Following an eight-month, multi-agency investigation that yielded little evidence, Kane County prosecutors charged six men with 32 felony offenses.
Most of the charges involve the unlawful possession of a firearm and delivery of a controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park, school, or other prohibited place. Five of the six men are in custody and are being held in jail until they post tens of thousands of dollars in bail. Much of the investigation involved undercover work in and around Montgomery, Aurora, and North Aurora; authorities also credited several confidential informants.
During the investigation, police seized roughly 75 grams of cocaine or heroin and a .270 hunting rifle.
Drug Crimes in Chicago
The “war on drugs” is not over, and as far as winning and losing is concerned, the only measuring stick is the number and severity of drug arrests. That explains why a few men with few dozen bottlecaps’ worth of a controlled substance and a hunting rifle that could probably be found in half of Cook County homes are being charged with some of the most serious drug offense under the law.
There is another dynamic at play, as well. After almost a year, authorities had undoubtedly invested considerable resources into this investigation. Like any other investor, they want a good return, and they will do whatever they can to maximize the payoff.
Third Party Tips
All criminal prosecutions begin when an arresting officer personally observes illegal activity or when the arresting officer receives a tip. Drug prosecutions almost always involve the latter, due to the surreptitious nature of most controlled substances crimes. Judges must evaluate these tips for reliability, considering all relevant factors, including:
- Time: Drug transaction tips have a very short shelf life, as information about who, what, and where quickly becomes stale.
- Specificity: Tips like “A man is selling drugs in Aurora” are almost useless, and tips like “A black man is selling drugs at XYZ address” probably constitute probable cause.
- Source: Police departments pay substantial sums to many civilian tipsters, and while that does not necessarily mean the tips are unreliable, many people will do practically anything for money.
The prosecutor cannot work backwards and argue that since officers found drugs, the questionable tip must have been reliable. A tip is judged on its face at the time the officer receives it.
Negotiating with Prosecutors
Even if the evidence seems overwhelming, there is often room for negotiation, and the 1,000-foot rule is a good example of this procedure. 1,000 feet is about three football fields, so in many areas, almost any designated point is less than 1,000 feet away from at least one park, school, church, or other prohibited place. Furthermore, since most drug transactions occur late at night, there are probably no children or other people in the vicinity that the law is designed to protect.
While the defendant still technically broke the law, many prosecutors are willing to make sentencing accommodations in these cases to avoid a potentially embarrassing trial.
Rely on Experienced Attorneys
Aggressive prosecutors often press charges that the evidence does not really support. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.
(image courtesy of Ran Berkovich)