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DuPage County criminal defense attorney search and seizure

Many different acts constitute criminal offenses in Illinois. In order to convict someone of a crime, however, there must be evidence that proves he or she committed the act. This proof often comes from items, fingerprints, or photographs taken at the scene of the alleged crime. The most common reason why evidence is suppressed, and charges are reduced or dismissed altogether, is due to an illegal search and seizure by police. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine if the evidence in your case was obtained through a legal search warrant. 

Different Types of Search Warrants 

The Federal Constitution’s Fourth Amendment gives Americans the right to “reasonable” search and seizures of a person and his or her property. The fundamental purpose of this legislation is to protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by governmental officials. 

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Itasca immigration lawyerThe path to U.S. citizenship can be complicated for someone coming from another country, especially when a language barrier is involved. There are various legal steps that must be taken to ensure legal entry to the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that oversees the country’s immigration and naturalization process. Obtaining lawful permanent resident (LPR) status means an immigrant will receive what is called a Green Card. This is an important step in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization.

Grounds for Deportation

The U.S. government has the right to remove an undocumented immigrant from the country under certain circumstances. A criminal conviction is one of the most common reasons that an individual would be deported. While not all crimes are grounds for deportation, violent offenses in addition to the smuggling of undocumented immigrants into the United States may warrant an immigrant to be removed. These grounds typically include aggravated felony convictions or more than one conviction for criminal offenses that carry a jail sentence of more than one year. It is important to note that a jail sentence does not have to be served to warrant deportation or removal.

Below are a few of the criminal acts that can lead to deportation or removal from the United States:

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Itasca traffic violations attorneyCoronavirus has affected millions of people all over the world. The global pandemic caused many non-essential businesses to temporarily shut down in states’ efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Here in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order that has been in effect for the past several months. As a result, the typically congested Chicagoland area roads have been much emptier. However, despite fewer people commuting to work or for extracurricular activities, there has been an increase in the number of traffic accidents. Studies show there may be various reasons for these statistics, namely traffic violations.  

Illinois Moving Violations 

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), Illinois saw an 11 percent increase in traffic fatalities compared to the first three months of 2019. This is despite a significant decrease in the number of miles Americans drove as COVID-19 restrictions were put in place across the state. Not all motorists are intentionally committing a violation or driving recklessly, however. In some cases, some people may not have driven at all during the coronavirus crisis. Understandably, they may be a bit rusty behind the wheel while navigating the city streets or highways. With so much uncertainty on everyone’s minds these days, a driver can accidentally forget some of the rules of the road. In addition, something as simple as a burnt-out headlight or taillight can result in a traffic infraction. 

A few of the most common traffic violations Illinois drivers can be charged with include: 

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Itasca immigration lawyerPeople across the globe dream of immigrating to the United States for a better life. In some cases, they may have family members who are already in the country and want to join them. For some, seeking asylum here offers freedom from persecution. In other scenarios, individuals may come to America specifically for employment reasons. Regardless of the reasons, once an immigrant lawfully enters this country, he or she will likely need to find a job to support himself or herself. If someone has a family, it may be even more critical to find work. Building a new life in a different country can be daunting, and trying to find a job may be especially difficult. Below is some practical advice for finding work once you complete the immigration process. 

Understanding Your Work Options

If you want to work in the United States legally, you will need to gain official permission by obtaining a work visa. Through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal government offers various visas for different purposes. Some are for a temporary period of time, while others are permanent. Foreign nationals who wish to work in the United States for a short time would obtain non-immigrant visas. These documents are not necessarily intended to provide a path to permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship. 

Each year, the U.S. government offers a certain number of employment-based (EB) visas that allow workers to remain and work in the States permanently. The majority of EB visas are allotted for employees who possess specialized skills or whose work is considered valuable to the United States.

