours of service rules. These rules indicate that a truck driver can only drive 14 hours a day, with no more than 11 of those hours being consecutive. An hours of service violation occurs when a truck driver goes over the hourly limit or does not allow enough time in between shifts. Innocent drivers of the road can be put in danger when these laws are violated. Common risky driving behaviors caused by an overly tired truck driver include swerving on the road, not stopping in time for stop signs or stop lights, or failing to check blind spots before changing lanes. One of the most severe consequences that can occur is a truck driver falling asleep behind the wheel. When these actions are committed by a truck driver, the accidents that occur can be catastrophic. A collision between a regular vehicle and an 18-wheeler can cause serious injuries and even death.

While driving alongside 18-wheelers is a common occurrence, accidents involving them should not be. Thousands of people are put in danger when truck drivers take the wheel overly fatigued. Even worse, the accidents that occur as a result are often preventable if the company had simply followed the law.

When Doctors and Pharmaceutical Companies Go Wrong

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Dangerous Consumer Products, Injury | 0 comments

When a serious illness puts a person’s life on the line the only source of salvation that may come to that person’s mind may be a doctor. A doctor, who is well trained and deeply knowledgeable about the human body and health, and who can have access to so many of the technological advances in the field of medicine, would only naturally be thought of as definitely capable of providing the needed effective treatment for any type of illness. Reality, however, clearly shows that this is not the case; and rather than just a big number of doctors causing new health problems than providing medical solutions, it is obvious that there is another source of problem, something bigger than doctors that the government and the medical community need to be aware of – the pharmaceutical firms.

More than 750,000 deaths due to poor medical care are recorded in the US every year. These include millions of: unnecessary prescriptions; people being subjected to surgical procedures which are actually not needed; and, people being confined in hospitals despite the lack of absence or need for it.

Though such are clearly doctor errors, there are more cases recorded, which involve adverse effects of prescription drugs or medical devices. These are usually due to drugs that have not been fully tested, yet are claimed safe and effective by their manufacturers.

One specific device, which is manufactured by the American company Intuitive Surgical Inc. and approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in the year 2000, is the da Vinci Surgical System, a multi-armed robotic surgical equipment designed to help surgeons perform minimally-invasive surgical procedures easily, fast and accurately.

This robotic surgical equipment gained immediate success not only in the US but in Europe and Asia as well and the only thing holding back many other hospitals from acquiring it is the unit’s more than $1 million cost.

The da Vinci Surgical device requires very small (multiple) incisions, about 1-2 cm, compared to the 5 – 7 inches long or even 12 inches long (depending on the type of surgery to be performed) incision that an open surgery requires. And with very tiny openings, this could only mean fast-healing wounds, much shorter recovery time, very little loss of blood, and much lesser pain.

Not very long after the device’s use, however, reports of injuries and deaths began to be linked to it. These reports also made mention of device malfunction, internal scarring, injury to tissues or organs, doctors’ lack of experience in properly operating the device, and so forth.

Many lawsuits have already been filed against the da Vinci’s manufacturer, including those by families of patients who have already died even some years after the device was used on them. There are injuries and deaths that may have possible links to the da Vinci surgical device, considering that it has been used in thousands of procedures on prostate removal and hysterectomies alone.

The da Vinci Surgical System is not the only problem that authorities should worry about, though, for millions more also get injured or die every year due to the use of prescription drugs. According to the website of law firm Williams Kherkher, three of these drugs, which are the basis of many lawsuits in various US courts, are Actos, Depakote, and Risperdal.

Actos (also called Pioglitazone), is an oral drug for Type 2 diabetes patients. It helps increase patients’ sensitivity to insulin as well as helps them control their blood sugar level. Within 10 years after it acquired the FDA’s approval in 1999, the drug became one of the most prescribed medications in the US, simultaneously gaining recognition in France and Germany. But studies and actual cases revealed Actos’ real effects, which included risk of heart failure, liver failure, tract infection, upper respiratory infection, macular edema, lactic acidosis, diarrhea, muscle pain and death.

Depakote and Risperdal, on the other hand, were approved for the treatment of bipolar disorder. While Depakote was formulated to lessen or totally prevent severe epileptic seizures, to treat manic episodes linked to bipolar disorder and to prevent attacks of migraine, Risperdal was prepared as effective treatment for the symptoms of autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Though both drugs seemed totally safe for some time, both, like Actos, also began to be linked to serious side-effects. For Depakote, the reported side-effects included pancreatitis, liver toxicity, confusion, unusual bruising or bleeding, and the risk of delivering a dead child or a child with a birth defect. For Risperdal, the effects were: stroke or stroke-like occurrences; Tardive Dyskinesia, a disorder in the central nervous system that results to uncontrolled movements of the limbs and twitching of the tongue and face; Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS), a potentially deadly disorder that is characterized by irregularity in one’s pulse and blood pressure; and, death.

The right of patients (or their families) to file a personal injury lawsuit for the possible compensation that they may be legally entitled to receive. Both law firms also recommend the hiring of a seasoned lawyer, who will help the victim receive no less than the full amount of compensation that he or she is legally entitled to.