CAN POLICE SEARCH MY HOSPITAL ROOM WITHOUT A WARRANT?

The answer is generally no.

The Fourth Amendment protects you from warrantless searches in places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy unless the search falls under an exception to the warrant requirement, such as when an item is in plain view.

But when do you have a “reasonable expectation of privacy?” The answer may depends on the facts of your specific case. Some factors a court considers are: (1) ownership of the property searched; (2) whether you were legitimately present in the area searched; (3) whether you had a possessory interest in the area or property seized; (4) prior use of the area searched or property seized; (5) the ability to control or exclude others from the property; (6) whether you had a subjective expectation of privacy; (7) the nature of the premises where the search occurred; and (8) the intimate or personal nature of the activities that usually take place in that space.

Be aware that different judges may weigh these factors very differently. Therefore, an attorney who has experience with your particular judge may be able to present your situation to that judge in its most appealing light.

In People v. Pearson, police searched the defendant’s hospital room after he had been shot. A nurse took defendant’s clothing from his room and gave it to the police at their request and without defendant’s consent. The court held that defendant had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the hospital room: “The concern for patients’ personal bodily privacy and vulnerability…gave rise to the laws protecting the privacy and confidentiality of medical treatment …. Those same laws were in effect at the time of the events here, supporting a similar conclusion that [defendant]’s expectation of privacy was one that “society is prepared to consider reasonable.”

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Did the officer have a legitimate basis for the search? If not, an attorney can petition the court in hopes of suppressing the evidence from the search.

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 BE STOPPED FOR PARKING IN A LOT LATE AT NIGHT?

You like driving late at night.  It’s quiet, and it lets you think.  One night, you pulled over to eat in a store’s parking lot.  The store had been closed for several hours, and the area was deserted.  An officer spotted you and came over to investigate.  He smelled alcohol and pretty soon you were out of your car and under arrest. Can they do that?

The answer depends on the facts of your situation.

An officer can see if you need help as part of his or her community caretaking function.  Were you sleeping in the car or did you have a heart attack?  If the officer sees something suspicious, the officer may then question and arrest you. But if the officer stopped you only because you were in the parking lot late at night, then any resulting search or arrest is probably illegal.

To justify a stop, the officer must have observed unusual conduct which lead to a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you have committed or are about to commit a crime.  The officer’s suspicion must be more than a hunch and cannot be justified after the fact.

For example, in People v. Gallagher, the defendant was in a gas station parking lot around 12:45 a.m.  The officer became suspicious due to the gas station’s having been previously burglarized, the lateness of the hour and the two individuals sitting inside the car in a darkened area. The court held that this evidence merely amounted to a hunch and that the lateness of the hour, without more, did not rise to a reasonable articulable suspicion.

If you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause both to stop you and to search your car?  If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from the stop or search.

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 POLICE CHANGE THE REASON THEY STOP ME?

An officer can stop you for one reason then investigate you for another as long as the stop is not unduly prolonged. Whether a stop was unduly prolonged, and thus illegal, is a very fact-intensive question, which different judges may see very differently.

A traffic stop is unduly prolonged if it takes longer than the time reasonably required to complete the officer’s mission. The mission consists of the stop’s purpose and related safety concerns. Authority for the stop ends when tasks tied to the traffic violation are, or reasonably should have been, completed.  These tasks include checking your driver’s license, criminal history, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and whether you have any outstanding warrants.

The court looks at the duration of the stop but also whether the officer acted diligently in fulfilling the purpose of the stop. Even a relatively quick stop can be unduly prolonged if the officer completed his or her mission.  An officer cannot use any time saved to investigate other issues.

In People v. Sanchez, the court upheld a seven-minute traffic stop where the officer diligently conducted the necessary inquiries and obtained the information necessary to write the warning ticket and was not simply stalling to wait for the narcotics dog.