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Itasca criminal defense lawyer domestic violenceUnfortunately, not every married couple lives happily ever after. Life can present its fair share of challenges, such as a job loss or the death of a close friend or relative, and these issues can put a significant strain on a relationship. Some spouses may turn to alcohol or drugs as a means of coping with stress. When controlled substances are added into the mix, arguments can escalate and even lead to physical confrontations in certain situations. According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. If you find yourself facing charges of domestic violence, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. In some cases, the accusations may be based on false information or inadequate evidence.  

Illinois Domestic Violence Act

According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, it is a crime if a person hits, chokes, kicks, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of a household or family member. Under the law, this can include the following individuals:

  • Family members related by blood

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The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has changed the way we live in just a matter of months. Local governments have issued “stay at home” orders and non-essential businesses have been closed for an indefinite amount of time. Individuals across the globe are practicing social distancing in an effort to flatten the curve for the number of new cases. Recently, the U.S. federal government announced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The largest economic relief bill in U.S. history, the stimulus package will allocate $2.2 trillion in support to individuals and businesses affected by the economic plunge due to the virus. Those people who are in the midst of the U.S. immigration application process may be wondering how the CARES Act will affect their cases, especially in regards to the new Public Charge rule. 

Public Charge Rule 

Itasca immigration lawyerIn response to the coronavirus crisis, USCIS recently announced that the Public Charge rule cannot restrict access to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases, including COVID-19. A Public Charge is defined as an individual who cannot support themselves through employment, financial assets, or assistance from family and instead relies on government benefits. According to U.S. immigration law, an individual who is considered likely to become a public charge is “inadmissible.” This means that they can be denied a Green Card or visa to be admitted into the country. The new Public Charge rule expands the types of publicly funded programs that are used to assess if a person is likely to become a public charge in the future. 

Certain immigrants who are residing in the United States, such as DACA recipients, may be eligible for the COVID-19 stimulus package payment that is on its way to families and individuals. However, some are concerned that this payment could be classified as a public benefit, which could influence a public charge determination later. 

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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerLaws are put in place at the local, state, and federal levels in an effort to protect society. As technology continues to advance, existing laws may need to be amended to remain relevant and effective. More than 200 new laws went into effect in Illinois at the start of the new year, impacting a number of different areas. Some of this new legislation affects the fines and penalties for various traffic violations. If motorists choose to disregard or disobey any traffic law, they may be subject to criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.  

Punishment for Violating Scott’s Law 

Scott’s Law applies to Illinois motorists who pass any police or emergency vehicle that is stopped along the roadway. Scott’s Law requires drivers to slow down, switch lanes, and proceed with caution when approaching emergency or disabled vehicles on the side of the road. As of January 1, 2020, the fines and penalties for breaking the law increased. Now, the fine for a first offense is $250 and $750 for consecutive violations. The new law also established the Scott’s Law Fund, which hires Illinois State Police off-duty troopers to enforce Scott’s Law. Additionally, the fund develops educational materials to increase awareness of the law and the importance of driving safely. 

Fines Regarding School and Work Zones

In Illinois, and throughout the country, school zones have lower speed limits than other roadways to protect children. Speeding in a school zone can result in a traffic violation. As of January 1, 2020, the fines for illegally passing a stopped school bus doubled, from $150 to $300 for the first violation and from $500 to $1,000 for a second or subsequent violation. 

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Posted on in Immigration

DuPage County immigrant visa attorney

When does the New Public Charge Rule take effect?

Adjustment of Status Applications filed on or after Monday, February 24, 2020 will be subject to the new rule.

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Posted on in Immigration

DuPage County adjustment of status attorney

On Monday, February 24, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is mandating the implementation of its new Public Charge Rule across the United States.

History

It has been part of immigration law since 1882 that those coming to the United States could not become a public charge, meaning that one emigrating to the United States could not expect the U.S. government to provide financial support to the intending immigrant. The term initially used was “professional beggars.”

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Itasca immigration attorneyThe U.S. immigration process can be a confusing and time-consuming endeavor. However, regulations, policies, and procedures are put in place to protect the country and its citizens from harm. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that governs how a citizen of a foreign country can legally live and work in the United States or become a naturalized U.S. citizen. A foreign national who seeks to enter the United States must first obtain a U.S. visa. There are various visas available depending on a person’s circumstances and intentions. 

