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Chicago Criminal Defense Blog

Man sentenced to 35 years for drug trafficking

A 32-year-old man was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison on Sept. 11 for using trains to smuggle drugs from California to Illinois. The defendant, a California resident, oversaw an operation that transported thousands of kilograms of heroin and cocaine between the states over a six-year period.

According to authorities, the defendant directed the shipment of hundreds of packages of drugs from Los Angeles to Chicago between 2010 and 2016. He reportedly worked with an Amtrak employee to ensure the packages were not detected by law enforcement agents along the way. Once the packages arrived at Union Station in Chicago, other members of the drug ring would pick them up and stash them at various locations for eventual sale. Every so often, the defendant and other members of the ring would board commercial planes to fly cash profits back to Los Angeles. During these flights, each person would carry up to $150,000.

Drug-induced homicide targets users not dealers

Your substance abuse problem likely means you have had your share of trouble. Perhaps you have gone through rehab, faced interventions and watched the sorrowful looks on your loved one's faces as you struggled with sobriety. You may have had legal issues too if your addiction led you to make unwise choices.

Now, however, you may be facing one of the most serious situations you have had to handle. If you recently shared drugs with a friend who died from an overdose, law enforcement may be holding you criminally responsible. Illinois is not the only state that has added or rediscovered a drug-induced homicide law on the books. If police have charged you with such a crime, you have a right to be concerned about your future.

Police find drugs and bullets in suspicious vehicle

Police in Illinois say that reports of a suspicious vehicle in Joliet on the evening of Aug. 28 led to the discovery of heroin, cocaine, drug paraphernalia and a substantial quantity of 9mm handgun ammunition. A 24-year-old woman was taken into custody by officers at the scene. She was subsequently transported to a Will County detention facility on drug and weapons possession charges.

Officers who were dispatched to West Jefferson Street at about 8:00 p.m. say that they arrived at the scene to find a silver Mazda Tribute SUV with all of its doors open outside a pharmacy. A man and a woman were standing near the vehicle setting rags on fire according to the officers. This behavior and the woman's alleged erratic actions led officers to believe that she could be under the influence of narcotics. The woman is said to have denied taking drugs, but reports indicate that she told officers that heroin and drug paraphernalia were concealed inside the vehicle.

Suspect in Christmas Day killing extradited to Illinois

The U.S. Marshals Service arrested a 37-year-old man out of state in connection with the fatal shooting of a 39-year-old man in Decatur on Christmas Day 2017. Police in Macon County processed the suspect, who remains in jail awaiting charges from the Macon County State's Attorney's Office.

The arrest warrant issued by local authorities cited preliminary charges for first-degree murder. A detective declined to share any information about the circumstances that allegedly connected the suspect to the victim. Police located the victim at a home on North 32nd Street. Emergency personnel transported him to Decatur Memorial Hospital, which recorded his death. The incident marked the 10th homicide in the city for that year.

Illinois man sentenced to 12 years for cocaine possession

On July 26, an Illinois judge sentenced a 44-year-old man to 12 years in prison for dealing cocaine from his Montgomery home. The defendant was also ordered to pay a fine of $23,000.

According to Kane County authorities, officers executed a search warrant at the defendant's home on the 1800 block of Candlelight Circle in November 2017. During the search, they uncovered around 255 grams of cocaine hidden in a backpack in a bedroom closet. The drugs had an estimated street value of approximately $23,000. They also discovered a scale, suspected drug packaging materials and $3,000 in cash.

Criminal suspect lineup reforms could reduce misidentification

Criminal cases in Illinois sometimes depend on testimony from witnesses. Although people tend to believe witnesses who identify suspects, this information is potentially unreliable. The Innocence Project, which helps people wrongfully convicted of killings and sex crimes gain their release with DNA evidence, reported that 71 percent of 350 exoneration cases involved witnesses who had identified the wrong people. A reform, known as a double-blind lineup, has begun to take hold in the law enforcement community because the new approach reduces the possibility of people misidentifying suspects.

Witnesses often take their cues from the body language of police investigators when they view a lineup of suspects or photographs. Police who have their suspicions about a specific person might encourage a witness to select that person. In a double-blind lineup, the person conducting the session will not have knowledge of who the suspect is. This will eliminate the chance of a witness being led to make a certain choice. An investigator should also tell a witness that the suspect might not even be present. This way a witness might not feel pressure to pick someone despite uncertainty.

Supreme Court ruling protects privacy of cell phone location data

Cell phone users in Illinois and nationwide gained a landmark ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the privacy of their cell site location information. Privacy advocates view the 5-4 decision as a landmark ruling that updates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures for the 21st century.

Telecom companies automatically collect and store location data gathered as cell phones connect with tower signals. Law enforcement agencies had been routinely accessing this data when investigating people suspected of crimes. The case that led to the decision involved a man who law enforcement tracked through his cell phone locations for 127 days. Their investigation resulted in his conviction for robbery. His defense team argued that the extensive and prolonged tracking of his every movement by law enforcement violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

Federal prosecutors charge 3 in Illinois with meth trafficking

A multi-agency investigation that included the Jacksonville Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service resulted in the arrest of 2 men and 1 woman in Jacksonville. All of them appeared in federal court, where the criminal complaint detailed their charges related to methamphetamine distribution.

The three people stood accused of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine as well as possession. The oldest among the defendants, a 40-year-old man, received additional firearms charges related to his felony record and possession of a gun during an alleged drug crime. The court continued to hold the men after their appearances, but the woman was released.

Problem of false identifications

In Illinois, some people have been exonerated after being wrongfully convicted of crimes that they did not commit. Some of these people were convicted after being falsely identified by witnesses. The problem of false identifications in criminal cases is widespread, affecting innocent people across the U.S.

According to the California Innocence Project, mistakes are often made with how the photo lineups are conducted by the police. The errors occur in both the photographic lineups and in-person lineups. Some police departments use photographic lineups of six people. Studies have shown that witnesses who are presented with six-person photo lineups tend to choose the person that they think looks the most similar to the person that they saw even if they are not certain that their choice is correct.

News of recent fraud trial and tips to avoid similar outcomes

In Illinois and all other states, if someone accuses you of fraud or some other criminal offense, you are guaranteed an opportunity to present as strong a defense as possible to try to avoid conviction or at least prevent long-term negative consequences if conviction is unavoidable. In fact, any number of issues may resolve the situation before it ever goes to trial, such as the court determining that not enough evidence exists to try you. If you go before a judge or jury, it still, by no means, constitutes guilt.  

If the court convicts you, your attorney can try to convince the judge to issue a lighter sentence. A judge may even deem it appropriate to sentence you to probation with no time in jail. One certainty in all criminal trials, including those involving fraud, is that you can never predict what the outcome will be. How well you understand your rights and the type of support you secure are likely to be key factors toward obtaining the best outcome possible in your situation.  

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DMC - Law Offices of Damon M. Cheronis

Law Offices of Damon M. Cheronis
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