If you are facing drug trafficking charges in Illinois, you can fight back with the help of a skilled criminal attorney. Here are the most common strategies that can help you be successful in your fight.
Illinois Drug Trafficking Defense Strategies
In Illinois, drug trafficking is a serious offense. A conviction can result in high fines and long jail or prison sentences. You need an experienced lawyer to help you find the best possible outcome.
These are some of the most successful strategies for getting your charges reduced or dropped.
Lack of Probable Cause
The police cannot stop you as a pedestrian or driver without probable cause that you are committing a crime. If the police lacked probable cause at the time of your arrest, your charges may not hold up in court.
Search and Seizure Violations
Your rights to lawful search and seizure are protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. Police are prohibited from making a search or seizure without proper procedure or a valid warrant in most cases. Exceptions exist, such as if illegal drugs are found in plain view.
For example, it is lawful for police to make a seizure of drugs found in a car’s backseat, but unlawful for the police to break open a car trunk without permission to seize drugs. If you are searched or drugs are seized in an unlawful manner, the evidence cannot be held against you in court.
Lack of Knowledge or Intent
What if the police may find drugs in your possession that you didn’t know existed? For example, if you borrowed a friend’s jacket, you may not have known that drugs were hidden in the lining. Another example is delivering a package for someone that contained drugs or driving another person’s vehicle without knowing drugs were stored inside. A knowledgeable attorney will be able to prove that you did not know the drugs were in your possession.
All drug crimes hinge on intent. If the prosecution is unable to secure enough evidence to prove that you held intent to traffic a drug, your charges may be dropped.
Crime Lab Distinctions
Sometimes the police arrest you on suspicion of possession or trafficking of a certain drug, but the substance doesn’t match the charges. The drug seized by the police must match the drug named in the charges, as well as the drug presented as evidence against you in court. Any discrepancies may result in your charges being reduced or dropped.
Amount of Drug
The amount of drug in question will play a large role in determining the extent of your charges and penalties. A smaller amount will often result in a misdemeanor charge with lesser penalties, while a larger amount will usually result in a felony charge with heavier penalties. If the amount of drug in question is right on a borderline, or if the measuring equipment is improperly calibrated, your charges may be reduced.
You can use this defense if law enforcement officers coerced you into committing a crime you would not have otherwise committed. Normally the entrapment defense involves situations where the state provides the drugs.
Drugs Were Planted
In some cases, the police may try to frame you for drug possession or trafficking. You will need the help of a skilled Illinois defense lawyer to use this defense to your advantage.
Penalties for Drug Trafficking in Illinois
Under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, you can face drug trafficking charges if you knowingly possessed a controlled substance with an intent to deliver the drug somewhere else. The prosecuting attorney must prove that you had knowledge that you were bringing the drug into the state and delivering it either within the state or to another state or country.
The penalties for a drug trafficking conviction are serious and life-altering. Most drug trafficking crimes are charged as felonies, which will result in lengthy prison sentences if you are convicted. You may face mandatory minimum sentences and long probation periods, depending on the type and amount of the drug in question. That’s why it’s essential for you to consult with a smart attorney who can help you fight your charges.
The fines associated with drug trafficking convictions range from $75,000 for a Class 3 felony conviction to $1 million for a Class X felony conviction. If the prosecution can prove that you also used a cellular radio telecommunication device in the act of drug trafficking, you can face an additional fine of $100,000.
Reach out to a seasoned Chicago criminal lawyer today to go over your options and determine which defense strategies are most likely to lead you to a successful outcome.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.