Drug charges involving the selling, trafficking or possession of illegal drugs are severe in every state. When the amounts of a drug in possession are high, authorities often add on the additional charge of trafficking, which can trigger much more serious federal charges. If the suspect is carrying a firearm at the time of arrest, this will compound the severity of sentencing.
Unfortunately for individuals in Illinois and elsewhere, what starts as a simple offense can quickly spiral into consequences that will change someone’s life forever. If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is essential to know where to go to find effective legal advocacy to help you defend yourself and fight for your rights.
What are the penalties for drug charges in Illinois?
Under the Illinois Controlled Substance Act, it is illegal to have drugs such as cocaine, heroin and other controlled substances without a prescription on their person. The penalties that go with a conviction on charges of possession of heroin, cocaine, or morphine include:
- 15 to 99 grams, sentences of up to 15 years
- 100 to 399 grams, prison time of 4-15 years
- 400 to 899 grams, 8-40 years
- 900 or higher, 10-50 years
All offenses are Class 1 felonies and can include fines of up to $200,000. Possession of other illegal substances that are in this class include, peyote and amphetamines. Marijuana, however, is no longer illegal in Illinois. The possession, sale, cultivation, or trafficking within the state of small amounts of marijuana is legal for adults 21 or older.
What is my best defense against drug possession charges?
To convict an individual who is facing drug possession charges, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they knew that the drug was illegal and that they were in fact in possession of it. As this is a very high bar to prove, defense strategies often hinge on challenging the stated facts or the evidence presented in court. For example, when the drugs go to the crime lab, the defense may question if these were the drugs that law enforcement allegedly seized.
Other defenses include:
- Entrapment, in which an officer induces the suspect to commit a crime they would not otherwise have committed.
- That the defendant did not have control of the illegal substance, and that in fact it belonged to someone else.
If the officers did not correctly gather the evidence, they may have violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure. If law enforcement illegally obtained the evidence for conviction, it is not admissible, and the case will most likely be dismissed.