Misdemeanor UUW dismissed after stop of a vehicle declared unconstitutional and all the evidence obtained as a result of the illegal stop thrown out of Court.
People v. DL - Kane County UUW lawyer, James Dimeas, represented a client charged with a misdemeanor Unlawful Use of a Weapon (UUW) after his vehicle was pulled over by the police and a loaded firearm was recovered from the inside of the vehicle. The client had a Firearm Owner's Identification Card (FOID) but he did not have a Conceal and Carry permit allowing him to have a concealed firearm in his motor vehicle.
Illinois UUW Law
In order to legally own a firearm in Illinois, you are required to obtain a FOID card. The process for obtaining a FOID card in Illinois is relatively simple and straightforward. You must fill out an application with the Illinois State Police. As part of the application process, you must provide fingerprints and a picture to the Illinois State Police and pay the requisite fee. Your application will be processed, and you will undergo a background search. If your application is approved by the Illinois State Police, you will receive a FOID card in the mail which will allow you to legally own a firearm in Illinois.
Illinois allows for the concealment and carrying of a firearm in public provided that you obtain a Concealed and Carry License from the Illinois State Police. A Conceal and Carry Permit is in addition to the FOID card. You must have a valid FOID Card, or at least be in the process of having your application for a FOID card before the Illinois State Police when you apply for your Conceal and Carry License. To obtain a Conceal and Carry Permit in Illinois, you must fill out an application, undergo a thorough background search, and provide proof that you took 16 hours of firearms training in the use and safety of firearms at a facility approved by the Illinois State Police. Unless you have a valid Concealed and Carry Permit, you cannot legally carry a firearm outside of your residence or inside your vehicle.
Facts of The Case
In the early morning hours of a Fall evening in 2019, DL was driving home after working overnight. DL was driving northbound on a two-lane roadway. There was very little traffic on the road and the weather was clear. As DL entered an intersection controlled by traffic control devices in all directions, a Kane County Sheriff's squad car was stop facing west at the intersection. A dashcam video of this entire incident shows DL proceeded through the intersection on a green light. The Kane County Sheriff's squad car made an immediate right turn and started following DL's vehicle as it continued heading northbound. After a few seconds, the squad car video shows the squad car sped up behind DL's vehicle. DL activated his right turn signal and moved his vehicle to the right lane. After a few seconds, the squad car moves to the right lane and continues following DL's vehicle. The squad car follows DL's vehicle for about 20 seconds and pulls him over. DL promptly pulled over after seen the police lights and properly stopped his vehicle. After DL's vehicle was pulled over, he asked the Sheriff's Deputy why he was getting pulled over and the Sheriff's Deputy informed him that he was pulling him over because he did not activate his turn signal at least 100 feet before making the lane change. The officer asks DL for permission to search his vehicle and DL tells the officer that he had a FOID card and that he had his firearm in his vehicle. DL was arrested by the police officer and charged with a Misdemeanor UUW after the officer recovered the loaded firearm in his vehicle.
In addition to the Misdemeanor UUW charges, DL was issued tickets for Improper Lane Usage and for Failure to Use a Turn Signal.
Motion to Suppress
In order for the police to pull over a motor vehicle, they must have a warrant or have observed a crime or a traffic violation. Upon reviewing the police reports and the squad car video, I could not determine that DL had committed a traffic violation. Without evidence that DL committed a traffic violation, the police had no reason to pull over his vehicle. If the traffic stop was illegal, then any evidence obtained after the vehicle was stopped cannot be used in Court by the prosecution. This evidence includes the firearm recovered and any statements made by DL after his vehicle was pulled over.
I examined the traffic law involving the 2 tickets DL was issued by the police. The first ticket was for Failure to Use a Turn Signal. Upon reviewing the squad car video, it showed that DL activated his right turn signal immediately before leaving his lane of traffic. The second ticket was for Improper Lane Usage. A review of the squad car video showed that DL stayed in his lane the entire time and properly activated his turn signal before switching lanes. On the video, I heard the officer tell DL that he was giving him a ticket because he did not activate his turn signal at least 100 ft before switching lanes. When I reviewed the traffic law that the officer was referring to, I could not find any requirement in the law that requires the activation of a turn signal 100 ft before switching lanes. The 100-foot requirement applies to a turn and not a lane change. I cross-examined the police officer about the reason for the stop of DL's vehicle. The officer testify that it was his understanding that a turn signal is required to be activated at least 100 feet before changing lanes. I was able to cross-examine the police officer and show that the officer was wrong about his understanding of the turn signal requirement. Since DL made a lane change, and not a turn, he was only required to activate his turn signal before switching lanes. The officer had a mistaken understanding of when a turn signal has to be activated to switching lanes.
The court agreed with me and was convinced that DL did not commit any traffic violations. Since the Court found that the stop of DL's vehicle was illegal, it granted the Motion to Suppress the stop of the vehicle and excluded from evidence any statements made by DL and excluded the introduction of the firearm that was recovered after his vehicle was stop and searched by the police.
faced with the exclusion of the evidence required to prove DL guilty of a Misdemeanor UUW, the state was forced to dismiss the case against DL.
James Dimeas, is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, Unlawful Use of a Weapon
lawyer, with over 27-years of experience handling UUW cases in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Recently, James Dimeas was named a "Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois for the years 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 by the American Society of Legal Advocates. James Dimeas was named a "Best DUI Attorney" and a "Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago" by Expertise. James Dimeas was named a "Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer" by the National Trial Lawyers. The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys awarded James Dimeas the "Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois." James Dimeas is rated "Superb" by AVVO, the highest classification possible for any UUW lawyer in the United States. The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys recognized James Dimeas as a "10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction." Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the "Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney award for Illinois."
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