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drug crime cases, drug charges, criminal conviction, drug conviction, Orland Park criminal defense attorney.Most drug crime cases in Illinois involve police searches, and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires the police to obtain a warrant for most searches. In its broadest terms, the Fourth Amendment protects our right to privacy. However, this presumes that we had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the first place.

For example, if a police officer walks into your house and starts looking around, that would clearly be a violation of your privacy. Yet suppose you live in an apartment building and an officer searches the lobby, which is unlocked and accessible to the public. Illinois courts have said such searches of “common areas” do not require a warrant because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.

Still, even within an apartment building, there are limits to how far the police can go. In a 2016 case, the Illinois Supreme Court held that police could not conduct a warrantless search outside an apartment door that was “located within a locked apartment building.” The court said the fact that public access was restricted to the hallway leading up to the defendant's door was critical.

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Orland Park drug crimes defense lawyer, drug chargesIf you are arrested on drug charges, such as possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, the burden is on police and prosecutors to prove you did something wrong. This includes establishing your identity and presence at the crime scene—i.e. where the alleged drug transaction took place. Many criminal convictions rely solely on police officer testimony to establish a defendant's guilt.

You Have the Right to Present a Defense

It is therefore critical that the court allow the defendant to present evidence that contradicts police testimony. This can include something as seemingly trivial as a tattoo. In fact, an Illinois appeals court recently overturned a drug crimes conviction precisely because the trial judge refused to look at the defendant's tattoos.

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Orland Park criminal defense attorney, police handcuffDrug crime cases often begin with seemingly routine traffic stops. Illinois law enforcement officers may use a minor traffic crime, such as speeding, as a pretext to stop and search a vehicle suspected to contain evidence of illegal drug activity. While the Constitution is supposed to protect all citizens against “unreasonable” searches, in practice there are a number of loopholes that judges allow police to exploit.

Court Reinstates Drug Charge After Questionable Search

One recent Cook County drug case, which is still pending, began with an unverified “tip” from an unidentified informant. Someone allegedly informed a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent in San Diego that a woman was illegally transporting drugs to Chicago. This agent then told his counterparts in Chicago. 

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