ARCHIVE: May, 2015

The new Illinois Juvenile law makes automatic transfers less automatic

juvenile lawTo a mixed reaction, the Illinois governor has signed into law a bill that allows for the automatic transfer of some crimes committed by youth offenders who are at least 15 years of age to adult courts. The crimes defined are limited to physical assault, sexual assault and use of a gun. The mixed reaction is understandable when you begin to look at the details of what this law means.


The prosecutor must petition

This law does not mean that all youth offenders who commit the specified crimes will be automatically transferred to adult court. It is left to the prosecutor to petition the court for the transfer. As always, you’ll want to consult aHouston DWI attorney. Age and crime are only enough to allow for a petition for transfer to be made. Once the petition is made for transfer, the court will then consider it.


Allowing the court time to consider factors

That process of petition is designed to allow the court time to consider influencing factors in the case. Even if the 15 year old commits the textbook violation covered by this law it does not automatically mean their case is transferred to adult court. In fact, automatic transfers are now a thing of the past. The court must consider other factors in the case before deciding which court system will hear the case. This is meant as a protection for the youth offender, but it also serves to increase the workload on an already strained judicial system.


What gets excluded?

What gets excluded has many lawyers and advocates upset. While a 15 year old who uses a gun during an assault and battery can be transferred to an adult court, the 15 year old who stomped the head of the elderly man who the other boy held the gun on would not. The restrictions provided for implementation on this law are not well considered according to many in law enforcement. A repeat offender who commits assault and battery without a weapon may be of greater risk to society than the one time car-jacker with a Saturday Night Special. While not claiming that the law is arbitrary, law enforcement officials fault it for allowing for the wrong factors to be considered by the court before transferring a juvenile case to an adult court.

What this means to youth offenders

There are pluses and minuses to this law for youth offenders. For those who are on the repeat offender track it can put them into an adult facility in which there are better programs available for the treatment of drug and mental health problems. It also opens the door to a lesser sentence option as is talked about in the last paragraph. On the downside, age is no longer an automatic protection against an adult criminal trial. If you use a weapon or commit a physical or sexual assault you can no longer use immaturity as a defense.


youth offender


Walking the line with advocates

This law is both winning and losing with child advocates. It can be difficult to walk the line when trying to present a course of action to a client’s parental guardian. Transferring a child to an adult court can have its benefits if any juvenile convictions are excluded from evidence. This could raise the chances of a first offense judgment and allow for a better course of intervention where as in juvenile court all prior convictions may be allowed and sentencing be more severe. Make sure you weight the options from every angle before presenting your case to your client to petition for transfer or to choose to remain in juvenile court.

Fixing the loophole for solar power in Texas could have a wider impact

texas law for solar panelSenate Bill 1626 went through the legislature in Texas with hardly any complaint and much rejoicing from solar energy advocates in Texas. The bill closed one of the oldest loopholes in Texas law that permitted neighborhood and condominium associations to block the installation of solar panels on homes. While this is good news for solar power fans, there is a chance that the closing of this loophole may have a much broader impact. The win for environmentalists and alternative energy advocates may wind up depressing home values and increasing frivolous lawsuits. As the law passes into effect, the landscape in Texas is going to change in many different ways.


What the loophole allowed

While Texas law does limit what a neighborhood or condominium association can prohibit in their neighborhoods, there has been one loophole that has always allowed a way around the limits. The loophole allowed the developer to maintain semi control on the neighborhood structures by placing them into an unending determination of still being “under development.”  As such, no changes – such as the addition of solar panel systems to roofs- could be added without the developer’s permission. This has allowed associations to effectively ban solar power for fear it would destroy the visual appeal of their neighborhoods. While this may seem an old fashioned view, it does hold some modern power when you begin to consider the role housing prices play in the overall state economy.


With the loophole closed more residents can avail themselves of solar power

With the loophole officially closed more Texan households can avail themselves of solar power, and the state incentives to install solar power systems. This could help relieve the stress on the infrastructure that has led to wide scale brownouts and blackouts in many regions. Solar power has long been encouraged with tax benefits from federal and state sources. In an area which is prime for solar energy collection, it only makes sense that it would be encouraged and not prohibited. It would appear to be a win-win situation for all involved (except appearance obsessed associations) except for one small fact.


Closing that loophole leaves the associations virtually powerless

Current Texas law limits the ability of associations to prohibit changes to structures and land within their agreed association areas. The loophole which declared associated areas under perpetual development was used not only to prevent installation of solar panels, but also the addition of some other structures and changes that could be deemed questionable at best. Without the presence of this loophole associations lose much of their power in being agents working to guarantee stable home values. This could lead to a deflation in property values in key areas in parts of Texas, and an increase in property disputes.


What you choose to do in your home is one thing, outside it is another

From cases that range from large statues being installed on lawns that extend a middle finger in full view of the living room windows of the house next door to homeowners constructing windmills to provide energy and threaten the safety of properties nearby – the loophole has been used to prevent cases from burdening the court. While it is accepted that what you do within your home is within your own province, what you are allowed to do on the property of your home has just become unregulated. Expect to see more cases and charges about disturbing the peace, public endangerment and trespassing to rise as the new law takes effect. It may be years before amendments are created to fill the gaps that were once broadly covered by the perpetual development loopholes.

There are no more results.