Archive for the ‘Trespass Agreements’ Category

Criminal Defense in Aurora, IL. Sometimes the Police Make it Easier for Criminal Defense Lawyers to Win, but Make the Citizen’s Life Miserable

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Imagine having to see a criminal defense lawyer on criminal charges simply because you were an invited guest to a house or apartment, even if that person inviting you was your mother. And not just a misdemeanor either, but a felony charge. And now you have to pay the criminal defense lawyer and you’re out that money even if you win. Welcome to Aurora, Kane County IL., as well as DuPage County.

The Aurora Police Department justifies this through something called a Trespass Agreement. The agreement is one page long and it’s between the police department and the landlord. The Aurora Police have repeatedly interpreted this as an agreement that allows officers to screen everybody going in and out of a place simply because they do not recognize them. They claim it helps them monitor troubled areas by creating a ban list, allowing arrests for trespass, and it is a way to work with the landlord to reduce problem areas. Here are the obvious problems.

Foremost, Illinois law, reflective of both State and Federal Constitutions, allows us to invite over whomever we damn well want to invite over. This principle does not change whether the neighborhood is full of mansions or the high-density apartment complex. In order to allow ban lists of any kind – the agreement must BE IN THE TENANT’S LEASE! After all, how can third parties contract away OUR rights to invite over whom we please? They can’t, but in Aurora, IL, they do, and press criminal charges to boot. If a person is considering whether to rent an apartment and such a ban list is a condition of the lease, then that prospective tenant can consider that provision before signing, and then choose to agree to it and move in, or not agree to it and live elsewhere, but third parties cannot do it for them.

I’ve had several cases involving the Aurora Police and these so-called Trespass Agreements. In each case the agreements have been around five, ten, or more years, and these officers still testify that the neighborhood is a high crime, high-drug area. Well then, either these officers are lying in order to justify the reasons for stopping the defendant or the trespass agreements haven’t been working to reduce crime.

What’s worse, the Aurora Police know that the Illinois Supreme and Appellate Courts have ruled that trespass agreements that are not part of the tenant’s agreed lease are void; also, even if in the lease, they cannot be used to justify stops of people simply because the officer doesn’t know the person. Still, the Aurora police do it, and I have a case now where the Aurora police have made four trespass arrests on a person with no other criminal history and, after talking with the landlord – nope – there’s nothing in the lease about trespass agreements.

Is it arrogance, or something worse? I blogged about Trespass Agreements a while ago, and won two motions since. All in Aurora, IL. The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, to their credit, has dropped a few of these cases too. It is hard to imagine the Aurora Police, who also review decisions from our courts and have lost repeated cases, aren’t fully aware. Regardless, here we go again.

The Aurora Police and Trespass Agreements

Friday, August 7th, 2009

It is vital for any criminal defense lawyer to know, especially drug defense attorneys that work in Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, and DuPage Counties, that many police departments, from Elgin to Aurora, and from Naperville to DeKalb, have used something called Trespass Agreements to justify stopping people simply because a police officer didn’t recognize somebody. These agreements usually consist of one page in which the police department will offer closer patrol if the landlord of an apartment complex signs the agreement and sets up something called a ban list.

The problems with this should be obvious. First, why does a police department need an agreement to patrol an area or apartment complex? Isn’t this their job anyway? Will they ignore a problem crime area if the landlord won’t make such an agreement? Even worse – how can the police department and a private person or business such as a landlord or apartment complex agree to do away with the constitution? The answer is – they can’t.

I had the pleasure of arguing and prevailing on such a case, in the trial court in Kane County, and then on appeal, against the Aurora Police Department’s continued use of these trespass agreements. The case is called People v. Beverly and was decided in 2006. In the Beverly case, the police and the  prosecution argued that the no-trespassing signs gave them authority to stop someone for suspected trespass. But the problem is – how do such signs give any evidence to any police officer that any person isn’t a tenant, invited guest, or someone soliciting for votes in an upcoming election? Of course the answer is that they don’t.

Sadly, even though the law was made, once again, clear, in the case of People v. Beverly, decided by the Appellate Court in 2006, the Aurora police have continued to use these trespass agreements to justify full arrests for trespass even if they have no idea whether someone was even on a ban list! In order for a trespass agreement to be valid, it has to be in the lease that the apartment dwellers sign. Also, a published ban list has to be readily available and a banned person has to be notified first prior to any stop or arrest that he or she is on the list. Last, while the police may suggest someone to the landlord to be placed on the ban list, the police, as a matter of statutory and constitutional law, do not get to decide as they please who to stop even if there is a Trespass Agreement.

Sadly, these rules have been around since a case from the mid-1970s – a decision called Karow v. Illini Student Inn, and then again by the Illinois Supreme Court in Williams v. Nagel decided in the mid-1990s. The case I worked on, People v. Beverly, should have been unnecessary, but so it goes. Should a police officer in Aurora or anywhere ever stop you based on trespass because of one of these trespass agreements, never ever fight with the officer, and do not run. Simply ask whether you are free to walk away, and politely persist with that question until the officer answers you. If the offcier says you are free to walk away – walk away. If the officer says you are not free to walk away or demands that you produce ID, do not resist.  You certainly may stand your polite ground and use the information in this blog entry to object to the stop.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns about what I’ve written here on my Kane County Lawyer blog. While police officers have a tough and respectful job fighting crime, it must not be done at the expense of something so basic as your right to go to your home, a friend’s home, or a relative’s home undisturbed.