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marijuana, decriminalization, Illinois Defense LawyerA bill that would make low-level marijuana possession a civil offense comparable to a traffic ticket failed to garner the full support of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner earlier this month. Instead, the Republican governor sent the measure back to the legislature with his proposed amendments. Under the provisions of an amendatory veto, the House and Senate can elect to approve the bill with Rauner’s changes or to let it die and propose a new bill at a later date.

Gubernatorial Amendments

In his veto letter, the governor took issue with several of the bill’s specifics, while expressing support for the decriminalization effort. Governor Rauner has previously stated that he hopes to reduce the state’s prison population by 25 percent in the next ten years, and he acknowledged the marijuana bill as a potential contributor to his goal.  He believes, however, the proposed law was too lenient in a number of areas, including the possession limit and specified fines.

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concealed carry, weapons charges, Illinois Weapons Charges LawyerLong known throughout the country for its strict gun control laws, the state of Illinois seems poised to become immersed in debate again as recent legislation has reignited public interest regarding firearms and the concealed carry statutes. Many around the state expect a new wave of political discussion as the state legislature, along with Governor Bruce Rauner, recently approved the first changes to the concealed carry law since it was hurriedly passed more than two years ago. While the new law makes few substantial changes, it may signal the beginning of a new chapter in the ongoing public safety conversation on the effectiveness and application of gun laws.

This spring, nearly 140 weapons-related bills were introduced before the Illinois General Assembly, most of them aimed at easing strict gun control provisions in the law. The flood of proposed bills follows a rather quiet period in which both sides of the gun debate agreed to refrain from seeking changes to the concealed carry law for at least a year after its passage. With that period now in the rearview mirror, advocates for looser gun laws and proponents of heavier restrictions have renewed their efforts to balance constitutional freedoms and public best interest.

The law passed this summer was primarily aimed at cleaning up a few technical details of the Firearm Concealed Carry Act passed back in 2013. Among its changes are provisions for appealing a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card denial on the basis of minor developmental disabilities. It also clarifies a gun carrier’s duty to inform law enforcement that he or she is currently in possession of a legal firearm, allowing a carrier to show his or her concealed carry permit rather than requiring a verbal statement.

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GPTechnology makes police surveillance much easier and, consequently, personal privacy much more difficult to retain. Courts struggle to define the scope of personal privacy protected by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Even the United States Supreme Court is divided on the issue, leaving lower federal courts to struggle with the implications of increased police monitoring.

United States v. Jones

In the 2012 case United States v. Jones, the Supreme Court held that police must obtain a warrant when attaching a Global-Positioning-System (GPS) tracking device to a vehicle. Federal and state police agencies commonly use such devices to monitor criminal suspects. All nine justices of the Court agreed this constituted a “search or seizure” requiring a warrant under the Fourth Amendment.

But the justices disagreed on their reasoning. Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the Court's principal opinion, said it was a question of property rights. Since the FBI had to physically attach a GPS device to a suspect's car, that constituted a form of trespass, which under a historical reading of the Fourth Amendment required a warrant. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito wrote separately to emphasize their broader concerns over privacy. Justice Alito's opinion, which was joined by three other justices, said the “trespass” issue was “relatively minor” and the real problem was the government's “use of a GPS for the purpose of long-term tracking.” Such surveillance should require a warrant, Justice Alito said, even if there was no physical trespass like attaching a GPS device.

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According to a recent story on Foxillinois.com, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has proposed that sex crimes committed online be prosecuted locally. She is asking that Congress amend the Communications Decency Act, which was put into place in 1989 to fight sex crimes on the internet. It is reported that the internet has perpetuated an increase in sex trafficking. At present, the prosecutor's office does not have the authority to go after a suspect if the crime is committed in Illinois.

If this proposal were granted it would be a big deal in the fight against sex crimes as a whole. It would mean that once an online sex crime was committed in Illinois the local authorities will have the authority to go after the suspect. Presently, prosecuting these types of crimes falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government. However, Attorney General Madigan and other supporters of her proposal feel that online sex crimes committed in Illinois should be handled by local authorities.

Opponents of the proposal aren't so sure that the funding for the increase in manpower would be available if the proposal were to be approved. More manpower means more money in a budget that some say is already tight. However, supporters of the proposal say that the sex crimes unit presently in place could handle the cases that involve the internet without the need for extra personnel.

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Drug problems tend to publicized and better known in large cities across the U.S. and throughout the world. Everywhere, though, has problems with illegal drugs, including Fargo, North Dakota.

Other drugs, along with heroin, were transported to Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota from around the country where they were prepared to be sold. Twenty two people were charged with conspiracy to sell heroin and other drugs in early July.

The charges began in March when the first indictment of the investigation, nicknamed “Operation Winter’s End,” was filed.

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