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Unreasonable Seizure Can Dismiss Criminal EvidenceHow long are police allowed to wait before requesting a warrant to search a computer they have seized as criminal evidence? An Illinois court determined that eight months is too long in a recent criminal case and suppressed the evidence found on the computer. In People v. McGregory, the state accused the defendant of manufacturing fraudulent credit cards to commit identity theft, based on evidence from equipment seized during an unrelated warrant search of his home. To understand the facts of this case, it may help to start with an explanation of rules regarding searches and seizures.

Lawful Searches

The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment states that citizens shall not be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. This means police must obtain a warrant to conduct a search of someone that they have probable cause to believe has committed a crime. A warrant authorizes police to search at a specified location and seize specified items that are related to the suspected crime. However, the police may be allowed to seize unspecified items during a lawful search if:

  • They are in plain view.
  • There is probable cause to believe that the items were used in committing a crime.

In People v. McGregory, the police officer had a warrant to search for drugs and weapons but saw equipment that is used to make fake credit cards and cards that had names of people other than the defendant.

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Posted on in Divorce

Balancing Your Job with Your DivorceThe added work of going through a divorce can be difficult to balance with your normal responsibilities, whether it is at home or at your job. If you are someone who is used to putting in heavy hours at work, that may not be possible when you have to negotiate your divorce agreement and make scheduled appearances in court. However, you may fear that a lapse in your performance could be a career setback if you are aiming for a promotion or to be put on an important project. To remain productive at work during your divorce, you will need to plan ahead and accept your limitations:

  1. Talk to Your Supervisor: The worst thing you can do to yourself at work is to have an unexplained dip in production or performance. You need to tell your supervisor about your divorce and how it may affect your availability at work. They may be more flexible with your work hours and performance expectations if you warn them.
  2. Know Your Limits: Another bad thing you can do to yourself is to take on a workload that you cannot fulfill on-time or up to your employer’s quality standards. During your divorce is a poor time to add to your responsibilities with new projects. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your normal workload, tell your supervisor before it becomes a problem that hurts your company.
  3. Keep Work and Divorce Separate: Your employer will expect you to be focused on your work when you are at work. However, it can be difficult to put your divorce out of your mind when you are at your job. Try to get yourself into a routine that helps you focus on your work, and do not perform tasks related to your divorce while at your job. If you find yourself overcome with stress or emotion, take a short break and go somewhere private to release your stress.
  4. Take Time Off: Now would be a good time to use your personal days if your employer offers them. Why force yourself to travel between work and divorce court on the same day when you can take the day off? There may also be days when you need a break to relax. Your divorce is causing you an unusual amount of stress, and overworking yourself is bad for your health.

Contact a Crystal Lake Divorce Lawyer

Balancing divorce and work is simpler when you have a divorce lawyer that you trust. A McHenry County divorce attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, will take care of the technical parts of your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Why You Need an Attorney for Your Workers’ Compensation ClaimYour first step when considering whether to file a workers’ compensation claim should be to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Some workers may wonder whether a lawyer is necessary in order to receive benefits. Technically, you could complete the claim yourself, and the process may go fine if your injury is minor and your employer is cooperative. However, many workers’ compensation cases are not that simple, and you risk having your claim denied or not receiving full benefits if you are unprepared. Here are four reasons you need an attorney for your workers’ compensation claim:

  1. You Do Not Know the Law: It is unreasonable to expect you to understand all of Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws and how they apply to your case. On the other hand, your employer and its insurance company have experience with workers’ compensation cases and their own attorneys to advise them. Your employer may take advantage of your inexperience by trying to convince you that you lack the grounds to file a claim or offering a settlement that is much less than what you would receive through a claim.
  2. You Are Injured: In the best of circumstances, it would be difficult for someone to teach themselves workers’ compensation law and represent themselves in court. Recovering from an injury is far from you being at your best. The stress of handling your own case could negatively impact your health and delay your recovery.
  3. You Need Someone Savvy to Represent You: Claimants can get themselves in trouble when they take action on their own without guidance from an attorney. You may say or do something that will inadvertently hurt your claim. A workers’ compensation attorney knows what to say – and what not to say – and how to present your claim in arbitration, in front of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, or in court.
  4. Completing Your Claim May Not Be the End: After your case is finished, your attorney will follow up to make sure that the insurance company does not delay paying your compensation. It is also possible that your employer may retaliate against you for filing the claim by demoting or firing you. Retaliation for workers’ compensation claims is illegal, and you would need an attorney to help you file a lawsuit against your employer.

Contact a McHenry County Workers’ Compensation Attorney

The cost of hiring a lawyer is worth it to ensure that you receive the full workers’ compensation benefits in your claim. Schedule a free consultation with a Crystal Lake, Illinois, workers’ compensation attorney at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, by calling 815-338-3838.

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Are Property Owners Liable for Fall Injuries Caused by Leaves?Many people love autumn in part because of the changing colors of the falling leaves. Leaves are usually not an obstacle for walkers but can sometimes be responsible for slip, trip, and fall injuries. Wet leaves can be slick, and a layer of dry leaves may hide obstacles or wet surfaces. When it comes to personal injury compensation, fall injuries are usually a premises liability issue. Whether you receive compensation from a property owner or their insurer depends on whether the property owner had a duty to protect you in the situation leading to your injury.

Clearing Leaves

There is an Illinois Snow and Ice Removal Act that covers premises liability when someone is injured due to winter accumulations on a property. There is not an equivalent act for leaves. If the same principles apply to leaves as snow, then property owners are not required to clear leaves from walkways on their property. If they do clear the leaves, they are responsible for doing so in a way that does not create a hazard for pedestrians.

If a court applies the Illinois Premises Liability Act, property owners may have a greater obligation to clear leaves from their property. The act states that property owners must make a reasonable effort to protect people from or warn people about hazards on their property. If the property owner had a reasonable amount of time to clear the leaves from public walkways near their property, they may be liable if those leaves became wet and created a slipping hazard due to their negligence. Liability would be more certain if a property owner left an object, such as a rake, hidden under a pile of leaves on the sidewalk.

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The Consequences of Reckless Driving in IllinoisPatrons at Woodfield Mall in suburban Chicago were alarmed when an SUV drove through the indoor shopping center, damaging several displays before it came to a stop at a pillar. The vehicle did not hit anyone, though three people were taken to the hospital. As of the last reporting on the story, the driver was in custody at a behavioral health center and would not be charged until he was released. Police said they do not know if it was a planned attack or if the driver has a mental illness, which could determine what the man is charged with. At the very least, the incident seems to qualify as reckless driving.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Illinois’ criminal code defines reckless driving as:

  • Driving with a willful or wanton disregard for people or property; or
  • Intentionally using an incline to become airborne, such as a hill, bridge approach, or railroad crossing.

Traveling over the speed limit by 35 miles per hour or more is also reckless driving. The charge can become aggravated if the driver injures someone during the incident. If the driver was legally intoxicated, then the charge will be driving under the influence instead.

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