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McHenry County Man Suing Police, Alleging Illegal Search

 Posted on November 29, 2016 in Drugs and Narcotics

Chicago criminal defense attorneysAccording to the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, all American citizens have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizures conducted by the government—generally in the form of law enforcement officers. Since the amendment was ratified—along with the other nine amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights—in 1791, what constitutes “unreasonable searches and seizures” have been constant issues in the American court system. The issue is now being raised again by a man from McHenry County who was arrested following a search that found 17 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle, as he has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the search was illegal and that officers on the scene falsified their reports to justify the warrantless search.

Search, Arrest, and Charges

In late August, a 31-year-old man was pulled over in Woodstock for an expired registration. According to reports, the officer asked the driver if he would wait and allow a drug-sniffing dog to sniff around the vehicle. The man reportedly refused, yet the officer told the driver that he could not yet leave. A second officer arrived with the dog and the dog was run around the car. The dog indicated the presence of drugs and the police found a duffel bag containing about 17 pounds of marijuana in the trunk.

The man was arrested and charged with two felony counts of possession and possession with intent to deliver. He faced up to 30 years in prison for the most serious charge. About six weeks later, however, all charges were quietly dropped, leading many in the community to wonder what was happening.

Federal Law Suit

The man and his attorneys remained fairly silent about the incident until they announced the filing of a lawsuit in federal court earlier this month. The suit alleges that dashcam footage recorded in the initial responding officer’s own cruiser shows the officer and the dog-handler conspiring to fabricate a story that would justify the dog sniff. The lawsuit goes on to claim that the officer admits on the tape that he could not smell marijuana, but that he would write in his report that he did. The man’s lawyer also believes that the officer made similar statements to the grand jury, but the contradiction of the video evidence led to the dismissal of the charges.

The suit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from the officers and the city of Woodstock. If the man’s claims are proven to be true—including that he was profiled on the basis of his race—the case could cast serious doubts on other stops made by the same officers.

Know Your Rights

Even as opinions regarding marijuana and it legality evolve around the country, the man in this case had every right to refuse a search of his vehicle until the officer could obtain a warrant. If you have been in a similar situation and are now facing charges related to evidence found in such a search, you need help. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney right away. Call 773-276-5541 and find out how the knowledgeable team at Luisi Legal Group can assist you in protecting your rights.







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