Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicago Criminal lawyer says you can win your case and still lose your home

I've posted here and here about the collateral consequences of criminal charges. That means there could be a negative impact to your life outside of the actual consequences such as a background check for employment indicating you were charged with a crime, even if those charges were dismissed. Now comes news that a criminal charge could lead to subsequent homelessness, even if the charges were dismissed.

U.S. Residential Management and Development LLC v. Michael Head, No. 1-08-3531

On October 15, 2006, defendant was arrested in his rental residence at the Lathrop Home public housing development for possessing cannabis in violation of section 550/4(d) of the Cannabis Control Act. 720 ILCS 550/4(d) (West 2006). Plaintiff managed the premises on behalf of the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). Defendant's lease with plaintiff required him to refrain from engaging in any drug-related criminal activity on or off CHA premises and to keep persons under his control from engaging in any criminal activity. The lease would be terminated if there was any drug-related criminal activity on or off the premises by the resident, any family member of the household, or a guest.

On March 9, 2007, the State dropped the criminal charges against defendant. On August 14, 2007, CHA sent plaintiff notice of defendant's arrest. Ten days later, on August 24, 2007, plaintiff sent defendant notice of its decision to terminate the lease agreement.

Defying logic, the management company files the eviction proceedings once the criminal charges have been dismissed. Yep, you got it, all criminal charges dismissed and he still had to fight to stay in his apartment. The trial court agreed with him and granted his motion to suppress evidence and as such concluded that without that evidence the management company couldn't meet its burden to prove drug-related criminal activity by the tenant.

The management company didn't like the trial court's ruling and appealed. On appeal they prevailed and were able to kick Mr. Head out of his apartment-- legally. The appeal's court ruled that evictions were non-criminal matters and that motions to suppress evidence were not applicable in civil proceedings.

In other words, Mr. Head won the battle (his actual freedom in the criminal case) and lost the war( the ability to have a roof over his head).

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