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Illinois Man Sentenced to 20 Years for $2 Million Worth of Drugs

will county drug trafficking

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by agents of the state, including law enforcement officials. Of course, these rights are constantly being debated as new scenarios and technologies arise. Over the years, courts throughout the country have provided direction regarding when a warrantless search of a person’s car or property is permitted. Most such cases involve the existence of probable cause that a crime is being committed or that the search will yield evidence of a crime. Probable cause can be established in a number of ways, including if the officer detects the distinct odor of an illegal substance . It was exactly this situation that led to the arrest of an Illinois man last November when officers discovered more than $2 million worth of drugs in his car.

Across State Lines

Late last year, a 57-year-old man from Metropolis, Illinois—a small city on the Illinois-Kentucky border—was pulled over for speeding in Carter County, Missouri. During the stop, a sheriff’s deputy smelled what he thought was marijuana and conducted a search of the vehicle. The search uncovered more than 870 pounds of marijuana, 12 pounds of methamphetamine, and two pounds of cocaine, with a total estimated street value of $2.4 million.

The driver was arrested and charged in federal court with drug trafficking and delivery of controlled substance. Upon arrest, he reportedly waived his rights to remain silent and to an attorney and told police that he had obtained the drugs in Arizona with plans to sell them in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois. The man pleaded guilty to the charges , and early last week, he was back in a federal courtroom where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Distinct Smell of Marijuana

While this particular example occurred in neighboring Missouri, it could just as easily been handled the same way in Illinois. The Illinois Supreme Court first recognized an officer’s detection of the smell of cannabis as probable cause to conduct a vehicle search in 1985 in People v. Stout . The ruling established a legal precedent that has been used many times since then. This means that if you pulled over for a legitimate reason—such as a traffic violation—and the officer smells marijuana in your car, he or she does not need to get a warrant to conduct a search. The search may even extend to your person and that of any passengers.

Complicating Factors

Changing laws regarding marijuana, however, may complicate the idea of smell-related probable cause in the near future. For example, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, while technically illegal, is no longer a crime in Illinois; it is a civil offense similar to a parking ticket. Likewise, a person who is registered with state’s medical marijuana program is permitted to possess certain amounts of marijuana as well. In these situations, the smell of marijuana detected by an officer would not necessarily indicate evidence of a crime. The existing legal precedents have yet to be challenged in a high-profile way by these recent developments in the state’s laws, so it remains to be seen how they will be handled by the court system.

Call Us for Help

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a drug crime based on the officer smelling an illegal substance, you need legal guidance immediately. Contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and your available options. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Suspect Facing Charges for Pushing Man onto CTA Tracks While Drunk

illinois aggravated battery cta push

At one point or another in our lives, we have all made questionable decisions. In some situations, it is reasonable to say that alcohol affected our judgment, but when the decisions in question lead to illegal behavior, having too much to drink is not a valid justification. Alcohol is certainly not an excuse when a person’s conduct places another’s life or physical well-being in jeopardy.
This may have been the case a couple of months ago when an apparently intoxicated man allegedly pushed another man onto the tracks at CTA station in downtown Chicago. The victim was not seriously hurt, but the man who reportedly pushed him is now facing several charges including attempted murder and aggravated battery .

An Unpleasant Surprise

The incident occurred in early August when officials say a 34-year-old man jumped a turnstile at the Washington Street station of the CTA Blue Line. According to prosecutors and a surveillance video shown during preliminary hearings, the man appeared to be intoxicated as he stood behind the 46-year-old male victim. The younger man suddenly and without provocation pushed the victim onto the tracks, officials allege. The victim sprained his wrist in the fall and landed inches from the high-voltage third rail. The fallen man tried to get back onto the platform but the suspect reportedly blocked his attempts and pushed his hands away.

The victim was pulled to safety by a group of bystanders a few seconds before a Blue Line train entered the station. The suspect, meanwhile, jumped a turnstile and left the area. After receiving several tips from the public, Chicago police tracked down the suspect, and the victim identified the alleged attacker in a lineup. The suspect is currently free on $200,000 bond and pleaded not guilty to all of the charges this week. The proceedings are expected to resume in December.

Aggravated Battery in Illinois

While the suspect has been charged with attempted murder, unlawful restraint, and trespassing on CTA property, he is also facing two counts of aggravated battery. According to Illinois law, a person commits a battery when he makes physical contact with another person and inflicts bodily harm or makes physical contact in an insulting or provoking manner. A battery committed on public property—such as a train station—can increase the severity of the charge, making it aggravated battery . Aggravated battery on public property is a Class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines per offense.

If you or someone you love has been accused of any type of violent crime—regardless of whether alcohol may have been a factor—contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet . At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we will review your case and put our extensive resources to work in protecting your future. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

Does Medical Marijuana Reduce Opioid Use?

illinois marijuana and opioid use

Proponents of marijuana legalization for the treatment of certain medical conditions have contended that, in addition to treating certain symptoms, it would reduce the overuse and abuse of opioid painkillers. Following that logic, it would stand to reason that illegal possession of narcotics could also experience a decline in occurrence.

New Study Provides Some Evidence

The first peer reviewed study reporting on the use of medical marijuana in Illinois appears to demonstrate a reduction in the use of painkillers and other narcotics by those who participated in the small study. Primarily anecdotal in nature, the findings reported in the study indicated:

• The average patient was 45 years old, and they used medical marijuana to treat pain, seizures, or inflammation.
• Those cooperating with researchers qualified for medical marijuana use for management of pain related to a variety of conditions, including Crohn’s disease, spinal cord injuries or disease, cancer, and rheumatoid arthritis.
• Participants reported that medical marijuana was faster acting and longer lasting in treating pain.
• One patient indicated their marijuana use replaced consumption of 180 Vicodin per month.
• Another shared that it allowed her to sleep pain free, without the mind-clouding side effects of prescription pain relievers.

The study, while admittedly small in size, was conducted by researchers from DePaul University and RUSH hospitals, and provided results similar to those of a study done by a team at the University of Georgia. A follow up study in the works has obtained responses from more than 400 medical cannabis patients living throughout Illinois. More than 25,600 Illinois residents currently have permission to purchase and use marijuana for the treatment of approved medical conditions.

Safer Than Opioids?

In 2016, it was reported that more than 1,800 people died in Illinois due to an overdose in opioids, with abuse reaching near epidemic levels across the country. However, a third study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that states with legal forms of marijuana reported nearly 25 percent fewer incidents of overdose deaths on an annual basis.

Find a Joliet Defense Attorney Who Knows Illinois Drug and Marijuana Laws

If you are facing drug charges in Illinois, the penalties may vary depending on the classification of drugs on your person, the amount in your possession, and your intent with those materials. It is important to work with a Will County drug crimes defense lawyer who not only knows the law, but has the experience you need to minimize the impact any charges may have on your life. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will use its extensive resources to build a thorough defense on your behalf.

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