CAN POLICE SEARCH MY HOSPITAL ROOM WITHOUT A WARRANT? PART II

In our April 20, 2021 post, we discussed People v. Pearson in which the court held that police could not search a defendant’s hospital room without a warrant because the defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his hospital room.  (Can Police Search My Hospital Room Without a Warrant?)

But a later Illinois Appellate case shows how specific facts viewed by a particular judge can reach a different outcome.  This is why it is important to hire an experienced attorney who is familiar with your courthouse and can present your facts in their best possible light to your specific judge.

In  People v. Turner, after discussing the Pearson case, the court concluded that defendant Turner did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in his hospital trauma room. Thus, police could seize any evidence in plain view without a warrant.

The Turner court looked at many of the same factors set out in our April 20 post. But in this case, the court decided that while defendant was legitimately present in the trauma room to seek medical treatment, none of the other factors weighed in his favor.  The defendant did not own or have a possessory interest in or have prior use of the trauma room.  The hospital, rather than the defendant, had control over the room and the ability to exclude others from it.  Defendant was in the trauma room for two hours to be medically assessed. All told, this did not establish a legitimate expectation of privacy.

A slight change in the facts or a different judge hearing the same facts might have come to a different conclusion.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN AN OFFICER SEARCH YOUR CAR BECAUSE OF SOMETHING THAT IS IN PLAIN VIEW?

You were driving to a friend’s one night when police pulled you over for a broken headlight.  Noticing a bag of white powder on the floor, the officer suspected you had illegal narcotics.  She searched your car, taking the baggie.  You then were arrested for a narcotics offense.

Can police search your car without a warrant?  What can you do?

Under Illinois law, an officer who lawfully stops your vehicle and has probable cause to believe you have contraband may lawfully search any closed containers within your car that might reasonably contain that contraband. An officer may properly seize evidence without a warrant if: (1) the officer was lawfully in a position to view the evidence, (2) the evidence’s incriminating character was immediately apparent, and (3) the officer had a lawful right of access to the object itself.

For example in People v. Villareal, police stopped a car in which defendant was a passenger over a missing front license plate.  The officer smelled cannabis, and another passengers gave the officer two full bags.  The officer searched the defendant’s purse, found her fake ID and arrested her for a series of related offenses.

The state argued the search was legal because the purse was a closed container that could have reasonably contained the cannabis. During the search, the fake ID entered plain view.  The legality of the search came down to whether the officer recognized the ID’s incriminating character before or after he removed it from the purse.  The officer testified he could tell it was fake as soon as he saw it.  Based on that, the court upheld the search.

If you are charged with a crime or traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the officers have probable cause to stop the car?  Could the container reasonably contain the suspected contraband?  For example, an officer searching for a gun cannot look inside a tiny box.  Was the incriminating nature of the evidence immediately apparent?  If there is white powder on the passenger seat, is it obviously cocaine or could it be powdered sugar from a donut?

The legality of a search is a highly fact specific question.  Different judges can view those facts very differently.  An attorney who is familiar with your courthouse may be in a better position to judge how to present those facts to your particular judge.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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WHAT IS AGGRAVATED FLEEING OR ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE A POLICE OFFICER?  

In Illinois, fleeing and eluding a peace officer means that the officer signaled you to stop and you willfully failed to obey, increased your speed, extinguished your lights or otherwise fled or attempted to elude the officer.  The officer must be in uniform, and if the officer is driving, his or her vehicle must flash its lights when used with a horn or siren.  (See 625 ILCS 5/11-204).

Your offense becomes aggravated if you do any of the following when trying to escape:

  • drive speeding more than 21 miles over the limit,
  • you commit more than $300 in property damage,
  • you cause bodily injury,
  • you disobey more than two traffic control devices, or
  • you conceal or alter your vehicle’s registration.

(See 625 ILCS 5/11-204.1).

Fleeing and eluding becomes a Class 4 felony on your third or later offense. However, aggravated fleeing and eluding is a Class 4 felony on a first offense.  For both offenses, the Secretary of State can revoke your driver’s license, and the police may seize your car.

