Possession of a Stolen Motor Vehicle (PSMV): Finding of No Probable Cause after Preliminary Hearing
BC was charged with Possession of a stolen motor vehicle after the car he was driving was pulled over for not having proper license plates. After the stop, officers observed that the car may be stolen. The police observed that the bill of sale BC showed them was for a different vehicle, that the vehicle was a 2020 model, but all of his paperwork referenced a 2016 model and that the VIN number on the vehicle had been altered. The Officers determined the real VIN number and that the car had been reported stolen.
BC hired our firm, and we took the case to a preliminary hearing. At the hearing, the officer testified to the above facts. Feeling confident in her case, the Assistant State’s Attorney rested on her direct examination. Attorney Aaron Rosenblatt then stepped up and conducted a cross-examination. Mr. Rosenblatt asked a few questions to help explain the scene of the arrest. He asked questions to help explain what the officers learned when they made their observations and how they could make their observations. The officer testified that BC made statements. Mr. Rosenblatt asked the officer to explain those statements to the Court. Mr. Rosenblatt knew that BC’s statement was that he purchased the car for $20,000.00, but he could not remember who sold him the car.
In general, at a preliminary hearing, the State’s Attorney’s Office only has to show that a crime occurred and that the defendant is the person who probably committed the crime. At this point, the judge was ready to rule on behalf of the state. Mr. Rosenblatt asked the court if he could argue before the Court’s ruling. The Judge allowed Mr. Rosenblatt to make an argument. Mr. Rosenblatt started to argue; he explained that the State is required to show three things: 1) that the car involved was stolen, 2) that the defendant was in possession of it, and 3) that the defendant knew the car had been stolen. Mr. Rosenblatt explained that the state provided some information that the car was stolen, and that the defendant was in possession of the car. However, the State’s Attorney’s Office failed to show any evidence that BC knew the car was stolen. Mr. Rosenblatt pointed out that the officer testified that BC explained that he had paid a lot of money to buy the car. Mr. Rosenblatt asked the judge to rule for a finding of “no probable cause.” The Judge asked the Assistant State’s Attorney (ASA) if she would like to respond. The ASA argued that BC knew or should have known the car was stolen because the VIN had been tampered with. Judge asked Mr. Rosenblatt if he had a rebuttal. Mr. Rosenblatt, seeing the finish line in sight, argued that no one checks the VIN on a car. He explained that most car owners do not even know where you find your VIN and that he had never heard anyone confirming that a VIN of their car was authentic. The Judge agreed with Mr. Rosenblatt, and the case was dismissed!
October of 2022: Dismissed Order of Protection
An Order of Protection is a petition filed by a person requesting police assistance from someone they believe will cause them harm. If granted, the Order of Protection will command the other person to stay away from the petitioner. If the person violates the Order of Protection, they will be subject to arrest.
In this case, TR’s live-in ex-girlfriend had filed a petition for an Order of Protection and was able to convince a judge to issue her an Emergency Order of Protection. As a result, TR was forced to move out of the couple’s house, leaving behind his children and pets. After hiring us, TR came to our office to tell us his version of events, and we got to work on his case immediately.
After reviewing the facts alleged by TR’s ex-girlfriend and conducting our own investigation, we realized that she was misusing the Order of Protection. We determined that the petitioner was not scared of TR and was using the Order of Protection to get our client kicked out of his own house. We filed an emergency motion stating that it would be a more significant burden to require TR to find a new place to live than it would be for his ex-girlfriend to do so. This allowed us to get an immediate court date where we would have the opportunity to argue our motion. After presenting these facts in front of the judge, she agreed with our position and dismissed the Order of Protection. As a result, TR could return home and be reunited with his children and pets.
JW found not guilty of battery after trial
JW was charged with battery after he was involved in a fistfight at his mother’s thanksgiving meal. JW hired me after his arrest, and we immediately discussed his arrest allegations. The state alleged that JW punched his sister’s boyfriend (victim) in the head after JW got upset with how the victim spoke to his mother. After we conducted our investigation, we discovered that the sister had made statements about how her boyfriend had abused her. We learned that the relationship between the family and the sister had been strained. We learned that this Thanksgiving celebration was the first time the family had met the sister’s boyfriend and that the boyfriend had a short temper.
JW explained that, on the night of the arrest, he had told the boyfriend that he needed to show respect to his mother, but he did not attack the boyfriend. He explained that the boyfriend attacked him but that he got the best of the boyfriend. Photographic evidence showed injuries existed in both people.
When we took the case to trial, Aaron Rosenblatt cross-examined the boyfriend. Mr. Rosenblatt showed the judge that the boyfriend had a short temper. He also got the boyfriend to demonstrate a distorted memory of the incident. When it was the Defense’s turn to present their case, we presented a logical and believable defense. Our firm presented three witnesses who all said that the boyfriend was the person who started the fight. The judge could tell that the boyfriend was a liar, and JW was found not guilty.
