Five Important Facts About Recreational Marijuana in IllinoisStarting Jan. 1, recreational marijuana will officially be legal in Illinois. The state had previously allowed medicinal marijuana use and decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana by issuing fines instead of criminal charges. Now, it will be legal for anyone age 21 and older to possess marijuana, whether in leaf form or infused in an edible. However, Illinois will heavily regulate the use of marijuana in exchange for legalizing it. It will still be possible to be arrested or fined for violating the state's laws regarding marijuana use and possession:

  1. Possession Limit: Illinois residents are allowed to possess as much as 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and 500 milligrams of cannabis-infused products. The possession limit is half that amount if you are a non-resident visiting Illinois.
  2. Use Restrictions: You are allowed to use marijuana products only in private residences and commercial properties where use is expressly permitted. You cannot use it in public places or in a vehicle. If you are renting your home, the property owner can forbid you from smoking marijuana or eating edibles in a common area. It is illegal to knowingly use marijuana products in the presence of someone who is younger than 21.
  3. Growth and Sale: You cannot grow marijuana plants in your home unless you are a medical marijuana patient. The growth and sale of marijuana are limited to licensed businesses, and each municipality will determine whether it will allow marijuana sales.
  4. Transportation: You are allowed to transport marijuana in your vehicle as long as it is not visible or easily accessible and it is in an odor-proof, child-resistant container.
  5. DUI: It is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana, but the state is instituting a chemical test that is similar to measuring someone's blood alcohol concentration to determine whether they are intoxicated. The law states that a driver is legally impaired by marijuana use if they have more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. However, some people are skeptical about the accuracy of this limit because THC can stay in a person’s blood for weeks or months, which is long after the impairing effects have worn off. Police may heavily rely on their observations of driver behavior as evidence in a DUI case.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Of the many laws related to recreational marijuana use, residents are most likely to have trouble with DUI laws. Police are unsure of how to objectively determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana or simply has traces of THC still in their blood. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can help you navigate all of the new rules regarding marijuana use in Illinois. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

Source:

...
Excessive Force in a Traffic Stop Makes Evidence InadmissibleThe Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits police from conducting unreasonable searches and using excessive force during the search. When an officer violates the Fourth Amendment, the evidence that they find following the violation is inadmissible in a criminal case. Courts must analyze the circumstances of the search when determining whether it was reasonable and the force used by the officer was appropriate. State laws can help define which types of force are excessive depending on the suspect’s actions. A recent Illinois appellate court ruling on a drug possession case demonstrated how judges can have different interpretations of what constitutes a legal police search.

Case Details

In People v. Augusta, the trial court found the defendant guilty of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. According to the police officers' testimonies, they were following the defendant because they suspected that he was selling narcotics and performed a traffic stop after the defendant allegedly failed to use his turn signal. During the stop, one of the officers noticed a bulge in the defendant’s cheek and a piece of plastic sticking out of his mouth. The officer asked the defendant to remove the contents from his mouth, believing it to be a bag of crack cocaine. When the defendant did not respond, the officer grabbed the defendant’s throat to prevent him from swallowing the bag and another officer helped remove the bag from his mouth. The bag contained what appeared to be crack cocaine, and the officers arrested the defendant. During the trial, the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the officers used excessive force. In a 2-1 ruling, the appellate court overturned the trial court's ruling on whether to suppress the evidence, vacated the conviction and remanded the case for further proceedings.

Excessive Force

The majority decision said that the officers violated state law and the Fourth Amendment:

...
Understanding the Burden of Proof in Criminal CasesThe U.S. has a court system that is meant to protect the accused as well as the accuser. An accusation must have some merit in order for the court to allow the case, and the prosecutor or plaintiff must prove why the defendant is guilty of or liable for the accusation. The burden of proof is one of the key concepts behind innocent until proven guilty, but different levels of proof are required depending on the type of case, including:

  • A preponderance of the evidence
  • Clear and convincing evidence
  • Evidence beyond a reasonable doubt

Criminal cases require the highest burden of proof because defendants have the most at stake if they are convicted.

A Preponderance of the Evidence

In most civil cases, the plaintiff must prove their claim by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not that the plaintiff’s claim is accurate. The judge or jury may not have the evidence to dismiss either sides’ argument but only needs to determine which argument is more plausible. Courts allow this standard of proof in civil cases because the defendant is not faced with the threat of imprisonment. If the court finds in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant’s punishment will be financial, such as paying medical bills for an injury or replacing lost property or wages.

...
Three Keys to Defending Against a Domestic Violence ChargePeople who are charged with domestic violence may feel like they are already being punished before their case goes to trial. Their accuser has likely received a temporary order of protection against them that may prevent them from returning to their home or seeing their children. Those who are falsely accused of domestic violence feel particularly hurt and confused about the sudden restrictions placed on them. Many domestic violence incidents do not have witnesses other than the accuser and the accused. The court will heavily rely on whether they believe each side's testimony about the incident. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, there are three keys to giving yourself the best chance to win your case:

  1. Obey the Order of Protection: Regardless of whether you are guilty of domestic violence, you can face criminal charges for violating an order of protection. That means you should not attempt to contact your accuser, either directly or through a third party. If your order prohibits you from entering your residence, you risk arrest if you sneak into your home to get your belongings. Talk to your attorney if you are concerned about properties at your residence. There are ways to secure your properties that do not violate the order of protection.
  2. Be on Your Best Behavior: You may have a reason to be angry at your accuser if you believe the domestic violence accusation is false. However, your public appearance must remain calm. Emotional outbursts – whether directed at your accuser or shared with someone else – support the idea that you are unstable and capable of violence. Your public behavior includes anything you say on social media and during seemingly private conversations with others, both of which could be used as evidence in your trial.
  3. Remain Consistent with Your Story: You do not have to testify during your trial if the prosecution lacks the evidence to prove that you are guilty of domestic violence. However, it may help for you to testify if your accuser is giving an inaccurate or incomplete account of what happened. It is important that you are consistent with your facts and the reason that you claim domestic violence did not occur. Your accuser may have fabricated the incident, the injury may have been an accident, or you may have been acting in self-defense. Whatever the truth is, staying consistent will give you credibility.

Contact a Wheaton Criminal Defense Attorney

You should immediately talk to a criminal defense lawyer if you are charged with domestic violence or served notice of an order of protection. A DuPage County criminal defense lawyer at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can help you respond to this allegation in a constructive manner. Call 630-260-9647 to schedule a consultation.

Source:

...
Controversy Surrounds Illinois’ Felony Murder RuleFive teens have been charged with first-degree murder in Lake County for the death of another teen, despite the fact that none of them pulled the trigger on the gun that killed him. According to numerous reports, the six teens were allegedly attempting to burglarize a car at a private residence when the owner shot at them, killing one of them. The owner was licensed to carry the gun and claims he was acting in self-defense because he saw one of the teens move toward him with an unidentified object in his hand. The five teens are being charged as adults, although four of them are younger than 18. Prosecutors are allowed to charge the teens with first-degree murder because of Illinois’ controversial felony murder rule.

What Is Felony Murder?

Illinois law states that a death qualifies as a first-degree murder when a suspect:

  • Intended to kill or cause bodily harm to the victim;
  • Knew that their actions caused a great risk of death or bodily harm; or
  • Were committing or attempting to commit a forcible felony other than second-degree murder.

The third condition is known as the felony murder rule, in which a person committing a violent crime may be charged with first-degree murder without needing to prove that they intended harm to the victim.

...