Updated August 2, 2019: Illinois Appellate Court finds Chicago investigative alerts are unconstitutional. See our related blog at Illinois Court Finds Arrest Based on Chicago Police Investigative Alert Unconstitutional

Calling Chicago police investigative alerts “troubling,” some Illinois courts have been reluctant to uphold the legality of a police stop based on an alert alone.

Investigative alerts are issued by police departments. The Chicago Police Department issues two types of alerts: “investigative alert/probable cause to arrest” and “investigative alert/no probable cause to arrest.” One appellate court judge has argued in a concurring opinion that an investigative alert essentially bypasses the constitutional protections required in obtaining a warrant from a judge. See People v Hyland.

Noting this opinion regarding the “troubling” legality of the Chicago Police Department’s alert policy, another appellate court upheld suppressing evidence that came from a stop based on an investigatory alert. In People v Jones, Chicago police stopped defendant for running a traffic light. After checking defendant’s license, the officer discovered an investigatory alert for homicide. The officer then put defendant in his police car. Only then did the officer see the brick of cocaine in defendant’s back seat.

Ordinarily, the discovery of the cocaine would have been legal during a traffic stop because it was in plain view. However, the officer did not see the cocaine until after he had taken defendant into custody based on the investigative alert.

Police are allowed to stop you if the officer reasonably believes that you have committed or are about to commit a crime based upon specific and articulable facts. The court held that the alert, by itself, was not a sufficient basis to investigate defendant as it only meant that other officers had specific and articulable facts. Because the investigation of defendant was improper, the evidence against him could not be used even though it was in plain view.

If you are charged with DUI or other offense, contact an experienced attorney immediately. An attorney may review your case for your best possible defense. If the police acted improperly, the attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the evidence from any search. Even if this is not possible 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.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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