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Chicago Criminal Law Blog

Plea bargaining can resolve cases faster

On television and in the movies, criminal defendants will usually want to go through the jury trial to resolve the case. In reality, only a small portion of cases are resolved in this manner. The vast majority are handled through plea deals.

There are many different points that people in the criminal justice system should know about plea deals. Some people think that plea deals are an easy way out, but this isn't the case.

Complaints about odor lead to marijuana seizure in Chicago

Police in Illinois say that complaints about a strange smell emanating from an East Chicago apartment led them to the discovery and seizure of marijuana worth more than $182,000. Several residents of a North Harbor apartment building complained about a strong marijuana smell, and responding police officers identified the apartment and traced the vehicles used by its occupants. On Jan. 29, police pulled over a car driven by a 25-year-old man who had been observed recovering a backpack from a truck registered to one of the apartment's residents, and subsequent searches are said to have yielded 219 pounds of marijuana.

According to reports, the man gave officers permission to search his vehicle after being pulled over on Guthrie Street at approximately 3:30 p.m. During the search, police claim that a bag containing a pound of a green leafy substance was discovered. Police say that the substance was later identified as marijuana. A K9 unit was then called in to perform a more thorough search, and a police dog is said to have sniffed the air around a second vehicle that the man had allegedly been observed getting out of.

Illinois woman facing her sixth DUI charge

An Illinois woman has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol for the sixth time after allegedly being involved in two car accidents on Feb. 6. The Montgomery resident was initially charged with a felony drunk driving count and cited for driving on a revoked driver's license, but officers with the Aurora Police Department added an obstruction charge when she allegedly refused to provide blood and urine samples after being transported to a nearby hospital.

According to reports, the first crash took place on Lake Street in Aurora at approximately 6:35 p.m. Police say that the woman fled the scene after striking two vehicles at a stop sign near West Illinois Avenue. The woman's 2002 Mitsubishi Galant is then said to have struck a northbound pickup truck on South Broadway while attempting to make a left turn onto Hazel Avenue. No injuries were reported at either accident scene.

2 face drug charges following Illinois traffic stop

Two Illinois residents were arrested in January on drug charges following a traffic stop in the town of Charleston. The 32-year-old man and 37-year-old woman were arrested after police stopped the vehicle near Adams Avenue and Fourth Street. The police allege that a drug-sniffing K-9 dog signaled an alert about the vehicle, giving them a basis to search it.

The Charleston police allege that the Newman man was found to have methamphetamine in his possession. The Charleston woman was found to have heroin with her as well as syringes that contain residue that police allege to indicate the presence of heroin. The man was arrested for possession of methamphetamine, a controlled substance, while the woman was accused both of possession of heroin and possession of drug equipment.

Reckless homicide charges follow DUI crash

The young Geneva woman responsible for a fatal crash last September now faces charges, including reckless homicide. The 19-year-old Geneva resident was driving the wrong way on Interstate 55 near Pontiac when her collision with a tractor-trailer while under the influence resulted in the death of her passenger. She was not initially charged for being under the influence and has been free since the incident.

Illinois State Police responded to the crash at 3:50 a.m. on September 16, where they found the woman and her passenger. The male passenger was transported to OSF Healthcare St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he died from injuries sustained on September 17. The driver was initially cited for driving the wrong way and remained free on bond. However, recently returned lab results resulted in the new charges, which also include three counts of aggravated DUI in addition to reckless homicide.

2 Illinois women arrested for heroin possession

Officers from the Hometown Police Department arrested a 30-year-old woman from Chicago and a 37-year-old female Hometown resident. Law enforcement first encountered the 37-year-old woman when she was walking with a male parolee in the 8600 block of South Kenton Avenue.

After officers stopped the woman, she reportedly consented to a search, which produced a gram of heroin. She allegedly informed officers that she had been on her way to buy heroin from the Chicago woman. After police arrested the second woman, they reported that she consented to a search. Officers found heroin in her crotch.

Illinois man charged with a 4th DUI

According to a criminal complaint that was filed in the Will County Court, a 49-year-old Bolingbrook man is facing a fourth DUI offense for the second time. The man was previously charged with a fourth offense in 2015, but he was found not guilty at trial.

The Bolingbrook Police Department reported that the man was pulled over on Dec. 11 just before 2 a.m. Officers said that they saw the man's Jeep Laredo swerving on the roadway while he was traveling eastbound on Boughton Road near Bolingbrook Drive. The police stated that they could smell alcohol on his breath once they pulled him over. He then reportedly failed the field sobriety tests and was taken into custody and charged with improper lane use and a fourth DUI.

Man charged after police find 14 pounds of marijuana

Illinois authorities reportedly recovered about 14 pounds of marijuana in Arlington Heights while they were executing a search warrant on Jan. 16. Ultimately, authorities seized 6,318.6 grams, which has an estimated street value of more than $125,000. A 32-year-old man who lived at the home was taken into custody as a result.

During the execution of the search warrant, authorities found a wrapped brick of marijuana that weighed 5,856.5 grams in a bedroom. About 450 grams of marijuana prepackaged into units was found in another area of the home near a coffee table. Another 8 grams was found in the man's waistband.

Pistachio nuts lead to drug bust for Illinois woman

A woman has been charged with illegal possession of a prescription drug, and it all started with pistachio nuts. Police made the drug possession charge after searching the woman's car because an officer mistook a pile of crushed pistachio shells for marijuana. The search didn't uncover any marijuana, but police did find the woman in possession of a narcotic painkiller.

According to the criminal complaint, the 59-year-old woman was stopped for speeding on Jan. 5 by Spring Grove police. An officer mistook a pile of pistachio nut shells in the car for marijuana, and then initiated a search. A bottle of the prescription drug tramadol was found in the woman's coat pocket. Although she does have a prescription for the painkiller, the bottle found was prescribed to someone else.

Panel urges lower threshold for drunk driving charges

An arrest for driving under the influence can have a serious impact on the lives and futures of Illinois motorists. The state has serious and strict penalties for drunk driving, and they only escalate with subsequent offenses. It may soon be possible to face DUI charges for lesser amounts of alcohol in a person's system, with a scientific panel backing a lower threshold for breath and blood alcohol tests.

The U.S. government commissioned a 489-page report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine to make multiple recommendations. One is a call to lower the blood alcohol concentration threshold for drunk driving from .08 to .05. As of January 2018, all 50 U.S. states have .08 as their threshold for leveling DUI charges. In Utah, a law that lowers the limit to .05 will go into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. This amount of alcohol would generally reflect the consumption of two drinks over an evening by most women or two or three drinks by most men.