While the prospect of being charged with any drug offense in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois can expose you to harsh consequences, the law imposes harsher penalties for possession of certain controlled substances that are considered harder and more dangerous drugs. Cocaine possession is a serious crime that can result in a felony conviction regardless of the amount of the drug recovered. Even if you possess less than a gram of powder cocaine or merely some residue left behind in a baggie, possession of this minute amount of cocaine is a Class 4 felony. While anyone charged with an offense graded at this level faces exposure of up to three years in state prison, a conviction for this level of offense may also qualify for probation.
When you face criminal charges involving powder or rock cocaine, Chicago cocaine possession attorney David L. Freidberg aggressively pursues substantive and procedural defense strategies following a careful investigation of the evidence, police reports, witness statements, laboratory testing of the substance and other relevant evidence. Because he has successfully handled hundreds of serious drug cases during his 20 years practicing criminal law, he effectively asserts defenses based on knowledge, intent, Constitutional violations and other appropriate defenses designed to obtain a dismissal or acquittal. If the circumstances merit negotiating a plea agreement in an Illinois cocaine possession prosecution, Mr. Freidberg knows the most effective way to obtain favorable plea terms is to seek the suppression of evidence and build the most compelling defense available given the facts of the case.What to expect of the criminal proceedings if you are arrested for cocaine possession in Chicago.
If you are taken into custody for possession of cocaine in Chicago, you will be transported to bond court where the court will decide on the amount of bond in your criminal case. If the judge imposes deposit or cash bond, you will need money to secure your release from incarceration while your case is pending. In cases where the amount of cocaine that you are charged with possessing is small, you may be released on your own recognizance, also known as an I-Bond.
At your bond court hearing, the judge will also set the date for your preliminary hearing, which will be held at one of the many Chicago branch court locations. The preliminary hearing is an opportunity for the judge to assess the evidence to determine whether there is probable cause for the criminal prosecution to go forward. It is important to obtain an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney before facing the preliminary hearing on cocaine possession charges. This hearing provides a valuable opportunity for your criminal attorney to conduct effective cross-examination of the arresting officer, which may reveal potential weaknesses in the case or violations of your Constitutional rights, such as violation of your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizures, Miranda violations and other grounds to seek suppression of cocaine, cash or paraphernalia or other evidence. It is invaluable to have an experienced Chicago defense attorney such as David L. Freidberg at the preliminary hearing as that testimony may be used to file a motion to quash and suppress evidence in your case.Defense strategies in Chicago: constructive vs. actual possession of cocaine
While the precise defenses available in your Chicago felony possession of cocaine case will depend on the specific evidence as well as the conduct of the arresting officer, an important distinction that will impact your case involves whether you are charged with actual or constructive possession. Actual possession of cocaine is what most people think of as possession in ordinary language. Common examples of actual possession include having the cocaine with you on your person or shirt pocket.
Constructive possession involves having knowledge the cocaine is present combined with the ability to exercise control over the cocaine. If you have cocaine in your officer drawer or the nightstand next to your bed, this constitutes constructive possession provided you knew that the cocaine has been stashed in such a place. In cases involving constructive possession, our experienced Chicago defense lawyers may be able to argue that you did not know the drugs were present. If other people had access to your residence, vehicle or office and the cocaine was not out in the open, the prosecutor may not be able to establish that you knew the cocaine was located where it was found.
It is important to distinguish between possession and ownership in the context of cocaine charges in Illinois. Even if the drugs did not belong to you, you may still be charged with possession if you knew the cocaine was located in a particular location with the ability to exercise control over the powder or rock cocaine. If the drugs are placed in the glove compartment of a vehicle in which you are a passenger, for example, you may be charged with possession if you knew the cocaine was there even though the drugs do not belong to you, and you did not put the drugs in the glove compartment.Unreasonable search and seizure defenses provide an effective strategy against charges of actual possession of cocaine.
If you are arrested with cocaine in your hand or the pocket of your jeans, these cases are more difficult because it is difficult to argue that you did not know that the cocaine was on your person. However, there are situations where lack of knowledge of the presence of the cocaine still may constitute a defense, such as when you are wearing a jacket that does not belong to you or when others had access to the jacket. However, drug prosecutions involving actual possession of cocaine can be more challenging to defend.
Because Chicago cocaine possession lawyer David L. Freidberg has handled many drug possession cases during his 17 year tenure as a criminal defense attorney, he is familiar with the many ways that police may overstep Constitutional requirements when conducting a search and seizure of cocaine. Some of these violations of the Fourth Amendment that may justify suppression of the cocaine and result in a dismissal include:
- Defects or misrepresentations in the application for a warrant
- Searches conducted based on consent by someone without authority to consent
- Lack of reasonable suspicion to initiate a vehicle stop invalidating the subsequently discovered evidence
- Searches that exceed the scope of the search authorized by the judge
- Reliance on inapplicable exceptions to the warrant requirement
- Citizens stopped on the street based on inapplicable grounds such as racial profiling
The Chicago cocaine possession criminal defense law firm of David L. Freidberg, P.C. is dedicated to protecting the rights of citizens from overzealous law enforcement officers and prosecutors who engage in a rush to judgment. We carefully analyze the underlying facts and law enforcement tactics so that we can build the strongest factual and procedural defenses to cocaine charges. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and provide a free consultation so that we can provide preliminary advice. Do not hesitate to call us at 312-560-7100 or email us so that we can start protecting your reputation and freedom.