If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Did the officer have probable cause to stop you in the first place?  How long did the stop last, and what was the officer doing during that time?  If the stop was unduly prolonged, an attorney can petition the court to try to suppress any evidence resulting from the stop or search, which in limited cases could result in dismissing your charges.

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 POLICE SEARCH MY CAR BASED ON MARIJUANA WHEN POT IS LEGAL IN ILLINOIS?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the answer is yes, especially if combined with other factors.

In People v. Hill, an officer stopped the defendant, then searched his car based on the strong odor of cannabis and a cannabis bud spotted in the backseat.  Defendant argued that because marijuana had been decriminalized, those reasons could not serve as the basis of a search.  The court disagreed.

The court said that a person does not have a legitimate interest in contraband. While small amounts of marijuana had been decriminalized, cannabis was still contraband, even though it might not be evidence of a crime in every situation.  The court said that cannabis was like alcohol, which is lawful in some situations but not in others. Further, the officer did not rely solely on the odor of marijuana as a basis for his search.  The bud in the back seat along with the defendant’s delay in stopping his car provided sufficient probable cause.

If you have been charged with a DUI, criminal or traffic offense, contact an experienced law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense.  Did the officer have the probable cause needed to stop you?  Was the search of your car legal?  If not, an attorney can petition the court to try to suppress the evidence.

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 BE STOPPED FOR FAILING TO WEAR A SEAT BELT?

The answer is yes.

Police can stop your car when they have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.  Failure to wear a properly adjusted and fastened seat belt can be enough.

During any stop, the driver and passengers may be ordered out of the vehicle and questioned without violating the fourth amendment. Any questions need not be related to the purpose of the traffic stop as long as those questions do not prolong the stop.  Police may also frisk everyone to insure there are no weapons. If the stop is prolonged, police then must have a reasonable articulable suspicion of wrongdoing to continue holding you.

If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Did the police have probable cause to arrest you?  If not, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress evidence resulting from the stop.  In rare cases, this could result in dismissing the charges against you.

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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HOW QUICKLY SHOULD YOU STOP WHEN POLICE PULL YOUR CAR OVER?

If an officer pulls you over, you must stop as soon as you can safely do so.

Stopping too slowly could give police the probable cause they need to search your car. Police may think you are hiding something or that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

To determine whether you stopped quickly enough, courts look at a number of factors: What were the weather conditions? Is traffic heavy? Are you on a highway without a shoulder? You might be justified in driving a little further to pull in somewhere like a mall where it is safer and less likely to obstruct traffic.

In  People v. Hill, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld a police search of the defendant’s car. Defendant had missed several opportunities to pull over safely. The officer testified that based on his experience, drivers who delay in pulling over are often hiding contraband or retrieving a weapon. The court found that the delay along with the odor of cannabis and a cannabis bud in the backseat were enough to give the officer probable cause.

If you have been charged with a traffic or similar offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. Was the stop by police legal? If not, an attorney can petition the court to suppress any evidence resulting from that stop or search.

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 A MINOR TRAFFIC VIOLATION GIVE POLICE THE RIGHT TO STOP MY CAR?

In most situations, the answer is yes.

Police need probable cause before they can stop your car for a suspected offense. Violating even a minor traffic law can be enough. Furthermore, police may conduct a brief, investigatory stop where the officer reasonably believes that you have committed, or are about to commit, a crime, which includes traffic violations.

For example, in People v. Edwards, the defendant violated a Chicago municipal law that prohibited drivers from unreasonably obstructing traffic. The defendant’s car had been running with its headlights on about three to six feet off the curb. This violation was enough to support probable cause.

If you have been charged with a traffic or criminal offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney, who is familiar with the courthouse, can review your case for its best possible defense. For example, the defendant in the above case argued that his car was not unreasonably obstructive because there had been little traffic.  While the court rejected that argument, a different judge with a slight change in the facts could have resulted in 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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HOW CAN A LAWYER HELP MY CHILD WITH A TRAFFIC TICKET?

