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... read more
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... read more
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,... read more
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... read more
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 -Aggression -Physical impairments -Sensory problems -Dementia -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... read more
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. Penalties 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... read more
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... read more

Benefits of a Will

Most 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... read more

Protecting Your Rights After a Southern Illinois Traffic Violation

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... read more

100 Deadliest Days for Southern Illinois Drivers

For 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... read more