Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Search and Siezure - Landmark case from SCOTUS

It isn't often a landmark case on the issue of search and siezure comes down from the Supreme Court on the side of the defense, but that's just what happened Monday in the case of Arizona v Gant.

In case after case, and certainly in many Illinois DUI arrests, officers freely search the vehicle of the suspect in custody without regard to any Constitutional considerations, and some of those DUI cases become Illinois criminal defense matters as well. The old rule was fairly put as - if you are under arrest, your car is subject to search under the theoretical need of the officer to secure the scene and maintain "officer safety". In other words, if you were in cuffs in the back of the squad car, the officer could make sure there wasn't a knife or gun in the glove compartment so that you couldn't exit the locked squad car, uncuff yourself, knock the officer over the head, grab the gun and shoot him. Obviously a very likely scenario.

The new rule makes more sense. When the police arrest someone in a vehicle, the officer can search the vehicle only under one of two circumstances. In very basic terms, those two circumstances are:
  • The suspect might in some way gain access to the vehicle; or
  • The officer is searching for evidence related to the reason for the arrest.
Other than that, searching a vehicle is a non-starter. In Arizona v Gant, the police arrested Gant for driving with a suspended license, and promptly locked him safely away in handcuffs in the back of their squad car. They then rifled through his car and found cocaine in a jacket on the seat of the vehicle, and charged him with possession of a controlled substance. The Supreme Court acted to protect the sanctity of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and to protect you.
What do you think about Arizona v Gant?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Get ready for the DUI Arrest Tweet

In the vast array of tools in use to shame people arrested for DUI in Illinois and other states, I can't imagine MADD, AAIM and other knee-jerk act-without-thought emotional response types passing up something like this. I'm talking about an apparent gag by a University of North Texas student. Senior Brian Baugh apparently had some fun with Twitter and sent up some tweets purporting to list recent arrests, complete with mug shots from the "Denton Police".

So how long until we see a DUI Arrest Twitter page from the Chicago Police Department? Will apology tweets be issued when my clients find their DUI cases dismissed or they are found not guilty? I plan to insist on it - what do you think?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arrest does not equal guilt

An off-duty Chicago police officer was arrested yesterday after he was alleged to have caused a fiery crash while driving drunk on Illinois roads. After a hearing, Judge Panarese set bond for officer Frugoli at $500,000. Fights broke out and the crowd got more than a bit unruly, upset that Frugoli was "a free man". Apparently, not only did they forget that Mr. Frugoli is innocent until he either enters a plea of guilty or is proven to be guilty, they also grossly misunderstand the purpose of bond.
Bond is meant to ensure the appearance, cooperation and compliance of a defendant facing criminal charges in Illinois courts. That's pretty much it. Failing to show up in Chicago's criminal court at 26th and California, committing another crime or refusing to comply with the lawful orders of a judge will result in the loss of the entire bond amount. A Chicago cop with no other criminal history? $50,000 of his hard earned cash ought to do that job just fine.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

DUI? You're fired!

Love watching Khloe Kardashian on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice with Donald Trump? Too bad. You see, the Donald apparently lives in a cave, and didn't know that Khloe Kardashian had a DUI, leading to this:

Without any regard whatsoever for the individual facts of her case, and having no regard for the fact that Ms. Kardashian has already been punished by the Court and undergone treatment, attended classes and more, Trump instantly jumped to the worst possible consequences of a DUI. Citing MADD and specifically alcohol-related deaths (more on that bit of misdirection another time), Trump apparently placed Khloe Kardashian's DUI on the same level. I don't know, did she cause an accident? Hurt anyone? To "The Donald" and unfortunately to many people, all DUI cases are the same. Like so many, Khloe falls victim here to the stigma of a DUI.

For this very reason, anyone facing a DUI arrest must proceed carefully. When facing a DUI arrest in Illinois, contact an Illinois DUI attorney who will carefully analyze your case and give you the best chance at an aggressive defense. The Cook county based DUI law firm of Fagan, Fagan & Davis offers a free consultation. Learn more now at