Violence in Chicago

If you tune into the news, it seems like every story is about another murder that occurred within Chicago city perimeters. Take the Fourth of July for instance. This holiday is known to be a deathly holiday for Chicago. This year, sadly, there were 82 shootings over the Fourth of July weekend. So when someone tries to say Chicago is in its “golden age,” for homicide — it sounds absurd.

Chicago is in a golden age.

See — it sounds absurd! But this statement may actually be true. According to statistics, Chicago’s overall crime rate ranks 19th — 1 higher than Minneapolis (Chicago is slightly worse), but better than Kansas City, Indianapolis and Nashville. These statistics factor in population, so while Chicago is a violent city — due its dense population, the rates are surprisingly better than they used to be.

If you still don’t believe, take a look at some other statistics:

      • In the year 1992, Chicago had 943 murders — 2.6 per day.
      • In the year 2013, Chicago had 415 murders — 1.1 per day.

In two decades, the homicide rate decreased by more than half.

      • So far this year, the homicide total for 2014 is 206 — a decrease from last year.

While these statistics are excellent, a death is still a death. When a family member is a casualty of a shooting, the decreased homicide rates certainly do not ease the pain. Daniel Kay Hertz, a master’s student at the University of Chicago’s Harris admits that nearly all communities of Chicago have experienced a decline in murder and crime — but some other the most crime-ridden communities have only gotten worse.

Chicago Crime is Concentrated

While crime exist everywhere in Chicago, it’s no surprise that the majority of city crime is concentrated. It’s easy for anyone to look at these statistics, and suggest that crime is on the decrease — because it is. But that means nothing to the communities who suffer due to street gangs, unreliable public transportation, “food deserts” (a community that relies on corner stores for food supplement as they have no option for fresh food), and the pressure put on youth to join the criminal class. These communities are like deserts themselves.

Statistically wise, Chicago seems to be doing something right. It will be interesting to see how crime changes in the upcoming years. Judging Chicago off paper — we still have a lot of work to do to help the less fortunate communities.

Call a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer for the Legal Support You Deserve

If you find yourself in need of some legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Office of J. Samuel Worley, LLC to speak with a supportive, understanding Chicago criminal defense lawyer. We work with our clients to make sure they get the information they need to understand their options, and their rights. Call us now for a free confidential consultation: 312-953-LAW1

 

Illinois Lawmakers Sign New Bill to Help Ex-Convicts Find Employment After Release

Prison overcrowding has been a problem for many years. To save money and reduce overcrowding , a number of states have pushed inmates out on early release plans, but the question that seems to have no answer — what happens to these convicts afterwards?

If people get drawn back into the real world, get a job and make a living, studies show they’ll be less likely to go to prison,” stated Howard Husock, vice president for policy research for The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. “With early release now on the menu for so many states, it makes the matter more pressing.”

Besides early release, two of the greatest factors that have affected so many ex-convicts ability to settle back into the real world has been lack of proper help/treatment, and how difficult it can be to find employment with a record. This month, Illinois lawmakers have taken strides to help the latter.

Based on Capability, not Record

Under a new law signed earlier this month, ex-offenders in Illinois will no longer have to disclose their criminal pasts until employers evaluate their qualifications, and abilities. This is great news for the newly released convicts trying to turn their lives around. State Rep. Rita Mayfield, who attended the signing at St. Michael Missionart Baptist Church on Chicago’s West Side, spoke about the new law; “This is the culmination of hope for so many individuals.”
Among those who attended the signing was 34-year old Eddie Parker of Chicago who had served six years in a Correctional Center for drug possession. Though Parker, a certified butcher, was released a decade ago, he explained that securing a job over the years has been extremely difficult due to his record.

Ban the Box

This new law will allow ex-convicts a chance to show who they really are, their abilities, and personality before an employer is turned off by their record. At the signing, Parker mentioned the tiny box on every application that makes you check off if you have a criminal record. Parker said, “”Without [the box], it can change a lot. It gives us a chance to tell you our story. A person can change a lot coming back to society.”

Illinois is the fifth state to approve a law that requires the disclosure of a criminal history and criminal background until it’s determined that the potential employee is qualified for the position. Certain types of jobs — some construction jobs, emergency medical jobs and and security jobs — may be exempt. The law takes affect January first of next year.

