Vehicle Searches in Chicago

a-l-117960-copy-300x198Vehicle searches can be lawfully carried out in Chicago with or without your consent. The penal code in Chicago gives the police many powers so that they can stop criminals and prevent crime. The law specifies the situations in which the police can search a car. Normally these situations arise if there is a strong suspicion that the vehicle contains an illicit substance or a criminal. The search might also be done if there is suspicion that the car has been used or is about to be used to commit a crime. Failure to follow procedures can be grounds for a criminal defense.

Failure to stop and submit to a lawful vehicle search can be a crime. If there is a court case, the fact that the defendant refused the search can be used by the judge and jury to assume that they must have been doing something wrong. This is what is known as an “adverse inference” and can turn a case against the defendant. The evidence that has been found during a vehicle search can be used in a court case such as for drug charges.

Understanding the Rules on Consent

You give consent by allowing the officers to search your car. They will record this in their police statement if the case proceeds any further. Sometimes the police officers will ask for permission to search before insisting or recording that permission has been denied. The police may require a warrant to do a vehicle search if they do not have your consent and there is no strong foundation for suspecting criminal activity.

If the police have a warrant, they can search the car even without your consent. The warrant is an authorization that is given by either a judge or a senior police officer. There are certain situations in which the police can search the car even without a warrant or your consent. Sometimes there is an abuse of these powers. For example, the targeting of black neighborhoods remains to be a concern in this regard.

Specifics of a Search Warrant

The search warrant must contain the following details in order to be valid:

  • A description of summary of the vehicle or its location
  • The item that they are looking for

Warrants can vary depending on what the issuing officer has authorized. You may request to see the warrant to verify that it is valid. If the police pretend to have a warrant when they do not, this evidence can be used as a defense by your lawyers when the court is hearing the case.

Tainted evidence or evidence that is illegally obtained can be ruled inadmissible in court. This is evidence that is thrown out so that it is not considered by the judge and jury when making their decisions.

Search of Property

The law in Chicago has been amended to make it much easier for the police to search vehicles. In fact, the rules for searching vehicles are much more lenient for the police. All they need to prove is that there is reasonable belief or evidence that there are illegal items or activities in the car. That is what happened in the Esteban Loaiza case, when controlled substances were found.

Even without the “probable cause” that has been described above, the police can still search a vehicle once someone in the car is arrested. In this situation, they tend not to search the trunk or any other locked compartment unless the car is going to be towed away.

What to do if Your Car is Searched?

If you feel that your rights have been violated or if you are charged with a crime, it is best to contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at 312-560-7100. There have been cases in which a simple vehicle search has turned out to be a serious matter based on the material that was found. It is always better to be on the safe side by having an experienced attorney to assist you in legal matters involving law enforcement.