An Overview of Illinois Drug Laws
Illinois drug laws are among the toughest in the country. The War on Drugs that has been ongoing for so many years has not seemed to help the drug addiction problem. Rather than helping those who struggle with substance abuse problems, the law continues to criminalize individuals for simple possession and put people into prison without adequate rehabilitative care.
Although attitudes towards drugs have changed within the State, the law still takes a tough approach toward drug offenders. If you are caught by police officers possessing, distributing, or trafficking drugs, you will face the full wrath of Illinois drug laws. The only way to protect yourself against harsh penalties and a permanent criminal record is to seek legal help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The lawyers at Hirsch Law Group have been helping Illinois clients fight drug charges for over 15 years. Having worked as former prosecutors, we know the tricks that the prosecutor will use to secure a conviction against you, and we can use this knowledge to build an airtight defense on your behalf. Our law firm offers criminal defense services such as negotiation, litigation, and mitigation packets.
Unlike many law firms, Hirsch Law Group cares about protecting your future, and we will do everything we can to protect you against Illinois drug laws.
Call us today at 815-880-1134 to schedule a free initial consultation.
The Illinois Controlled Substances Act
The Illinois Controlled Substances Act is the main Illinois law that criminalizes the possession, manufacture, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs. Based on federal law, this Act divides controlled substances into certain schedules, depending on their harm to the public and the risk of addiction.
Drugs with a higher risk of addiction are considered more serious and can lead to harsher penalties. The Act sets out the drug charges and the type of controlled substance that will be charged as a felony offense or a misdemeanor. Controlled substances with the highest risk of harm, and little accepted medical use, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, carry stiff penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence.
Drug Charges in Illinois
The type of drug charge you can face in Illinois depends on the circumstances of your case, including the type of drug involved and the amount discovered in your possession. Although drug crimes are non-violent crimes, the criminal justice system is harsh on offenders, and the penalties you may receive for a conviction can be severe.
Possession of a controlled substance is typically charged as a felony under Illinois law. Two types of crimes relate to possession of a controlled substance; mere possession and possession with intent. This intent can include the intent to deliver a controlled substance or to manufacture a controlled substance. The penalties for each crime will vary. However, possession with intent to deliver typically carries harsher penalties than mere possession.
The Schedule of the controlled substances and the amount found in your possession will affect your drug possession charge. If the drug possession involves a large volume of a Schedule I drug, such as heroin, cocaine, or LSD, you will be charged with a Class 1 felony.
Unlawful possession of a Schedule III drug, such as anabolic steroids, can lead to a Class C misdemeanor. Low-level drug possession, such as 1 gram of heroin or cocaine, can lead to a Class 4 felony.
Drug trafficking is far more serious than simple drug possession and carries harsher penalties. Trafficking involves knowingly bringing or transporting a substance to another place for delivery. If the crime occurs over state lines, it will be charged under federal law, resulting in longer prison sentences and harsher penalties.
Like drug possession, the type of charge will depend on the particular Schedule of the drug and the amount involved. A prosecutor may charge drug trafficking as a Class 3 felony up to a Class X felony, depending on the gravity of the crime. Typically, the higher the street value on the controlled substances, the more years in prison you will be subject to.
Penalties For Illinois Drug Crimes
As discussed previously, the penalties you may receive for drug crimes depend entirely on the type of crime you are charged with, the type of drug involved, and the amount found in your possession. Other factors may increase your sentence, such as a previous criminal record, commission of other felonies, or gang involvement.
Class 1 Felony
Drug possession of cocaine, heroin, LSD, or other Schedule I and II substances of over 15 grams is a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. If you had over 100 grams in your possession, your prison sentence could be increased to 50 years with fines of up to $300,000.
Class 2 Felony
Drug trafficking of marijuana or cannabis concentrate between 2000-5000 grams can lead to a Class 2 felony. An individual can also receive a Class 2 felony charge for unlawful possession of methamphetamine between 5 and 15 grams. The penalties for a Class 2 felony include 3 to 7 years in prison plus fines of up to $25,000.
Class 3 Felony
Some drug possession charges, such as possession of over 500 grams of marijuana and a low-end manufacturing drug crime, can be charged as a Class 3 felony, depending on the substance involved. The criminal penalties for a Class 3 felony conviction include a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years and fines of up to $25,000.
Class 4 Felony
Although a Class 4 felony is the least serious felony drug crime you can be convicted of, it still carries harsh penalties. Penalties for a Class 4 felony drug crime include fines of up to $25,000 and 1 to 3 years in prison. You may be charged with a Class 4 felony for the sale of drug paraphernalia, unauthorized possession of a prescription form, or possession of between 100 and 500 grams of cannabis.
Misdemeanor charges are less serious drug crimes than felonies. However, a misdemeanor conviction will still result in a criminal record, and you may receive a prison sentence and have to pay large fines. Additionally, a prior misdemeanor conviction may cause a subsequent felony conviction if arrested for drug crimes again.