If you are charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal or traffic law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the officer in uniform?  Did the officer display the proper signals?  Was your failure to obey willful or was there a legitimate reason you failed to stop?  Did you really try to get away or were you looking for a safe place to pull over? Can the state prove you caused the damage and that the damage exceeded $300?  Or that you altered the vehicle’s registration?

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN AN OFFICER SEARCH MY CAR BASED ON THE SMELL OF MARIJUANA?

The legalization of recreational marijuana has caused some confusion regarding its effect on DUI laws.  A recent Illinois appellate court decision is providing some guidance. Essentially, the smell of burnt cannabis, without any corroborating factors, is not enough to establish probable cause to search the vehicle. This decision is likely to be revisited as the issue remains a complex one.

Effective January 1, 2020,   410 ILCS 705/10-10  permits  Illinois residents 21 years or older to possess no more than 30 grams of cannabis, 500 milligrams of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a cannabis-infused product, or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Possessing more than those amounts or delivering any amount remains illegal. You also may not possess cannabis in a vehicle unless it is in a “reasonably secured, sealed container and reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.”

In People v. Stribling, an officer stopped the defendant’s car for disobeying a traffic law.  Based on the strong odor of burnt cannabis and defendant’s statement that someone had smoked inside the vehicle “a long time ago,” the officer searched defendant’s car. The court held that the officer did not have probable cause for the search.  It was legal for the defendant to smoke cannabis and drive as long as the concentration in his blood or urine did not pass the threshold amount for DUI. The evidence did not show that the officer had any concerns with the defendant’s blood concentration or that there was any impaired driving.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the officer have probable cause to stop or search you?  Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt?  Even if the search and stop were legal and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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WHAT IS THE CRIME OF “FICTITIOUS OR UNLAWFULLY ALTERED DRIVER’S LICENSE OR PEMIT” IN ILLINOIS?

There are a host of offenses that can be either a Class A Misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony if you knowingly possess or display a fictitious or unlawfully altered driver’s license or permit.  (See 625 ILCS 5/6-301.1).  Simply possessing such a license is a Class A Misdemeanor on a first offense and a Class 4 felony on a later offense.

It is also a Class 4 felony if you possess or display that altered license under any of the following circumstances:

  • You wanted to obtain an account, credit, credit or debit card from a bank, financial institution or retail store
  • You committed any other crime which can be sentenced to more than one year in prison.
  • You intended to commit a theft, deception, or credit or debit card fraud in violation of any law of this State or any law of any other jurisdiction;
  • You did so while in possession without authority of any document, instrument, or device capable of defrauding another;
  • You did so intending to acquire any other identification document;
  • to knowingly issue or assist in the issuance of any fictitious driver’s license or permit;
  • You knowingly alter or attempt to alter any driver’s license or permit;
  • You knowingly manufacture, possess, transfer, or provide any identification document whether real or fictitious for the purpose of obtaining a fictitious driver’s license or permit;
  • You purchase or attempt to purchase any ticket for a common carrier or to board or attempt to board any common carrier;
  • You have a license that is suspended or revoked.

Later violations of the above are a Class 3 felony.

If you are charged with a fictitious driver’s ID or similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Was the search that uncovered the ID legal?  Did you commit the offense knowingly?  Even if the search was legal and the evidence against you was overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN MY PAST ILLINOIS DUI HURT ME EVEN IF IT HAPPENED A LONG TIME AGO?

When you were very young, you got caught driving while intoxicated and pled guilty to DUI.  That was more than 20 years ago.  Now you have been arrested for a second DUI.

Does the first one still count?

The answer is yes.  The DUI law does not limit the amount of time the state can look back in order to enhance your punishment for a second-time DUI or upgrade you to an Aggravated DUI for a third or later offense.

Is there anything you can do?  First contact an experienced DUI attorney.  The attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  While you can’t undo the earlier DUI, you may be able to fight the current one.  Did the police have probable cause to stop you?  Can the state prove you guilty of all the elements of the DUI beyond a reasonable doubt?  Can the state prove you were driving?  The state has to prove you were the driver as well as that you had control of the car.  How was your driving? Did you handle yourself well during the police stop? Did you perform well on any field sobriety tests?  If not, can your performance be explained by something besides alcohol or drugs? Is the breathalyzer, if any, below or not very much over the legal limit?  Even if the police followed procedures and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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DUI WITHOUT A LICENSE

Driving without a license is a bad idea.  Driving without a license while intoxicated is even worse.  Your DUI can then be upgraded to an aggravated offense and a Class 4 felony if you did not possess a driver’s license or any type of driving permit and you drove while intoxicated.

