Its an all too common scenario. You are driving on Interstate 55 or I-270 in Collinsville, Edwardsville, or Madison County. You are stopped by an officer (usually Illinois State Police) for a minor traffic infraction. The officer tells you he stopped you for an air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror, tinted windows, or a partially obstructed license plate. Shortly after the stop the officer's demeanor changes from very pleasant to a discussion about drug traffickers and where you are from. He then tells you he suspects you of possessing drugs. He tells you a canine is on its way to conduct a sniff search of the vehicle. The officer is trying to get you to consent to a search. He may tell you he doesn't really care about a personal use amount of cannabis. You don't feel like giving the officer permission. He delays your return to the road. A canine shows up 10 minutes later and reacts positively for the presence of drugs. A thorough search reveals five pounds of cannabis. You are arrested and taken to jail. You don't know where to begin in defending yourself.
The first step is to not talk to the police. A well trained officer will try as hard as possible to get you to consent to a search of a vehicle. Everything stated by you or he is recorded pursuant to statute. The wisest thing you can do is NOT consent. Even if you have been arrested and are in custody you should never speak to them. Tell the officer you want an attorney. That typically will preserve your Fifth Amendment right against compulsory self incrimination. If he continues to attempt to speak to you there is a very good chance that whatever is said will be suppressed as evidence. A well trained officer will tell you things like "you don't need to talk to an attorney" or "if you just tell us where you bought it the judge will go easier on you." Another catchphrase is "if you fully cooperate with us we will talk to the State's Attorney for you." All of these things are simply not true. By not talking and cooperating with the police you greatly increase your chance of beating the charge. If you talk to the officers you do so at your own peril. The officers will first use the information to explain to the judge issuing the felony warrant that their case against you is even better now that you talked. The weaker the case the lower the bond usually is. At the scene you should tell the officer you want to be on your way.
Case law in Illinois prevents law enforcement officers from prolonging the time you are involved in a traffic stop. The longer the officer detains you at the scene the higher the chance a judge will deem the stop unconstitutional. An officer can only detain you long enough to complete issuance of the citation or warning. Even a few minutes too long will result in an unconstitutional search/seizure. This is a very important issue. I win many cases on these types of issues. I had a client with 60 pounds of cannabis who was detained too long by police. He consented to a search but it was after the time frame wherein the officer should have issued him the citation. We won his case on a motion to suppress.
I can generally get your bond reduced to a much lower amount than is initially set. Not all cases are the same and the amount of reduction depends on the judge to some degree. I have had many clients charged with class 1 and X delivery cases whose bonds were set over $100,000. We were able to get them reduced to half of their initial amounts. In Illinois only 10% of the bond amount is required to be posted. An example of this for a $100,000 bond would require posting of $10,000.
Even if all motions fail there is a good chance that we can negotiate a reduced charge or probation that results in a dismissal of the case afterwords.
When you decide upon counsel to defend you on these very serious charges make sure they are experienced and successful in this charge. I've represented clients whose co-defendants have hired other attorneys who are less experienced. In a case i recently obtained a straight dismissal the co-defendant plead guilty and had to complete probation for two years. If his attorney would have known what issues to look for he could have had his case dismissed too.