Class A Misdemeanor – Delivery of less than 10 grams of cannabis unlawfully and possessing certain controlled substances are charged as a Class A misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by up to one year of jail time and fines of up to $2,500.
Class B Misdemeanor – Unlawful possession of certain controlled substances is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by community service, 180 days in jail, and fines of up to $1,500.
Class C Misdemeanor – Possession of anabolic steroids is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by fines of $1,500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Although the penalties for misdemeanor drug crimes are less severe than felonies, being convicted of any crime will produce a permanent criminal record. With a criminal record, you will face many difficulties accessing employment, going to university, applying for loans, and working with children.
If you are facing drug charges, whether misdemeanor or felony, you must speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with your case.
How Drug Convictions Affect Your Life
In addition to the criminal penalties mentioned above, a drug conviction can affect your life in other ways.
Impact on Employment Opportunities – A drug conviction will limit your job prospects. Many employers may hesitate to hire you if they know your criminal past. You may also have difficulty obtaining certain professional licenses or certifications for certain occupations and professions.
Impact on Education Opportunities – If convicted of a felony, you may not be eligible for Federal student aid or grants from any school. Even if you are only convicted of a misdemeanor charge, some schools may deny your admission or financial aid application.
Impact on Housing and Loans – A criminal record can also prevent you from obtaining certain loans or housing. Many landlords will not rent to individuals with a history of drug convictions. Banks and other lenders may also hesitate to lend money to those with criminal records.
Impact on Parental Rights – If you are convicted of a drug crime, it could lead to the suspension or termination of your parental rights if your child is in state custody. Your child may be taken from you and put into foster care due to your conviction.
Loss of Professional Licenses – Certain professional licenses may be revoked or suspended depending on the severity of the crime. For example, doctors whose drug possession requires registration with the Controlled Substance Act will likely lose their license to practice medicine.
As you can see, the consequences of a drug-related crime are far-reaching and long-lasting, so it is important to consult a criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. An experienced lawyer may be able to have the charges reduced or dismissed, helping you avoid the harsh consequences of drug crimes.
With the right defense strategy, you can mitigate the effects of a drug charge and protect your future. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Illinois today to learn more about your legal rights and options.
What to Do if You’ve Been Arrested for Drug Crimes
Being arrested for drug crimes is a scary experience. The consequences of a conviction are severe, and you may be worried about serving prison time, getting a criminal record, and your future. If you are arrested for drug crimes, such as drug possession, it is important to be aware of your legal rights, such as the right to remain silent.
Police officers do not have your best interests at heart and may try to coax you into admitting guilt or giving information. You are under no obligation to explain yourself to the police, and doing so could get you into more trouble than you are currently in. You must respect the law enforcement officer’s orders. However, do not give any information relating to your arrest.
The first thing you should do after an arrest for drug crimes is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can advise you on your legal rights, ensure that your rights were respected during the arrest, and speak with the investigating officer on your behalf.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
Fighting against drug crimes in Illinois can be difficult. Police officers and prosecutors are renowned for taking a tough approach toward drug offenders. They will probably do everything they can to ensure you are convicted. Without an attorney, it is difficult to put up a strong fight to prevent a conviction.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can help your case by investigating your case thoroughly, gathering evidence to support your defense, negotiating with the prosecutor to reduce your sentence, or fighting on your behalf in an Illinois court. They will ensure you are current on Illinois statutes and laws and feel confident fighting against your case.
The defense strategy they use for your case will vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances of the case. However, some examples of defenses they could use include:
Unlawful search and seizure.
You did not knowingly possess the illegal drugs.
Infancy (underage possession).
Although all law offices in Illinois do not offer this service, Hirsch Law Group offers Mitigation Packets to all criminal defense clients. A mitigation packet is a document of supporting evidence submitted to the prosecutor to help give them a better idea of your type of person.
Prosecutors often have hundreds of cases to deal with each week and do not have the time to get to know you personally. When up against drug charges, they only want to put the accused in jail per the law.
However, with a Mitigation Packet, the prosecutor will know more about your life, including your education, work, awards and recognitions, supporting documents from your family and friends, and any military service you have carried out. This information makes them much more likely to negotiate a fairer deal and less inclined to fight for harsh penalties.
Hirsch Law Group – What Are the Drug Laws in Illinois?
Illinois’ law on drugs is severe. Although recreational and medical marijuana were legalized under certain circumstances, the law is still tough on all other substances. Illinois courts, police officers, and prosecutors follow the belief that those accused of drug crimes need to be punished rather than rehabilitated. Being convicted of a drug crime can lead to many years in prison, huge fines, and a permanent criminal record.
The only way to protect your future against a drug crime conviction is to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At Hirsch Law Group, we have been helping Illinois citizens fight against tough drug laws for over 15 years. We have seen firsthand how these laws negatively affect a person’s life and the disregard that prosecutors and police officers have for drug users’ futures.
Our law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and fighting to ensure fair treatment. As your legal representatives, we will fight aggressively to get your charges dropped or reduced substantially. We care about your future at Hirsch Law Group and will do everything possible to protect it.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.