The Law and the Skin Trade in the Windy City

What to Do Before You Are Arrested:
Ten Rules That Could Save Your Life, Liberty, and Keep You Pursuing Happiness
Part One

By J. D. Obenberger, Attorney at Law
© 1999 J. D. Obenberger, All Rights Reserved

This article just might save your life.

Make no mistake about it: The deadliest killer in America is Heart Disease.

And the doctors today are armed with effective medicines against it and practical advice on diet and lifestyle that could eliminate something like 80% of all deaths due to coronary artery disease. But the reason that heart disease is not going away is that very few people are willing to listen to the doctors and take the advice, even after a heart attack.

It is the same situation with legal advice.

Make no mistake: The leading cause of criminal arrest, prosecution, and conviction is stupidity, bad advice, and greed.

But very few people who have heard good legal advice to prevent these things from happening ever take the advice.

Even innocent people get arrested, they often plead guilty to things they didn’t do, or things that actually are not illegal, they get convicted in trials, and they go to jail or even to death row when, in fact, they are innocent. And often they pave the road to their convictions with stupid decisions.

I don’t expect that the majority of readers will take this article any more seriously than the advice of the cardiologists. I am writing this article for those who are smart enough to take precautions and care before it is too late. The others will have a long time for regrets.

Rule 1. Don’t carry contraband on your person, in your vehicle, in your home, in your place of work, in any storage shed, or any safe deposit box. Contraband are things that are illegal to possess. Switchblade knives, stun guns, green leafy vegetable substances containing THC, pipes and syringes with the inescapable residue product of incomplete combustion, M-500’s and other explosive devices, seeds and stems, white and brown powdery controlled substances, and, in short, the fruits, evidence, instrumentalities, and proceeds of criminal conduct. The stupidest thing you can do is to go out and create a likelihood of the police stopping or arresting you while you have contraband on your person. There is never a right or good time to carry those things, but it is downright crazy to carry dope in your pocket or to fire up a bowl while you are drunk driving, shoplifting, or otherwise creating an above-average chance of being caught. But it happens every day.

Rule 2. Don’t carry a handgun on your person unless you are a cop or a private detective or a security guard at work or going to or from work. This is now a felony and you can go to prison for it. Especially in Chicago, where the goal is to get all of the handguns out of circulation, you will be arrested and the charge will probably not be reduced to a misdemeanor. Let me make this clear. This law is not aimed at gangbangers. When they are arrested, the charges are usually a lot more serious and the police don’t have to look to hard to find serious offenses to charge them with. This law is precisely aimed at making otherwise law-abiding citizens who carry a gun in self-defense, into convicted felons. Just across the border in Indiana, and in more than twenty other states, you can get a permit to carry a gun for any good reason if you are not a convicted felon. But there are no “carry permits” in Illinois. None. Last term, when both houses of our State Legislature tried to reduce this offense to a misdemeanor on the first arrest, Governor Edgar vetoed it, and despite a majority in both houses in Springfield, they could not come up with 2/3 vote in both houses to override the veto, and so the felony stands. If you are a convicted felon, carrying that gun will give you Federal Charges, and an opportunity to eat Federal Food and sleep in a Federal Bed for ten years. Don’t.

Rule 3. Don’t carry items that can make you look guilty of a crime. If you are an escort or a dancer or work in a massage parlor, you simply cannot carry any condoms. Even if they are special glow-in-the-dark numbers that your boyfriend just loves. Do you think that, when the officer testifies in court that you made an illegal offer or agreement, and then hands the condoms up to the bench, that the judge is likely to listen seriously to your denials? Why drive around with rolling papers? Have you heard the expression “hotter than a five-dollar pistol on a Saturday Night”? The handgun you buy on the West Side late at night may have just been used to whack a cop. Don’t be stupid and don’t take stupid chances that can convince the law that you are a criminal.

Rule 4. If it looks too good to be true, it is probably not true. Extremely cute, fresh, healthy-looking girls with good teeth do not need to risk maiming and death by standing in provocative clothes late at night to flag down passing cars in order to get their rent money. Lady police officers with lots of back-up do these things in order to make busts, seize cars, impound them, and collect $500 forfeiture release fees for the City. And if you manage to pick up a girl who is not a cop, try to imagine the forces that impel her to make her living in such a high-risk trade. Like serious coke addiction that has obscured any sense of decency or morality, to the point where she would be easily tempted to rip you off or even kill you if necessary to rip you off. Or a very scary gentleman from Memphis who is her managing Mister, a guy who scares her more than the risk of arrest or sudden death from a psycho in a car. And imagine what will happen to you, your car, and your marriage if the police are watching from around the corner and follow your car, when they aim their flashlights into the car and find her with a twenty-dollar bill in one hand and your what-not being engaged by some other part of her anatomy. Especially given the heightened law enforcement attention to it, street prostitution in Chicago is a dumb idea for all concerned. Offers for easy money, or to buy allegedly hot goods, even when they are not a box containing bricks, are usually never as attractive as they seem. The serial numbers on computers and other high-end goods can be tracked to you and you can be charged with receiving stolen property. If you buy serious drugs on the street corners of the West Side, there are decent odds that the Police are watching and will pull you over and ruin your whole night, and more. CPD officers (and the higher-ups of the City, all the way to the top) love especially to arrest guys from the suburbs who come into the City to enjoy the low-life. I have seen all of this. It really happens every day.

This article is written to generally inform the public and does not provide legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. If you have a legal issue or question, contact a lawyer. If you are arrested, make no statement and contact a lawyer immediately.

Joe Obenberger is a Chicago Loop lawyer concentrating in the law of free expression and liberty under the United States Constitution, and his firm has represented many owners, employees, and customers of adult-oriented businesses, both online and in the real world. He can be reached in the office at 312 558-6420 or paged in any emergency at 312 250-4118. His e-mail address is