Mineral Rights in Oil and Gas: What You Need to Know

Mineral Rights in Oil and Gas: What You Need to Know

The traditional conception of real property ownership was that a landowner owned his plot of land along with a column of dirt down to the center of the earth and a column of air up to the sky. This conception no longer holds true. It is now common, especially in Southern Illinois, that when one purchases a piece of real property, the purchaser obtains title to the surface of the land, but not the column of dirt beneath it. Very often, the mineral rights to a piece of property have been severed, and the owner of the mineral rights has the authority to mine them.

When mineral rights are severed in the conveyance of a piece of property, the severance creates two distinct and separate interests in the land—a surface estate and a mineral estate, either of which can be conveyed, devised, or leased. When this occurs, the owner of the surface estate is subservient to the owner of the mineral estate. This means that he may not interfere with the activities reasonably necessary to extract the minerals from underneath his land.

While title to metallic minerals vests2 at the time of conveyance, title to oil and gas does not, due to the tendency of these types of minerals to move around under the earth. Rather, mineral rights in oil and gas do not vest until they are actually discovered. Thus, mineral rights to oil and gas are better conceived of as rights to exploration and, very often, they are mined pursuant to a mineral lease rather than outright ownership. These leases are subject to the same rules as ordinary leases, wherein the minerals found on the land belong to the lessor, but the lessee has the right to explore and reduce them to possession, for which he pays rent or a royalty to the lessor.

Like all leases, Illinois courts impose an implied covenant of reasonable development2 upon oil and gas leases, meaning that the lessee has a duty to the lessor to reasonably develop the premises; in these cases, that means a duty to explore and mine. However, the rights to exploration are not unlimited; in Illinois, the owner of a mineral estate may not burden the surface estate with railway tracks, manufacturing equipment, structures, or the like. Similarly, the surface estate owner retains the right to subjacent support—that is, the mining or exploration activities going on under his property may not cause the surface estate to subside or collapse, even if the mining company took proper care or acted in accordance with industry custom. Thus, the rights to subjacent support is paramount.

Call a Marion, IL Real Estate Lawyer for Assistance

Most landowners do not want these kinds of activities going on under their land, especially if oil and gas mineral rights are involved, due to the amount of drilling and other disruption those types of minerals require for discovery and extraction. Minerals and oil rights can be very complicated and confusing. If you would like more information about mineral leases and your rights as a landowner, contact the Southern Illinois real estate attorneys at the Lawler Brown Law Firm at 618-993-2222.


When Can Your Neighbors Legally Take Your Land?

When Can Your Neighbors Legally Take Your Land?

When Can Your Neighbors Legally Take Your Land?

There is a concept in real estate law that is little known outside the legal world, whereby a trespasser can gain legal title to someone else’s land. The “trespasser” in these cases is usually a neighbor but, nonetheless, someone who does not own your property can become the legal owner by his use of it through a concept known as adverse possession. Claims of adverse possession are creatures of common law in Illinois, and require a showing of several elements.

In order to legally take title to land, a person’s use and possession of the land must be:

  • Hostile (against the right of the true owner and without permission)
  • Actual (he or she exercises physical control over the property)
  • Exclusive (In the possession of the trespasser alone and no one else)
  • Open and notorious (the trespasser must use the property as the true owner would without hiding the occupancy)
  • Continuous for a period of 20 years

Adverse possession claims are especially common in rural areas (like most of Southern Illinois) as opposed to towns and cities because it is often more difficult to determine where one piece of property ends and another begins.

Example of Adverse Possession

Let’s take a look at how a hypothetical adverse possession case might play out. Assume there are two property owners—the Smiths and the Joneses—who own neighboring farms. Mr. Smith erects a barn that he believes is on his property, but is actually 15 feet over the property line on the Jones’s farm. Mr. Jones says nothing about this, and Mr. Smith uses this barn as an ordinary farmer would for a period of 25 years. After he discovers that his barn is actually on the Jones’s property, Mr. Smith would be able to bring an action to gain title to the land through adverse possession.

Why does the law permit this? Isn’t this essentially legalized theft? The most common legal justification for adverse possession is that the law should favor landowners who put their lands to their highest and best uses. It is assumed in the law that if someone is trespassing on a piece of property for at least 20 years without the owner noticing or taking legal action to remove him, the landowner probably is not using the land to its highest and best potential. Rather, the trespasser should be rewarded with the land for putting it to better use than the original owner.

Call a Real Estate Lawyer in Southern Illinois Today

If you are involved in an adverse possession proceeding or think you might have a claim to title through adverse possession, contact the Southern Illinois real estate lawyers at the Lawler Brown Law Firm at 618-993-2222 today.



