Edwardsville Criminal Defense Law Blog

Baseball star charged with drug possession

As former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza recently discovered, success as a professional athlete offers little protection from prosecution. As a retired athlete with over $40 million in earnings over a long baseball career, his arrest for suspected involvement in drug trafficking came as a surprise to many who knew him. The pitcher pleaded not guilty, and his bail was set at $250,000 after prosecutors argued that he posed a high flight risk.

Loaiza was initially arrested after a traffic stop by San Diego County law enforcement officers, who claim to have discovered a hidden compartment while searching the vehicle. Investigators reportedly described the compartment as "sophisticated" and suggested it was used to hide illegal substances. Investigators also claim that the ex-pitcher's recent crossing of the Mexican-American border strengthens the case against him.

Is reasonable suspicion or probable cause needed for a DUI stop?

You may not realize it, but distinct differences exist between reasonable suspicion and probable cause. Even so, both are necessary in order to make an arrest for driving under the influence.

So, what is the difference between the two? Reasonable suspicion is all that police need in order to initiate a traffic stop, but the officer needs probable cause in order to make an arrest.

Illinois women facing drug charges

Police took two women into custody on Jan. 22 after observing what they believed to be a drug transaction being carried out on a Hometown street. A 30-year-old Chicago resident has been charged with drug possession and delivery in connection with the incident, and a 37-year-old Hometown woman is facing a count of drug possession. Both women are scheduled to appear in a Bridgeview court on Feb. 28.

Officers with the Hometown Police Department say that they became suspicious when they noticed a man walking on South Kenton Avenue in the vicinity of West 87th Street with another man who they knew had been recently paroled. The man is said to have consented to a search that allegedly led to the discovery of a gram of heroin. Officers say that the man then admitted that he was at the scene to meet the Chicago woman in order to purchase more of the drug.

Recommendations for a lowered legal alcohol limit

For Illinois motorists, drunk driving convictions can result in serious consequences. The state has significant penalties for driving under the influence, and they escalate further for subsequent offenses after a first DUI charge. In addition, there is a growing push to lower the threshold for drunk driving charges. This could mean that it is possible to face these charges for a lower amount of alcohol in a person's blood, especially following the backing provided by a scientific panel for a lower threshold.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a 489-page report making a number of recommendations on reducing the prevalence of drunk driving. The primary recommendation of the report is a call to lower the blood-alcohol concentration threshold for DUI from .08 percent to .05 percent. As of January 2018, all 50 states have a threshold of .08 percent. In Utah, a law lowering the limit to .05 will go into effect on Dec. 30, 2018. For most women, the .05 threshold would reflect the consumption of two drinks in an evening, and for most men, it would reflect two to three alcoholic drinks.

Bond in Illinois drunk driving case increased to $500,000

The bond of a 26-year-old Illinois man facing felony drunk driving charges was increased to $500,000 on Jan. 4 even though the monitoring bracelet he has been ordered to wear did not indicate that he had consumed alcohol. A DeKalb County judge decided to increase the man's bond after hearing that he had previously violated the terms of his bail and failed to appear in court on two separate occasions.

DeKalb resident has been charged with aggravated DUI resulting in death and DUI causing serious bodily harm in connection with a May 2017 accident near Northern Illinois University that claimed the life of a 23-year-old graduate student. The conditions of his $20,000 recognizance bond require him to abstain from alcohol, wear an alcohol-monitoring bracelet and not allow alcohol near the device. The man was taken into custody in December after the Electronic Home Monitoring Division of the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office determined that he had visited a friend's home and spent more than four hours at a neighborhood bar.

Stash house stings could be racially biased

On Dec. 14, judges and other professionals met in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to determine if there was racial bias in fake drug stash-house stings that were conducted by federal agents. The stings date back to the 1990s and could have an impact on the futures of more than 40 people who were convicted as a result.

Typically, agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives pose as cartel couriers and attempt to talk targets into agreeing to rob drugs from a stash house. These drugs and the stash houses are usually non-existent or are fictitious. Judges were looking to determine if the stash house stings did or did not discriminate based on race using statistics. If it is determined that the stings have a racial bias, law enforcement agencies might curtail or abandon the use of this tactic.

Learn more about Illinois arson laws

In Illinois, a person may be charged with arson if they destroy property worth $150 or more with fire. An individual may be charged with arson even if he or she owned a portion of the property that was damaged and the other owner or owners didn't consent to the destruction by fire.

A fire may be investigated as an act of arson is someone is hurt in the blaze, especially if the injured person is a police officer of firefighter. Fires may also be investigated for arson if they occur on school property or in a place of worship. Arson may be investigated if the damage is significant from a financial perspective or the source of the fire is hard to determine.

Rose McGowan accused of drug possession

Actress Rose McGowan has entered a plea of not guilty to allegations of drug possession. The allegation stems from bags of powder that were found in her wallet left on a plane. In Illinois, the possession, sale or trafficking of cocaine is a felony.

McGowan is one of the women who came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. After The New Yorker published multiple accounts of allegations of harassment and assault, McGowan came forward alleging that Weinstein had raped her.

Think clearly before you become incoherent from alcohol

Many Illinois residents enjoy getting together with loved ones or friends to kick back and relax after work or on a weekend. In fact, you might start looking forward to your down time as soon as Monday mornings roll around. Whether you take in a show, go out to eat or imbibe a few alcoholic beverages, you're entitled to a little R & R after a long week at work. The trick is learning to balance your fun with responsible choices to avoid vehicular collisions or legal problems (or both).

Alcohol has a surprising way of immediately affecting your cognitive and physical abilities. In fact, you may not even realize you are impaired when you are. That's why researching the topic ahead of time can save you a lot of stress and personal risk down the line.

Drag-racing rap star faces DWI, 14 additional charges

Rap enthusiasts in Illinois who are following Fetty Wap's rising stardom may be interested in knowing that the artist was taken into custody in New York on Nov. 3. News sources report that the rapper was allegedly drag racing with another motorist when his 2015 Mercedes-Benz was stopped by New York City police. The American rapper is now facing 15 criminal charges, including DWI, following too closely, driving without a valid driver's license and illegal signaling.

When he was pulled over, Fetty reportedly showed officers an expired driver's license. Preliminary reports also indicate that the rap star failed at least one roadside sobriety test administered at the scene. Authorities say that Fetty's blood alcohol level was .09 percent, which exceeds the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle in New York.

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