Chicago Drug Possession Lawyers
In the late 1980s, largely prompted by the drug overdose death of college basketball phenom Len Bias, lawmakers approved a slew of harsh drug possession laws. Local law enforcement and judicial authorities, who were eager to look “tough on crime,” enthusiastically enforced these laws.
Upon later review, it became apparent that these laws were an overreaction and based on shaky science. As a result, lawmakers repealed the most draconian laws. Additionally, former President Barack Obama pardoned thousands of people who had been prosecuted and convicted under such laws.
And, the number of arrests is the only effective measuring stick for progress in this war. As a result, in 2020, authorities arrested over a million Americans for drug-related offenses. Almost 90% of these arrests were for simple possession.
However, although the War on Drugs continues, the rules of engagement have changed. For example, many jurors now view drug use as not a criminal law issue, but as a health and safety issue. These same jurors also often question the heavy-handed police tactics often used in these situations.
Because of this different environment, the diligent Chicago drug possession lawyers at The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman often successfully resolve even the most complex drug possession matters in Cook County. We firmly believe that thorough preparation is the key to this success. Students who do their homework usually do well on their tests, and lawyers who lay the groundwork usually do well in court.
Drug Possession Jail Release
As it does in other criminal cases, prompt jail release in a drug possession case jumpstarts a successful criminal defense. Since this offense is nonviolent, the full range of jail release options in Cook County is usually available in these cases.
If the defendant has no prior criminal record, a pretrial release may be an option. If a review board approves pretrial release, or own recognizance (OR) release, the sheriff opens the cell doors and frees the defendant before trial. The defendant must simply promise to appear at all required hearings and fulfill a few other conditions.
But many defendants have a prior conviction. Furthermore, while OR release is inexpensive, it is usually not immediate. So, a pretrial release may not be available, or it might not be the right choice.
Remaining jail release options include cash bail and a bail bond. Cash bail is a lot like a rental property security deposit. The defendant puts up a rather substantial amount of cash, and if s/he fulfills all bail conditions, the sheriff refunds most of the money. Bail bonds are like insurance policies. If the defendant fails to fulfill all conditions, the bonding company assumes the financial risk.
Elements of a Drug Possession Case in Illinois
Jail release is important for planning purposes. Perhaps even more so than other offenses, drug possession cases have many moving parts. Generally, state and federal prosecutors must establish three elements to obtain a drug possession conviction.
Produce the Substance in Court
Drug cases hinge on physical evidence. Unless prosecutors produce the contraband, the jury automatically has a reasonable doubt about possession. The arresting officer’s testimony on this point is legally insufficient. Contraband is inadmissible in court unless police officers had a valid warrant or a recognized search warrant exception applied.
Trafficking cases often include search warrants. Usually, investigators work for months to build a drug trafficking case. Once they have sufficient evidence to establish probable cause, the standard of evidence required in these situations, they request warrants.
But most possession cases don’t involve warrants. Events occur too quickly. Therefore, a search warrant exception must normally apply. Some common ones include:
Exigent Circumstances: This exception often comes up in disturbance call matters. If officers reasonably believe someone is in trouble, they may sweep through a room or building without a warrant and conduct a safety inspection. During this safety inspection, they may seize any drugs or other contraband they see in plain view.
Plain View: As the name implies, the plain view exception applies if officers see contraband. They cannot use binoculars, cameras, or other imaging technology to bring things into plain view. An officer must be physically present. Additionally, the officer must lawfully be in that place at that time.
Consent: Owners, or apparent owners, may voluntarily consent to property searches. An apparent owner is an individual like a roommate whose name isn’t on the lease. Furthermore, voluntary consent is free from coercion. If officers threaten to obtain a warrant if the owner does not consent, that permission is arguably involuntary.
Only officially recognized exceptions hold up in court. Prosecutors normally cannot argue that the facts of a particular case amounted to probable cause.
Prove it Was Illegal
There is a major difference between unscientific “field tests” and chemical laboratory tests. Marijuana, which is illegal under federal law, is a good example. This substance has the same physical qualities as hemp, which is legal under state and federal law. Only a THC content test can distinguish between the two.
On a related note, state and federal controlled substances lists are subject to change. Synthetic marijuana is a good illustration. Scientists often develop new artificial strains of marijuana faster than bureaucrats or lawmakers can add them to the controlled substances list. So, there is a good chance that the substance was not technically illegal at the time of the arrest.
A Chicago criminal defense lawyer can request a free (well, at least free to the defendant) chemical test in most jurisdictions. Frequently, prosecutors would rather offer a favorable plea bargain agreement than order an expensive test which the county must pay for.