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If you or a loved one have found yourself in need of legal support, please do not hesitate to call The Law Office of J. Samuel Worley, LLC. We protect the rights of all our clients, will help aid you with your legal matters, and help you reach a resolution. Contact our Chicago criminal defense lawyers today: 312-953-LAW1

 

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Quinn Signs off on Stricter Boater Safety Regulations

At the beginning of July, Governor Pat Quinn signed off on several different laws that were aimed to increase boating safety regulations. News of these updates happened over the Fourth of July weekend, and Quinn used it as an opportunity to remind Illinois residents. “Over the Fourth of July weekend, it’s important that all residents stay safe while celebrating, especially out on Illinois waterways,” Quinn stated in a news release. He continued: “While boating is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, everyone has to take precautions and follow the rules to keep drivers and passengers out of harm’s way. These new laws will help make Illinois lakes and rivers safer and more enjoyable for all…”

New Boating Legislation

The Chicago Democrat signed off on three measures at a ceremony that took place off the shores of Lake Michigan. These new measures focused on:

      • Require boaters to take safety courses
      • Create rules for towing people on water tubes or skies
      • Impose stricter boater DUI penalties

DUI on the Water

Being charged with a DUI on the water is much different than being charged with a DUI on the road. Quinn hopes that with this new legislation in place, boaters will realize how extreme a boating DUI offense is. State officials reported that there have been 16 deaths due to boating incidents this year, and many supporters of the new safety laws believe that all of these deaths could have been avoided.

While road DUI fatalities are much steeper than boating fatalities, no death is warranted. “Boats are every bit as dangerous as cars, and boat operators should be held to the same standard as drivers,” stated Senator Julie Morrison, who backs the new legislation.

The new law states that a person who is convicted of three boat DUIs, or those caught operating a boat with a license that has already been revoked, could have their boat taken from them. This law also applies to any boat operators who have been convicted of a reckless homicide, accidental death, or accidental injury.

Many supporters of the stricter laws hope that boaters will take safety more seriously, especially when boating on holidays. Besides boating DUIs, Quinn approved legislation that makes it mandatory for boaters to display a foot-long orange flag on the highest point of the boat while towing in people who are jet-skiing, or tubing. The last measure – beginning in 2016, Illinois residents born after January 1st, 1998, must be certified by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to operate a watercraft with more than a 10 horsepower engine.

Call a Chicago DUI Attorney for the Assistance you Deserve

If you or a loved one are facing a DUI allegation, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Office of J. Samuel Worley. Our Chicago DUI Attorneys are extremely supportive, and are knowledgeable in cases similar to yours. We offer free, confidential consultations to those in need. Call us today: 312-953-LAW1

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Colorado Recreation Marijuana Industry – Revenue Less than Estimated

While Illinois State lawmakers are looking to legalize medical marijuana for around 10,000 Illinois patients in need, several states have had similar laws in place for years. In fact, Colorado (as well as Washington) not only legalized medical marijuana, but allow marijuana to be used for recreational purposes.

Colorado marijuana state laws have recently made the news when State Officials scaled back prior estimates about the state’s retail marijuana industry. Those estimates were believed to be upwards of $1 billion in sales this coming fiscal year, but as of May, the industry has collected about 4.2 million in sales and excise taxes.

The drug was first legalized the year 2012 in Colorado after an overwhelming vote, but the revenue from sales unfortunately isn’t as much as local Colorado governments were hoping for. The lead economist at Denver-based Colorado Futures Center of Colorado State University spoke on the issue: “I don’t think it’s the savior for state budgets,” she began, “It brings in additional revenue, but it also brings in additional costs for administration of the system and regulation and monitoring. It’s not free money.”

And so it’s becoming extremely evident that it really isn’t free money, and the industry should not be relied on to patch holes of a sinking ship. There are many reasons why the industry hasn’t come close to estimations. Below is a list of possible reasons:

  • Slow licensing and approval

With new markets, at the beginning, licensing can often be slow. Still working out the kinks (similarly to what we are seeing in Illinois) can take time. It also doesn’t help that there is a:

  • Shortage of product 

Not being able to keep up with demands can hurt revenue immensely. This shortage caused early sales to fall short, and making up that for that revenue loss will be difficult.

  • Medical Marijuana over Recreational sales 

More cannabis users are going the medical marijuana route instead of buying recreationally. This is because the tax on medical marijuana is taxed at a lower rate than retail marijuana.

  • Uncertainty 

Because it’s a relevantly new market, it’s hard to know what is going to happen with the Marijuana industry. The Governor first requested $75 million, but scaled back his proposal by $21 million (down to a 54 million request). It’s believed that the market will most likely follow suit of other “sin levies” industries, such as cigarettes and alcohol, which represent a fraction of states general-fund budget.

In years to come, more Colorado cites are looking to expand their marijuana retail stores. As of now, the only businesses that are legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana are businesses that have already been approved to sell marijuana for medical purposes.

Steadman, the vice-chairmen of the Joint-Budget Committee stated, “We’re trying to maintain a strong nexus between the tax that’s collected on legal marijuana sales and the expenditures that are being made, in that they are all related to substance use, abuse, prevention and treatment and law enforcement.”

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“The governor didn’t get everything he wanted,” said Steadman. While this may be true, the marijuana industry is still new. Once hurdles are overcome, the industry may see closer to the revenue state lawmakers desire.