Opportunities Through Employment 

There are two main categories of visas — Nonimmigrant and Immigrant. Nonimmigrant visas are for traveling to the United States on a temporary basis. Immigrant visas allow foreigners to live permanently in the United States. 

One common type of visa is the H-1B. This is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers in the United States. Since it is a company-sponsored visa, an employer must offer a person a job and petition for their H-1B visa through the U.S. immigration department. The approved petition acts as a work permit that allows an individual to obtain a visa stamp and work in the United States for a specified amount of time.

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Itasca property crimes attorneyThere are many acts that constitute a criminal offense in the United States. However, not everyone might know that certain actions that can result in an arrest, and they may be unaware of the potential punishments. In Illinois, a property crime is defined as the theft or destruction of another person’s property. Depending on the circumstances, the charges can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, with varying penalties if someone is convicted. It is important to note that property is not just limited to a piece of land or a personal possession, such as a house, a vehicle, or expensive artwork. In some cases, intellectual property can be stolen, which refers to inventions, writings and artwork, designs, names, symbols, and images. Essentially, anything of value to the owner can be considered property.  

Examples of Property Crimes

There are many different types of property crimes according to Illinois law. These can include the following acts or behaviors: 

  • Arson

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Itasca criminal defense lawyerThe phrase “violent crimes” can refer to various types of criminal offenses. Under Illinois law, violent crimes involve harm or the threat of harm to another person. One of the most serious of these offenses is homicide. Illinois law distinguishes between the types or “levels” of homicide as follows: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and involuntary manslaughter/reckless homicide. The main difference between the crimes is the state of mind of the alleged offender at the time of the killing. Generally, this means one act may be intentional or premeditated, while another may be accidental. This key distinction can be very important in building a criminal defense strategy for the defendant. 

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most serious homicide charge. According to Illinois law, it is defined as intending to kill or do great bodily harm to another person, while knowing that the act would cause death, and without lawful justification. In other words, the perpetrator acted intentionally, and the killing was not committed in self-defense. 

Felony murder refers to a legal doctrine that states that if a defendant commits a forcible felony (such as armed robbery), and that act results in someone’s death, the offender can be charged with first-degree murder as a result of that death.

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DuPage County preference-based visa attorney

The answer is maybe. There is a rule called cross-chargeability, which might help. Cross-chargeability allows the beneficiary of a preference category visa petition to be assigned to a country other than that of his or her birth for visa bulletin purposes. This rule allows cross-chargeability between one spouse to another spouse, from parents to their children, and on rare occasions based on the place of habitual residence. Note that children may derive alternative chargeability through their parents, but parents cannot derive from children.

The reason to allow children and/or spouses with different birth countries to use cross-chargeability is to avoid family separation, which immigration law seeks to avoid even though it does not always seem that way. Let us see how cross-chargeability works.

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DuPage County family-based immigration visa attorney

As we all know, if you are the beneficiary of a preference category family-based immigrant petition, the wait can be long. It can be very long. And life goes on. However, no one wants to lose their place in line for eventual immigration to the United States and understanding the Visa Bulletin is key to maintaining your place in line. First, knowing what categories are available is important.

Note, however, those spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens are considered Immediate Relatives and are not subject to wait for an available visa. This category is numerically unlimited.

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DuPage County preference-based visa attorney

Every month around the 10th of the month, the Department of State publishes the monthly Visa Bulletin, which lists the availability of preference-based visas for family- and employment-based categories.

You might have noticed that there are two tables for each category—Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing. USCIS will indicate every month which chart can be used. But first, what does each chart mean?

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DuPage County fiance visa attorney

These days, people often marry individuals who are not from the same country as them. The ease of travel and increase of students studying abroad has provided Americans with the opportunity to meet friends and possible life partners outside of U.S. borders. Marrying someone from a different culture can lead to an exciting life. Not only are you merging two cultures, but you also must decide where you will live. This can be a difficult decision to make, and many couples decide to remain in the U.S. Making the decision to stay in the United States and getting an approved visa are two different processes altogether. Wanting to stay in America and getting this approval is not as simple as booking a flight home. In these cases, you need the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. 