Oxycontin and other prescription pain pills are in a special category. Almost no one retains written prescriptions. Furthermore, many people do not keep their pills in a labeled bottle. Instead, they put them in a pill caddy or other container.
Police officers usually do not believe defendants if they say they have a valid prescription. Producing a valid prescription is usually a fatal weakness in terms of the evidence in the case. Prosecutors might still be able to make a possession case, but it is incredibly difficult. More on a fatal weakness below.
Many people are surprised to learn that “possession” is not the only element of a drug possession case. Possession, which basically means proximity in this context, is defined very broadly in both state and federal law. For example, a pickup truck’s bed and a passenger car’s trunk are usually part of the passenger area, even though passengers usually have no access to these areas, at least while the vehicle is moving.
The other two elements of possession are knowledge and control. Federal and state law defines these elements much more narrowly. In fact, in many cases, a defendant could literally be sitting on illegal drugs and not legally possess them.
Assume Tara is at a loud house party when someone calls the police. During an exigent circumstances security sweep, which was outlined above, officers find various illegal drugs, mostly prescription pain pills. In court, prosecutors would be hard-pressed to connect Tara with those drugs, especially if the party was loud and crowded enough to merit a disturbance call.
Or, assume Tim gets a ride home with people he just met at the party. Officers pull over the driver for a traffic violation. The officer sees signs of drug use, like glassy eyes, asks to search the car, and the driver agrees. During this search, the officer finds prescription pain pills in the glove compartment.
As for Tim, establishing the proximity element is quite easy. But establishing knowledge and control would be very difficult. That’s especially true if the drugs were in a locked glove compartment, or if the drugs were in an unlocked glove compartment and someone else was in the passenger seat.
If the evidence on any point is fatally weak, a Chicago drug possession lawyer may be able to have the case thrown out of court. If both variations of the Tim example (glove compartment was locked and Tim was in the back seat), a judge might rule that a prosecutor could not possibly establish knowledge and control.
Sometimes, it is best to proceed with a pretrial hearing in these situations. Other times, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. If prosecutors are willing to agree to a very favorable plea bargain, accepting that offer might be more advisable than taking a chance at a hearing.
Typically, however, the evidence is simply weak. Police officers often are overly-aggressive in these situations. If they find illegal drugs in a car or dwelling, they usually arrest everyone in the car or dwelling.
A plea to a lesser-included offense, like reckless conduct, could be available in such situations. 720 ILCS 5/12-5 is a Class A misdemeanor as opposed to a felony. Additionally, a reckless conduct conviction does not have the same collateral consequences as a drug possession conviction.
Contact a Dedicated Cook County Attorney
When you work with the aggressive, strategic legal team at The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, the objective is to always secure a not guilty verdict or complete dismissal of charges. If these things aren’t possible, we engineer the most advantageous plea deal.
Federal or state criminal charges can be unnerving and frightening, but a number of successful resolutions are available. For a confidential consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in Chicago, do not wait to contact The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman by calling 312-726-9015. We routinely handle matters in Cook County and nearby jurisdictions.
Areas of Practice
We make sure that no stone goes unturned when reviewing the evidence. At the Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, we focus on thorough pretrial investigation and preparation. This groundwork helps us find ways to attack the government’s evidence. So, we ensure that our clients’ rights are not violated by being prosecuted by unlawfully obtained evidence or meritless charges. Through our tenacious advocacy, we have been successful in having investigations dropped, evidence thrown out, charges dismissed, obtaining favorable plea agreements, and getting not guilty verdicts at trial.
At the Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, we have handled a wide range of federal cases including:
- Bank Fraud: This umbrella term usually applies to a wide range of financial crimes, such as loan fraud and account fraud. Basically, fraud is an intentional misrepresentation of current facts that are designed to produce an unlawful financial gain. Federal prosecutors must prove all these elements beyond any reasonable doubt.
- Drug Crimes: The War on Drugs is far from over. Every year, federal officials arrest thousands of people for drug possession. Street drugs, like heroin and crack, and prescription pain pills, like Vicodin and Oxycontin, are the most common possession cases. Federal authorities are also very aggressive when it comes to drug manufacturing and drug trafficking. These cases often hinge on circumstantial evidence.
- Embezzlement: These crimes usually involve people in positions of trust who illegally move money or property to enrich themselves. Embezzlement prosecutions will typically be associated with complex financial transfers and various financial accounts. In other words, there are a lot of moving parts. Such cases are difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Health Care Fraud: Although health care fraud could include insurance fraud, prosecutors usually focus on Medicare and Medicaid fraud. There is a difference between unintentional coding or other mistakes and fraudulent activity. But there is no bright line between these two things. So, aggressive representation is essential. Otherwise, the jury might not hear your side of the story.
