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How Illinois Residents Can Be Charged With Resisting ArrestThere are some laws in Illinois that are meant to punish people who interfere with a police officer who is performing their job. One such criminal charge is resisting arrest, which is when a person knowingly obstructs an officer’s efforts to detain them. Resisting arrest is often an additional charge, on top of the charge for which the person was arrested. A conviction in Illinois will result in a minimum of 48 hours in jail and 100 hours of community service. It is possible to contest a resisting arrest charge, but the law’s broadness makes it difficult.

What Counts as Resistance?

The law does not specify the actions that meet the definition of resistance or obstruction. This allows police officers to interpret various behaviors as “resisting arrest,” such as:

  • Fleeing from an officer
  • Not responding to the officer’s orders
  • Struggling when the officer is putting handcuffs onto the suspect

The fact that the police officer is often the aggressor during arrests makes avoiding a resisting arrest charge more difficult for the arrestee. When a police officer suddenly grabs or tackles you, your natural reaction is to protect yourself. You may believe that you have the right to resist the arrest if you have done nothing wrong and the police officer has no reason to arrest you. Unfortunately, you can be convicted for resisting arrest when the arrest was unlawful as long as you knew that you were under arrest.

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Why Illinois Uses ‘Allocation of Parental Responsibilities’ Instead of ‘Child Custody’In 2016, Illinois made major changes to its law regarding parents who have divorced or separated. The term “child custody” was replaced with “the allocation of parental responsibilities,” and “visitation” was replaced with “parenting time.” These were more than simply new names for legal terms. They represented a new approach to co-parenting that the state hoped would be better for children. This summer will mark the five-year anniversary of the bill that created these changes being signed into law – making it a good time to revisit what these terms mean and what they are trying to accomplish.

Allocation of Parental Responsibilities

Child custody is a common term in family law statutes across the country and in popular vernacular. In Illinois, the law at one time granted sole or joint custody of the children following a divorce or separation. Illinois changed its laws so it is assumed that both parents will share responsibility for the children, including:

  • Dividing parenting time in a way that is best for the children
  • Determining how the parents will raise the children
  • Defining what decision-making power each parent has and when they must get the other parent’s consent

The word “custody” is often associated with one parent having primary control over the children. Illinois changed the term to “the allocation of parental responsibilities” because it better describes how each parent has rights and responsibilities and an important role in continuing to raise the children. “Custody” is now used to describe when a non-parent assumes responsibility for a child.

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Creditors Cannot Touch Your Workers’ Compensation SettlementSuffering an injury at work can put you in an immediate financial bind. Although you can receive disability benefits if you are unable to work, those benefits are only two-thirds of what you normally make. Your expenses also go up if you need continued medical treatment for your injury. Without adequate health insurance to cover your treatment, you could end up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to doctors. Injured workers rely on receiving workers’ compensation benefits in order to pay these expenses, but sometimes the debts pile up too fast before the worker can receive payment. If you file for bankruptcy, will you be able to keep your workers’ compensation benefits? A recent Illinois Supreme Court ruling confirmed that money awarded or settled upon in a workers’ compensation case is protected during bankruptcy from the healthcare providers that treated the injuries related to the workers' compensation case.

Protection for Your Compensation

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act includes a section stating that creditors cannot seize a debtor’s workers’ compensation award or settlement. Illinois and federal courts have long recognized that this section of the law works as an exemption when someone files for bankruptcy. The total benefits received in a workers’ compensation case can be used to pay for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Missing wages
  • Wage differential compensation
  • Vocational training

Recent Case

In the case of In re Elena Hernandez, a woman had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2016. Among her debts were $138,000 she owed to three medical practices that had treated an injury related to an ongoing workers’ compensation case. The woman listed her pending workers’ compensation claim as an asset and estimated its value at $31,000. She reached a settlement with her employer for approximately that amount two days after filing for bankruptcy. The three medical providers argued that the workers’ compensation settlement should not be exempt from them because of amendments made to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act in 2005. The revisions created new fee schedules for injuries and limited what providers could collect from employers. The providers claimed that the revisions created a new exception to the part of the act that exempted workers' compensation settlements from creditors.

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How Weapons Can Lead to an Armed Violence Charge in IllinoisMany criminal charges you can face in Illinois become more serious if you are accused of possessing or using a weapon. Robbery is a Class 2 felony, but armed robbery is a Class X felony. Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, but assault with a deadly weapon can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony, depending on the identity of the victim. Illinois considers the presence of a deadly weapon during a crime to be an aggravating offense because of the potential for death or serious injury. With this in mind, Illinois created a criminal charge called armed violence in 2012.

What Is Armed Violence?

Armed violence is the possession of a deadly weapon or discharge of a firearm while committing a felony that is not predicated on using the weapon. For instance, possessing a gun while being arrested for felony drug possession is armed violence, but attempted murder with a gun is a different offense. There are three categories of weapons under the armed violence law:

  • Category I includes firearms that are small enough to be concealed, semiautomatic weapons, and machine guns.
  • Category II includes all other firearms and sharp weapons meant for cutting or stabbing.
  • Category III includes weapons meant for striking, such as a bludgeon or metal knuckles.

Most armed violence charges are Class X felonies with different prison sentencing requirements. Possession of a Category II weapon has a minimum of 10 years in prison, and possession of a Category I weapon has a minimum of 15 years. Discharge of a Category I or II firearm results in a minimum of 20 years in prison. Harming someone by discharging a Category I or II firearm results in 25 to 40 years in prison.

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Illinois Expunging Low-Level Marijuana Possession ConvictionsThousands of Illinois residents are already taking advantage of the legalization of recreational marijuana that was enacted at the beginning of the year. Many people had already received a gift before the end of 2019: a pardon of their past marijuana possession conviction. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced the pardons of more than 11,000 misdemeanor marijuana offenses, which are now eligible for automatic expungement. This number is only the beginning as Illinois estimates that there are 116,000 records that are eligible for automatic expungement. The stated goal of expungement is to help people whose opportunities have been limited by the stigma of a low-level marijuana conviction on their criminal record.

Expungement vs. Pardon

The terms “pardon” and “expungement” are being used interchangeably when talking about the Illinois marijuana law, but the two actions are different:

  • A pardon is an executive order to forgive someone for a crime.
  • An expungement is removing an arrest or conviction from someone’s criminal record.

Receiving a pardon is one way to become eligible for expungement. Another would be a court order to vacate a conviction. Expungement is a superior outcome as opposed to sealing a criminal record, which is what most criminal convictions in Illinois are limited to. Sealing limits who can see a conviction on a criminal record, while expungement treats the conviction like it never happened.

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