Today, I met with 2 new clients to talk about representing them for their criminal cases at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse. Both cases have different facts, and both clients responded differently when they were confronted by the police. I want to talk about these 2 cases because they illustrate how what clients do when they interact with the police, can often be the difference between winning and losing a criminal case, going to jail, or walking away from criminal charges without a conviction.
The first client I met today is charged with a DUI. I represented the client’s wife for a DUI in Rolling Meadows about 3 years ago. When I met with the client’s wife, the current client was with her and heard everything I said to her. I told his wife what she should do if she is ever stopped again for a DUI charge. The client was paying attention to what I told his wife because he followed my suggestions almost perfectly. After the client was stopped by the police officer, the officer asked him if he had been drinking. The client refused to answer the question. The officer asked the client where he was coming from and where he was going, and he refused to answer the officer’s question. When the officer asked the client to exit the car, he complied, but when the officer asked him to perform the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) on the side of the road, the client refused. When the officer asked the client to blow into a Portable Breath Device (PBD), the client refused. When the client was asked to submit to a Breathalyzer Test at the police station, he refused. The client told me that he knew he was legally intoxicated so he remembered what I told his wife and followed my advice.
The other client I met today is charged with Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon (UUW by a Felon). This client was a front seat passenger in his friends vehicle. The driver was pulled over for a minor traffic violation. The officer claimed that he smelled burnt cannabis and asked the driver and the passenger to exit the vehicle. The officers found a loaded firearm in the backseat area of the vehicle. When the police asked my client and the driver who the gun belonged to, my client admitted that the gun was his. He told me that he admitted to the gun being his to protect his friend. The problem with the admission is that my client is a convicted felon. Because he has a prior felony conviction, he is being charged with UUW by a Felon which carries a mandatory prison sentence. Probation is not an option for a charge of UUW by a Felon.
The actions of each client could not be more different. Both cases show how important your actions and interaction with the police can be for the outcome of your case. The DUI client did the smart thing. What the DUI client did has made it virtually impossible for the State to prove the DUI criminal charges in court. While I have not received any of the discovery (reports and videos) for the case, I am approaching this case with several advantages. Unless the squad car video shows my client driving dangerously or erratically, the State will have a difficult time justifying asking my client to submit to a Breathalyzer Test at the police station. The officer will not be able to testify that my client admitted to drinking. The officer will not be able to testify that my client admitted to being at a bar before he was pulled over. The officer will not be able to show video of my client taking and failing the SFST. There is no PBT so the State cannot use that as a reason for placing my client under arrest and taking him to the station. The State will be unable to admit a Breathalyzer Test in evidence. Because the client did the right thing, his chances of winning his DUI, and avoiding the Statutory Summary Suspension of his license, are excellent. If the client had admitted to drinking, admitted to being at a bar before he was pulled over, took and failed the SFST, blew into a PBT, and submitted to a Breathalyzer Test, we would be looking looking at a different story and a different outcome.
The other case is an example of what you should NOT do when you are confronted by the police. If this client had done the same thing that the DUI client did, refuse to cooperate and answer questions, he would probably not have been arrested. If this client had refused to answer any police questions, they could not prove that the gun found in the back seat was his. The car was owned by the driver of the vehicle. The gun was found in the rear seat area, not under the passenger seat. At the end of the day, the State has the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the firearm that was retrieved in the backseat of the vehicle, belong to my client. Since my client does not own the vehicle, if he had refused to talk to the police, and not admit that the gun was his, he would probably win is case. But because he freely admitted that the gun belonged to him, his chances of winning the case are bleak. It appears to me that the officer did not have probable cause (a good reason) to pull over the vehicle that my client was a passenger in. However, since the vehicle did not belong to my client, he may not be able to challenge the stop of the vehicle in Court.
Both cases are examples that present two entirely different responses to police interactions. Each case is a powerful example of what citizens should do, and should not do, when they are confronted by the police because the results of the interactions are different yet powerful examples of the underlying response to police interaction that every citizen should follow. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives you the right to refuse to cooperate with the Police when they are conducting a criminal investigation that involves you. If you are questioned by the Police, you should tell the Officer that you will not answer any questions unless they provide a lawyer for you. Let the police make their case without you helping them. After 29 years of experience handling criminal cases, the biggest mistake that criminal clients make is talking to the police and trying to talk themselves out of it. Very rarely does the result end up being good. Once you assert your right to a lawyer, all questioning must stop. You cannot be charged with refusing to answer police questions because you have thew absolute Constitutional right to refuse to talk to the Police.
James Dimeas is a nationally recognized, award-winning, criminal defense attorney, with over-29 years of experience handling criminal cases throughout Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois” for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI attorney”, a “Best DUI Lawyer in Schaumburg”, and a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer” by the National Trial Lawyers. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois”. James Dimeas is rated “Superb” by AVVO, 10 out of 10, the highest rating possible for any criminal defense lawyer in the United States. The American Society of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction. Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois”.
If you are facing criminal charges, you can contact James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can speak to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.