(UPDATE: On April 15, 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court in People v. Bass vacated the Appellate court’s decision below regarding investigative alerts. In doing so, the Supreme Court still found that the stop violated the Fourth Amendment because it was unduly prolonged.)

Chicago police regulations allow officers to arrest people on the basis of an investigative alert where there is probable cause to believe a suspect has committed a crime. But a recent Illinois court has now ruled this practice unconstitutional.

In People v. Bass, the defendant allegedly molested a minor. Chicago police issued an investigative alert but did not apply for an arrest warrant. Three weeks later, police pulled defendant over, ran a name check then arrested him based on the alert.

The court held the arrest illegal because an investigative alert allows a police supervisor—rather than a judge–to determine probable cause. The court reasoned that the Illinois constitution goes “a step beyond” the U.S. Constitution in requiring a warrant in these circumstances before a valid arrest can be made.

Although the arrest was illegal, the court sent the case back for a new trial because there was sufficient other evidence to convict defendant.

The court noted that only the Chicago Police Department appears to use investigative alerts (also called “stop orders”). By striking the practice, Chicago Police would be put on an equal footing with other police departments, the court said.

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. Did the police follow proper procedure to arrest you? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

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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