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Charges dropped against St. Charles brothers over indoor marijuana farm
By Harry Hitzeman
Chicago Daily Herald
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Kane County prosecutors have dismissed charges against two St. Charles brothers arrested in late 2015 on charges they possessed marijuana and had an indoor grow farm of at least 20 plants.
A judge last month ruled evidence inadmissible because police didn't have permission to go beyond the home's foyer or conduct a protective sweep.

Kane County prosecutors Wednesday dropped felony charges against Derek J. Sutcliffe, 31, and Joseph W. Sutcliffe, 27 after Judge Linda Abrahamson banned evidence seized in the December 2015 search of their home on the 6N0-99 block of Denker Road.

"My clients were extremely happy," said defense attorney Kathleen Colton, who successfully argued members of the North Central Narcotics Task Force violated the Sutcliffes' Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. "People's Constitutional rights have to be observed by the police. In this particular case, Judge Abrahamson gave a thoughtful ruling. (Police) were only allowed in the foyer area. They basically barged in the rest of the house."

Colton argued that members of the task force, which is a unit of the state police, overstepped their authority when they followed Sutcliffe's roommate deeper into the home after she said they could step into the foyer because it was cold out.

The officers went to question Joseph Sutcliffe, who was playing a video game in his bedroom, and then opted to do a "protective sweep" to make sure no one else was at the home while police worked to get a search warrant.

During the sweep, officers saw marijuana in a backpack in a closet and used that information to ask a judge for a search warrant, which was granted.

The Sutcliffes have been free on bond while the case was pending. The most severe felony charge against Derek Sutcliff carried a top seven-year prison term.