Our Chicago criminal defense attorneys defended a man accused of the offense of being an Armed Habitual Criminal. This is a Class X felony, and because the defendant had two prior Class X felonies, he was facing a mandatory life sentence without parole if he was convicted.
On paper, the case looked bad. The police reports said that the police received a call of shots fired at the defendant's address. When they arrived, the police said they interviewed an eyewitness who told them that she saw the defendant standing on his porch, shooting at a car.
The police stated that they then went to our client's apartment, knocked on the door, spoke to our client, and that he consented to a search of his home. The police found a handgun in the basement of the apartment, arrested our client, and then the eyewitness identified him as the shooter.
My client's family hired us shortly after his arrest, and our Chicago criminal defense law firm represented him at the Preliminary Hearing. The family told us that they had photographs of our client's front door, showing that it had been kicked in. Knowing this, our Chicago criminal defense lawyer cross-examined the police officer aggressively about how he entered our client's home, and asked him about the kicked in door. The officer claimed that other officers arrived at the apartment before he did, and that one of them received the consent to search the apartment.
We then began our investigation. Our firm hired an experienced private investigator to interview the eyewitness. What she learned is that the witness never identified our client, and told the police a completely different version of events, with someone else being the shooter.
Next, we talked to the upstairs neighbor. He told us that he let the police into the building, and they began to bang on our client's door. When he did not open it, they kicked the door in. He asked them what would have happened if he had not unlocked the door to the building, and the police told him that they would have kicked that door in too.
We also took photographs and video of the apartment and the basement. The basement was actually a common area to the building, accessible to the upstairs tenant as well as our client, not part of his residence, as the police had claimed.
This information gave us several defenses. First, we filed a motion to suppress evidence based on an illegal search. We had evidence that the search was illegal because of photos of the kicked in door and the neighbor's testimony. Ultimately, we won that motion, the gun was suppressed, and the case was dismissed. If the motion had been denied, we would have argued at trial that the gun could have belonged to any resident of the building and that our client had no knowledge of the firearm.
It was a strong case for the defense, but what made it strong was a thorough investigation by our Chicago criminal defense lawyers.