2 http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K16-1

Why You Should Never Resist Arrest

Why You Should Never Resist Arrest

Resisting arrest is very common and occurs any time a person interferes with or obstructs an officer’s attempt to make a legal arrest. In Illinois, it is usually charged as a misdemeanor. However, if there is an injury to the arresting officer, the offense rises to a felony. The charge of resisting arrest is defined at 720 ILCS 5/31-1:1 “A person commits the crime of resisting arrest if they knowingly resist or obstruct the performance by a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee of any authorized act within his or her official capacity.”

While the most classic examples of resisting arrest are fleeing from the scene or engaging the arresting officer physically, the statute is worded broadly and encompasses a wide variety of behaviors. For example, you can be arrested simply for refusing to put your hands behind your back, refusing to lay on the ground, refusing to put your hands on the squad car, or refusing to clear the scene of a crime when ordered to do so.

Resisting arrest is also a difficult charge to escape; even if the underlying charge against the defendant is dropped, resisting arrest is an independent charge and will remain. Thus, it is not a defense to resisting arrest that the underlying charge was dismissed. Further, a conviction for resisting arrest can even lengthen a person’s sentence if they are ever convicted of a future offense. Possible punishment for resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois and is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. If the police officer is injured during the incident, the charge rises to a Class 4 felony and is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to a fine of up to $25,000.

Defending against Charges

There are a few defenses available to someone charged with resisting arrest, most notably self-defense and unlawful arrest. A defense of self-defense requires the defendant to show that the law enforcement officer was acting unjustifiably violently and that the defendant used the force reasonably necessary to protect himself. Because a charge of resisting arrest can be levied only if the officer was making a legal arrest, another common defense is to challenge the legality of the arrest either by asserting that it was not pursuant to a warrant or that the officer lacked probable cause.

Call a Criminal Defense Attorney for Help in Carbondale and Marion Today

If you have been charged with resisting arrest, you need competent representation. Contact the Southern Illinois criminal lawyers at the Lawler Brown Law Firm at 618-993-2222 today.


What to do if Your Spouse Files an Order of Protection

What to do if Your Spouse Files an Order of Protection

Spouses can accuse each other of abuse for a variety of reasons. Maybe they are planning divorce and want to gain an upper hand in custody matters and other issues in the divorce proceedings. Perhaps they have themselves been abusive and want to deflect from their own actions. Whatever the reason, if your spouse files an order of protection against you, it is critical to take immediate action. An order of protection may do the following:

  • Force you to stay away from your home
  • Keep you from seeing your spouse or children
  • Give up any guns that you own

While an emergency order may go into effect, you will have the opportunity to appear at a hearing to defend against an extended order being granted. It is critical to have the assistance of a highly experienced defense attorney who understands how orders of protection cases work in Illinois. In addition, order of protection cases may also be accompanied by criminal charges for domestic violence and you want a lawyer who can handle both of your cases with skill. Domestic violence charges can result in the following consequences and more:

  • Time in jail
  • Probation
  • Fines
  • Extended order of protection
  • Limitations on your professional options

At your hearing, your attorney can provide evidence in your defense that an order of protection is not warranted and can help you avoid the restrictions on your life that an order of protection would create. If the order is granted, your lawyer can help to negotiate for less stringent terms of the order.

Contact a Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney as Soon as Possible

Facing an order of protection can have a serious effect on many aspects of your life, from where you live to whether you can see your kids. It is very important to have skilled legal representation throughout the order of protection hearings to defend against false accusations and to protect your rights. Call the Marion and Carbondale criminal defense lawyers at the Lawler Brown Law Firm today at 618-993-2222 for help.

1 http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=2100&ChapterID=59&SeqStart=500000&SeqEnd=4200000
2 http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=2100

Concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

Concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)

While a concussion is considered to be a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI), one concussion can increase your chances of suffering additional concussions in the future. Sustaining multiple concussions in your life can then have long-term effects, including early-onset dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other degenerative cognitive disorders. One particularly concerning effect of multiple concussions is a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE refers to the degeneration of brain tissue caused by repeated head trauma. The symptoms of CTE can be very severe and include the following:

-Cognitive difficulties
-Lack of emotional control
-Physical impairments
-Sensory problems
-Suicidal thinking or behavior

As of now, the only way to diagnose CTE is to examine the brain in sections, which can only happen after death. CTE is commonly diagnosed in autopsies, especially in athletes who played contact sports such as football or hockey. Unfortunately, many of those players commit suicide due to the symptoms of undiagnosed CTE.

Anyone who has suffered multiple concussions or head traumas should be aware of the symptoms of CTE and should discuss any symptoms with a medical professional. If you require treatment for your symptoms, you may be entitled to compensation for the costs of treatment and your suffering. If you had a family member who was diagnosed with CTE after death, you may have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against a sports league or another party who was responsible for the multiple concussions.

