Archive for the ‘Drug Defense Success’ Category

Criminal Defendants, Criminal Charges and their Criminal Cases: Who are “THOSE” People?

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

As a criminal defense lawyer, defending a lot of felonies cases and drug defense cases, I often get asked by people who are not criminal defense lawyers: “How can you represent those people?” Of course I know they’re talking about criminal defendants charged with crimes. But “those” people are sons, daughters, spouses, parents, co-workers, friends, and so on – not just mere people charged with criminal offenses. And, guess what, “those” people are quite often innocent of the crimes they’ve been charged with. Oftentimes the police or the prosecution overcharge people with criminal charges, such as intent to deliver on drug cases. I’ve seen intent to deliver charged with misdemeanor amounts of cannabis and near-residue amounts of controlled substances, which, if convicted on such higher-grade criminal charges, bars most options for treatment. 

     Some people who have asked me the question, “How can you represent THOSE people” have later on needed my criminal defense lawyer services, and have appreciated my work in a criminal court on their behalf.

     That is why, to this criminal defense attorney, I much rather use the words “Defending the Accused” than making any reference telling a person that they are criminal defendants. They are presumed innocent, after all, the foundation of our criminal justice system, and are often in fact not guilty and, if guilty, were sometimes arrested via unlawful police conduct.

     Even if someone is caught “dead-to-rights” as a person subjected to a criminal charge, the person still needs to be treated like a human being – because they are. It does a criminal defense lawyer no good to look down his or her nose at “THOSE” people, but instead must give the client a chance to talk, to explain how or why; at the drug addiction seminars I have attended, I learned that drug addicts have often been abused physically as well as emotionally, and have already had their share of being on the receiving end of yelling and lecturing, without much chance to talk. There is great power in telling the drug addict, for example, that it’s his or her turn to talk, and for the criminal defense lawyer to listen. That alone is often a first in the lives of many.

      With all the alternatives available to a person in terms of drug treatment and counseling, how in the world can a criminal defense lawyer know what to do if we don’t, you know, shut up and listen? I was humbled when,  about ten months ago, I was told just that by a client. I did shut up. He did talk and I heard and I listened. Doing so allowed this criminal defense attorney to talk to the right people within Kane County’s highly effective drug court; doing so also allowed the client a chance to hear things from his own mind out loud, causing him to hear the sound of his situation in his own words, inspiring him even more to make positive changes in his life. He is now ten months in recovery. Is there a connection to a criminal defense lawyer shutting up when talking with the client? – well, he’s the one succeeding, let’s leave it at that.

     So – to all “THOSE PEOPLE” asking how can I represent “THOSE PEOPLE”? – my answer is: If it ever becomes necessary, I’d be happy to represent you or anyone else, if the need arises, and to do so with the respect any person deserves.

Aurora, Oh Aurora! Elgin, Oh, Elgin! Everything’s fine with Criminal Charges and the Law

Monday, April 25th, 2011

To this criminal defense lawyer, it seems that not soon after my criminal law post regarding State Rep. Keith Farnham’s “new” idea about requiring defendant’s to reimburse the police for the cost of the defendant’s arrest, that Elgin continues to go further and further with the same idea. Now, if you are arrested for the criminal charge of DUI, in addition to other traffic stops and criminal arrests, you’ll have to pay the city of Elgin $500 for your car’s tow, as well as for the cost of the car’s impoundment itself by the private company. This is the case even if there is a perfectly fine driver there to drive the car home making the tow unnecessary, but also in cases in which a person is found not guilty of the crime, and even if there is a finding of no probable cause for the crime. This is the same process the city of  Aurora, Il, has been using for years. The officials know that since the fine is “only” $500, that such persons subject to the fine will not hire a lawyer to defend against the fee charged because lawyers understandably have to charge more than that to wait around and conduct a prepared trial. What a racket.

     It is this criminal lawyer’s opinion that this is not constitutional. It fails to afford a person reasonable due process. It presumes people guilty first by holding the car or a posted $500 hostage until the hearing, in which the administrative judge is someone picked by and paid for by the same municipality that seeks to gain money through this process. The Elgin government officials even say this – that their goal is to raise 1.5 million dollars a year in revenue under this sham process.

     Cities like Aurora, IL and Elgin, IL seem to want to solve their financial woes by increasing fines and costs in criminal cases in never-ending ways and amounts, and by creating new ones, not realizing that there comes a time when the stone is producing no more water, and that it costs more to chase after unpaid fines than what is actually collected.

     It is time for the criminal defense bar in Kane County to consider whether these hearings actually provide an opportunity for a deposition in a criminal case that they might not ordinarily have, and turn the tables on the government by actually making them work, take their time and personnel, and provide recorded testimony of the hearings, as well as any video and-or audio tapes of the DUI or other traffic arrest. Such legal fee can be incorporated into the overall DUI fees for representation in the criminal case itself, and make it affordable, and reasonable, for both the attorney and the client.

    At least to this criminal defense attorney, this is making sense, especially in cases involving driving under the influence cases. DUIs – it seems now more than ever government officials wish to make money rather than reduce the numbers of people driving under the influence.

