Posts Tagged ‘Elgin’

Criminal Defense Lawyer and Drug Charges: Keeping the Mind focused on Hearts of Hope

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Dear Readers: Regarding drug charges and addiction, a link to Hearts of Hope is provided at the end of this blog entry.

     When the new criminal charge comes into my office, and the client has no interest in fighting a criminal drug charge, for instance, as a drug defense lawyer I tell the new criminal defense  client and his or her family that I do not want the client’s repeat business. Although this hardly seems effective as a business model, when it comes to defending drug cases and drug charges, it absolutely is the only model that makes sense. As a criminal defense lawyer, I always look over every page in the criminal case to look for anything and everything that will help my client charged in a criminal case. Motions to quash regarding an illegal search, errors in charging the criminal case, motions to dismiss the criminal charge – the client’s right to know all information and opportunities in his or her criminal case does not change simply because the client confides his or her drug or alcohol addiction to me. In fact, as a criminal defense lawyer, I know that I can often take advantage of such errors in criminal cases to my clients advantage, allowing them the freedon and opportunity to get drug treatment as opposed to incarceration without any hope for drug addiction treatment.

     Look, if a former drug client wants to hire me again, of course I’ll do it, and charge the legal fee. But what does this mean? It means that the client, despite the prior case or cases, has continued on in the world of drugs. Of course I presume each client innocent, as I should. But even if a person is innocent in fact, a new arrest may mean that the person has been traveling in circles that allows a false accusation to be charged. And if the person is in fact not innocent, then the addiction has continued. Whether the first case resulted in an outright not guilty, a motion to quash being granted, or some other form of dismissal, or if the person negotiated probation as a result –  with treatment – well, despite the successful surgery, the drug-addicted client has ripped the stitches wide open again because the addiction continues.

     In trying to improve my understanding of what people go through combating addiction, I had the pleasure of recently attending a Hearts of Hope meeting in Geneva, IL, in Kane County, a couple miles east of the Kane County Judicial Center. I cannot reveal names or even general details, because of promised confidentiality, but I can say that Hearts of Hope is one amazing organization, one that every criminal defense attorney in Aurora, Elgin, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, all of Kane County or from anywhere for that matter, should attend. Although open to recovering addicts, the focus seems to be on the parents of addicts. I saw the pain and frustration upon the faces there, and the strain and love in their voices. After all, these are the mothers and fathers who raised babies into toddlers, toddlers into teens.  And for each loving parent, it is so harshly devastating to witness that beautiful child succumb to addiction along with addiction’s impact on the addict’s life and health, and that of the loved ones around them.

     The session showed a helping hand of hope, a real heart of hope, a name this group well deserves. Each parent not only seeks comfort among those who understand because they too have been living the pain of addiction upon a child, but also each parent searches for answers in a realm where there just doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer. There are also parents there whose children have maintained recovery for a long time, providing an even bigger heart of hope. As a criminal defense attorney, I wanted to see, hear, and learn from such parents. Hearts of Hope provides a wealth of information and honest facts about real addiction histories. 

     It is clear that the age-old adage of the addict not only recognizing he or she is an addict, but also wanting help, remains true. Forcing someone without these basic steps just won’t work. But even with addicts receiving inpatient treatment for 3, 6, even more than 12 months, relapse happens, and sometimes quickly after release from inpatient treatment.  When I pressed for an answer why, what did the addicted person say was the reason to relapse, so hard and so soon? –  I found that there was no definitive answer to be given.

     In my March 18, 2011, post, I wrote about the need for the drug addict to be genuinely scared before treatment will stand a chance to work. Indeed even though an addict has seen death of friends due to illegal drugs, or loss of child custody, loss of employment, college, career, a place to live, the trust of family, or may have suffered a near-death overdose themselves – far too often, none of what would keep the rest of us straight seems to be enough in the face of addiction, especially heroin. It’s as though, when relapse happens, it’s because the addict’s mind at the point of relapse has emptied of every other thought, and the logical reasons not to relapse are at least muted. The person simply wants the drug. Maybe there’s a plan, doomed form the start, to sneak a hit one more time, or a plot to work around drug testing. But such plots and plans always fail at some point. Always.

     I still could be wrong, but my gathering with Hearts of Hope strengthened my belief that the addict seeking recovery has to have made up his or her mind to be scared of the addiction every single day. To make up the decision to be scared of the drug every single moment of the day. In this way, a decision is made, and made every day, before temptation arises and before the inner voice to use begins to talk. Is this the answer, or even part of the answer? I wish I knew for sure. I wish that each and every parent could have his or her son or daughter back the way they were before addiction took over the child’s life. I am convinced, however, that Hearts of Hope is invaluable for parents seeking personal relief from their own pain, for persons seeking information, as the people there provide a wealth of valuable information. And it’s also a valuable group for the recovered addict and the parents of the recovered addict to attend, to provide their own Hearts of Hope and strengthen their own continuing recovery.