Though positive changes the marijuana prohibition are being made in Colorado and Washington, recreational use in Illinois is still illegal. If you find yourself in a tough situation, and need legal advice, please contact The Office of J. Samuel Worley, LCC’s Chicago drug criminal defense lawyers for the support you need. We offer free, confidential to all those needing more information. Contact us today: 312-953-LAW1

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Illinois is One step Closer to Legalization

In recent news, Illinois State lawmakers have begun to finalize plans to allow medical marijuana to be bought and sold for patients that apply for an ID card this fall. This means that patients may be able to legally purchase as early as next spring. While it seems like things are moving along for the new industry, there are a few major kinks left to straighten out. Below is a list of those hurdles:

  • Who will get a license?

Before patients have the access they need to medical marijuana, State regulators have to figure out which business will get a license.  Before the chosen licensed business can buy or sell pot, they will need to follow laboratory procedures to test that each plant is safe for patient use.

The regulators hope to sketch up a list of criteria that will make the process simple and efficient within the next month. This list will test each business that applies for a license, and will help determine which of them will be allowed to sell medical marijuana. The state will like to approve 21 cultivation centers and up to 60 retail stores for selling and growing. This criterion is based on security, patient education, and expertise on growing the plant. Likewise the Illinois Department of Agriculture has started to convey one of their labs into a testing center. This center will be used to test incoming plants for mold, pesticides, or for anything that may be deemed harmful for a patient to ingest.

  • Where will the Marijuana seedlings come from?

Owner of the Grand Prairie Farms in Frankfort, Bryan Willmer, answers this questions joking: “I guess [the seeds] should fall from the sky.” Willmer is one of many farmers hoping to obtain a license, but are unsure of how they will cultivate seeds legally to start growing. Farmers are eager to see if the state has a plan, and the officials said that they are working on this issue.

  • Who will receive an ID card?

Illinois will have some of the strictest rules on medical marijuana of the 23 states that have approved the buying/selling/and growing of the plant. Because of this, many patients will not be approved for an ID card. In fact, state regulators are requiring patients to have a doctor certify that they have one of three dozen specific conditions like HIV, cancer, and other serious conditions. Patients who are suffering from severe pain most likely will not be approved. Illinois will also require industry owners, and potential ID cardholders to go through a criminal background check – Illinois is the only state that will require fingerprints.

  • High Costs

State officials have placed high entry fees on patients in hopes to stabilize the industry. Business operators need enough capital to maintain. A lot of marijuana advocates feel the initial fee, $100 plus 8 percent sales tax, for clients is extremely steep, as well as the fees required of licensed businesses — $200,00 of the initial license, 500,000 in liquid assets, and dispensaries – 30,000 for a license, 400,000 in liquid assets

Projected to help 10,000 qualified Illinois Patients — Only the beginning

Marijuana has been approved for medical use in several states, such as Colorado, for many years. State regulators have taken great steps towards helping many Illinois patients who will be approved for medical marijuana use. Marijuana has been studied to help relieve pain, tremors and nausea with less side effects than a number of medications. Members of the Marijuana Policy Project estimate Illinois will have about 10,000 qualified patients.

The Law Office of J. Samuel Worley’s Chicago criminal defense lawyers are happy to see good people get the help they deserve. We offer free, confidential consultations to those in need, because we whole-heartily believe that everyone has the right to feel supported. If you find yourself needing legal advice, please do not hesitate to contact our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today: 312-953-LAW1 

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Congresswoman Nita M. Lowry introduces New Law to Help Reduce Repeat DUI Offences

More than 10,000 people die each year due to drunk driving. “In my mind, driving drunk only once is one time too many,” states Congresswoman Nita M. Lowry, who recently proposed a new law that mandates all convicted drunk driving offenders have a ignition interlock installed in their cars for no less than 6 months after their arrest. The law, Alisa’s law, was named in honor of the daughter of the current president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving — Jan Withers. Withers’ daughter, Alisa Joy, was killed in 1992 by an underage drunk driver.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, data suggests that nearly one-third of all DUI arrests and convictions involve a repeat drunk driving offender. MADD also found through a compilation of studies that state that the average DUI offender has driven inebriated 87 times before being caught. Alisa’s Law targets this large group of repeat offenders head on.

“Naming this legislation after my daughter is an honor, and a message to the public that the fight against drunk driving is not going to end until there are no more victims of this violent crime,” Withers goes on to explain. States with similar laws in place have seen a great decrease in drunken driving deaths since the law was put in place. MADD goes on to explain that states, such as Oregon and Arizona, have decreased drunken driving deaths by more than 40 percent.

