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Archive for the ‘search and seizure’ tag

Privacy Rights Upheld in Recent Supreme Court Case

September 14th, 2018 at 8:31 am

Chicago criminal defense lawyer unreasonable search and seizureIf you are facing a criminal charge, this does not mean that you are not entitled to the same rights and protections afforded to other individuals in the United States, including the right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution affords citizens the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Search warrants are used to ensure that if a search is being conducted, then there is a legitimate reason and cause for conducting the search. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the right to privacy for suspects regarding warrantless searches.

Collins v. Virginia

In the case of Collins v. Virginia, the defendant was suspected of being in possession of a motorcycle that had been stolen. The motorcycle was parked under a three-walled enclosure that was covered with a tarp. This enclosure was located at the defendant’s girlfriend’s house. The house also had a traditional garage that could completely block the inside of the garage from outside view. The police suspected that this motorcycle was parked at the defendant’s girlfriend’s home and therefore went to examine the scene. Instead of obtaining a search warrant, the police officers proceeded up the driveway to where the motorcycle was parked under the tarp. The motorcycle turned out to be the stolen property they were looking for, and the defendant was arrested.

At trial, the defendant argued that his fundamental right to privacy that is guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment was violated because the police did not have a valid search warrant for the property. The state argued that finding the motorcycle without a search warrant fell under the automobile exception. The automobile exception states that police are allowed to search a vehicle when there is probable cause that the vehicle contained some type of evidence or contraband.

The Court found that the automobile exception was not applicable in this case. Instead, the three-walled tarp enclosure could be considered a part of the home. As a part of the home, it receives the same type of heightened rights to privacy as the living area of the home. The Court went on further to state that the automobile exception applies only to situations where the alleged evidence or contraband is inside of a vehicle, not sitting underneath a tarp on someone else’s property.

An Attorney Can Help You Today

If you have been charged with a criminal offense and are concerned your rights have been violated, contact experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney Christopher M. Cosley. Attorney Cosley is dedicated to using every possible defense applicable under the circumstances, including improper searches due to lack of a search warrant. We know that just because you might be charged with a crime, you should not lose your rights. Contact us today at 847-394-3200 for a free consultation.


Ignorance of the Law in Illinois

July 1st, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, Illinois criminal justice system,No one knows everything. We are human. However, when it comes to ignorance and the criminal law in Illinois, there is somewhat of a double standard. Criminal defendants are held responsible for their ignorance, but police are not.

What is the Law Regarding Defendants’ Ignorance?

Under Illinois statute, knowledge that certain conduct constitutes an offense is not an element of the offense unless the statute explicitly makes it so. Similarly, knowledge of the existence, meaning, or application of the statute defining the offense is not an element of the offense unless it is included in the offense. In other words, a person does not have to know that his or her conduct is criminal or that there is a law against it in order for that person to be held criminally responsible. A person’s ignorance or mistake as to a matter of either fact or law only provides a defense in extremely limited circumstances, like when the ignorance negates the existence of the mental state required for the crime or the person has relied on certain official interpretations of the law like administrative regulations, statutes, court opinions, or certain other official interpretations.

What is the Law Regarding Police Officers’ Ignorance?

Unlike regular citizens, police officers are often not held responsible when they are ignorant of the law. One example of this double standard comes into play in the search and seizure context. Police officers are not allowed to pull over anyone driving down the road for no reason at all. Traffic stops are considered seizures under the Fourth Amendment to our United States Constitution. Therefore they must be supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause. This means that the officer must have some basis for believing that the driver or occupants of the car are engaged in or have been engaged in criminal activity. A mere hunch is not enough. This works out when the police officer knows and understands the law that he or she believes may have been broken. But what happens when the police officer is ignorant of the law?

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the police officer can go ahead and pull you over and have it be a lawful stop even if he or she was ignorant as to the law’s actual meaning and got it wrong. According to the Court, an objectively reasonable, though mistaken, belief as to the meaning of the law may for the basis for a constitutionally valid vehicle stop. As such, even if the officer is ignorant as to the law’s actual meaning, he or she is allowed to pull you over so long as he or she is being “objectively reasonable” in his or her interpretation of the law.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When you make a mistake regarding the law, you can find yourself facing criminal charges. If this happens to you, you will need the assistance of an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley at (847)394-3200. We will fight for you and help you to obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

Racial Profiling by Police

June 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am

Chicago criminal defense attorney, constitutional protection, Fourth Amendment, racial profiling, search and seizure, stop-and-frisk policy, racial bias, Christopher M. Cosley, illegal police behaviorCitizens are bound by constitutional protection, courtesy of the Fourth Amendment, in almost all encounters with police and law enforcement. The specific protections and relevant law of Fourth Amendment search and seizure issues are broad and potentially complex. One such issue addressed in the media recently involved an incident in the Chicago area of Illinois that included allegations of racial profiling by police.

The Incident

In March of this year, two workers were arrested while doing community outreach work on behalf of an organization. On that day, their work involved going door-to-door in a predominantly white southwest Chicago neighborhood in an effort to inform city residents about the then looming deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act. While doing so, they were stopped and frisked by Chicago Police Officers and later charged with misdemeanor offenses.

The area had been experiencing a high number of door-to-door scams and one of the residents called 911. When police arrived on scene in response, the men allegedly did not produce identification or other information linking them to their organization. Their charges were dismissed by a judge, but the two Latino men are alleging they were being racially profiled by police at the time of their detention and arrest. Now, some are calling for reform of the stop-and-frisk policies of the Chicago PD, arguing the need for increased police accountability by collecting more information about an officer’s use of the policy of stop-and-frisk.


One of the problems with the current system, regarding the stop-and-frisk policy that advocates of reform argue needs changing, involves contact cards or forms filled out by police officers when making stops on the street. They say that Chicago PD’s contact cards are vague and not easily searched. If this problem was corrected, more information about each incident of stop-and-frisk would be known. Further, the current lack of information, they say, means that communities do not know what is really happening.

Similar reform is occurring in the state of New York, and on the federal level to collect data about stops, searches, and arrests across the country. These efforts are meant to analyze the criminal justice system and reduce any associated effects of racial bias. The concern is that racial disparities contribute to growing tension on both the national and community level, which creates resentment toward law enforcement, and ultimately works against the goal of reducing crime.

In Chicago

The contact cards used by Chicago PD are arguably flawed in several ways: they are not specific enough and not exclusively used during stops. Thus, it makes data difficult to analyze. The data that is available in Chicago tends to show that communities of color are disproportionately targeted for stop-and-frisk activity.

In an effort to address this perceived problem, some are suggesting that Chicago PD be required to provide two key pieces of information regarding stop-and-frisks: why the person is being stopped and why he or she is being searched by police. This increase in information will provide more data and a more accurate picture of the number of people being stopped and frisked, as well as who they are. In addition, the Chicago PD is being asked to maintain a separate database with this information publicly accessible so that any patterns can be tracked.

Criminal Defense Attorney

While it has not been proven that racial profiling existed in the incident recounted above, it does appear to be a problem in Illinois and across the country. If you have been charged with a crime as the result of illegal police behavior, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately who can protect your rights. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can defend your case. Contact us today for a consultation in our Rolling Meadows office.

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