When police arrest you, they are permitted to make a search incident to the arrest. But the search must still be within certain limits.

How far a search may go is fact specific, and different judges may see the circumstances differently. Generally, subject to certain exceptions, an officer may search for weapons in the area within a defendant’s reach to ensure the officer’s safety. The officer may also search the defendant’s person to prevent destruction of the evidence. A warrantless search incident to arrest may be performed even if the defendant is in handcuffs.

Illinois cases have permitted a search under a bed or in a pile of clothes within the defendant’s immediate control. However, the Illinois Appellate Court struck down a search above a bathroom’s ceiling tiles where the defendant was arrested in a separate room and the bathroom was not within his immediate reach, even though it looked like there might have been tampering with the tiles. See People v Franklin.

If you have been arrested, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. If the officer exceeded his or her authority during the search, an attorney may be able to petition the court to suppress the results of the search.

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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