Call for a Free Consultation with an Experienced Southern Illinois Concussion Lawyer

If you have suffered a concussion in a motor vehicle accident, fall, sports injury, or in any other accident caused by the negligence of others, you deserve to receive compensation for costs of your necessary medical care, lost wages, and more. If you are suffering the long-term effects of multiple concussions, you may have the right to further recovery from the responsible party. Please call a concussion attorney at the Lawler Brown Law Firm at 618-993-2222 to discuss your rights. We help clients in Marion, Carbondale, and throughout Southern Illinois.

1 http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/tbi.htm
2 http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/chronic-traumatic-encephalopathy/basics/definition/con-20113581

Penalties for Hunting Violations in Illinois

Penalties for Hunting Violations in Illinois

Hunting, fishing, and trapping are highly regulated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”).1 The DNR has over 160 conservation police officers (“CPOs”) patrolling the state enforcing these regulations.

Illinois Law

Hunting, fishing, and trapping are extremely regulated by Illinois law. There are over 75 laws and regulations that specifically restrict hunting and trapping. There are also federal regulations that restrict hunting activity within Illinois as well.

While the law restricting hunting activity is complicated, ignorance of the law will not protect you from the penalties that come along with breaking these laws. Be sure to review all of the relevant regulations before heading out for a day of hunting or fishing to avoid finding yourself face to face with a CPO. The most common violations include permit violations, license violations, site violations, hunting too close to another and trespassing.


The punishment for most violations is simply a ticket. Tickets come with fines, court costs, and attorney fees, which can really add up.

In addition to the financial cost of the ticket, convictions of game law offenses can count against your record with the DNR.2 Just as tickets for traffic infractions can result in points against your driver’s license, the DNR keeps a record of points against your hunting and/or fishing license. Too many infractions can result in the suspension or loss of your ability to hunt. If a sportsman accrues 13 points over three years, they face suspension of his or her license for up to three years. As a general rule:

  • Petty Offense = 3 Points
  • Class C Offense = 6 Points
  • Class B Offense = 9 Points
  • Class A Offense = 12 Points
  • Some Class A Offenses = 13 Points / Immediate Suspension

Keep in mind that if you are in violation of more than one game law at a time, the points of each infraction will be stacked and applied against your license all at once, which could result in immediate loss of your privileges.

Call a Southern Illinois Hunting Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation

The hunting, fishing and trapping laws are strictly enforced in Illinois. If you have been charged with hunting violations, contact a Southern Illinois defense attorney immediately to defend your rights. The experienced attorneys at the Lawler Brown Law Firm will fight for your rights and do everything possible to avoid the loss or suspension of your game license. Call today (618) 993-2222 for a free consultation.

Workers’ Comp in Illinois

Workers’ Comp in Illinois

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health,1 more than 154,000 people suffered injuries or illnesses related to their jobs in a single year in Illinois. Job-related injuries and illnesses can result in the need for extensive medical treatment and time off work during recovery, both of which can cause serious financial problems for the victim and their household. To protect injured or ill workers, our state requires employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance and these regulations are enforced by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC).2

Who is Covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

In order to be eligible for workers’ comp benefits, you must be an employee of your company. Independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation laws and will not qualify for benefits if they are injured performing a job. Next, you must have sustained an injury or illness that is directly related to or that resulted from your job. This can include a workplace accident, repetitive stress injuries, and illnesses from working conditions.

What Benefits are Available?

If you qualify for workers’ compensation, you can receive some or all of the following benefits, depending on the nature and severity of your injuries:

Costs of medical care – Workers’ comp should cover all of the costs of your medical treatment, including emergency care, doctor visits, medications, surgeries, and more.

Wage replacement – If you have to miss work because of your injury, you can receive benefits to replace the income you lose due to time away from work. While you will not receive the full amount income you lost, partial wage replacement can help a lot in this time.

Disability payments – If you are left with a disability due to your work-related injury, you can receive ongoing payments or a lump sum settlement to compensate you for long-term losses.

Call an Experienced Southern Illinois Workers’ Comp Attorney to Discuss your Case

The workers’ compensation system can be confusing and claims are not always straightforward. If you are around Marion or Carbondale and have questions or concerns about your benefits, please call the Illinois workers’ comp attorneys at Lawler Brown Law Firm at 618-993-2222 today.



Benefits of a Will

Marion Il Wills and Probate LawyerMost people have heard of a last will and testament, commonly known as simply a will. This is a legal document that, when properly executed, dictates what will happen to your property after you pass away. While it is never comfortable or enjoyable to think about your death, having a will can have many benefits for your family after they lose you. The following are only some of the major benefits of a will:

Naming your Executor

An executor – also called a personal representative – will be in charge of administering and closing your estate. This role requires many steps, including filing your will,1 taking inventory of your assets, managing your accounts and bills until the estate is closed, satisfying your debts, notifying beneficiaries, and distributing your property according to your wishes. Since this is a big and important job, you want to be able to select the person with this responsibility and you will do so in your will.