The “Fiancé” Visa

Applying for and obtaining an immigration visa can be difficult. Before embarking on the long legal journey ahead of you, it is important to do research to find which visa applies to your situation. The visa for foreign fiancés marrying a U.S. citizen is known as a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Before the application process can even begin, those couples who are planning on getting married in the United States must file a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. This is the first step in the right direction. This petition will allow your fiancé to legally enter the country before the marriage occurs.

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DuPage County immigration visa lawyer

No one can say definitively what future visa bulletins will look like, but Charlie Oppenheim, the U.S. Department of State’s Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division, occasionally provides some insight into visa number trends and we are sharing them with you.

Family-Based Preference Categories 

We have been happy to see the F2A (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old of legal permanent resident) category across the board staying current recently, and the trend continues. Charlie reports that demand in this category remains low and there is no indication that a limiting date will be imposed in the near future. This is encouraging news!

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DuPage County immigration visa attorney

If you are the beneficiary of a family-based or employment-based visa petition that is subject to the preference categories (mostly everyone who is not an immediate relative—spouse, parent, or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen), then you should know that Charlie Oppenheim is the Department of State’s Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division. He is responsible for issuing the monthly Visa Bulletin. The monthly Visa Bulletin indicates visa availability for any given month.

Understanding Visa Availability

In the immigration process, visa availability is important because you cannot receive an immigrant visa (outside the United States) or get your green card (inside the United States) unless a visa number is available to you. When your petitioner files the I-130 or Labor Certification for you, the date the government receives the filing becomes your Priority Date—your place in line for a visa. The Visa Bulletin indicates visa availability by Priority Date.

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DuPage County Green Card AttorneyOn October 4, 2019, President Trump issued the following Presidential Proclamation called the Presidential Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry of Immigration Who Will Financially Burden the United States Healthcare System.  The basic requirement of the Proclamation is that those seeking an immigrant visa to enter the United States must have health insurance within 30 days of entry to the United States.  This Proclamation looks daunting so I will break it down by applicability and then impact on your relative’s immigration to the United States.

When does this Proclamation go into effect?

The new healthcare requirement is scheduled to go into effect on November 3, 2019 but may be delayed by potential lawsuits challenging its implementation.  Our firm, Ana M. Mencini & Associates, P.C., monitors changes in immigration law and procedure closely and we will publish updates regarding the implementation dates for this Proclamation.

Who is subject to the Proclamation?

Persons applying for immigrant visas (green cards) from outside the United States are impacted.  That is to say that when a person attends an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, the immigrant visa may be denied if that person lacks health insurance in the U.S. or appears to be unable to obtain healthcare benefits which are even partly subsidized by U.S. taxpayers.  This includes not only Medicaid, but even coverage which is, in part, subsidized under the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare).

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DuPage County weapons offensesGun laws vary significantly from state to state. Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws and associated criminal penalties in the country. Illinois residents who violate firearm laws can face heavy fines and years of incarceration as a result. If you or someone you know has been charged with a firearm-related crime, it is crucial that you speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney to learn about your defense options.

Gun Owners Must Obtain a FOID Card

Illinois residents who wish to legally own a firearm or ammunition must obtain a Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) from the Illinois State Police. Other than certain individuals who are exempt from this rule, such as members of the Armed Forces, anyone caught owning a firearm without a FOID card can face criminal consequences. Having a firearm in your possession without a FOID card is considered a petty offense in some circumstances and a felony offense in other circumstances.While this might seem like a rather dramatic range, there are many variables that must be taken into account by prosecutors. 

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Owning a gun with an expired FOID card that has been expired for six months or less is typically only a petty offense. If you own a gun without a FOID card but you qualify for a FOID card, you can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor unlawful possession of a firearm offense. This crime is punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $2,500. A second or subsequent FOID violation can be considered a Class 4 felony offense punishable by three years’ imprisonment and heavy fines. 

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