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marijuana, Kane County drug crimes attorneyAn Illinois woman is facing possible felony drug charges after police officers found a bottle of the painkiller tramadol in her coat pocket. The 59-year-old woman does actually have a prescription for the type of pills found by police, but she has been charged with possession of a controlled substance that had been prescribed to one of her relatives. What makes this story unique is the way in which the pills were discovered.

Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The pills were only discovered after police searched the woman’s car. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects gives citizens the right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." Usually, police must have a warrant to search a home, but motor vehicles are different. A police office must only have "probable cause" to search a vehicle. Probably cause means that the officers must have reason to believe that evidence of a crime or illegal items will be found in the car. However, there are not clear answers as to what counts as probable cause. Of course, illegal items such as drugs, drug paraphernalia, stolen goods, or weapons in plain sight usually constitute probable cause, but officers do not have to physically see contraband in order to be authorized to search the vehicle. In 1985, the Illinois Supreme Court approved car searches if the police officer claimed to be able to smell marijuana in the car.

What Constitutes Probable Cause?

The issue with which the accused woman’s lawyer is concerned, is how the police gained access to the car. Police only discovered the illegal pills because they claim they say marijuana in the vehicle. What was allegedly drugs turned out to be pistachio shells. The suspect’s attorney believes that the shells were a false pretext to search the entire vehicle because pistachio shells look nothing like marijuana. Even those police officers who have never used or seen cannabis in real life applications have seen it on television or during training. This led the woman’s attorney to claim that the police illegally searched the defendant’s vehicle. Police never found any actual marijuana in the woman’s car, but she was still arrested for possession of the tramadol. Luckily for the defendant, her attorney doubts that the charges will stick. He told reporters "I think we are a motion to suppress and a bag of pistachio nuts away from resolving this matter."

Facing Criminal Charges?

At The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of those who are facing criminal charges. To learn more about how we can help with your case, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney today. Call 847-488-0889 for a free, confidential consultation.

Sources:

https://illinoiscaselaw.com/police-car-search-legal-in-illinois-if-they-smell-marijuana/

https://www.alternet.org/drugs/illinois-woman-felony-drug-charges-cops-mistake-pistachio-shells-marijuana

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search, Kane County criminal law attorneyMany drivers have had the sickening feeling of seeing flashing lights in their rearview mirror and knowing that they were being pulled over. There is much confusion surrounding what police officers are and are not allowed to do. This confusion has not been lessened by the recent events regarding the shooting of unarmed citizens by police officers and the following media frenzy. The right to be free from unreasonable governmental searches is guaranteed by the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, and it is important for you to understand your rights as a driver.

Probable Cause

The short answer to the question "Can the police search my car during a traffic stop?" is that it depends. Generally, a police officer needs a warrant in order to search someone’s property, but cars are different. A police officer cannot legally search someone’s car as a normal part of a traffic stop for a minor infraction such as speeding or a broken taillight. However, an officer can search a car if he or she has probable cause to do so.

Probable cause can include when illegal substances are in "plain view." Plain view means that an officer can search your vehicle if he or she sees an illegal substance (such as drugs) through the windows of the car. The officer may also be able to search the car if he or she smells drugs, including marijuana smoke. If an officer has reason to arrest a driver, he or she has the right to search the car after the arrest. This is called "search incident to arrest." Police officers may also search a driver’s car if they have reason to suspect that the driver has been involved in a crime. This could include seeing blood in the car or on the driver, or other evidence of a likely crime.

"Exigent circumstances," also allow an officer to search a vehicle. Exigent circumstances are "circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that entry (or other relevant prompt action) was necessary to prevent physical harm to the officers or other persons, the destruction of relevant evidence, the escape of the suspect, or some other consequence improperly frustrating legitimate law enforcement efforts."

Contact a Kane County Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges any evidence obtained in an illegal search may be inadmissible in court. That is why it is important for you to seek quality legal assistance. Contact an Elgin criminal defense attorney for a free consultation today.

Sources:

https://openjurist.org/728/f2d/1195/united-states-v-mcconney

http://www.businessinsider.com/what-rights-do-you-have-when-pulled-over-2013-11

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Posted on in DUI

implied consent, DUI, BAC testing, Illinois criminal defense attorneyAs a licensed driver in Illinois, you have been granted certain privileges related to the operation of a motor vehicle on roadways within in the state. In exchange for such privileges, you are expected to assume certain responsibilities under law regarding safe and proper driving practices. The state of Illinois also maintains "implied consent" laws to which, by operating a vehicle in accordance with the terms of their licenses, all drivers are subject. One of the more common applications of implied consent relates to blood-alcohol content (BAC) tests when a driver is suspected of driving under the influence (DUI).

Like the implied consent laws in most states, the statutes in Illinois require you to submit to a breath, urine, or blood test if you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI. With probable cause for such an arrest, the law enforcement officer must arrange that the test be conducted as soon as possible for the sake of accuracy. There is no right granted for you to contact an attorney prior to the test and the officer selects the type of test most appropriate for the situation.

In addition, the laws in Illinois provide your implied consent to a breath test, often referred to as a breathalyzer, without the necessity of an arrest. Tests like these are often used as a form of field sobriety tests to determine probable cause that may lead to an arrest for DUI. While you may be inclined to refuse a preliminary test, other circumstantial evidence may provide enough probable cause for your arrest anyway.

A refusal to submit to BAC testing can be extremely serious, especially after a DUI arrest. In fact, prosecutors may even use your refusal as grounds to show that you knew you were driving under the influence. Also, refusing to take a BAC test carries penalties in addition to those prescribed for a DUI conviction. A first-offense refusal results in one-year license suspension, with increased consequences for subsequent offenses.

Refusing a breathalyzer or other BAC test can present significant obstacles to your defense in light of the state’s implied consent laws. However, with the assistance of a qualified lawyer, the impact to your future may be minimized. Contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Elgin today for a free consultation. Our team will investigate your case and work with you to provide the legal representation you deserve.

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