There are a number of factors to go into the approach taken by a strong and sophisticated Chicago drug crime lawyer.
For starters, a Chicago drug crime lawyer must take seriously, and convince his client to take seriously, any actual or threatened drug prosecution, whether it rises to the level of a misdemeanor or a felony. Even misdemeanor drug convictions can result in prison time.
More significantly, a misdemeanor drug conviction, including one by way of a plea of guilty, may have significant future consequences for the client. For example, that conviction may influence the charging decision by a prosecutor in a future proceeding against that same defendant. That conviction may also have practical implications to the defendant in terms of employment opportunities, and his perception in the community. Thus, a Chicago drug crime lawyer must do everything possible to defeat that misdemeanor drug charge, even if it means taking that case to trial in a jurisdiction or before a particular Judge where it is the norm to just plea out those types of cases.
A Chicago drug crime lawyer must also be well-versed in both State and Federal drug crimes. The trend in many major cities, including Chicago, is for federal prosecutors to charge federally what would otherwise be a prime case for State drug charges. The strategy behind turning such local street crimes into federal drug prosecutions is to gain the benefit of the typically harsh Federal Sentencing Guidelines. In addition, more and more, drug crimes are being charged by federal prosecutors as part of a large conspiracy, including in cases targeted against a particular gang, organization, or affiliation of individuals. At our firm, as experienced Chicago drug crime lawyers, we regularly handle federal drug cases. In fact, we have taken such cases before federal juries and won – not guilty on all charges
A Chicago drug crime lawyer must also be able to handle federal and State court drug cases that involve “synthetic drugs.” In one such case that we tried before a federal court jury in Chicago, we were again able to obtain a complete not guilty jury verdict in favor of our client by successfully convincing the jury that our client did not actually know that the substances at issue contained illegal substances or were mislabeled. In another case, we were able to convince the Seventh Court of Appeals to reverse and remand a synthetic drug case back to the trial court for re-sentencing, where our client was able to avoid any further incarceration after a new sentencing hearing before the Federal District Court Judge.
A strong Chicago drug crime lawyer also knows that these cases can often be won through motion practice, including by way of motions to suppress. However, the Chicago drug crime lawyer who does not file a motion to suppress, or does not do so timely, may lose the opportunity to have the case tossed (dismissed) in its entirety. We are not afraid to file and pursue at pre-trial hearings motions to suppress, and will always do so aggressively where the facts and circumstances merit it. For us, this has included bringing such motions in cases in downstate Illinois in circumstances where the Illinois State Police or local task forces have set up sting operations on national highway corridors.
A strong Chicago drug crime lawyer must also be an exceptional cross-examiner at trial. In many drug cases, the witnesses may be shady or suspect and have long histories themselves of being involved with the selling of, or addiction to, illegal drugs. Those witnesses can often be confronted and discredited in the eyes of the jury and Judge. Likewise, law enforcement witnesses must also be confronted and aggressively cross-examined at trial, where appropriate, by an experienced Chicago drug crime lawyer. Just because the member of law enforcement claims from the witness stand at trial that a drug offense was committed in certain way does not mean it is true. Regardless of whether we are confronting law enforcement witnesses employed by the DEA, CPD, or other State or local agencies, we do not hesitate to explore and highlight each and every flaw and inconsistency in their trial testimony and reports.
This approach must also often be taken by a strong and sophisticated Chiago drug crime lawyer when the prosecutor relies upon so-called expert witnesses to make the case in the context of a drug crime prosecution. The Chicago drug crime lawyer must be willing to put the time into obtaining and reviewing that expert witness’ prior sworn testimony in other prior trials in order to impeach that witness on the stand. The Chicago drug crime lawyer must also understand, and be willing to learn, the sciences behind such expert witness testimony. With our years of experience as Chicago drug crime lawyers, we know how to handle these type of “professional” expert witnesses at trial.
Finally, in the worst case scenario, a top Chicago drug crime lawyer must be able to everything he can to put his client in the best light before the Court if that client ever has to face a sentencing hearing arising out of a drug crime. This means that the Chicago drug crime lawyer must be able to investigate, gather, and present a compelling mitigation package to the Court. It also requires the Chicago drug crime lawyer to be thoroughly familiar with the applicable Federal Sentencing Guidelines. That is something that we work with at our firm on a regular and continuous basis.
Every case must be approached from the outset by the Chicago drug crime lawyer with an eye towards winning.
Michael Leonard -Leonard Trial Lawyers