Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chicago Criminal lawyer comments on consensual car searches

This Chicago Criminal lawyer frequently posts on the rights of the accused when they are driving a vehicle. So here’s the free legal advice: Don’t volunteer anything to the police. Unless you called the police for assistance, they aren’t your friend and probably mean some harm to you (at least in the form of an arrest).

People vs. Anthony Oliver, No. 108089
The issue in this appeal is whether a police officer’s request to search the trunk of a driver’s vehicle, following the consensual search of its interior after a valid traffic stop, violates defendant’s constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures (U.S. Const., amend. IV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §6). The circuit court of Henry County denied defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence recovered from his vehicle’s trunk. Ultimately,defendant was convicted of two controlled-substance offenses. A majority of the appellate court reversed, concluding that defendant was subjected to an unlawful seizure when the officer requested to search the trunk. 387 Ill. App. 3d 1045, 1052. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the appellate court and affirm the circuit court’s judgment.

At the suppression hearing, Officer Hampton testified he stopped defendant’s car for following another vehicle too closely in a construction zone. When Officer Hampton asked defendant for his driver’s license, defendant produced an Illinois identification card. Officer Hampton did not observe anything suspicious inside
defendant’s vehicle, but he did notice a strong-smelling fragrance he suspected of masking the smell of contraband. While radioing defendant’s information from the Illinois identification card to police dispatch, Officer Hampton placed defendant in the passenger seat of his squad car. Officer Hampton learned that defendant was not the registered owner of the vehicle and did not have a valid Illinois driver’s license. Defendant’s passenger, James, however, had a valid Illinois driver’s license.
The officer says the defendant permitted him to search his trunk, which is where the drugs were found and the defendant says he didn’t. Second piece of free legal advice: Don’t sign or say that the drugs are yours but you didn’t intend to sell them, if you really want the courts to believe you.

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