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Chicago criminal defense attorneysIf you are facing criminal charges, you may be overwhelmed by the legal process that lies ahead. Depending on the nature and severity of the alleged offense—along with your own criminal history—you could be eligible for probation in lieu of serving time in jail. But, what is probation and who qualifies? A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you make sense of a challenging situation.

What Is Probation?

Probation is a sentencing alternative that offers offenders substantially more personal freedom while they serve their sentences. In most cases, an offender on probation can live at home, go to work, and live most of a normal life, but always under the close supervision of a probation officer. An individual on probation is required to abide the terms set by the court and his or her behavior is closely monitored. In some cases, probation begins immediately upon a finding of guilt while in others, it begins after a reduced jail sentence.

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Cook County criminal defense attorneyDid you know that in 2015, more than 1,000 individuals at the Cook County Jail spent more time behind bars than they were actually sentenced to serve? These cases were not the result of clerical errors, lost files, or mistakes by jail staff. Many of them, rather, were the result of low-level criminal offenders not being able to afford cash bail. Instead of serving only their prescribed sentence, these inmates first sat in jail waiting for trial or for a plea bargain to finalize. Their crimes, in most cases, were so minor that their sentences were shorter than the amount of time they had already spent in jail.

Thanks to a new law signed last month by Governor Bruce Rauner, however, such cases should no longer be common in Cook County or anywhere else in the state. The measure, which took effect immediately, is being praised by criminal justice reform advocates as a significant step in the right direction.

Bail Basics

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyThe Migration Policy Institute (MPI) estimates that approximately 28 percent of the current U.S. population is comprised of immigrants, both with and without documentation. Many people operate under the misunderstanding that once immigration status is achieved, it cannot be taken away. Thus, it may come as an unpleasant surprise to discover that this is not the case.  It is possible to lose one’s legal immigration status if convicted of specific crimes, or if convicted of crimes that speak to a negative character trait such as deceit. While most criminal lawyers are not well versed in immigration law, having one who understands the interplay between the two disciplines can mean the literal difference between life and death, in extreme cases.

Crimes That Establish Removability

While in theory, any crime may be enough for an immigrant to get the attention of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are two specific classes of offenses that render the perpetrator removable in most cases. Aggravated felonies and crimes of moral turpitude both essentially present an immigrant as unable to prove good moral character, which is a requirement for both lawful permanent resident status and citizenship. These crimes also render the person inadmissible because, with such an offense on their record, they would not have been granted a visa in the first place. If one is inadmissible, he or she will usually be issued an Order of Removal.

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Chicago criminal defense attorneyWhen you are arrested, charged with a crime, and released on bond, there are certain conditions that you must meet. If you fail to meet them, you could be charged with a bond violation. The following information can help you learn more about the consequences of this offense, how to avoid them, and what you can do if you are charged with a bond violation in the state of Illinois.

Who Sets the Requirements?

Before you are released, a judge reviews your case to determine if you are eligible for bond. This same judge also sets the amount of your bond and outlines what your requirements are while you are out on bond. This might include going to drug or alcohol counseling, undergoing regular drug or alcohol testing, checking in regularly with a person or group of people (or not contacting certain people). You will also be instructed not to leave the state, and may not even be permitted to travel more than just a short distance from your home. Further, you must appear for all your court hearings once you are released.

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Chicago criminal defense attorneySome crimes—such as armed robbery, aggravated assault, or the possession of heroin—are clear to most people and carry criminal penalties that may be life-changing. Other offenses, may be less obvious but could still be extremely serious. In fact, seemingly minor misdemeanor charges such as those for disorderly conduct and the like can have consequences that affect the offender’s life for well into the future.

Disorderly Conduct Defined

Defining disorderly conduct, however, can be tricky, as there are several factors that may affect such a charge, and some of them can be rather subjective. Generally, a disorderly conduct charge can be filed if a person is acting in an unreasonable manner with the intention of disturbing or attempting to provoke a “breach of peace.”

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