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Sweep in Will County Seizes Drugs, Illegal Firearms

joliet drugs and guns attorney

Gun violence and illegal drug activity continue to be major concerns in the greater Chicago area. The problem, however, is not limited to the inner city. Fortunately, neither are actions by law enforcement. This week, police in Will County conducted a large-scale sweep that resulted in the seizure of drugs and guns , as well as the arrest of at least 12 people—many of whom are suspected to have connections to gang activity and related violence.

A Cooperative Effort

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow help a press conference on Tuesday to announce the success of the operation. He said that more than 100 law enforcement officers from local, state, and federal agencies, including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, were involved in the sweep. According to Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton, the sweep began at 6 a.m. on Tuesday and a dozen arrests were made within five hours. Arrest warrants were issued for four more individuals who have yet to be apprehended.

By the end of the operation, more than 200 grams of cocaine and other drugs had been seized, along with 31 firearms and ammunition. The weapons ranged from small, pocket-sized handguns to a machine gun designed to be mounted on a military vehicle. The guns were put on display on two tables during Glasgow’s press conference and will be processed by the county’s crime lab. Law enforcement efforts in relation to the sweeps were focused on members of two street gangs—the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples. Glasgow said that multi-jurisdictional sweeps like this let “drug dealers and gun traffickers know without question that we mean business.

Illegal Weapons in Illinois

The state of Illinois has been long known for having some of the most stringent gun laws in the country. It is against the law possess a firearm without a valid Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) which is issued by the Illinois State Police. An additional Concealed Carry License (CCL) is required for a person to legally carry a concealed firearm. The CCL is also issued by the State Police. Even with a CCL, it is illegal to carry a firearm in certain locations, including schools, casinos, bars, parks, or arenas, among many others.

Most weapons violations that involve a firearm are prosecutable as felonies, and the associated penalties can be severe. If you have been charged with a weapons offense, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. Mr. Zaremba is a former Will County prosecutor who understands the challenges you may be facing, and he is ready to assist you in protecting your future.

Is it Drug Possession or Drug Distribution? It Makes a Difference

joliet drug lawyer

Finding yourself in police custody facing drug possession or distribution charges is a serious matter. Both charges may result in serious consequences and penalties, but the severity of the punishment as well as opportunities for relief depend on the type of illegal substance and the amount or weight of the material in your possession at the time of arrest.

Possession or Distribution

Possession of a controlled substance is generally defined as having illegal drugs on your person or on or around your personal property such as an automobile. Under Illinois law , the following may apply when facing a possession charge:

• Those found in possession of up to 15 grams may be granted probation.
• Prior felony or drug convictions make probation more difficult to obtain.

Distribution, which is included under the broader term of “drug trafficking” is viewed as a more serious matter because it involves the production and sale of illegal substances to others. The Illinois Controlled Substances Act thoroughly defines various illegal substances and the penalties for distributing those substances. It is important to know that:

• Aggressive prosecution of drug traffickers is considered the main weapon in combating drug distribution.
• The amount or weight of an illegal substance in your possession at the time of arrest often impacts the charges and penalties one may face.

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Illinois

About one year ago, the state of Illinois enacted new legislation decriminalizing possession of smaller amounts of marijuana. The new law changed the offense from a class B misdemeanor, that could have resulted in up to six months in jail and a fine costing as much as $1,500, to a ticketed offense similar to that of a traffic violation. Provisions of the new law include:

• Possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana results in a citation.
• Fines may range from $100 to $200.
• Individual municipalities may implement other fines or penalties, including requiring an individual to attend a drug treatment program.
• Citations would be automatically expunged on January 1st and July 1st of each year.

Retain an Experienced Illinois Drug Crimes Lawyer to Protect Your Rights

Secure professional and knowledgeable legal help from a Will County Criminal Drug Defense attorney to ensure you receive fair and equitable treatment by prosecutors and criminal courts. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will pursue all legal avenues available in providing an aggressive defense on your behalf while seeking the best possible results available under the law.

Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

joliet asset forfeiture

According to a recent analysis of public records, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in Cook County conducted 23,000 seizures of private property between since 2012. The study also indicated that a disproportionate number of the seizures occurred in the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods of Chicago—which also happen to be primarily communities of people of color. A proposed law, however, has been passed by the state legislature that would curtail the practice of asset forfeiture related to criminal activity and is now on the desk of Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

What Is Asset Forfeiture?

Asset forfeiture laws were originally enacted to help police agencies address the problem of organized crime and large-scale criminal operations. The idea was that if the government—through the police and prosecutors—was permitted to seize property related to the commission of a crime, they would be able to disrupt crime syndicates and gangs. Under such laws, police could seize property based on the suspicion that it was involved in criminal activity, even if the owner is never charged, let alone convicted.

The major problem is that over time, law enforcement agencies seem to have shifted their focus from large-scale cartels and organized crime to smaller-scale operations and individuals, at least when it comes to asset forfeiture. Of the 23,000 seizures in the last five years , nearly half involved cash of less than $1,000, and about 1,500 cases involved seized amounts of less than $100.

Getting Property Back

When a person has his or her property seized, he or she may have the opportunity to get it back, but he or she must first pay 10 percent of the property’s value as bond to even begin the proceedings. Then, the owner must take action in civil court to prove that he or she is innocent and that the property should be returned. In addition to flipping the presumption of innocence, the other effect of holding the proceedings in civil court is that attorneys are not provided for property owners, and few have the resources to hire one. Thus, many seizures go uncontested for financial reasons, allowing the police to simply keep the seized property. In fact, between 2005 and 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union reports that Illinois law enforcement entities brought in more than $319 million through asset forfeiture.

The Proposed Law

Last month, the Illinois House passed a bill that would limit the ability of law enforcement to seize and keep private property. The Senate had approved the bill unanimously a month earlier. If Governor Rauner signs the bill, several changes will be made to the asset forfeiture system. First, seizures of less than $500 would be barred in most drug cases, and assets will only be permanently forfeited if the government shows it was involved in a crime by a preponderance of the evidence—a step up from the current standard of probable cause.

The new law would also remove the 10 percent bond requirement and expedite the scheduling of hearings for owners who wish to prove their innocence. The bill stops short of requiring a conviction to proceed with asset forfeiture. This was reportedly the result of a compromise between law makers and police groups, but such requirements are beginning to take hold across the country, with Connecticut becoming the most recent state to require a conviction for asset forfeiture.

Asset Forfeiture Questions

If your property has been seized by law enforcement in connection with an arrest on criminal charges, you need help right away. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

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