Blogs | Law Office of Jack L Zaremba


Is a Police Officer Allowed to Search My Vehicle?

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For many of us, the main times we interact with the police is during traffic stops. Most people who have been diving for a few years have been pulled over at least once by police. Often, those who have committed a minor traffic violation, such as driving slightly faster than the speed limit, will only receive a warning. Other times, police will issue a ticket. After asking for the driver’s license, registration, and possibly proof of insurance, police will be watching you and your vehicle closely. The officer may ask if he can take a look around your vehicle. It is important for Illinois residents to know and exercise their rights when it comes to the police searching a vehicle.

Do Not Consent to a Search

Many experts encourage anyone stopped by police for any reason to be respectful and non-threatening. We live in a time where tensions between police and the general public are at an all-time-high and officers are therefore on the lookout for those who might try to hurt them. If you get pulled over by the police, it is recommended that you keep calm and follow the officer’s commands or requests. However, do not be tricked into believing that you must agree to a search if a police officer wants to search your car. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from “unreasonable searches or seizures.” In the case of motor vehicles, the officer must have “probable cause” to suspect you are doing something illegal to search your car. Having drugs or other illegal items in plain sight as well as the smell of marijuana seeping out of your car are both situations which would permit a police officer to search your vehicle. If you are arrested , the police automatically have the right to search your vehicle.

Confusing or Intimidating Language

Police officers will sometimes “ask” to search a vehicle even though it does not sound like they are asking. Phrases like “You do not mind if I take a look around, do you?” or “I know you do not care if I search the vehicle since you have nothing to hide,” are designed to trip motorists up and make them think they cannot say “no.” However, you always have the right to politely deny a search of your vehicle—and you should. Of course, it is possible the officer will conduct the search anyway under the legal umbrella of “probable cause,” but motorists should always make it clear that they do not consent to a search.

If an officer searches your vehicle without your consent, his or her reasons for doing so—and any criminal charges which result from the search—can be questioned in court. There are many instances where a judge throws out a case because the police officer who searched the person’s car did not have adequate probable cause to do so. Consenting to a search means that you give up your right to challenge the constitutionality or validity of a search in the future.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges Due to Evidence Found in Your Vehicle?

If you have been arrested and charged due to police searching your car, you should know that a qualified Will County criminal defense attorney can help you create an effective defense strategy. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, confidential consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Understanding Illinois’ Second Chance Probation Program

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Having a felony conviction on your record is more than just embarrassing. It can prevent you from getting student financial aid, from joining the military, from owning a firearm, from working in some types of jobs, and from being accepted into some types of housing. These effects can be very long-lasting, as most felony convictions remain on your record permanently. In addition, a felony by definition carries a minimum prison term of one year in Illinois, during which time an individual cannot support their family.

Such hardships make it very difficult for people to recover from a felony conviction, to make a fresh start, and to support their families without returning to crime. Recognizing that probation is a better alternative than incarceration for many offenders, Illinois legislators enacted Second Chance Probation, effective in January 2014.

How Second Chance Probation Works

If given a sentence of Second Chance Probation, an individual will be on probation for a minimum of two years, with no prison time. If they successfully complete all of the probation terms, their case will be dismissed, and they will have no felony conviction on their record. However, if they violate any of the probation terms, they will be convicted on the original charge. In addition, if the individual is convicted of a new crime within five years of the dismissal, the court can consider the Second Chance Probation case when deciding the sentence for the new case.

Who Is Eligible for Second Chance Probation in Illinois

Second Chance Probation is available only to non-violent offenders with no prior felony convictions (730 ILCS 5/5-6-3.4).

• A non-violent offender is one charged with a lower-level Class 3 or 4 felony such as theft, vandalism, or small-quantity drug possession. An offender convicted of a felony like aggravated DUI would not qualify, because Illinois classifies DUI as a violent crime, one that poses a threat of physical injury to another person.

• The offender must have no prior felony convictions as an adult in any state, nor any juvenile adjudications involving violent crime.

• An offender with a substance abuse problem may be ruled ineligible for this sentence.

• A person is eligible for only one Second Chance Probation within a four-year period.

Second Chance Probation Terms

The conditions of Second Chance Probation are extensive. During the probationary period, the offender must:

• Not commit another crime in Illinois or anywhere else.

• Not possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon.

• Pay any levied fines or court costs, including the cost of drug testing.

• Submit to at least three drug tests.

• Make full restitution to any victim or property owner.

• Obtain or attempt to obtain employment.

• Take high school/GED or vocational training courses.

• Perform at least 30 hours of community service.

The court may also require the offender to:

• Report in person to a probation officer or social service agency.

• Undergo medical or psychiatric treatment or rehabilitation.

• Attend or reside in a facility established for defendants on probation.

• Financially support any dependents.

• Refrain from consumption of controlled substances.

Trust an Experienced Joliet Felony Defense Attorney

If you are facing felony charges, you need the help of an experienced Will County criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba will provide personalized service and work aggressively on your behalf to obtain the best possible results, with one possible option being Second Chance Probation, although a reduction of charges or outright dismissal may also be possible. Contact us at 815-740-4025 at any time for a free consultation.

Misconduct Allegations Mounting Against Former Chicago Detective

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A series of lawsuits have been filed in recent years against the City of Chicago in regard to the behavior of one particular now-retired detective. The lawsuits allege that the detective was responsible for a corruption racket that covered mostly Hispanic neighborhoods on the West and Northwest Sides of the city. A number of convictions have already been vacated, including several for murder and other serious violent crimes.

According to various news outlets , the latest claims came from two men who say they were falsely accused and convicted of crimes they did not commit. One filed a lawsuit in federal court last month while the other was granted a new trial for a 1993 murder in Albany Park. The two men each spent more than 20 years in prison before getting the chance to clear their names.

“Rigged” Procedures

The recently-filed lawsuit alleges that the detective built a false case against him during the investigation of a murder on North Kedzie Avenue in 1995. The claimant says that the detective linked him to the crime because of a loose connection to a car that vaguely resembled a vehicle seen in the vicinity of the crime. From there, the detective and prosecutors, “rigged the identification procedures with the sole purpose of framing” the then-19-year-old man, the suit claims.

Court records show that the detective was asked during a court hearing in 2013 whether he framed the man. The detective refused to answer and invoked his Fifth Amendment right to be protected from self-incrimination.

Extortion Allegations

In a separate lawsuit filed in April, another man claims that the same detective framed him for a double murder after the man stopped paying the detective for protection. A report by the FBI in 2001 produced credible allegations that the detective and his partner were well-known for arresting drug dealers and making them “buy their way out of trouble.”

Thus far, 18 individuals have had their convictions vacated over allegations of the same detective’s misconduct—including 11 in just the past two years. Eight wrongful conviction suits are currently pending, and two cases against the city have already settled at a combined price tag of almost $17 million.

Preventing a Wrongful Conviction

Criminal justice experts widely agree that adequate defense counsel is the best weapon in the fight against wrongful conviction. If you have been charged with a crime, an experienced, tenacious Will County criminal defense attorney can help ensure that your rights are fully protected. Contact our office by calling 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.


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