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This is the next post in my series on the handling of methamphetamine charges in Chicago, Illinois. My last post discussed Illinois’ penalties for meth related crimes. It is important to understand that prosecutors take such matters very seriously and that you need aggressive representation. In this article I will address a common issue in drug cases – whether police violated the defendant’s rights at the time of the arrest. If one’s rights were violated then it may be possible to have the charges dismissed. If you have been arrested then it is important that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately.
I have previously discussed search and seizure issues in prescription drug cases. These concepts also apply to crimes involving methamphetamine. The Fourth Amendment protects all people from an unreasonable search and seizure by police. Chicago officers may not stop an individual unless they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is engaging in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on a hunch or an officer simply thinking that someone “does not look right.” Officers must observe someone engaging in conduct which, when viewed in light of all the circumstances, creates a legitimate belief that the person is about to commit a crime. An example would be if an officer saw someone walking through a neighborhood known for meth-related activity. Simply being in the neighborhood would not give rise to reasonable suspicion. If, however, officers saw someone standing on the street corner of such a neighborhood for long periods of time then they may have reason to believe that the person is selling drugs. This, depending on the circumstances, may give officers reason to stop and question the individual.
Defendants may challenge the conduct of police officers if they are stopped and drugs are found. The first step is to file a Motion to Suppress Illegally Seized Evidence. This is a written document in which your lawyer will spell out the law, explain how police violated it, and argue why any obtained evidence should be ruled inadmissible in Court. An evidentiary hearing will be held at which your representative will be given the chance to examine the arresting officers. Once the hearing is concluded the Judge will make a decision as to whether the officers had a right to stop the defendant. If it is found that Police violated the Fourth Amendment then the case may be dismissed.
It is important to understand that search and seizure issues make up a complicated area of criminal law. Simply because the police stopped you, and found methamphetamine, does not mean that you are necessarily going to be convicted. By hiring an experienced lawyer, familiar with these issues, you improve your chances of making sure that your rights remain protected.
Contact my office today to speak with a Chicago drug possession attorney. I am a former prosecutor with over thirty years of legal experience. I understand that police sometimes violate the constitution and I believe that everyone is entitled to an aggressive defense. I also handle matters in Cook County including Chicago Ridge, Glenview, Crestwood, Orland Park, 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.