prescription drug bottle.

Legal Implications of Prescription Drug Possession in Illinois


Prescription drug abuse affects millions of Americans and has been labeled an epidemic by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

The increased prescription of medications containing opioids by doctors and medical professionals led to many individuals becoming seriously addicted to prescription drugs. When individuals cannot legally get prescription drugs, they often resort to other measures to obtain their prescription medications.

However, Illinois criminal laws provide that a person must have a valid prescription to possess prescription drugs legally. Rather than helping those addicted to prescription medicine, police and the prosecution choose to punish and criminalize people, making their lives much more difficult. If you have been charged with illegally possessing prescription drugs, you may need to seek legal help immediately.

Criminal charges of this nature can have serious consequences, and a conviction may result in serious time in jail. The criminal justice system does not take it easy on those with a drug addiction problem; their main priority is securing a conviction against you.

An experienced lawyer from Hirsch Law Group can help ensure you do not face jail time for unlawful possession charges. Our criminal defense attorneys understand the challenges faced by those who have an addiction, and we want to help protect your future by avoiding a criminal record. We have been defending drug possession charges for over 15 years and know what it takes to provide aggressive representation.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.


Laws on Illegal Possession of a Controlled Substance


Illegal possession of a controlled substance is considered a serious crime in Illinois. Possession charges carry severe penalties, such as jail time, massive fines, probation, or court-ordered rehab. The criminal justice system takes an uncompromising approach to drug crimes, even when it comes to simple possession charges.

All drug crimes in Illinois are derived from the Illinois Controlled Substance Act. Like federal law, the Illinois Controlled Substances Act sets out different Schedules for illicit drugs depending on the risk of harm that they pose to members of the public. The higher the drug schedule, the more serious the penalties will be.

  • Schedule I drugs – These drugs pose the highest level of risk to members of the public and do not have any medical use. Examples include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.

  • Schedule II drugs – Although drugs in this Schedule still pose a significant risk to members of the public, there are some medical benefits. Examples include cocaine, fentanyl, Ritalin, morphine, and oxycodone.

  • Schedule III drugs – These drugs have a lower risk of harm to the public and may have some medical benefits. Examples include ketamine and anabolic steroids.

  • Schedule IV drugs – These drugs have a low risk of addiction and harm to members of the public. Examples include Xanax, Valium, and Clonazepam.

  • Schedule V drugs – This is the lowest category of controlled substances and poses the lowest risk of dependence. Medical professionals often prescribe these substances. Examples include cough medicines that contain codeine.

The potential consequences for possessing a controlled substance in Schedule I will be much higher than those for a Schedule V substance. However, if you are convicted of illegal drug possession, regardless of the category, you will receive a permanent criminal record, which can seriously impact your future.


Are Prescription Drugs Controlled Substances?


Many drugs that have been classed as illegal controlled substances by Illinois state’s laws and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have some medical purpose. Medical professionals often prescribe substances such as Xanax, Vicodin, and OxyContin to patients who suffer from mental or physical pain. As such, these substances are completely legal when accompanied by valid prescriptions.

If you do not have a valid prescription from a medical professional for prescription medication, such as Adderall or Ritalin, you can be charged with possessing a controlled substance. Your criminal penalties could vary depending on the particular prescription drug in your possession. If you were found with a large number of prescription pills in your possession and these drugs are contained in a higher schedule, you could be looking at a lengthy prison sentence.

Our lawyers understand how easy it can be to get into legal trouble for possessing prescription drugs without a valid prescription. However, the prosecution and police officers do not care. To avoid the rest of your life being impacted by a drug crime conviction, seek legal representation from a criminal defense lawyer from our firm.

Our drug crime defense team is experienced in fighting these charges and will do everything possible to secure the most favorable outcome for your case. We understand the complexities of drug possession charges and will use our knowledge to fight tooth and nail for you in court. Call us today to discuss your case and start working on a defense strategy to keep you out of jail.