Taking Inventory of Property

After you die, people may not be aware of some of your assets and possessions, including heirlooms, jewelry, items in a safe deposit box, and more. A will allows you to list your assets so that your executor will know they exist following your death and will be able to locate them.

Naming Beneficiaries

If you die without a will, the probate court will distribute your property according to Illinois law2 and your wishes will not be considered. To make sure that the people you want get the property and assets that you want them to, you will need to have a valid will in place for the court to review.

Discuss your Needs with a Skilled Southern Illinois Probate Attorney Today

While it is critical to have a will, there are also a number of other estate planning tools that can help protect your family and your hard-earned assets. At the Lawler Brown Law Firm, we help individuals in and around Marion, IL and Carbondale, IL drafts wills, form trusts, and take other important steps to plan for the future. If you would like more information about our estate planning and probate services, call today at 618-993-2222.




Protecting Your Rights After a Southern Illinois Traffic Violation

Marion Traffic Violation Defense Attorney

Many Southern Illinois residents assume that a traffic violation is a minor issue.  In reality, however, these charges can bring consequences that will have a major impact on your life ranging from getting back and forth to work to transporting your children to school or extracurricular activities.

Common Criminal Traffic Violations

A Carbondale resident or student can be charged with many different types of moving and non-moving criminal traffic violations including:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident
  • Driving without insurance[1]
  • Expired Vehicle Registration
  • Driving While License Suspended
  • Drag Racing
  • Seat belt/child restraint violations

Traffic offenses can range from very minor to very serious. Most minor traffic offenses are considered infractions, and they are not criminal violations of the law. Usually, these types of violations carry relatively minor penalties, such as fines, and/or a point on your driving record. Depending on the violation, an Illinois traffic conviction can result in:

  • Fines;
  • Points on your driving record;
  • Suspended license;
  • Increased auto insurance rates.

More serious traffic offenses, such as reckless driving, driving under the influence[2], or manslaughter, are charged as crimes and a conviction can involve penalties such as:

  • Large fines
  • Victim restitution
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • License revocation
  • Incarceration

Contact an Experienced Marion Criminal Defense Attorney

A criminal traffic violation is a double edged sword as it can damage your driving record as well as your personal criminal record.  If you have been arrested or charged with an Illinois criminal traffic violation, a full investigation into your case can reveal the defense strategy most appropriate for your situation as well as determine if your rights have been violated in any way.

When it comes to Illinois traffic laws, it is important to understand that there are numerous ways that the violation you received may not be your fault. Most criminal traffic violations are based on the proof that the officer on the scene of the crime provides. Many times, the officer does not have sufficient proof.  If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, it is important to speak to a skilled Southern Illinois criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.  Call today for a free consultation at 618-993-2222.

[1] https://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/vehicles/mandatory_insurance.html
[2] http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=062500050K11-501


100 Deadliest Days for Southern Illinois Drivers

DUI in Saint Louis - Illinois auto accident attorneyFor many Americans, Memorial Day weekend was the official kickoff of summer. Starting Memorial Day up until Labor Day, road traffic amps up as families and individuals hit the road for summer vacation. Inexperienced teen drivers are also out of school and are out driving with their friends, loud music, and cell phones. During the average Memorial Day weekend, 400 Americans will lose their lives in traffic accidents with 44 percent of those accidents caused by drunken drivers. According to the National Safety Council[1], the dates between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the 100 deadliest days for Southern Illinois motorists, a time period that includes seven of the ten deadliest driving days every year. In fact, in 2012, in the months of June, July and August, there were approximately 10,000 fatal traffic collisions.

What is it about these weeks that makes them so dangerous? One of the most obvious is the larger number of vehicles on the road, and the longer distances many drivers are driving. Summer is the time when vacation is common and Carbondale residents and students are on the move. In 2013, Americans logged over 780 billion miles on their vehicles during these 100 days. That’s a lot of driving and with a lot of driving comes more opportunities for drivers who consume alcohol during summertime parties and family gatherings.

Contact a Southern Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’re arrested or charged with a traffic violation after an auto collision, or arrested for driving under the influence[2] during the 100 deadliest days of summer, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An alcohol or drug related driving offense requires immediate action to fully protect all of your rights. Individuals who are convicted of DUI may face serious consequences, including license suspension, jail time, and costly fines. Even a first-time offender may be subjected to the disastrous consequences of a DUI and the best way to beat a drunk driving charge is by obtaining the services of a skilled Southern Illinois criminal defense attorney. Call the Lawler Brown Law Firm today for a free consultation at 618-993-2222.

[1] http://www.nsc.org/pages/home.aspx
[2] http://www.isp.state.il.us/traffic/drnkdriving.cfm