Illinois is cracking down on meth and meth trafficking. One recent arrest for meth distribution led to a total of ten people being convicted in a meth trafficking scheme in the state.
This distribution scheme involved more than a million dollars of meth moved out of Chicago. Forty-five pounds of methamphetamine were smuggled in cars by drug couriers, and the head of the scheme pled guilty and was sentenced to thirty years in prison. However, the other nine individuals may not face such serious consequences.
Illinois may be working to reduce meth crimes in the state, but not every crime or scenario is dealt with as seriously as a million-dollar smuggling ring. In fact, there are special circumstances that allow people who have made a one-time mistake to avoid permanent consequences.
How Illinois Meth Trafficking Laws Work
Methamphetamine is one of the most harmful drugs in the world. As a result, Illinois laws are generally quite strict when it comes to penalizing meth possession, trafficking, selling, and manufacturing.
Simply possessing meth is a felony on its own, which carries penalties of at least 4 years in prison for amounts as small as 15 grams. Possessing meth in amounts larger than 900 grams can lead to up to 50 years in prison and fines of $200,000 or the street value of the drug.
That said, possessing meth with the intention to transport it somewhere is considered even more serious, on par with manufacturing or selling the drug.
The penalties for trafficking, selling, or manufacturing meth depend on the quantity of meth in question. Penalties for this offense include:
- Less than 15 grams of meth: This is a class 1 felony, which can result in up to 15 years in prison and fines of $250,000.
- 15-100 grams: This is a class X felony, leading to anywhere from 6 to 30 years in prison and fines up to $500,000 or the street value of the drug.
- 100-400 grams: This is also a class X felony, but it is aggravated. This charge can result in 9-40 years in prison and fines up to $500,000 or the street value of the drug.
- 400-900 grams: This a class X felony, further aggravated. This amount of meth can result in 12-50 years in prison and fines up to $500,000 or the street value of the drug.
- 900+ grams: This a class X felony, but aggravated to the highest level. This charge can result in 15-60 years in prison and fines up to $500,000 or the street value of the drug.
All four class X felony charges carry mandatory minimums. The lower end of each sentence is the mandatory lower limit for penalties. Trafficking more than 900 grams of meth therefore carries a minimum of 15 years in prison. However, there is one scenario where it is possible to avoid this life-changing penalty.
Special Probation For First Time Offenders Only
Sometimes people make a single bad decision and get caught. Studies have found that first-time offenders are the most likely to not re-offend. However, that’s only true if these people receive help and guidance instead of a harsh prison sentence.
That’s why Illinois has special probation available for first-time offenders. This probation is available to those who:
- Have not committed any felony related to controlled substances;
- Plead or are found guilty of possession or trafficking of meth; and
- The amount of meth in question was less than 15 grams.
If these three conditions are met, the court can sentence the person to probation without actually entering a judgment. As long as the person meets the terms of their probation, they will not receive a felony record.
For a period of two years, anyone under this first-time offender probation must:
- Not own a firearm;
- Not break any criminal statute in any jurisdiction;
- Submit to regular, periodic drug testing at least three times over the course of the probation; and
- Perform a minimum of 30 hours of community service.
Other conditions may include undergoing substance abuse treatment, paying fines, paying child support, undergoing vocational training, or completing further drug testing.
If the probationer meets these requirements, then at the end of the two year probation period, then all charges will be dismissed. Instead of facing a lifetime of being a convicted felon, this first-time probation allows people to take control of their lives and their criminal records.
Methamphetamines are a serious problem nationwide. If you or someone you love has been accused of possessing or trafficking meth, you should reach out to an experienced Illinois drug attorney today to discuss your best course of action.
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 Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.