You left your baby in the car while you were in the mall running errands. When you came out, a couple police officers had broken your window to check on your now-crying child. In the process, they found illegal medication on the back seat. Now you have been arrested for illegal narcotics and for child endangerment.

Did the police have a right to seize the drugs while dealing with your infant?

Under Illinois law, the answer is probably yes. As long as the officers were legitimately performing their community caretaking function, they need not ignore the evidence in front of them.

In People v. Woods, officers received a tip that the defendant had left her four-month old infant alone in the house. The officers knocked, listened for sounds of distress and peeked in windows to investigate. The officers entered the home after the defendant arrived. They found the infant had been alone and charged defendant with child endangerment. Defendant argued that once she arrived home, the officer’s community caretaking function ended, and thus, there was no need to investigate further. The court disagreed, finding it was reasonable for the officers to want to see that the infant was safe with their own eyes. Further, there was no evidence that the community caretaking function had been used as an excuse for a criminal investigation.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Was the seizure of evidence against you justified by the community caretaking function? If not, an attorney may be able to bring a motion to suppress the evidence from your arrest.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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