- Immigration Fraud: In the post-9/11 era, federal prosecutors are particularly aggressive in this area. Authorities often assume that any paperwork irregularities are fraudulent. These crimes could also involve criminal record fraud. Immigration fraud usually means substantial penalties, such as deportation and exclusion.
- Mail Fraud and Wire Fraud: Every time a defendant licks a stamp, picks up the phone, or presses “send,” prosecutors add an additional mail or wire fraud count to the indictment. The result is often a lengthy, multi-count indictment that intimidates many defendants.
- Money Laundering: Much like embezzlement, these crimes also have a number of moving parts. The key elements are usually the defendant’s intent in moving money and the defendant’s knowledge that the money was associated with criminal activity.
- Tax Fraud: These cases are not as common as they were a few years ago. But that statistical fact is small comfort to individuals and businesses who face tax fraud charges. These individuals can be subject to substantial civil and criminal penalties.
Other areas of practice include:
- Bankruptcy fraud
- Possession of illegal pornography
- Trade secret theft
- Weapons offenses
- Obstruction of justice
Why Choose Us
At the Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, we have decades of experience in this area. Law school teaches students to think like lawyers. But only experience teaches them to act as lawyers. Therefore, the old saying is true in these cases. There really is no substitute for experience.
Furthermore, our professional team is dedicated to criminal defense. This area of practice is not just a sideshow for us. Our dedication helps us identify some defenses that other criminal attorneys might miss. More on that below.
Accessibility is important to us as well. To facilitate attorney-client contact, we offer after-hours, virtual, and home visits.
Additionally, our workload facilitates accessibility. Our lawyers are always available to meet with you and answer your questions. Furthermore, our lawyers are hands-on professionals. We don’t over-delegate tasks to less experienced attorneys or nonlawyer paralegals.
Defenses in Federal Crimes
Many federal crimes involve procedural defenses. These defenses usually stem from the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
The Fourth Amendment covers illegal searches and seizures. Generally, officers must have valid warrants before they search property or arrest individuals. The property at issue could be something large, like a house, or something small, like a smartphone.
Valid warrants must rest on probable cause. Uncorroborated information provided by a paid informer usually does not constitute probable cause. These informers usually receive money or leniency in exchange for the information they provide. Many people will say practically anything for love or money.
If officers don’t have search warrants, federal prosecutors must rely on a narrow search warrant exception, such as:
- Owner Consent: Property owners may consent to property searches. Usually, consent is a voluntary, affirmative act. An apparent owner, such as a vehicle driver who doesn’t own the vehicle, may also give consent in some cases.
- Plain View: This exception usually applies in vehicle searches. If officers see drugs, weapons, or other contraband in plain view, they may seize it without a warrant. Partial plain view situations, like a gun’s handle protruding from under a seat, are in a grey area.
- Exigent Circumstances: If officers reasonably believe that someone is in trouble, they may enter the building without a warrant and conduct a security sweep. During this sweep, they may seize any contraband they see in plain view.
Federal prosecutors cannot work backward in these situations. They cannot argue that since federal law enforcement officers found what they were looking for, the search must have been valid.
As for the Fifth Amendment, most people know this provision includes the right to remain silent. However, most people don’t know how broad this right is. Defendants need not try on clothes, appear in lineups, pose for pictures, or take any other action.
Furthermore, your Fifth Amendment rights begin as soon as custodial interrogation begins. Usually, “custody” happens when a reasonable person wouldn’t feel free to leave. Many people don’t feel free to leave the moment they see flashing lights in their rearview mirrors.
Procedural defenses are usually quite effective. Prosecutors cannot turn back the clock and fix these mistakes. Instead, the judge usually throws these cases out of court.
As mentioned, the burden of proof in a criminal case is beyond any reasonable doubt. That’s one of the highest burdens of proof in the law. If even one juror has a reasonable doubt about the evidence, the defendant is not guilty as a matter of law. Therefore, prosecutors must usually have an overwhelming amount of evidence to obtain a conviction.
Resolving a Federal Criminal Case
Because of the high out-of-court settlement rate, it’s critical that your criminal defense lawyer be a good negotiator as well as a good litigator. If that’s not the case, the best possible resolution might not be available.
Contact a Dedicated Cook County Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
Federal criminal charges are scary, but a number of successful resolutions are available. For a confidential consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in Chicago, contact The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman by calling 312-726-9015. Convenient payment plans are available.
Our Areas Of Practice
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