Monday, April 28, 2014

CAN THEY SEARCH MY STUFF IN SOMEONE ELSE’S CAR?

You were a passenger in a friend’s car. You had your suitcase in the backseat. Your friend got pulled over by police, and police searched your bag and found drugs or weapons.

Can the police search your bag if you don’t own the car? What can you do?

Whether police can search your belongings in another’s car without a warrant turns on whether you had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the car or your bags. To determine whether you can challenge a search, the court weighs several factors including:

1) Do you own the car?

2) Do you have control of the car or a right to exclude others from using it?

3) Are you legitimately in the car yourself? If you stole the car, you would not have a right to prevent a police search of your belongings.

4) Do you have a subjective expectation of privacy in the car?

5) Have you previously used the area that was searched?

In general, passengers do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a car they don’t own, but may still have privacy rights in their own belongings. However, the court has found a privacy right where the passenger was given the keys to the car or was on a long road trip and stored their belongings in the car.

If you had a reasonable privacy expectation in the car, you may be able to challenge the search and any evidence that was seized. If you are charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for the best possible defense and petition the court to suppress the results of any illegal 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.

Resource: People v Ferris.

(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.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

THE ILLINOIS LAW ON STALKING

UPDATE: The Illinois Appellate Court declared this law unconstitutional on June 24, 2016. See our related post at Illinois Stalking and Cyberstalking Laws Declared Unconstitutional.

You can’t get her out of your mind. So you’ve been following her thinking she didn’t see you. But she called the police and now you are charged with stalking.

What can happen to you? What can you do?

In Illinois, you can be charged with stalking if you knowingly: 1) Engage in conduct that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their or another’s safety or cause them emotional distress. 2) Follows or places someone under surveillance at least twice and threatens that person or their family member with harm. 3) After a conviction for stalking, follows or places that same person under surveillance or threatens them with harm even if it is just once. 4) Direct a third person to do your stalking for you.

Stalking on a first offense is a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Later offenses up the ante to a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years plus a fine.

The stalking conduct may include harming another person’s property or pet, following them, monitoring them or other nonconsensual conduct. Stalking includes electronic communication, potentially including images sent via Snapchat or other similar servers.

If you are charged with stalking, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your situation with the police or third parties. Any statements you make could be used against you at trial and could limit your potential defenses. Often, people trying to justify their conduct just dig themselves in deeper.

An experienced criminal law attorney can review your case for the best possible defense. As with other criminal charges, the state must prove you guilty of all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The stalking law requires that you acted “knowingly” or that the conduct be “nonconsensual.” Did you know the alleged victim was going to be where you saw him or her? Did he or she tell you to stop by or email? Was your conduct really bad enough to cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress or fear for their safety?

If you have questions about this or another related 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.)