Illinois drug laws are among the toughest in the country. The War on Drugs that has been going on 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 that we can to protect you against Illinois drug laws.
Call us today at 815-880-1134 to schedule a free consultation.
The Illinois Controlled Substances Act
The main Illinois law that criminalizes the possession, manufacture, sale, and distribution of illegal drugs is the Illinois Controlled Substances Act. This act, based on federal law, divides controlled substances into certain schedules, depending on the level of harm they pose to the public and the risk of addiction.
Drugs that have a higher risk of addiction are regarded as more serious and can lead to harsher penalties. The Act sets out the particular drug charges and the type of controlled substance that will be charged as a felony offense or a misdemeanor. Controlled substances that have 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. There are two types of crimes relating 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 a far more serious crime than simple drug possession and carries harsher penalties. Trafficking involves knowingly bringing or transporting a substance to another place for the purpose of delivery. If the crime occurs over state lines, it will be charged under federal law, which will result 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 gravity of the crime. Typically, the higher 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. There may be other factors that 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 on 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 from 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 carried 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 possession of certain controlled substances are charged as a Class A misdemeanor. This charge is punishable by up to 1 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 in life accessing employment, going to university, applying for loans, and working with children. If you are facing drug charges, whether misdemeanor or felony, it is vital that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you with your case.
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 having to serve 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 they may try to coax you into admitting guilt or giving information. You are under no obligation to explain yourself to police and in fact doing so could get you in to more trouble than you are currently in. It is important that you 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 towards drug offenders. They will probably do everything within their power to ensure that 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 that you are up to date on Illinois statutes and laws and that you 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.
- Invalid warrant.
- You did not knowingly possess the illegal drugs.
- Infancy (underage possession).
Although this service is not offered by all law offices in Illinois, 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 the type of person that you are.
Prosecutors often have hundreds of cases to deal with each week, and they do not have the time necessary to get to know you personally. When up against drug charges, all they want to do is put the accused in jail in accordance with 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 that you have carried out. With this information, they are 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’ future.
Our law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and fighting to ensure that they get fair treatment. As your legal representatives, we will fight aggressively to get your charges dropped or reduced substantially. At Hirsch Law Group, we care about your future, and will do everything we can to protect it.
Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation at 815-880-1134.