What to do when your mentally ill friend, sibling, child, or ward gets into criminal trouble?

A. FIND OUT WHERE THE PERSON IS.
Find out what county the person is in and if they are in custody.
Find out what the arresting agency is.
Find out what they are charged with and what the bond amount is.
Find out if they have been appointed counsel.
Find out where their case has been assigned.

B. Contact the jail’s medical section and let them know what medication the person regular takes and ask to help them by getting the necessary documents. They will allow you to talk to them regardless of whether or not there is a signed consent.

C. Contact the Appointed Counsel if there is one or find a good criminal defense lawyer, if one has not been appointed, and vet them for their experience with mentally ill defendants. If they are good, they will know the resources that the system has available.
Even so, it never hurts to make suggestions.
Resources: Mental Health Probation,
Mental Health Diversion,
Insanity Provisions,
Fitness Provisions,
Mental Illness as a Sentencing Mitigating Factor.

D. Remember, very rarely if ever, are charges just dropped because you want them dropped. Don’t look like a fool or you will lose credibility with the prosecutor, defense lawyer, or judge.

E. Go to Court if you can to help to reassure your loved one. Even the most stable person will feel abandoned if in custody. Seeing you in court will help them not feel lost. They may need you as a character witness.

F. Visit them. Learn the rules of the institution before you go, then go. You don’t need to create a fuss when you go or get busted. Report to the Lawyer any changes in their affect or mental status.

G. Help the person with their post-jail plan. They will need help on deciding where to live and what programs to go to. Even if they are acquitted, they will need your help afterwards or they will end up in crisis or in the criminal justice system again.

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Why Governor Blagojevich got such a high sentence?

As the most recent court hearing would suggest, being a smart punk in the press and flaunting the Court’s Orders, thereby making his case a media spectacle, did not help Governor Blagojevich,  It hurt him.  Don’t get me wrong.  Yes, he had a First Amendment right to keep right on speaking; it just seemed that it buried him deeper and deeper. Neither criminal lawyers nor their clients do their case any favors by making a case a media circus.  Doing so poisons a potential jury pool, puts extra heat on a prosecutor’s office to rush a case to trial (when maybe it is a case that should settle),  gives the prosecution against the defendant extra fuel for proving their case, gives the prosecution evidence to use against the defendant at sentencing, and makes the defense witnesses more reluctant to come forward.  The best lawyers do not let publicity wreck their cases and the smart criminal defendants listen to their lawyers and do the same.

Read your Insurance Policies!

LAW TIP OF THE YEAR: If you have any kind of insurance, please take a few moments to read through the policy declarations to know what is covered and what is not covered. Also make sure you look at who is covered, and who is not covered. If you are a business, make sure the business form of the entity is named right, and is called the right business type (a corporation is called a corporation, a partnership is called a partnership, a solo proprietor is called a solo proprietor). If you don’t like what is in the declarations, call the agent or the customer service department, and get them to change it. Most agents will get it fixed quick.  The customer service people may resist, but they will usually do what you want. If you need to, bust on up the chain to the supervisor. If that doesn’t work, give me a call. Illinois only! Please do your review before you actually need the insurance.

Hey kids sue your deadbeat parents!

Hey Divorced Parents, are your kids getting cheated by your spouse for the college expenses, or are you a divorced parent cheating your kids by not paying their college expenses? The kids can sue, In re Marriage of Spircoff, 2011 IL App (1st) 1103189 (October 19, 2011), the Court held that kids can sue their parents as third-party beneficiaries of the Marital Separation Agreements. How cool is that!