Who is the best criminal defense attorney in Illinois?

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It depends. There are some great criminal defense attorneys in Illinois, and there are some who have a less than stellar reputation. The answer to the question “Who is the best attorney?” is different for everyone. The reason is that each case and client is so different. What’s best for one person might not work at all for another.

Instead, we focus on finding the best attorney for you. We don’t represent the people who call us. We talk to you about what you’re facing and then recommend an Illinois attorney who we think will do a great job for you.

Hiring an attorney is a very personal decision, and we want to understand your situation before making a recommendation. So if you call for our help, you can expect us to ask about some specifics, such as:

–       The charges you’re facing and what’s happened so far. Is your case a misdemeanor or felony? Some attorneys are known for their success in a particular area, such as DUI defense. Have you had a court date or missed a court date?

–       Where you were arrested. Ideally, your attorney will know the local courthouse well. We want you to have the advantage of hiring an attorney who is familiar with the judges and prosecutors.

–       Whether you’ve talked to police. Have you given a statement or signed anything?

–       Your history. Are there any prior convictions that would make your current case more complex?

–       Any special needs you might have. Do you speak a language other than English? Do you live far from where your case will be heard? Do you need an attorney who will come to you?

The point is to understand as much as we can about what you need in order to recommend an attorney who can best match those needs. You can contact us anytime for help in choosing an attorney for your case.


What is 410 probation?

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It’s something that allows you the rare opportunity to keep a felony off your record. Section 410 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act allows certain individuals to get probation instead of a conviction if charged with possession of small amounts of drugs. Section 410 is only for someone who has not been convicted or placed on probation for drug possession in the past.

Getting caught with small amounts of cocaine, for example, is a felony. First-time offenders can avoid serving time and can keep their records clean if they qualify for – and successfully complete – their 410 probation.

In order to get 410 probation, you will be found guilty. Then, the judge basically puts your case on hold. If you successfully complete the probation, then the case is dismissed. If you fail to comply with the terms of your probation, the probation can be revoked and you can be sentenced to whatever penalty the law allows … It’s as if you’re going back to the day you pled guilty, but without the option of probation. You only are eligible for 410 probation one time.

Many people fail 410 probation because the requirements are strict. You cannot break the law during your probation; you cannot possess a firearm; you must submit to periodic drug testing (and pay for it yourself); and you must complete 30 hours of community service in most cases. The judge has the discretion to include additional requirements, such as paying fines and undergoing treatment.

Employers often ask if you have been convicted of a crime. One of the main benefits to 410 probation is that you can answer “no.”

If you can get through probation, you still have one more step to go through if you want to completely erase it from your record. After five years, you can petition for expungement. If granted, the record of your probation will be completely erased. Most types of probation cannot be expunged; 410 probation is an exception.

Keep in mind that 410 probation is not granted automatically. An experienced defense attorney can let you know if it’s realistic for your case.


If you die without a will in Illinois…

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There is a very specific set of rules that the court will apply in distributing your property and assets. It may or may not be what you wanted. Since you’ll be gone, there’s no way to know exactly what you wanted, which is the main reason to create a valid will during your lifetime.

Here’s what will happen:

–       If you have a spouse and no children, then it’s the simplest situation. All of your property will go to your spouse. Again, this may or may not be what you wanted.

–       If you have a spouse and kids, then your spouse gets half and your kids get half. The kid half gets divided among them equally. If you were predeceased by one of your children (a child passed away while you were still alive), then that child’s share is given to his or her children (your grandchildren), if there are any.

–       If you have no spouse, but you do have kids, your estate will be divided among them equally. Again, if one of them passed away while you were still alive, that share is given to their children (your grandchildren), if any.

–       If you have no spouse and no kids, then the law gives your estate to your parents and siblings. Everyone gets an equal share, although if you have just one living parent, then that parent gets both parental shares (basically a double share). For example, if your parents are still living and you have two siblings, then your estate is divided into fourths.

–       If you have no spouse, children, parents or siblings, the law says that your grandparents get your estate, if they are living. If not, then it goes to their children and grandchildren, which are your aunts, uncles and cousins.

The law basically prioritizes blood relatives and goes down the list (there is no distinction between full-blood and half-blood relatives). If no living relatives can be found anywhere, only then do the county and/or state “take” your property.

The bottom line is that although these laws may match up with your wishes, it’s still better to make a will. It’s more accurate, more efficient and more reliable. Just don’t make one of those internet wills. Everyone’s assets are different and everyone’s family situation is different. Using a one-size-fits-all will is likely cheaper, but it can cause issues for your family after you’re gone.