Articles Tagged with Chicago drug crimes lawyer

amritanshu-sikdar-253730-unsplash-copy-300x200Drug charges are some of the most common criminal charges issued in the Chicago area. Even if you are no stranger to drug charges, you will want to know the different defenses you can use to fight the charges levied against you. It does not take much to fight a drug charge in Chicago, but you should always protect your rights with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your freedom is something you should never take for granted by nonchalantly accepting whatever charges were filed against you. Let us take a look at the most common defenses to drug charges in today’s post.

Someone Else’s Drugs

One of the most common defenses to a drug charge when caught in possession of drugs is that the drugs belonged to someone else. So many people use this defense as soon as the police officer initiates the contact. They carry this defense with them to their criminal defense attorney’s office and then in front of a judge if the case gets that far. This will require quite a bit of evidence to prove.

IMG_0013_CCThe rules relating to controlled substances in Chicago are found within 720 ILCS 570 or the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. Because the offense of unauthorized prescription drug possession touches on the ability to self-medicate; it has remained one of the more controversial aspects of Chicago law. Interestingly, there has been an uptick in arrests for the possession of medications that would otherwise be perfectly legal except for the important absence of a valid prescription. Unfortunately, the zeal with which these offenses are prosecuted has meant that there are some innocents who have gotten caught up in the melee.

Currently there are nearly two million US residents who abuse prescription drugs in one way or the other. In areas where there are no stringent enforcement structures, it is possible to go unnoticed despite the risk to public health. Some of the more high-profile arrests for illegal possession of prescription drugs include the conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

Distinguishing Legitimate from Illegal Use of Prescription Drugs

If you are convicted of a Chicago drug crime, whether misdemeanor or felony, you face a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fines. If you are not an American citizen, whether an illegal immigrant or a lawful permanent resident, you also face the possibility of being deported.

5748419806_789a66c65f

Deportation for Drug Crimes Conviction

The United States federal code allows for the deportation of any alien convicted of conspiracy to violate, attempted violation or violation of a state controlled substance law (other than a single offense of possession of less than 30 grams of personal use marijuana) that relates to a federally banned substance. The federal code outlines specific substances that are considered controlled substances that could lead to deportation.

This is an important distinction in the law. State and federal law are not always in lock-step regarding what is considered a controlled substance. If an illegal immigrant is convicted of a drug crime under state law, and the controlled substance is not included under the federal controlled substance list, the illegal immigrant is not eligible for deportation.

The United States Supreme Court recently made another distinction under the law. In order to be a deportable offense, the underlying charge must specifically state the controlled substance banned under federal law. In Mellouli v. Lynch, the defendant was convicted of misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia. The paraphernalia in this case was a sock that contained four unnamed pills. Neither the initial charge nor the ultimate plea agreement made specific reference to the controlled substance that was in the defendant’s possession at the time of arrest.

The court ruled that in order to trigger the deportation law, it must be made clear at some point what federally banned controlled substance the defendant had in his possession. Laws must be taken at face value, meaning when the court is interpreting a vague or otherwise ambiguous law, it cannot consider what it thinks the drafters of the law meant. They may only be guided by the literal letter of the law.

Based on prior rulings, the court ruled that they must take the conviction at face value and could not be held responsible for looking into the underlying facts. Thus, police and forensic reports may have indicated what pills were in the defendant’s sock, and reading those reports would have allowed the court to check the federal controlled substance law to see if the drug was included. But that is the responsibility of the police and prosecutor, not the court. Without the substance named, the court ruled the defendant could not be deported.

In terms of defense of drug crimes, the case seemingly has little to no impact on the role of a criminal defense attorney. Yet the case is likely to make prosecutors look more closely at charging documents and plea agreements to ensure that all drug crimes cases are linked to federally banned substances, to ensure that the immigration department has an easier path to deportation, should it choose that option. In that sense, it makes it that much more important to retain the services of an experienced Chicago drug crimes attorney to help win an acquittal or dismissal of all charges, so that deportation is not an option.

Continue reading

A Villa Nova woman was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance after accepting delivery of almost 700 Xanax pills. The arrest was made through the combined efforts of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Postal Service and the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office.

DuPage Possession of a Controlled Substance

Drug crimes require an aggressive defense, and that defense must begin immediately. In any criminal case, there are certain procedures law enforcement must follow in order to ensure that each defendant is afford a fair trial. One of the most important is the fundamental right against unlawful searches and seizures, and law enforcement’s motivation and justification for initiating a search is the most important aspect of any drug crimes defense.

tablets-193666_1280

In this case, there are a number of concerns regarding the arrest and subsequent search of the defendant’s residence.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol intercepted a package addressed to the defendant containing the Xanax. Undercover officers then proceeded to deliver the package to the defendant’s home and, when she accepted it, immediately arrested her for possession of a controlled substance. It is unclear whether the defendant did any more than simply accept the package; if that is all she did, it is very alarming that she was promptly arrested without any further action on her part.  Just because the package was addressed to her does not mean she knew it contained 700 Xanax pills and, in order to be charged with possession, the defendant’s possession must have been knowing. A roommate, friend or family member could have arranged for it to be delivered to her house for their own personal use, and simply addressed it to her so she could accept it. The defendant could not be said to be in possession of the Xanax if she had no idea what was in the package; in such a case, she would have just been in possession of a package delivered to her.

There is, of course, also the possibility that she had a valid prescription for the pills and got them filled out of the U.S. because she had no health insurance and it was cheaper to purchase them elsewhere than have the prescription filled at a local pharmacy.

Next is the search of defendant and her home. Police are able to conduct a search incident to arrest, without the need to first obtain a search warrant. The purpose of the search is to ensure officer safety and prevent the destruction of evidence. However, a search incident to arrest is limited, generally to an area within the defendant’s reach. Since the defendant accepted the package at her front door, law enforcement was legally permitted to search that area within her immediate reach; a search of the entire residence seems beyond the scope of her reach.

However, in this instance it appears that the defendant’s home was searched pursuant to a search warrant. A thorough review of the search warrant, as well as the evidence provided to the judge who issued the warrant, is very important. As I said, the fact that the pills were addressed to the defendant is not enough to prove that she knew what was in the package or had in any way arranged for it to be delivered to her. Because the package could have been sent, unbeknownst to her, by a friend, family member or roommate who planned to pick it up after it had been delivered, the fact that the police was able to get a search warrant is suspect. They could have delivered the package and conducted surveillance, or even gotten a warrant to tap her phone for a limited time to see if she made any calls regarding the pills, before being issued a warrant to search her home.

The circumstances surrounding law enforcement’s acquisition of the search warrant and their immediate arrest of the defendant would all need to be thoroughly examined in order to determine whether police violated the defendant’s right to be free from unlawful search and seizures.

Continue reading