The holiday season is a great time to let loose and enjoy a party or two with your friends or family. Sometimes parties can get a bit out of hand, though. If your brand of “letting loose” involved marijuana or another illegal substance and the cops caught you with it, you’re going to be dealing with a lot more than a hangover.
In our state, drug possession charges can have incredibly serious repercussions – especially if you do not know how to fight back. When you are arrested or charged, the most important thing you can do is educate yourself about your options and what the next few months will look like.
In this post, we will talk about penalties you may face for drug possession charges, how they are determined, and how hiring a knowledgeable drug crimes lawyer can give you the best chance at having your charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped.
What Penalties Do You Face?
If you are found with controlled substances, the penalties you face will vary based on the type and amount of drugs that are found on your person or around your property.
Drugs are classified in Illinois by five “schedules.” Schedule I drugs (opiates, certain hallucinogens) are considered the most dangerous. With few exceptions, even smaller amounts of these “hard” drugs come with felony charges. Here are a few examples to give you an idea of the penalties associated with drug charges in Illinois.
- Cocaine: Possession of <15 grams is a class 4 felony; penalties include up to 3 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines
- Heroin: Possession of <15 grams of heroin is also a class 4 felony
- LSD: Up to 15 doses of LSD is a class 4 felony.
If you are caught with over 15 grams or doses of Schedule I or II drugs, your charges get even more serious. Possession of larger amounts of Schedule I or II narcotics is a class 1 felony in Illinois, the most serious possession felony you can face. Penalties can range from four years to 50 years, depending on the amount of drugs found at the time of your arrest.
Keep in mind that other items like money, scales, distribution bags, etc., may lead the prosecution to press additional charges, such as possession with intent to distribute. This charge is treated similarly to distribution or trafficking charges, and the penalties are much higher. If you bought the controlled substances after crossing state lines, you case is more likely to end up in federal court.
What about Marijuana?
In most states, marijuana is a separate category from other controlled substances and has different sentencing guidelines for those convicted of possession. Illinois is no different.
Case-in-point: in July, Governor Rauner decriminalized small amounts of marijuana. If you are caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana, you only face civil charges and fines up to $200.
More than 10 grams, though, and your case will be taken to criminal court where you will face jail time and heavy fines.
Between 10 and 30 grams is a misdemeanor that comes with the potential of one year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. Between 30 and 500 grams is a felony that comes with the potential of one to six years in jail and up to $25,000 in fines. The highest marijuana possession penalty, for having over 5,000 grams, is a felony that can net you between four and 30 years in jail and up to a $25,000 fine.
Repeat offenses, as you might imagine, also come with increased penalties.
Your best chance at a positive outcome is to work with an experienced Chicago drug possession attorney. In some situations, your lawyer may even be able to get your case dropped before charges have even been filed against you. If you were charged with drug possession over the holidays, or fear that a charge may be coming soon, get in touch as soon as possible.
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.