MO charged with domestic battery: Case Dismissed
MO’s friend contacted our office after MO was arrested for Domestic Battery Causing Bodily Harm. Our firm was able to get MO out of custody. After getting MO out on bond, we could speak with him about the allegations against him. MO explained that his relationship with his wife had been getting gradually contentious, and on the night in question, she had blown up at him. I asked him if she had struck him first. He told me she did hit him first. We asked him if he had any scratches or bruises. He explained that he did. We had him take photos of his injuries and get them to us. The State’s Attorney’s Office had not sent us any photos or videos they planned to use at trial. This leads us to believe that the alleged victim did not have any physical marks on her body, which could prove the State’s theory of the case. We shared our pictures with the prosecutor’s office, and I explained that we would allege that MO was not the aggressor. The prosecutor then spoke with the alleged victim. She admitted that she hit my client and that he did not hit her. The Assistant State’s Attorney dismissed the charges.
MW Charged with Obstruction of Justice: Case dismissed
MW was charged with obstruction of justice after police, in hot pursuit, followed her brother to the location of her family home. At that time, the police came to the front door and spoke with MW about her brother. The police created a report stating MW would not let them in the house and that she told them that she did not know where her brother was. The police reports indicated that MW was escorted away from her home, not in handcuffs, and placed in a police car. The reports stated that she was not placed under arrest. The reports further indicated that at the police station, MW stated she locked her brother in the house’s basement and that when the police asked her where her brother was, she lied to them. The reports given to us by the state’s attorney’s office stated that she was only arrested after admitting that she lied to the police.
Lawyers from the firm spoke to our client, and she indicated that the reports were untruthful. MW told us that she was taken to the police car in handcuffs, and the police had their weapons drawn. We filed a freedom of information act (FOIA) request requesting the body-worn camera (BWC) of all the officers involved. We reviewed the evidence that was given to us by the state’s attorney’s office. Our attorneys asked the prosecuting attorney if he had any videos to give us from the arrest. The prosecutor stated that he was told there were no videos.
We eventually were able to make the police department honor our FOIA request. We received videos that proved, that the officers were invited into the house and that MW was put in handcuffs and taken to the police car by officers who were holding automatic assault-style rifles. At this point, we knew that the actions of the police violated the constitutional right for one to be free of improper search and seizure. We filed the appropriate motion immediately and informed the state’s attorney’s office about our findings. The prosecutor was angry at the police officers for lying. On the next court date, the charges were dismissed.
Felony Violation of Bail Bond – Not Guilty
JB was charged with a violation of bail bond after police found a bag containing a gun and a piece of his mail. The bag was found during a search warrant that was executed on the house that JB was reported to live at. At the time this search warrant was executed, JB was already on bond for another crime he had been charged with. One of the conditions of this bond was to refrain from owning any firearms. Thus, any gun found to be in JB’s possession would automatically be considered a felony.
Since JB was facing an additional 1-4 years in prison on top of any sentence he received for his first offense, it was important for me to win this case.
By the time we got to trial, JB had already begun serving a 3-year sentence for his previous case. Because of this, losing the case would result in JB receiving additional time in custody, but winning would mean getting JB credit toward his sentence for the time he had already served in custody while awaiting trial.
At trial, the State of Illinois only presented one witness, the lead police officer. In order for the state to win, they needed to show that JB both knew about the weapon and that it was his. For a prosecutor to prove possession of a weapon that was not on the offender’s person, they must prove constructive possession. Constructive possession can be proved by showing both exclusive control over an area and knowledge of the contents of that area. In this case, the officer testified that JB was standing outside of the house when he arrived to execute the search warrant. He went on to say that he found a blue bag containing a piece of mail addressed to JB along with a loaded handgun in one of the bedrooms.
During my cross-examination, I was able to expose all the holes in the prosecution’s case. I got the officer to testify that JB was not actually on the property of the house when he was first seen. He was actually exiting a car and was on the street. That there were actually four other adults in the house and that the police officer did not investigate any of them as to who owned the weapon. That the room the gun was found in also contained a piece of mail addressed to a second person. When the cross-examination was over, I felt as though the state’s case had fallen apart and their witness had lost his credibility. After the State’s witness, the state rested. At this time, I chose to not present a defense. Choosing to not present a defense is sometimes the absolute best defense. It is not the job of a defense attorney to prove a person innocent and if the prosecutor has not proven their case a good defense attorney should simply point that out to the judge in his/her closing argument. After the defense rested it was our turn to make a closing argument.
I argued that the state failed to meet its burden. I argued that the state could not argue exclusivity since, four other adults were closer to the gun and since another man’s mail was in the same room. I argued that the prosecutor failed to prove that my client knew about the gun since no one could explain how my client’s mail was placed in the same bag as the gun and since not one witness testified that my client ever owned the gun. The judge agreed with me and found my client not guilty. My client was then awarded credit toward his sentence for the time he spent in jail awaiting this trial. JB, his family and I were all very happy.