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What Chicago Residents Arrested For Prescription Drug Crimes Should Know About Search and Seizure

This is my third post in my series regarding prescription drug charges in Chicago, Illinois. My last post stressed the need to take prescription drug charges seriously. Frequently, people face drug charges after being arrested on the street. It is important to understand your rights regarding search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable police intrusion into your person or property without probable cause. This is a legal determination that a judge makes at a hearing.

Chicago, Illinois police are subject to the Terry rule when search for prescription narcotics or other evidence

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in Terry v. Ohio (1968) that a police officer could conduct a brief pat down for weapons if she or he has a rational and particularized belief that the person is intending to commit a crime. The specific circumstances of the officer’s reasonable suspicion are important. Also important is that police confine the search to a brief pat down in order to look for weapons which threaten officer safety. This means if they feel a small cylindrical object in your pocket, and suspect it to be something other than a weapon, then they are not authorized to remove it without permission or additional information. A more thorough search requires probable cause or a warrant.

It is important to tell your lawyer all the circumstances of your encounter with Chicago police. Even if you told a police officer it was okay to search the insides of your pocket to discover the aforementioned cylindrical object, you may be able to exclude the evidence from court. If the circumstances of the “request” for permission to search were sufficiently coercive then the evidence may be suppressed. It is important to note that even if you were patted down legally, anything discovered in your pockets may not have been retrieved legally. Terry stops are common in Chicago. Police will sometimes try to stretch the definition of reasonable suspicion. If you believe you have been stopped and frisked unlawfully, or were coerced into more invasive searches, contact a criminal defense lawyer.

For police to search your home requires permission, exigency (immediate threat of harm) or a warrant. If your home was searched without your permission, of if you believe your permission was coerced, you may have a remedy to exclude any evidence from court. Your lawyer can bring a Motion to Suppress Evidence based on the unlawful search and seizure. Such a Motion may prevent prescription narcotics from being introduced in Court.

Bringing a Motion to Suppress prescription drugs before the Chicago Court

Requesting the suppression of prescription drugs requires that you file a Motion to Suppress Evidence. This is a document which will list any evidence which was wrongfully obtained and on what legal grounds you believe it should be excluded. An evidentiary hearing will be held on this Motion. The hearing requires live witnesses such as the police officers involved and any experts your defense attorney feels are necessary for an individual case. The prosecution is entitled to notice before trial to hold such a hearing.

The judge will consider the circumstances of your initial police contact and any actions the police took thereafter. The court will determine the lawfulness of the original detention, voluntariness of any statements or consent given, and lawfulness of subsequent searches. These cases are very fact specific and it is important that you contact a qualified Chicago criminal defense attorney as soon as you or a loved one are facing prescription drug charges.

Contact my Orland Park office today to speak with an experienced lawyer. We handle matters in areas of Cook County including Chicago, Chicago Ridge, Glenview, Crestwood, Evergreen Park, Bedford Park, Palos Park, Oak Lawn, Burbank, Oak forest, Blue Island, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Alsip, Bridgeview, Lemont, Orland Hills, Country Club Hills, Hickory Hills, Summit, Richton Park, Midlothian, Worth, Posen, Matteson, Olympia Fields, Hometown, and Tinley Park, in DuPage County areas including Downers Grove, Naperville, Woodridge, and Darien, in Kane County areas including Aurora, Elgin and Geneva, and the Will County cities of Joliet, Bolingbrook, Mokena, Frankfort, New Lenox, Lockport, Homer Glen, Romeoville, and Manhattan.


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