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Domestic violence allegations and charges are very serious, and oftentimes they can be brought upon a person without much concrete evidence outside of a he said, she said argument. Nobody should be victimized by domestic assault, but on the other side of the coin, a person shouldn’t have their life ruined over false allegations or embellished accounts of an incident. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at the penalties for domestic assault in Illinois, what factors can result in felony-level charges, and common defenses to domestic assault charges.

Penalties For Domestic Violence In Illinois

Under Illinois law, basic domestic battery is considered a misdemeanor offense, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and fines up to $2,500. The law states that domestic battery occurs when a person commits an act of physical violence towards someone with whom they have a familial or intimate relationship. You can also be charged with misdemeanor domestic battery if you have contact with a family or household member in an insulting or provoking nature, although this is the less common form of the crime.

These penalties are severe, and because of the nature of the crime, Illinois does not allow this conviction to be expunged or sealed from a defendant’s record. Moreover, if certain factors are present, the crime can quickly transition from a misdemeanor to a felony-level offense. Aggravating factors that could lead to upgraded charges include:


5 Actions that Could Hurt Your Child Custody Case

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Whether you’re going through a divorce or a breakup, the matter becomes significantly more complex if children are involved. Even when the split is mutual, figuring out a child custody agreement can be difficult, and many times parents can’t come to a decision and the court has to get involved. It’s always best to try to settle things with the other party instead of it being up to a judge, but if it ends up being decided by a family law judge, they will look at a number of different factors to develop a child custody agreement.

But what factors will they look at, and what choices could negatively affect your chances of getting a favorable child custody agreement? We take a closer look at some factors that could hurt your child custody case in Illinois in today’s blog.

What Could Tank Your Child Custody Case?

Here’s a look at a number of the factors a judge will look at when determining the best arrangement for a child in the wake of a parental split.


Probation and parole are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to two very different situations here in Illinois. We believe it’s important that our clients and anyone who may find themselves facing criminal charges know the distinction between parole and probation, so we’re going to explain how Illinois views each in today’s blog.

Probation In Illinois

First, let’s look at probation. Probation is its own form of sentencing, which can’t be said for parole, but more on that later. Probation is the most common sentencing tool in America, and it essentially functions br providing rules that an offender must follow in order to avoid a harsher sentence. For example, if you consumed alcohol and then started a fight in a bar, a judge may sentence you to probation instead of a jail sentence.

The terms of probation vary based on the individual and the charges. In the above example, the offender may be required to remain sober for six months, avoid bars or establishments that serve alcohol during that time frame, and attend alcohol and anger management counseling. If that person abides by the rules set in their probation, they can avoid jail and may even have the charge reduced or dropped altogether.


If you have a legal dispute with someone in which the total amount of damages sought is less than $10,000, you can have the matter settled in what’s known as small claims court. If you were struck by someone backing out of the grocery store and want them to cover your medical bills, or if someone failed to uphold their end of a contract, you can seek compensation in small claims court. However, like most court proceedings, there are deadlines that must be met in order to file your claim. Below, we look at the time limits and statute of limitations in small claims cases in Illinois.

Small Claims Time Limits In Illinois

Small claims court is a form of civil court where you can sue another party for $10,000 or less in damages. These cases are often resolved much sooner than criminal law or family law cases, and a person is less likely to have a lawyer in a small claims cases compared to those other types of law. With that said, having a lawyer by your side substantially increases your odds of winning your small claims cases.

We understand that it has to make financial sense in order for you to retain a lawyer in a small claims case, but if you’re seeking a four-figure payout, it’s likely in your best interest to at least consult with a lawyer at the outset of your case to talk about all your options. Even if you don’t move forward with that lawyer by your side, that first free consultation could make all the difference in your case.


We expected that recreational marijuana sales would boom in the first few weeks of 2020, but even we didn’t expect that number to approach $20 million in sales.

Recreational marijuana became legal to purchase in Illinois on January 1 of this year, and in the first 12 days of legalization the state has done nearly $20 million in sales, including $13 million in the first week. Compared to the other eight states in the US that allow recreational marijuana, only California had more sales in its first week with nearly $15 million in sales. There’s a good chance that Illinois would have outpaced California if not for the fact that some dispensaries were forced to shut down sales because of a shortage of product in the first week.

Not surprisingly, sales peaked the first day that recreational marijuana use became legal, as people lined up for blocks in some areas to purchase the plant. Illinois did nearly $3.2 million in sales on the first day. Here’s a closer look at some statistics from the first 12 days of legal sales:


Statute Of Limitation For Sex Crimes Expands

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Sex crimes are some of the most heinous crimes on the books, and because of the nature of the crime, some victims are reluctant to speak up and come forward about the incident. In an effort to help victims take the time they need to process the event and still hold the perpetrator accountable for their actions, Illinois has expanded the statute of limitations to give victims more time to report the crime.

The new law, which became official on January 1, removes the time limits that prosecutors have to bring charges against a person accused of certain sex crimes. Under the old system, victims had three years to file a police report and 10 years to press charges. Now there are no time constraints for individuals to file a report in cases of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Illinois had previously dropped statute of limitations requirements for what they classified as major sex crimes on persons under the age of 18 back in 2017, but the new change provides expanded protections to people of all ages.