Please get in touch with us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced drug crime defense lawyers. We are ready to fight for you and help protect your future. Call us today at 815-880-1134.


Penalties For Prescription Drug Possession


As noted previously, the penalties for possessing illegal drugs depend on the particular controlled substance and the Schedule contained in it. Other factors can influence the sentence you receive, including:

  • Previous criminal record

  • Previous drug crime convictions

  • The quantity of drugs found in your possession

Most prescription drugs are within Schedule III, IV, and V of the controlled substances list. As such, if you are found with these drugs in your possession, you could be charged with a fourth-degree felony. The criminal penalties for a Class 4 felony include up to one to three years of prison time and fines of up to $25,000. In addition, a conviction could result in a long period of probation and the requirement to complete a drug diversion program.

Being both a state and federal crime, Illinois drug laws take a strict approach towards prescription drug offenses. You may need fierce legal representation from an experienced attorney to avoid a prison sentence. First-time offenders with a low Schedule prescription drug found in their possession will likely avoid jail time with the help of one of our attorneys.

Distribution Charges

Suppose you had a significant amount of a substance, for example, 3 or 4 tubs of prescription pills. In that case, the police officer may charge you with possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Distribution charges can also arise if you share your prescription drugs with another person who does not have a prescription. The penalties for distribution can be much higher, as they are usually charged as a third-degree felony. If convicted of distributing prescription drugs, you could face up to five years in prison.

Prescription Drug Fraud

Many people who become addicted to prescription drugs feel like they must obtain them illegally, particularly if their doctor has cut off their supply. In recent years, there has been a significant rise in prescription drug fraud cases, which can result from forging prescriptions, altering the prescription given to you by a doctor, “doctor shopping,” or purchasing prescription medication illegally online.

Being convicted of prescription drug fraud can result in a third or fourth-degree felony, with up to five years of prison. As such, seeking legal representation from an experienced attorney who could help reduce the sentence or even have your charges dismissed is essential.


Defending Against Drug Possession Charges


If you have been charged with prescription drug possession, there are several defenses that an experienced criminal defense attorney can use to potentially get your charges reduced or dismissed. Some of these defenses include:

  • Lack of knowledge – If you were unaware that the substance was illegal, it may be possible to argue that you lacked the knowledge to commit the crime. This defense is often used in cases where a person was given a prescription drug by someone else and did not know it was illegal.

  • Illegal search and seizure – The police need probable cause or a valid warrant to search your property. Any evidence found may not be admissible in court if they conducted an unlawful search.

  • Improper handling of evidence – The police are required to follow strict procedures when handling and storing evidence. If it is discovered that the evidence was mishandled or tampered with, it could potentially be deemed inadmissible.

  • Entrapment – This defense argues that law enforcement persuaded or coerced you into committing the crime, which you would not have otherwise committed. This defense is often used in prescription drug fraud cases where law enforcement may set up a sting operation.


Verdict: Can I Go To Jail For Prescription Drug Possession in Illinois?


Due to the opioid crisis and the rise in prescription drug fraud, the criminal justice system is tough on those found illegally possessing prescription medication. Those who receive a drug possession charge for prescription medicine often suffer from addiction or abuse problems due to being previously overprescribed by their doctor.

Rather than recognizing this addiction problem, the criminal justice system categorizes prescription drugs as street drugs and imposes harsh penalties. To ensure that a criminal record does not seriously impact your future and to help avoid the force of the criminal system, you should seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

At Hirsch Law Group, we have helped many defendants get their prescription drug charges thrown out or penalties reduced substantially. Our lawyers have worked as former prosecutors, and we have seen how the prosecution uses scare tactics to secure a conviction, regardless of whether the evidence is there. As such, we know how to beat them at their game and help ensure that you are not sent to prison.

Our law firm has won multiple awards for our dedication to clients, and we want to help you fight against your criminal charges. Our priority is to protect your future and ensure you are not sent to jail for possessing prescription drugs.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.