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New Law Ends Statute of Limitations on Sexual AssaultIllinois has amended its criminal code in order to remove the statute of limitations on prosecutors filing sexual assault charges. The law previously required that prosecutors commence sexual assault charges within 10 years of the alleged offense. Now, the law simply states that sexual assault charges may be commenced at any time. Advocates for the new law argue that sexual assault victims may have personal reasons why they wait years to tell authorities about their assault. Illinois made a similar law change in 2017 for sexual assault cases involving minors. Those accused of committing sexual assault should understand that this new law does not change the prosecution’s burden to prove the crime.

Definition and Defenses

Illinois defines criminal sexual assault as any non-consensual sexual contact or penetration with a victim. If the party does not actively rebuke the sexual contact, they may still be unable to consent if they are incapacitated, inebriated, underage, mentally disabled, or facing the threat of violence. A first-time conviction for sexual assault is a class 1 felony, punishable by four to 15 years in prison. Defendants can use several arguments to contest the charge:

  • The sexual assault did not occur or the defendant was not involved;
  • The alleged victim’s testimony is inaccurate or unreliable;
  • The sexual contact was consensual; or
  • The defendant has or had a mental condition that makes them not responsible for their actions.

DNA evidence of sexual intercourse can strengthen the prosecution’s case but may not be the deciding factor. The believability of each side’s story and testimony from witnesses will help a court determine whether it is likely that a sexual assault occurred.

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Divorce Can Hinder Retirement ReadinessPeople who have divorced are more likely to be financially unprepared for their retirements, according to a 2018 study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College. The study uses the National Retirement Risk Index, which estimated what percentage of households will be unable to maintain their pre-retirement standard of living. According to the study, households with an adult who has divorced are seven percentage points more likely to be at risk than households that have not experienced divorce. To put the number in context, the Great Recession increased the overall NRRI by nine percentage points. Understanding how divorce affects retirement may help divorcees adjust their retirement plans.

Reasons for Risk

Divorce is often associated with short-term costs, such as legal fees and assets lost in the division of property. However, there are several ways that divorce can hinder your ability to save towards retirement:

  • You must include your retirement plan in the division of property, whether you divide it or give your spouse other assets;
  • You will need more of your income for your daily living expenses, which takes away from the money you save for retirement;
  • Paying child support or spousal maintenance also takes away from your savings;
  • If you earned a majority of your household’s income, you may be in the same tax bracket but without the savings of filing your income taxes as married;
  • Becoming single may limit your credit; and
  • You may not receive full value from selling a property such as your home, depending on market conditions.

These costs of divorce can be a setback in your retirement savings plan. The younger you are when you divorce, the more time you will have to adjust your retirement plan.

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The Opioid Risk for Workers’ Compensation PatientsManaging pain is one of the immediate concerns after a workplace injury. The patient may have intense pain after suffering a traumatic injury or chronic pain from an injury that developed over several years. Physicians sometimes prescribe opioid painkillers as a means of immediate pain relief. However, the public is learning more about the dangers of opioid addiction. Workers’ compensation insurers are taking action against the pharmaceutical companies and physicians who have pushed opioid use, in part because opioid addiction can increase the cost of workers’ compensation. For instance, an Illinois workers’ compensation insurance organization has filed a lawsuit against the makers and distributors of opioids, alleging that they are responsible for an increase in opioid addictions amongst claimants. Injured workers must be careful when using opioids during their injury recovery and should consider alternative methods of pain relief.

Dangers of Opioids

Opioid painkillers are safest when used for a short period. Patients who take opioids for a prolonged period can develop a dependence or addiction to the drug. How quickly the dependence develops depends on the patient and whether they take more than is recommended. Studies suggest that some patients can become dependent in a matter of days. People with opioid addictions may crave increased doses of the drug as their bodies become resistant to it. This increases the risk of overdose and death.

Effect on Workers’ Compensation

According to the National Safety Council, workers who received opioids for more than a week or had more than one opioid prescription are more likely to be on disability a year later. Workers who become dependent on opioids also:

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How Businesses Can Be Liable for Personal InjuriesFiling a personal injury lawsuit against a large business can be more challenging than when an individual is a defendant. Corporations are often familiar with being the subject of lawsuits and have attorneys who are prepared to respond to litigation. The corporation has the resources to afford a protracted legal battle if it believes it is in the right or that its reputation is at risk. On the other hand, a corporation may be more willing than an individual to offer you a settlement if it believes a court battle is not worth the expense. A personal injury attorney can review your case to determine the benefits and risks of filing a lawsuit against a corporation.

Premises Liability

Businesses can be liable for the safety of guests on their properties. Stores are the most common example of these properties, though the public could also visit an office location. To prove a premises liability case, you must show that:

  • A condition on the business premises caused your injury;
  • The business failed to identify the dangerous condition in a timely manner or did not properly warn you of the danger; and
  • You could not have reasonably foreseen or avoided the injury.

It is more difficult to prove that a business is liable for a dangerous condition that suddenly developed than a condition that is the result of a lack of maintenance. For instance, you could slip and fall after someone spilled a drink on a tile floor. Depending on how recently the spill occurred, employees may not have had a chance to clean it up and put out a “wet floor” sign. If an automatic door malfunctions and crushes your arm, the business would be liable if it was aware of the danger and had done nothing to fix it or warn you.

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Required Proof for a Juvenile Drug Possession ConvictionTeenagers sometimes give in to the temptation of experimenting with illegal drugs. While teens may see no harm in trying drugs, being caught in possession of drugs has serious consequences. Your teen may not face the same jail sentence that an adult offender may receive. Courts focus on rehabilitation for juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes. However, a drug offense can limit some of the opportunities available to your teen. For instance, a person convicted of drug possession for the first time cannot receive government student aid for one year. Teens may also face discipline at school and difficulty getting into the college of their choice. Your teen may be able to avoid a costly drug conviction if your defense attorney can show that the circumstances did not meet the legal definition of drug possession.

Knowledge

Prosecutors must prove that the person charged with drug possession knew that they were in possession of an illegal drug. Saying that the teen did not know it was an illegal substance may not be a valid defense depending on the circumstances. Teens can be guilty of drug possession if it is reasonable to believe that they knew they were in possession of an illegal drug. Circumstances may include:

  • How the teen came into possession of the substance;
  • Who gave the drugs; or
  • Whether the substance looks like drugs.

A judge will have difficulty believing that a teen did not know that a leafy substance, powder, or pills were drugs. It is a different matter if the drugs were hidden or disguised and the teen honestly did not understand the situation.

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