Our client was charged with the unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to deliver, in Grundy County located in Morris, Illinois. He was charged with having approximately 50 lbs and/or 23 kilos of marijuana in several bags in his motorhome as he drove east on I-80, passing through Morris, Illinois, on his way home to New York. An Illinois State Trooper pulled him over on the highway and there was a Cabella search, meaning that a trained K-9 police dog did a drug search, also referred to as a “stop and sniff.” The marijuana was located in our client’s vehicle, and he was placed under arrest.
The charge of Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Deliver is a serious charge. It is a Class X felony, meaning there is a mandatory minimum of 6 years of prison, and a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Our client hired Wigell Criminal Defense to represent him in this case, wanting someone who was not a local attorney and could instead come in and shake things up. Marijuana is a hot-button issue; despite national trends toward legalization, it remains illegal. Additionally, I-80 is well known to be a route frequently used by marijuana traffickers, resulting in Illinois State Troopers making frequent stops.
Wigell Criminal Defense made it clear that this was a case we were ready to pursue to trial. In repeated conversations and meetings with the State’s Attorney’s Office, we reminded them that they had a proof problem and we were in a strong position to win on a motion to suppress, arguing that the Trooper’s traffic stop and subsequent search of the motorhome, revealing the marijuana, was potentially unconstitutional.
This sort of predicament generally causes prosecutors to become eager to negotiate. After lengthy negotiations and discussions with our client, the prosecution offered a reduction in charges to allow for a lesser sentence of 90 days in the local jail located next to the courthouse.
At Wigell Criminal Defense, we believe in holistic defense strategies, which require looking at, among other things, risk and reward. The reward of successfully arguing a detailed motion in suppress exposing the illegal stop and search would have been great: a not guilty and a dismissal of the charges. The risk, however, was a denial of the motion and a mandatory sentence of 6 years in prison or more.
Our client was aware of every development in the case, and in the end, after much consultation and deliberation, decided that he wished to accept the offer of 88 days in custody in the local jail.
Thanks to the detailed mitigation work, strong negotiations, and the holistic defense strategies employed, Wigell Criminal Defense was able to save our client from a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 years. After the full exhaustion of both negotiation tactics and trial tactics, our client received less than 3 months in the county jail, as opposed to a mandatory minimum of 6 years in the state prison system. This was an extraordinary result.