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Law Enforcement Needs Warrant to Seize Digital DataYour digital devices may hold crucial evidence in a criminal case against you. Your data is the key evidence if prosecutors are accusing you of committing a computer crime, such as:

  • Possessing or distributing child pornography;
  • Soliciting sex from a sex worker or minor; or
  • Stalking or harassing someone electronically.

Other digital records can be evidence of your intent to commit a crime through your communications with others. The fourth amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects your digital devices and data from illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement must have a valid warrant in order to access your digital records as evidence for the prosecution.

Contesting a Warrant

In order to receive a warrant, law enforcement must establish that there is probable cause that you committed a crime and that searching your property may uncover evidence of the crime. For computer crimes, probable cause may come from alleged illegal activity that can be traced back to your Internet Protocol address. For other charges, law enforcement must show that there is a high probability that your digital devices contain evidence related to your charge. You have multiple grounds for contesting the validity of a warrant, such as:

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How States Restrict Recreational MarijuanaIllinois laws treat marijuana differently as compared to other illegal substances. Medical marijuana is legal, and lawmakers have decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana. With several states having already legalized recreational marijuana, Illinois seems likely to follow suit at some point. However, these states heavily regulate recreational marijuana use because of the perceived public safety risks associated with being high. Marijuana-related arrests continue as the public and law enforcement figure out the new laws. Here are five restrictions that states use when they legalize recreational marijuana:

  1. Possession Limits: States put limits on how many grams of marijuana you can have, which can vary depending on whether it is in flower, liquid, or edible form. The amount you can possess in public is much less than what you can possess at your private residence. Being caught with an ounce more than the legal limit is usually a petty offense, but possessing large amounts of marijuana can be a misdemeanor or felony.
  2. Age Minimum: An adult must be at least 21 years old in order to possess marijuana in states where it is legal. As with alcohol, teens will be charged with underage possession.
  3. Where You Can Use It: Every state that has legalized recreational marijuana has also banned people from using it in public places. Smoking marijuana in a public place is a petty offense or a misdemeanor if you possess more than the legal limit.
  4. Transporting Marijuana: As with alcohol, drivers are not allowed to have marijuana in an open container in the passenger area of a vehicle. Police officers may have their own interpretations of what is an open container, but they usually must observe evidence that the marijuana product has been used.
  5. Driving Under the Influence: Driving under the influence of marijuana is a crime, but states have not yet agreed on how to measure whether a driver is impaired by marijuana. Law enforcement uses THC levels as the equivalent to the blood alcohol concentration for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, THC levels may not indicate whether a driver was impaired by the substance because they can stay in a person’s blood for days. Without an objective test, police officers must rely on subjective observations when deciding whether to make an arrest.

Facing Marijuana Charges

Illinois does not appear to be close to legalizing recreational marijuana. Possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana is a criminal offense that could result in jail time and fines. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can help you contest your marijuana charge or receive minimal punishment. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law

Courts Correct Police Error on Left Turn LawMany drivers have learned that they should stay in the left-most lane after making a left turn at an intersection and onto a different street. A wider left turn that puts you into the far lane of traffic could be dangerous if an oncoming vehicle decides to make a right turn into the same lane. However, do you know whether this is a traffic law or a safe driving practice? The answer is consequential if a police officer stops you for making an illegal left turn and finds other violations that result in your arrest. An Illinois appellate court recently upheld a circuit court ruling that said that such left turns are not illegal under Illinois law.

Case Details

In the case of People v. Walker, an officer stopped the defendant for making an improper left turn because the defendant had turned into the far right lane instead of the near left lane. As a result of the stop, the driver received a ticket for driving while his license was revoked. The defendant asked the court to suppress the evidence because the officer lacked a reasonable suspicion that the defendant had committed a traffic violation before the stop. The sides were not arguing about the facts of the case but the interpretation of the Illinois traffic law, which states:

  • A driver intending to turn left should use the extreme left lane that is legally available;
  • After entering the intersection, the driver should leave the intersection by turning into a lane that is lawfully available for a vehicle heading that direction; and
  • Whenever practical, the driver should make the left turn in the portion of the intersection that is to the left of the center of the intersection.

The circuit court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence from the stop because the defendant had not violated the traffic law. On appeal, the appellate court agreed that the law clearly does not restrict which lane a driver may enter after making a left turn. Further, the officer’s misinterpretation of the law did not justify the stop or make the evidence he found admissible in court.

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Posted by on in Criminal Law

Four Things You Should Avoid Doing During a DUI StopThere are several ways that you can contest a driving under the influence charge when you are in court. The officer must have a reasonable suspicion that you are violating the law in order to stop you and probable cause that you are intoxicated in order to arrest you. A lack of a warrant to search your vehicle or evidence that you were intoxicated can lead to your acquittal or the dismissal of the charges. However, the prosecution can use your decisions during your stop and arrest as evidence against you. You can unintentionally incriminate yourself based on what you say or do. Here are four things that you should avoid doing during a DUI stop:

  1. Being Hostile Towards the Officer: You may be upset or frustrated that the officer stopped you, but refusing to cooperate from the start will make the officer more suspicious. You should remain calm, provide the documentation that he or she asks for and respond to his or her questions. Failing to cooperate with the officer could result in an obstruction of justice charge that also reflects poorly on your DUI defense.
  2. Talking Too Much: If you believe the officer suspects you of DUI, do not try to come up with excuses or ask for leniency. What you say during the stop can be used as evidence against you, and you may indirectly admit to committing a DUI offense by talking too much. Limit yourself to responding to questions, and politely decline to answer questions that you believe may incriminate you.
  3. Submitting to a Test Before Being Arrested: An officer cannot force you to perform a field sobriety test, but refusing will likely result in you being arrested on suspicion of DUI. As for blood or breath tests, Illinois has an implied consent law that requires you to comply or face an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. However, that law only goes into effect if you have been arrested. An officer may try to pressure you into submitting to the test without formally arresting you.
  4. Resisting Arrest: If the officer decides to arrest you on suspicion of DUI, you should be quiet and compliant. Do not attempt to evade or resist arrest because those could be additional criminal charges against you. You could face a battery charge if you use force against the officer. Even if you are acquitted of your DUI charge, you can still be convicted on a resisting arrest charge.

Understanding Your Rights

It is helpful to know what the police are and are not allowed to do during a DUI stop. A DuPage County criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can tell you whether an officer’s actions may have violated your rights. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

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High-Profile Assault Case Becomes Hate CrimeA Chicago man was recently charged with a felony hate crime and misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct stemming from his recorded confrontation with a woman wearing a shirt depicting the flag of Puerto Rico. Shot from the alleged victim’s perspective, the video showed the man approaching and berating her for her shirt, saying that she should wear a shirt with a U.S. flag if she is a U.S. citizen. The misdemeanor charges would be punishable by as many as 30 days in jail and a fine of as much as $1,500. The felony charge could result in two to five years in prison.

Assault Charge

The man never touched the woman, but prosecutors believed his actions qualified as assault. Illinois’ legal definition of assault is conduct that makes the victim reasonably believe that he or she may be at risk of bodily harm. The video shows the man to be:

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