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When Police Pat-Downs Violate Your RightsThe police practice of frisking or pat-downs is controversial because of its invasiveness and connection to racial profiling. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people against illegal searches and seizures, which includes searching on a person’s body. In order to frisk a person, the officer must have a warrant to search for a specific item or reasonably believe that the suspect is armed and dangerous. Police have used the “armed and dangerous” exception to perform what they call “protective pat-downs” on people without establishing probable cause that they committed a crime. Evidence found during an unreasonable pat-down can be dismissed from a criminal case.

Police Encounters

There are three types of encounters that a police officer has with a member of the public:

  • They can arrest an individual when there is probable cause that the person is committing a crime.
  • They can briefly investigate a person that they reasonably suspect of committing a crime.
  • They can have a consensual encounter with a member of the public in which the individual voluntarily talks with the officer.

It can be difficult to differentiate between a consensual encounter and an investigatory stop. During a consensual encounter, the member of the public should feel like they can leave the encounter at any time, but the officer is often the one who initiates the encounter and presses the individual to answer questions. 

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What Are the Consequences for Not Paying Child Support?Child support payments are mandatory for parents who are divorced or separated from each other. Unlike with the optional spousal maintenance payments, child support is meant to help pay for the expenses related to raising the children, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. A parent who does not pay their share of child support may be depriving their children of the resources needed to grow up healthy and safe. Because of this, Illinois has a range of severe consequences for parents who do not comply with their child support order:

  1. Garnishment: If a parent does not pay child support, a court may order that the noncompliant parent’s financial assets be seized. The most common method is wage garnishment, which can be achieved by filing an Income Withholding for Support request with the parent’s employer. If wage garnishment is not an option, the court may seize funds from a bank account, intercept property tax refunds, put a lien on a property, or hire a private collection agency.
  2. Driver’s License Suspension: When a parent is more than 90 days past due on child support payments, the court may revoke the parent’s driving privileges until they have caught up on payments. It also has the authority to revoke or deny an application for a U.S. passport or professional license.
  3. Criminal Prosecution: Nonpayment of child support becomes a criminal offense in Illinois if a parent has gone more than six months without paying or owes more than $5,000. This is a Class A misdemeanor and will most likely result in a fine. However, the offense becomes a Class 4 felony if the parent flees the state to avoid payment, is more than one year late on payments, or owes more than $20,000. A Class 4 felony in Illinois is punishable by one-to-three years in prison and fines.

Contact a McHenry County Family Law Attorney

If your co-parent is not paying child support, you can enforce payment by contacting the Illinois Division of Child Support Services or filing a complaint in court. If you are in danger of falling behind on child support payments, you need to explain to the court why you are unable to make the payments. You may be able to modify your child support order if the payments are unreasonable given your financial circumstances. Either way, you need the assistance of a Crystal Lake, Illinois, family law lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, to resolve your child support issue. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Why You Should Not Immediately Accept a Workers’ Compensation SettlementWhile workers’ compensation insurers will sometimes fight your claim in court, there are other times when they will be eager to offer you a settlement for your injuries. However, an immediate settlement may benefit them more than it benefits you. When an insurer knows they cannot avoid paying a claim, they will try to settle the claim as soon as possible so they know how much it will cost them. There are several reasons why you should wait before settling your workers’ compensation claim:

