Ill. secret compartment law struck down

Sept. 27, 2006 at 2:44 PM
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Sept. 27 (UPI) -- The Appellate Court of Illinois has declared unconstitutional a law that made operating a vehicle with a secret compartment a felony.

The court made the ruling Tuesday in favor of repeat felon Derrick Carpenter who was convicted in 2004 after police found a BB gun in the airbag compartment of the van he was operating, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Wednesday.

There is no law against carrying a BB gun but Carpenter was charged under the state's secret compartment statue and sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Justice Warren Wolfson wrote in the 3-0 court ruling that the law was intended to deter smuggling of illegal drugs and weapons, but "it goes far beyond criminal purpose" and violates the idea that "whether the item is cash, jewelry, a risqué magazine, a confidential file or a BB gun, the owner or driver has the right to keep it from prying eyes," the Sun-Times said

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a proponent and sponsor of the law, told the newspaper the measure is "an important law for fighting drug crimes and protecting the lives of police officers." She said she plans to discuss the matter with prosecutors.

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