The bill was introduced by Representative Nita Lowry last week on Tuesday, July 8th.  If the bill is passed, it will mean be a big win for Withers, and for MADD. National Transportation Safety Board, AAA, and many other large safety organization stand with MADD, and have endorsed the concept.

Eliminating drunk driving is a large feat, but MADD hopes that the passing of Alisa’s Law will be the push they need to continue efforts. While safe driving is always important, The Law Offices of J. Samuel Worley, LLC understands that mistakes can be made. If you are charged with a DUI, the Chicago DUI Criminal Defense Attorneys at The Law offices of J. Samuel Worley, LLC want to help. We offer support and legal advice to those who need it. Contact us today to set up a confidential and free initial consultation: 312-600-8655

U.S. Supreme Court Stands behind California State Ruling and DUI Machines Reliability

In December of 2007, Terry Vangelder was stopped by a patrolman in San Diego County after driving his pickup truck at the dangerous speed of 125mph. With Vangelder’s consent, the patrolman tested his blood alcohol content. The results suggested that Vangelder was driving with a blood alcohol content of .095 percent. Administering a second test, the results showed Vangelder at .086 percent – just .006 over legal limit.

Cases like these occur all the time, making many question the reliability of DUI machines. One California motorist expressed his concerns for the machines, and at the end of last Month the Supreme Court answered – with rejection.

Backing up the state of California, the Supreme Court refused to hear Vangelder’s trial, inadvertently asserting the State Court ruling correct. The Supreme Court determined that the blood alcohol machines used in California are accurate, and will continue to be used to illustrate a person’s blood alcohol content. As the machines have been studied by legislature and have been certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Supreme Court believes this is enough evidence to support the machines dependability. Because of this conclusion, the defense is unable to present any testimony from a scientist that suggests differently. This ruling is a huge blow to the defense’s argument.

Though the defense was unable to prove that the machine is defective in design, the Supreme Court will allow a defendant to try to show that a particular machine was defective or improperly used when the test was administered.

During Vangelder’s trial, Michael Hlastala, a professor of medicine and physiology at University of Washington, testified in Vangelder’s favor. Through studies, Hlastala stated that breath-testing machines are unpredictable because of the breathing patterns of a person. Blood content machines test the content of exhaled air. If a person has a heavier/lighter breathing pattern, the machine may read their blood alcohol content much differently. These variables make it difficult to accurately test the air that is deep in a person’s lungs and what’s closer to the bloodstream.

Unfortunately for Vangelder, the Supreme Court refused to take up the case. The trial judge believed Hlastala’s testimony to be speculative, and Vangelder was fined close to $2,000.

If you have been in a similar situation, and feel that the machine used to test your blood alcohol content was either defective or used improperly, do not hesitate to seek the legal advice you deserve. Call the Law Offices of J. Samuel Worley for a free consultation: 312-953-LAW1  

 

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A 19 year-old Kills a Construction Worker While Driving Under the Influence in Chicago

Around 4am on Saturday, June 21st, 19 year old Erick Lopez allegedly crashed into a construction site while driving under the influence. This crash was fatal, killing an innocent bystander (who was working construction), as well as injuring himself and two passengers that he (Lopez) was driving. The accident took place at the 4900 block of South Western Avenue.

According to The Chicago Tribune, Lopez had a blood content of .195 at the time of the accident – more than twice the legal limit of .08. The construction working who was killed as a result of the accident was 58 year old Jose Tafoya, who leaves behind four children, and two young grandchildren. Tafoya, a man from Merrillville, Indiana, was described as a “hard working and responsible man,” by his nephew Luis Paz, who went on to state that his uncle was a family man who, “…had a lot of dreams.” Lopez wove in and out of construction site barriers that were placed for safety before hitting Tofoya, sending him several feet.

Lopez remains hospitalized for his injuries, and was unable to appear in court. Lopez was charged with reckless homicide in a construction zone, aggravated DUI resulting in an accidental death, misdemeanor for having no car insurance, as well as failure to carry/display a valid driver’s license, improper lane usage, and failure to reduce speed. Mr. Lopez was ordered to be held without bail.

Prior to the accident, Lopez and the injured passengers were at a party where Lopez had been in a fight. Lopez was seen driving at a high rate of speed (according to a witness), swerving in and out of construction barriers before ultimately hitting Tafoya. According to court records, several other construction workers were injured. One of the passengers suffers from head and spinal injuries, and the other passenger facial injuries. The woman passenger and Lopez were taken to the Mount Sinai Hospital, and the other passenger was taken to John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County, according to the police.

Practicing safe driving is imperative, no matter if driving on a long country road or through a construction site. If you find yourself facing DUI allegations, it’s important for you to get the help you need. While a crash may only take a minute, the repercussions could last a lifetime. The Law Offices of J. Samuel Worley offer free consultation to those in need.

Do not hesitate to call: 312-953-LAW1    

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