Chicago Criminal Defense Blog
Psilocybins, aka “magic mushrooms” are toxic mushrooms that can often be found growing out of manure in many a cow pasture. The toxins contained in the mushrooms have hallucinatory properties very similar to those of LSD or peyote. Aside from the impairment to all the body’s senses that one may experience, the drug also has a profound effect upon one’s behavior: many of the mental checks that the mind places on itself to prevent “acting like a complete idiot” go by the wayside.
Recently, two brothers in Indiana—and the unlucky residents of an apartment complex—discovered just how heavy-duty a drug psilocybin is. The two went on a rampage while under the influence of the hallucinogenic mushrooms. According to reports of witnesses, the two ran around buck naked, attacked people, threatened the life of the apartment complex’s property manager (who was warning other residents to stay away from the tripping twosome), damaged property, broke into parked cars (leaving blood in the interiors), and, at one point, were seen passionately kissing each other near a garbage dumpster. So, as a result of these events, the lads are charged with 17 criminal counts, including public nudity, battery, and resisting arrest.
As criminal defense attorneys, we know that sometimes, police uncover crimes in all kinds of unusual circumstances. Recently in Ohio, police discovered evidence that led to the arrest of an alleged drug dealer after the man called 911 for assistance after he accidentally locked his keys in his car. Normally, this would be no big deal, as police often will assist a motorist by unlocking a door with a “slim jim” tool. This time, however, was different.
Immediately upon opening the door, the officers were greeted by the strong odor of cannabis (also known as marijuana, weed, pot, etc.) emanating from the passenger’s side of the car. At first, the man attempted to blame it on a cigar he had smoked earlier, but the officers weren’t buying that story. The man allegedly admitted that there were two bags of pot in the car. During the search, police uncovered a grinder, a scale, and boxes of sandwich bags with the brand name “Good Sense” (which was something the alleged dealer apparently did not have much of).
The Rise of the Bodycam
In the wake of years of allegations of police misconduct across the country, a movement has taken place insisting officers in the field wear audio/video recording equipment, known as a “body-worn cameras” or “bodycams” to monitor and record their official (and unofficial) activities while on duty. The original intent of these devices was to create an audiovisual record to corroborate an officer’s version of events surrounding any confrontations, investigations, or arrests made, and to defeat any false claims of police misconduct.
Of course, these recordings are also available to contradict an officer’s version of events in a given case where an officer’s version is “less than truthful.” Recently, a bodycam video was used to prove a police officer guilty of obstructing justice and filing false reports and perjury, in connection with his conduct in a drug arrest. Apparently, these bodycams not only capture an officer’s actual conduct in arrests, but also can pick up evidence of an officer actually breaking a law.
A college student was driving home late on a Friday night from the library. He knew he had a broken taillight, so he was driving as carefully as he could. Still, he attracted the attention of a member of the local law enforcement community, who pulled over his vehicle to conduct a sobriety check.
The officer noticed a strange lump in the driver’s pocket and upon being asked what was in there, the young man told the officer that he was an amateur magician and a juggler (which explained the “JUGGLER” license plate on the car). In order to demonstrate to the officer that he was not inebriated, he performed a juggling routine, which was caught on the officer’s squad camera. The officer was indeed satisfied by the performance, and let the young man go without issuing a citation. When asked about it later, the officer admitted that it was the most fun he ever had on a traffic stop.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently concluded a 13 month long investigation into allegations of police misconduct and brutality in the Chicago Police Department. Their conclusion, according to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, is that the Chicago Police Department has been engaged in an illegal pattern of excessive force, especially when it came to minorities. Among the abuses committed, police shot at fleeing suspects that presented no immediate threat, shot at vehicles when there was no immediate threat, used tasers or other non-lethal force on suspects that presented no threat, used excessive force against juveniles, and used force to retaliate against, or punish people, in situations when it was not justified.
You were arrested, charged, or cited with a criminal offense, whether it was a felony or misdemeanor, in Chicago or elsewhere in Illinois. You appeared in court, and the charges were either dismissed, you were found not guilty after a trial, or perhaps you received a sentence of court supervision, or some expungable form of probation (such as under Section 410 of the Controlled Substances Act, for example). You want to file a petition to expunge the record of your arrest and any court proceedings, but you were previously told that you were unable to do so, due to a prior criminal conviction or convictions on other criminal matters. Up until January 1, 2017, that would have been correct. However, effective January 1, 2017, thanks to an amendment to the Illinois Expungement statute, Chapter 20, Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 2630/5.2, it is now possible to seek an order expunging an arrest record, despite having previous criminal convictions on your rap sheet.
Recently, a man in Oklahoma was arrested at a do-it-yourself car wash and charged with two counts of animal cruelty. It seems his two dogs were in need of a bath, so he took them to a nearby car wash, the type with those industrial strength power sprayers, and turned it on his dogs, who were in a cage on the back of his pick-up truck. Someone called the police, and when they arrived, he was still at it. The police ordered him to stop, and he just kept spraying, as close as one foot away from the helpless animals, who were soaked and terrified.
In Michigan, a man starts his car in his driveway, and goes inside for a few minutes while the engine and vehicle interior “warmed up”. He comes out five minutes later, to see a $128.00 ticket for leaving his vehicle unattended, with the engine running, and the keys in the ignition. Outraged, he posted the ticket to Facebook, where people all over the country have expressed dismay. “Why?” one person simply asked.
A 59-year-old lady is alleged to have made a very bad series of decisions while driving through the far west suburbs of Chicago. When Elburn, Illinois police officers attempted to stop her vehicle early Sunday morning for an undisclosed violation, it is alleged that she refused to stop, and sped away. The Elburn police called it in on their radios to the Kane County Sheriff’s office. Soon thereafter, a Sheriff’s Deputy in one car, and a St. Charles police officer in another car, located the woman driving her Dodge Avenger, east bound on Illinois Route 38. With the Sheriff’s deputy behind her, and the St. Charles officer in front, she allegedly drove at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour in a 50 mile per hour zone.
A young man, intent on getting a really good picture of the seals at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, violated all common sense by climbing over the fence that surrounds the seal pool, an act which is not only discouraged by Zoo personnel, but is against the law, as he found out. When confronted by Zoo employees, he became irate, telling them that he just wanted pictures, and that he made no contact with the seals. All would have been well, but when he was told to get out of the enclosure, he mouthed off to the workers, and they then called the police.