A Chicago man is facing federal charges of unlawful possession of a weapon, unlawful possession of controlled substances, and the use of a weapon in the furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The defendant was stopped on the CTA Green Line when the weapon and drugs were found. Since the defendant has a previous felony on his record, it is unlawful for him to possess a firearm.
However, the grand jury announcement and arrest report fail to note how the police became aware that the man was in possession of a weapon. What probable cause did they have to search the man in the first place? At this point, it is completely unclear how police became aware that this particular individual was in possession of contraband and illegal weapons.
When this information is not provided in an indictment report, it is likely to become the subject of a probable cause hearing. Generally speaking, police have little cause to approach an individual aboard a train or in a station and demand that they subject themselves to a search. So chances are good here that the defendant has a functional probable cause defense. If he does not, then he is going to have to face these charges and likely be convicted. His freedom thus hinges on how the search was conducted and whether or not the police had probable cause to initiate the search.
Probable Cause for Searches
Firstly, if you give consent to a search, the police can search you. However, if you do not give consent, then the police must have probable cause to initiate a search. That means that they need a good reason. If the court deems that their reason is not good, then the search can be thrown out. Without the search in a case like this, the prosecutors would have no evidence to present against the defendant, and he would go free.
So, in articles that do not mention how the police discovered the suspect’s crime, what is the most likely explanation the prosecutor will give? The prosecutor will likely say that an anonymous tip provided by a fellow rail rider caused police to search the defendant. They can also say that they saw a gun on the man and detained him on that basis. However, most criminals do not wave their guns around on public transit.
Generally speaking, if the case involves a beat officer detaining a member of the public in a public place like the CTA, you are talking about an officer noting something or another person pointing out the suspect. In these cases, judges must determine if the police officer acted reasonably to prevent the commission of a crime. If the police approached the suspect because he looked like a criminal or some other illegal reason, then the suspect’s rights were violated, and the search is illegal. The case would likely be dismissed.
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David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who have been charged with serious crimes in Cook County. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.