You are obeying the law driving on Interstate 70 or 55 in Madison County, Illinois. You have been driving a long time and have out of state plates. An Illinois State Police Trooper activates his lights and pulls you over. He approaches and begins discussing the reason for the stop. He may say it was for speeding, lane violation, obstructed license plate, obstructed windshield, or a host of other trivial reasons. He acts nice at first and asks you to accompany him to his squad car so he can fill out the paperwork. While inside the squad car his line of questioning changes from the reason for the stop. The police officer begins asking you where you are coming from, where you are going, why you are driving a rental car, why you aren't flying to your destination and other questions. All these questions are geared towards something other than the simple traffic violation he claims to have witnessed. He has refocused his questions towards you as a potential trafficker of illicit drugs and/or cannabis.
Eventually he issues a warning or citation to you and tells you that you may leave. As you are walking to your vehicle he asks you "would you mind if I conduct a search of the car?" You don't know what to say. You don't want him to search but feel if you refuse he will believe you are carrying something illegal. You tell him that you don't really want to delay your trip any longer. He tells you that you cannot leave the scene and that a K9 is on its way.
The K9 arrives and you are told that he reacts positively for the presence of illegal drugs. A full blown search begins. You are handcuffed and placed in the squad car. Cannabis is discovered. You are charged with Cannabis Trafficking. Your bond is set between $100,000 and $250,000. You don't know what to do next. You don't want to do prison time, lose your job, be a convicted felon, or lose your property.
This is a typical scenario for persons charged with cannabis trafficking. The first step is to get you out of jail. If a bond must be lowered then your attorney will either negotiate a lower bond amount or file a motion to reduce your bond. It is common for reduction of bond in these cases if your counsel is experienced in these matters. Once you get out of jail you can begin concentrating on your defense. No further contact with the police is highly recommended. Oftentimes the police will advise that if you cooperate (snitch on your supplier) that they will "put in a good word" with the prosecutor. Your attorney is best suited to make that decision after fully advising you on all possible consequences. Again, an experienced cannabis trafficking attorney can make a huge difference at this point in your case. It is generally not your best move to cooperate with law enforcement at this stage.
After you are released on bond you will have an appearance called a preliminary hearing and arraignment. Discovery is received at this point from the States Attorney. Usually discovery is not completed at that time however. This is one very important issue in your trafficking case. Most attorneys don't realize what additional materials they are entitled in these cases. A lot of other information is available and must all be collected by the defense attorney. If the State does not comply with their request (and typically the standing judicial order regarding discovery) a motion for sanctions will almost always spur the State to provide the additional materials. Supplemental discovery is an important source for impeachment evidence against the arresting officer. It also solidifies various times that are pertinent to the case. One example is the radio communications log. That one piece of evidence captures all communications between the arresting officer and all other personnel connected to the case in his department. The radio communications log is normally NOT disclosed to most defendants. It is there for the experienced defense counsel. There are many other pieces of evidence that you must receive from the State.
Once discovery is completed it is time to begin motion practice. This is the stage of proceedings where you attempt to suppress some, or all of, the evidence in the case. The evidentiary attack focuses on both the stop, search, seizure, and statement evidence as well as any type of GPS tracking or anticipatory search warrant issues. It is frequently the case where new methods of police investigatory techniques are coupled with judicially authorized devices such as eavesdrop, anticipatory, and regular search warrants. New methods include digital information tracking, cellular phone tracking, computer forensics, and tracking device use on suspect's vehicles. All these newer methods are filtered through the courts and new case law is created regarding their use. Frequently, the reviewing courts allow the police to conduct their investigation with the assistance of the new methods with little or no limitations. K9 usage is very common. The State of Illinois has created statutes that require both the K9 and its handler to be certified with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board on a yearly basis. Recently, I won a cannabis possession case due to the fact that the K9 had not been properly certified on the date it performed a "sniff search." The judge ruled in my client's favor and suppressed all the cannabis discovered. The case was dismissed due to lack of evidence.
Most cases of this nature are won or lost at the motion stage. Please consult a qualified cannabis trafficking attorney as soon as you can to best assist you in preparing your defense. An experienced attorney will not have only represented person for many years in cases like this. They must also have a winning track record. Make sure you choose your attorney wisely. Your freedom is on the line.