  1. You Do Not Know the Full Cost: There are more expenses related to a workplace injury than the cost of your initial treatment. You may need to pay for continued rehabilitation, and your doctor may discover other damage that requires additional treatment. You also must consider whether you may need disability pay for your missed time at work. Even after you return to work, it is possible that your injury will worsen, requiring you to miss more time. It may take months or years to know the full cost of your injury, and agreeing to an immediate settlement will prevent you from seeking additional compensation.
  2. The Insurer Is Not Giving Their Best Offer: It is common in negotiations for someone’s initial offer to be lower than what they expect they will have to pay. Workers’ compensation insurers have experience paying claims for injuries such as yours, which means they know how much it usually costs. They know how to make an initial offer that sounds reasonable but is actually much less than what you would receive if you took your claim to arbitration. Though they may talk tough if you reject their initial offer, they will likely return with a better offer.
  3. There Is No Rush to Reach a Settlement: You have three years after the date of your workplace injury to file a workers’ compensation claim, giving you plenty of time to understand the full extent and cost of your injury. The insurer may try to pressure you into accepting their settlement by giving you a deadline to respond, but it is highly unlikely that they will withdraw the offer because they would still rather settle than take the claim to court.

Contact a Crystal Lake, Illinois, Workers’ Compensation Attorney

You should not decide on whether you will negotiate a workers’ compensation settlement until you have consulted with an attorney. A McHenry County workers’ compensation lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can make sure you receive all of the benefits that you will need. To schedule a free consultation, call 815-338-3838.

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How Does Premises Liability Work with Airbnb?For years now, travelers have been forgoing hotels in favor of renting a living space at someone’s home through services such as Airbnb. Vacation rentals can offer better deals, convenient locations, and home amenities that many hotels do not have. As with any business, your host has a duty to keep you safe while you are paying to stay at their home. If you are injured due to the condition of the property, you may be eligible for personal injury compensation through the premises liability law of the state where the injury occurred.

What Is the Duty to Protect?

The owner or operator of a property has a duty to show reasonable care towards the safety of visitors. In Illinois, this means they must make a reasonable effort to:

  • Maintain the property’s condition
  • Detect and repair dangerous conditions in a timely manner once they are aware of them
  • Warn guests about dangers that they may be unable to predict on their own

When staying at someone’s home, dangers could come from uneven walking surfaces, faulty appliances or other areas that the owner has failed to maintain. However, the owner may not be liable for your injuries if you acted in a way that was reckless or that you knew put you at risk of injury.

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Notable New Illinois Criminal Laws Starting in 2020When Illinois passes new state laws, many are scheduled to go into effect at the start of the next calendar year. The legalization of recreational marijuana has rightfully garnered most of the attention among the state’s new laws for 2020. Not only will it make it legal to possess as much as 30 grams of cannabis, but many people have already been able to expunge previous marijuana possession convictions. There are other laws going into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, that relate to traffic violations in the state, as well as a law that helps protect the civil rights of people who have been arrested.

Traffic Laws

Driving offenses are among the most common reasons for interaction between police officers and civilians. Illinois often revises its driving laws to address new threats and discourage dangerous behavior by drivers. There are three such laws that will start in 2020:

  1. Watching Video: Illinois is already combating distracted driving by making it illegal to use handheld electronic devices while driving. An update to the law expands the definition to include using devices to watch or stream video. A distracted driving violation will result in a fine and count towards the three traffic tickets in 12 months that it takes to suspend your driver's license. However, distracted driving becomes a Class A misdemeanor if someone is injured and a Class 4 felony if someone dies.
  2. Fine for Passing a School Bus: It is illegal for vehicles in either direction to overtake and pass a school bus that has stopped for the purpose of picking up or dropping off passengers. Illinois has doubled the fines for these violations. A first offense is a $300 fine. A second or subsequent offense is a $1,000 fine.
  3. Scott’s Law: Scott’s Law is Illinois’ new name for the law requiring drivers to yield to emergency vehicles and use caution when approaching a stopped vehicle. Whereas a violation previously required a minimum $100 fine, the minimum fine is now $250 for a first offense and $750 for a second or subsequent offense. A violation that damages another vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor, and a violation that results in injury or death is a Class 4 felony.

Arrest Records

Illinois law has new protections for people who were arrested on suspicion of a crime but were never charged or convicted. The law states that it is a civil rights violation to use someone’s arrest record, juvenile record or criminal record that has been sealed as a reason to deny them:

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