You can also be convicted of aggravated DUI if you had a license, but that license was suspended or revoked due to a reckless homicide or alcohol-related offense. Besides having a Class 4 felony DUI, you can also be convicted of driving on a suspended license and sentenced to a mandatory 30 days in jail or 300 hours of community service.

If you are charged with aggravated DUI, the state must still prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  If you were driving without a license, the state must prove (1) you had actual physical control of a vehicle, (2) while impaired and (3) you didn’t have a valid license or permit.  If you are charged with DUI while license suspended or revoked, the state must prove (1) you had actual physical control of a vehicle, (2) while impaired and (3) the that your license was suspended or revoked at the time you were stopped.  For driving on a suspended license, the state’s job is pretty simple:  the state need only prove (1) you were driving and (2) your license was suspended or revoked.

Even if arrested for DUI without a license, there may still be hope. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the officer have probable cause to stop you?  If the officer arrived at the scene of an accident, can the state prove you were driving rather than a third party?  Does the video from the arrest show you were impaired or did you drive safely and handle yourself well with officers?  Even if police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN YOU REFUSE TO GIVE A BLOOD OR URINE SAMPLE WHEN THERE IS A VALID SEARCH WARRANT?

According to a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, the answer is no. Further, you could end up with additional criminal charges.

In People v. Hutt, an officer obtained a search warrant for the defendant’s blood and urine after arresting him for DUI.  The defendant refused to give the samples.  The state then charged the defendant with obstruction of justice.  Under one definition of that offense, you obstruct justice when you knowingly destroy, alter, conceal or disguise physical evidence, plant false evidence or furnish false information with intent to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person.  See 720 ILCS 5/31-4(a)(1).

The Court held that defendant’s conduct constituted obstructing justice. First, the court found that the blood and urine samples met the definition of physical evidence. Second, defendant’s actions “concealed” evidence. The court reasoned that a defendant can obstruct the legal process by failing to act as well as by taking obstructive actions.

If you are charged with obstruction of justice, DUI or a similar criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.  An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  As with most criminal defenses, the state must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  Did you knowingly conceal or disguise physical evidence?  Perhaps you were not aware of the search warrant.  Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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DOES SPEEDING PROVE I WAS DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE?

The answer is not necessarily.

If you were pulled over for DUI based on speeding, then the police likely have the probable cause they need to stop you, and you would not be able to fight the stop itself.  But the good news is that speeding doesn’t necessarily equal impaired driving.

To convict you of DUI, the state must prove that 1) you drove and 2) your driving was impaired by drugs or alcohol.   If you otherwise drove safely, performed well on field sobriety tests and spoke clearly and intelligently to police, you may be able to win a not guilty verdict on your DUI.

If you have been charged with DUI or a similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately.   The attorney can request copies of the state’s evidence including any body cam or squad car videos of your stop and testing.  An attorney can review the state’s evidence to see if you have a chance of winning at trial.  If the evidence is clear that you’ve had a few too many, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may still be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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CAN I CLEAR MY OLD ILLINOIS ARREST WARRANT WHEN I LIVE OUT OF STATE?

Many years ago you were young and reckless.  You got arrested in Illinois.  You wanted to pretend your case didn’t exist, so you skipped out on your court date and eventually moved out of state.  Older and wiser, you worry that a routine traffic stop will send you back to Illinois in handcuffs.

Now, you are ready to deal with your past, clear the warrant and deal with the underlying case.  Can you put it behind you?

The answer is very likely yes.  An attorney can bring your open warrant before your original court to ask a judge to vacate or set it aside.  You would likely have to appear in person for a hearing on this procedure, but upi may even be able to make later court appearances on zoom.

Once the warrant is set aside, you now have to settle the underlying offense,.   An attorney can help negotiate a plea agreement or take your case to trial.  If you have been gone a long time, the evidence against you may have grown cold.  Therefore, it may be more difficult for the state to try your case. In rare cases, if the offense is very old and relatively minor, the judge might even be willing to dismiss it.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

 

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