Statute Of Limitations In Illinois Sex Crimes

There are some benefits and drawbacks of this new change. For starters, it’s great that sex crime victims now have as much time as they need to process the incident and move forward in the direction they choose. Some people need longer than others to find some normalcy after a sexual assault, and it’s a good thing that the state isn’t dictating exactly how long someone has to process the trauma. Overall, this is a good thing for sexual assault survivors.


As of January 1, recreational marijuana is now legal to purchase, possess and smoke in the state of Illinois. There are plenty of regulations that come with its legalization, as you can’t just smoke anywhere or buy from anyone, but the most notable is how the state handles driving under the influence of marijuana. Below, we take a closer look at how Illinois views driving under the influence of marijuana, and we explore the regulations so you don’t end up in handcuffs.

Can I Drive After Smoking Marijuana?

Marijuana has been linked to drowsiness and delayed reaction times among other things, so for those reasons and more, the state has made it illegal for anyone to get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana. It is legal to ride in a vehicle under the influence of marijuana as a passenger, but the state has made it illegal to smoke marijuana while riding in a vehicle, even if it’s your car or a friend’s vehicle.

The law specifically states that “a driver may not operate a motor vehicle while impaired by the use of cannabis, whether used medically or recreationally,” and recreational marijuana may only be transported in odor-proof and child resistant containers. We’ll touch on citations for possession violations in a future blog, but for today, we’re going to focus on driving under the influence.


Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Transportation and more than 200 local police and sheriff’s departments will be conducting extra DUI enforcement to help keep people safe through the holidays. The extra enforcement is part of the annual holiday “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign to help keep our roads safer.

“The holidays should be a time for celebrating and making memories, not tragedy and loss,” said Cynthia Watters, IDOT’s bureau chief of Safety Programs and Engineering. “With all the festivities, it is essential to plan for a sober ride home before the celebration begins. To help save lives, law enforcement will be cracking down on those who choose to drive impaired.”

The extra campaign is currently underway and will run until the early-morning hours of January 2.


5 New Criminal Laws Coming To Illinois In 2020

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The new year is almost here, and a whole host of laws will go into effect when the calendar turns to 2020. Many of these laws are small changes that will happen behind the scenes, but there are also some bigger changes that could impact your life. Below, we take a look at five changes that will affect criminal law, and we explain what they mean for you in the new year.

New Laws Coming January 1

Here’s a look at five legal changes that will impact criminal law in Illinois in 2020.

  1. Recreational Marijuana – When you ring in the new year, it will become legal to buy and smoke marijuana in Illinois. HB 1438 will officially go into effect on January 1, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. Adults over the age of 21 will have legal access to marijuana sold in dispensaries across the state. It’s still illegal to sell marijuana without proper licensing or to grow it without being a registered medical marijuana patient, but possessing and smoking it will become legal. It will still be illegal to smoke in public places, so you can’t just light up in a bar or park, but it will become legal in private residences.
  2. Increasing Scott’s Law Penalties – SB 1862 will increase the fines and penalties for anyone breaking Scott’s Law, which requires motorists to change lanes or slow down when approaching a disabled or emergency vehicle on the side of the highway. Fines will increase to $250 for a first offense and $750 for a subsequent violation. Additional funding will also be made available so that the law can be better enforced.
  3. More Diverse Jury Pools – SB 1378 will now prohibit the exclusion of anyone from jury duty based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. “Ensuring jury pools represent the diversity of Illinois is a vital part of ensuring our criminal justice system is fair,” said Sen. Toi Hutchinson, who sponsored the measure.
  4. Highway Shootings – The Illinois Expressway Safety Act will upgrade more than 600 cameras on state highways to improve their recording capabilities. Before you get worried that they will be used to catch you speeding down the highway, HB 331 states that the images captured from these cameras can only be used in offenses involving firearms or in the detection of highway hazards.
  5. Defining Consent – Finally, SB 3550 states that sex education classes in Illinois must include age-appropriate discussions on the meaning of consent. The new law also states what must be covered during these classes, including the fact that consent can be withdrawn at any time and that past consent does not constitute future consent. “We cannot wait until students go to college or into the workplace to have a discussion about what it means to consent to sexual interaction,” said State Rep. Ann Williams, who sponsored the bill.

For help with any of your legal needs in 2020, give Appelman Law a call today.

The holiday season is in full swing, and as more consumers than ever are doing their holiday shopping online, millions of packages are being left unattended on doorsteps and in apartment lobbies. These unattended packages make for easy targets for thieves, and while it may not seem like a huge crime to take someone else’s delivery, it can easily add up to felony charges in Illinois, even if you take just one small box.

The reason you can be hit with a felony charge is because the severity of the charges you’ll face depend on the value of the product you are taking. Many porch pirates are hoping to score an expensive item when they take a package from someone’s doorstep, but that same high-value package can lead to felony charges. Here’s a closer look at how Illinois handles felony theft charges.

Felony Theft Charges For Porch Pirates

Under Illinois law, a person will be charged with misdemeanor theft if the value of the item or items stolen is less than $500. So in theory, a person could get caught with 20 packages in their vehicle after stealing from a residential neighborhood, but if all they got away with was a dog leash, some outlet covers, a new turkey baster and some other cheap goods, they may only face misdemeanor theft charges.

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