     In our criminal courts, no lawyer or judge should deny a defendant his or her statutory or constitutional rights, nor provide each person anything short of  full information and options on any given case. To do otherwise not only would violate the principles lawyers and judges are sworn by oath to uphold upon licensing, but also would serve to cause an addict, typically suspicious of authority to begin with, to deeply mistrust or turn away from a court system if that system’s honesty is suspect. However, that certainly does not mean treatment is inconsistent with criminal defense. Even if litigation is the addicted client’s choice, with an eye toward victory for that case, the criminal defense attorney should provide the whole truth, that victory will be for that case only, and not for the rest of the addict’s life, unless recovery from addiction is fought for and won.

     I hope each of you who have honored me by reading this blog entry will also link (provided below) to the Hearts of Hope web site, and then pass it on to your friends and family. Sadly, I think we all know someone, or know someone who knows someone, who is hurting because of addiction. Hearts of Hope – it’s not the only organization out there, but it is special and powerful, and will in turn link you to other, helpful organizations. The cost?

    Hearts of Hope is both free and priceless. Please click on –  http://www.heartsofhope.net/

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.

Drug Possession v. Intent To Deliver – a world of difference

Monday, August 10th, 2009

In drug cases, for any drug defense lawyer working in Kane County, as well as DuPage, DeKalb, and Kendall Counties, what’s the difference between a finding of guilty for possession of drugs versus a finding of guilty for intent to deliver? Often the differences mean the world to a person. As a drug defense lawyer I know that it’s basic that being found guilty of possession and not guilty of intent to deliver may allow you the ability to receive a form of supervision, depending on your criminal history. And it doesn’t matter if you’re from Aurora, Elgin, or DeKalb, to Elburn, Naperville, Sycamore, Batavia, Geneva or Cortland. Any town, large or small. More importantly, it can mean the difference between getting the treatment you need on probation versus going to an over-crowded prison with little chance of drug counseling.

As a new attorney back in 1987, it became apparent right away to me that the police would often testify that something meant intent to deliver if it were a “fact” in the case. For example, if cocaine were found in one bundle, an officer would testify for the state that cocaine in one bundle meant intent to deliver. If another case had the cocaine in small separate baggies, then the separation of drugs into small packets would mean intent to deliver. Can both of these claims be true? Of course not.

Obviously people who buy drugs for personal use buy whatever is available from the seller, no different than buying a legal product from a grocery store. If a seller sells in one bundle, that’s what is bought. If a seller sells in small packets, then that is what is bought. It’s as true for buying toilet paper as it is true for buying cocaine.

Police officers would routinely testify under oath about something called “economic feasibility” but could only define that term according to what poor people would do when buying drugs. The prejudice, of course, is inherent. It assumes that only poor people buy and use drugs.

Whenever I have a case in which the issue is not guilt – my guy in fact possessed an illegal drug – but what the intent of the possession was, personal use or for sale, at trial, there’s always a police officer willing to testify that whatever my client had, it meant intent to deliver. Which, if believed by the trial judge, often meant no probation and no treatment for the addicted client. It’s been like this when I first started out in 1987, and it’s still this way in 2009.

To combat this problem, I began collecting transcripts from such so-called police expert testimony on intent to deliver. The reason was obvious – the police experts, from transcript to transcript, changed their tune on what proof of intent to deliver means to match the facts of the case at hand. Then for me, armed with these transcripts, it became easy to confront any police expert with what another officer said the month before under oath. And, of course, the officer of the day was not about to criticize any other fellow officer.

My next approach was to do an exhaustive research of all the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Court decisions on intent to deliver cases. These published cases contained testimony from police officers on intent to deliver that was even more amazingly inconsistent than the inconsistent testimony I gathered in transcripts of so-called police experts. The variation on what was intent to deliver became astounding, with a few judicial opinons taking note of what I had gathered – that there is no consistency from one police expert to the next.

Finally, I have been honored to have clients who have turned their lives around, several becoming drug counselors themselves. I began using them as experts in my trials on behalf of clients. These folks were incredible. Judges, and rightfully so, appreciated that these folks had actually been there and done that in terms of drug addiction. They lived the drug-addicted lifestyle, paid the prison-price for it, fought back and achieved recovery, and had much more street-cred. than a police officer who had never been there or done that, but came only from a law enforcement perspective – and wanted to justify their or their fellow officer’s arrests on intent to deliver.

Hopefully this will not sound like arrogance, or a jinx, but I have had countless trials – usually bench trials – using such experts, and I have never lost at such a trial on intent to deliver cases. It’s not legal expertise on my part, but rather it’s the common sense and reality these experts bring to a judge at a bench trial. My blessing was to have thought of the approaches described in this blog.

Whether your case or your loved one’s case arises from Elgin, Aurora, South Elgin, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Yorkville, Elburn, DeKalb, Sycamore, Naperville, Wheaton, and all places in between – if you’re arrested on a drug case, charged with intent to deliver, please consider what I’ve put in this blog. Perhaps I can win a motion to quash arrest for you, or establish that you didn’t possess the drugs at all. But if that isn’t possible, consider the importance of getting a not guilty on intent to deliver.

As I wrote when I started this blog, it means the world because it means getting you or a loved one a chance at treatment, so that another life can get back on track, and you will never need a criminal defense lawyer’s help ever again.