Posts Tagged ‘not guilty’

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.

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.