Defense Lawyer: Drug Treatment versus Jail

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

In criminal cases in DuPage, Kendall, and Kane Counties, over the last year I’ve worked with 7 clients facing prison for their criminal charges and two others facing their first felony conviction in which I worked to get them into drug treatment programs instead. Sometimes there were legal issues in which the State acquiesced and sometimes it was a tooth-and-nail battle in court on the criminal case getting the program from the presiding judges. Four of the clients recently contacted me and thankfully to report how well they were doing. One man approaching 50 and facing a minimum 6 years in prison on his criminal case (at a cost of $180,000 taxpayer dollars by the way, give or take) has now been clean for 18 months (the first 6 in county jail, but the rest while out and about) for the first time since his teenaged years. (This was the same gentleman I had to help through the phone company crises I wrote about in a different post. ) The look of pride and health in their eyes are remarkable. While each must recognize his or her addiction forever, this, I believe, proves rehabilitation is not a fantasy in our sentencing system. I am thankful for the opportunity to have represented these clients but commend them and their counselors for their hard work. They accomplished this, not this attorney, and it’s a winning situation for everyone involved. Sadly, one parent of a client reported her son failing badly. I wish all clients will succeed, and I hope this one does eventually too. But to those who thought to contact me on their success – thank you for letting me be a part of this, and I wish you all continued success and a happy life. This, I beleive, should provide hope to those with criminal charges fueled by addiction that recovery can happen no matter how bleak things appear right now.

Aurora Criminal Defense Attorney / Criminal Charges: 2009

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

In defending drug chrages and drug cases in particular in 2009, I’ve noticed something uplifting. It seems I have had the benefit of witnessing more than a few of my clients achieve sobriety this year, maintaining it, keeping drug addiction urges at bay. And, off course, avoiding any new criminal charges.My role as the criminal defense attorney is to give my all to provide the opportunity, through effective negotiations, trials, motions to quash, and contested sentencing hearings, so that my clients who come to me for a drug treatment opportunity in fact get that opportunity. But the bottom line is that each person has to take advantage of the resource. The criminally charged clients are the fighters and the heros, to themselves and their family you long for their loved one’s sobriety.

I wish each of you the best, and continued success. Work to avoid the relapse but if you do relapse, don’t run away from what you’ve learned. It has been a privilege to represent each of you, and to be a witness to your fight, and your success.

Criminal Defense Case Threatened By – The Telephone Company!

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Aurora Illinois criminal defense client, Client J., had sat in jail over half a year until I was hired and fought to get him out and into a drug treatment program. Client J was making all the right moves. He made all his drug treatment classes, probation appointments, and stayed out of trouble. We were and, thankfully, still are, on the verge of his release from his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet when the phone line he used – got slammed.

Phone slamming occurs when a phone service company engages in a practice that tricks you into switching phone service companies without you knowing it. In Client J’s case, the phone line had never been in his or his mother’s name, but the landlord’s. One day last July, the phone rang. A pre-recorded message that sounded like nothing more than a phone survey was answered not by the phone line’s owner, but by Client J’s mother. “Would you like to consolidate bills?” “Would you like to pay less for your utitilities?” Well – who wouldn’t like these things to happen? Client J’s mother said yes.

The next question was – “Are you authorized to make decisions about this phone?” Well – Client J’s mother knew she was authorized to use it, that she could operate the answering service, and place the phone elsewhere in the home. The pre-recorded questioning never asked if she was authorized to switch phone companies – and there’s the deceitful word play trick! – so this older woman with some infirmities said yes. But she also said that she in fact was NOT the owner of the phone line.

Didn’t matter – unknown to the true owner of this phone line, based on this deceitful call, not only was the phone line “slammed” – switched through trickery to the other phone company – but it was also switched from the true owner to my client’s mother!

Soon bills that really didn’t look like the traditional telephone bill arrived in Client J’s mother’s name, and she had no idea what these bills were and never had a phone in her name before, or so she thought. And with the non-payment of the bill, the phone line was shut off — shutting off Client J’s ankle bracelet! Client J now faced a petition to revoke referal in court, a violation accusation, and possible jail through no fault of his own!

Because this situation was not of my client’s making, I helped him for free. With hours and hours of frustrating work. The telephone company that made the slam denied everything even though they knew the recording they had made showed that my client’s mother had said she was not the owner of the phone line. I researched this company online and found that their past practices had caused complaints from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as recently as August of this year. I learned how to engage the FCC and found them very responsive. In two days the FCC had filed a complaint against this company. Still the company would not turn the phone back on. Despite my client’s risk of jail, a home with two, infirm elderly people at risk without a phone at home, this company refused to turn the line back on over – $43.

$43!

But the original phone line owner had sent in a money order in that amount, and when the company received it, they still refused to turn it on and a company representative told my client’s mother that more money was owed. It was as though they changed the rules whenever they felt like it.

Now the FCC’s calls to customer service weren’t being answered by the company, nor were mine. So I called the number to this company that deals with phone sales – and, wouldn’t you know? – I got through.

I made it clear to this company that further information was being sent to the FCC for the complaint filed against them. That a promise had been made to not only me and my client’s mother, but also to the FCC, that the phone would be turned on once the $43 was received. But now that appeared to be a lie – to a federal government agency!

A more reasonable person at the company who was the first not to speak with telemarketing jingles had said the line would be turned back on – on monday. I raised the question of what happens if one of these two elderly folks needs emergency care over the weekend, but they cannot contact anyone because the phone line is off, and why the phone could be turned off in an instant but cannot be turned back on in an instant?

A half hour later, the phone line was turned back on. The complaint filed by the FCC remains pending and is being pursued.

Caught in the middle, of course, was my client. He incurred no legal fees from me over this, and shouldn’t have. This was not his fault. Never in my 22 years of criminal defense work had I seen such callous conduct by a phone company, nor a situation where a phone company’s actions could cause a client, doing all the right things, to be placed back in jail. Thankfully too, the adult court services people in Kane County gave me their patience and were able to set up a temporary, but more expensive and more restrictive system, to give me a chance to straighten this out.

The bottom line message is clear. Do NOT agree to anything that involves any of your utitlities over the phone unless YOU have made the call and YOU have made the decision and know exactly why you want to make a switch. When one of these pre-recorded calls come to your home – hang up, before you and your wallet are hung out to dry.