 

 

Your child only recently started driving.  Although generally responsible, he or she got a rather high speeding ticket with the possibility of a criminal record as a result.  Should you get an attorney?  What can an attorney do?

 

Be aware that certain types of tickets, like speeding, are very difficult to win at trial. However, under limited circumstances, it may be possible to get a ticket dismissed.  More likely, an attorney can help your child by negotiating with the prosecutor to get a reduced charge or sentence.  If, for example, your child is charged with a Class A Misdemeanor for speeding, an attorney may be able to get the charge reduced to a petty offense.

 

An attorney can further help present your child in their best possible light by drawing attention to their better qualities.  Are they a straight A student?  Heavily involved in afterschool clubs? Do they volunteer anywhere?  Can they get letters attesting to their good character?

 

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 EFFECT OF AN ILLINOIS DUI UNDER AGE 21 AND HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?

If you are arrested for DUI when you are under age 21, you can face somewhat stiffer penalties than if you were older.  For one thing, the Illinois Secretary of State can revoke your driving privileges for at least two years for a first conviction.  Further, under Zero Tolerance, you can lose your license for at least three months if you are found to have any trace of alcohol in your system while operating a motor vehicle even if you were under the legal limit.  The investigating officer has the discretion whether to charge you with Zero Tolerance, DUI or both.

You may also lose your license if you are convicted or received supervision for illegal consumption, purchase, or possession of alcohol or for receiving alcohol as a gift regardless of whether you were driving at the time.

An attorney can help you by reviewing your case for your best possible defense.  Did police have a valid reason to stop you? If not, an attorney may be able to get any evidence from the stop suppressed. Can the state prove all the elements of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt?  Did anyone see you driving?  Was your driving impaired? If not, an attorney may be able to take your case to trial.

A Zero Tolerance charge may be somewhat harder to fight if police do have probable cause to stop you, and they can prove that any alcohol was in your system.  However, an attorney can still help negotiate a favorable plea agreement. Are you an exemplary student?  Do you volunteer?  Are you involved in any afterschool clubs?  Are their family circumstances that would make the prosecutor want to give you a break? Can you get letters attesting to your otherwise good character?

If your license is suspended before age 21, you will have to successfully complete a driver remedial education course, and you can be required to take a complete driver’s test in order to re-issue your license.

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.

 

Source:  Illinois Zero Tolerance Policy.

 

(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 A THIRD PARTY CONSENT TO A POLICE SEARCH OF MY POSSESSIONS?

You left your car at your friend’s house while you were out of town. You wanted the car moved every few days so you left him the keys.  While you were gone, the police stopped your friend in the car and asked to search it based on suspicion that it was involved in a crime.  Your friend said OK. The police found hidden drugs leading to your arrest.

Can they do that?  The answer depends on the authority your friend had to consent to the search.

To justify the search, the state must show that a reasonable person, in the circumstances presented to the officer, would believe that the third party had apparent authority over the item searched.  The third party’s mere possession of the item is not enough. Rather, authority depends on the third party’s use of, control over and access to the item.

For example, in People v. Ortega, a truck driver transported a BMW from Nevada to Chicago.  The driver stopped in Naperville to unload another car. In attempting to move the BMW, the truck driver discovered the battery was dead.  Checking inside the truck, the driver found multiple bundles wrapped in duct tape.  The driver called police who opened the packages based on the driver’s consent.  The packages contained cannabis, and the BMW owner was arrested.

The court found that the truck driver was empowered to enter the BMW, drive it off the transport truck, and open the trunk to access the battery. Thus, the driver had apparent authority over the BMW and could consent to the search of those areas. However, the truck driver did not have authority over the sealed packages. Thus a search warrant was required to open the packages.

If you have been charged with a criminal or traffic offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense.  Was the search legal?  If not, an attorney may be able to petition the judge to suppress the evidence resulting from the search.  Under certain circumstances, this could result in your case being dismissed.

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.

<p><i>(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.)</i>

 

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