Crystal Lake lawyer facing gun, DUI charges tries to get evidence tossed

WOODSTOCK – A Crystal Lake lawyer facing drunken driving and weapons charges claims that evidence collected during his arrest cannot be used against him in court.

Donald F. Franz, 50, is arguing that several pieces of evidence were gathered from an unlawful search, seizure and illegal arrest, and therefore should be suppressed. The motion was filed by his defense attorney, Dan Hofmann, in McHenry County court.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. A judge from outside of McHenry County was appointed after 22nd Judicial Circuit judges recused themselves. A special prosecutor also was appointed to the case after the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office cited a potential conflict of interest.

Authorities have said Franz drove under the influence of alcohol and had a loaded handgun in his possession without a valid firearm owner’s identification card.

Franz was arrested Jan. 19 by Crystal Lake police after they got a call that a white Subaru was swerving on the road in McHenry. The caller told police she followed the vehicle to downtown Crystal Lake near North Williams Street, but never got a chance to see the driver, according to court documents.

An officer responded to North Williams Street and found a white Subaru Outback parked outside 3 N. Williams St. Franz got out of his vehicle and walked toward a building, listed online as his law office, according to court documents.

The officer said Franz ignored her requests to stay in the vehicle, and she subsequently arrested him for obstructing a peace officer. Hofmann argued in his motion that Franz was arrested without probable cause and without a warrant, according to court documents.

Three additional Crystal Lake officers arrived at the scene and searched Franz. Police said they found a .38 caliber firearm on his person, according to court records.

Crystal Lake police obtained a warrant to search Franz's vehicle and residence. Inside, they found 36 high-powered rifles, assault-style rifles and shotguns; 20 assorted handguns; and thousands of rounds of ammunition, authorities have said. Franz is believed to be a hunter.

Hofmann said the officers also searched Franz’s vehicle “without the defendant’s consent, without warrant and without exigent circumstances,” according to court documents.

“All evidence gained from the unlawful detention of the defendant and subsequent unlawful search of the defendant’s vehicle were without consent, without warrant, without probable cause and without exigent circumstance,” Hofmann said in his motion.

Evidence Hofmann said he wanted suppressed includes physical evidence; any tests taken to detect or measure the amount of alcohol or drugs in a person’s breath, blood or urine; statements made by Franz during his detention; witness testimony; and any photographs or fingerprints taken when Franz was processed after his arrest.

He said officers lacked factual basis to detain Franz, they lacked probable cause and jurisdiction to arrest him and they improperly searched his vehicle.

The special prosecutor assigned to the case had not yet filed a response as of Friday. Franz next will appear in court Aug. 10.