Not all Illinois drug possession charges are created equally.
For one, if you have over a specified amount, you can be charged with trafficking or possession with intent – a big step up in steps of the severity of the consequences you will face if convicted.
Unfortunately, there’s not just one single number or threshold that you need to know – every drug is unique, and the same amount of two types of substances can lead to radically different charges and penalties.
In other words, what drug you’re caught with matters – a lot.
To help you better understand what you might be up against, this article outlines the five classes of drug possession for you, as well as the five different drug schedules so you can understand where various substances fall and what charges you might be looking at.
Illinois Controlled Substance Schedules
In Illinois, both “drug products” (like marijuana, cocaine and heroin) and the principal compounds used to manufacture them are considered controlled dangerous substances (CDS). These substances are classified under one of five “schedules” based on the status of their medicinal use and the potential for dependence and abuse.
SCHEDULE I – These substances currently have zero acceptable medical applications, and have been deemed unsafe for use regardless of medical supervision. They include opiates, opium derivatives, and hallucinogenic substances.
SCHEDULE II – High potential for abuse, and have proven to result in severe dependency when abused, but they also have an accepted medical use.
SCHEDULE III – Includes some steroids and similar controlled substances with less potential for abuse than Schedule I or II drugs, typically having an accepted medical use, and maintaining a possibility of a combined low physical and high psychological dependence if abused.
SCHEDULE IV – Drugs with a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs. They are accepted for medical treatment, and can lead to limited psychological and/or physical dependence.
SCHEDULE V – The least dangerous of the controlled substances, widely accepted in the medical community, and have the lowest potential for abuse. Includes medicines with only small amounts of narcotics in them.
Finding Your Illinois Possession Charges
In order to better understand your specific case, you’ll need your charging document to compare to the schedules above. It may be called a complaint, an “information” document, or a grand jury indictment.
Identify the drugs noted in your charging document, then click here to locate those drug names and determine which schedule your CDC possession charges fall under.
Penalties for Possession in Illinois
Now you can take a look at penalties associated with your charges. Illinois drug crimes are classified as felonies or misdemeanors, and each of those broad categories include several different classes of severity.
Felony-level CDC possession crimes are Class 1, 2, 3, or 4. A Class 1 felony is the most severe. Misdemeanor possession will fall under Class A, B, or C, which are the least serious classifications.
Sentencing and associated fines range from $1,500 and/or 30 days in jail to $200k and/or 60 years-plus in a correctional facility. This chart lists crimes and punishments at a glance.
What You Should Do after Figuring Out Your Illinois Possession Charge
In order to convict someone on drug possession charges, there are a few things a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt: positive identification of the substance in question, that the accused was aware he/she possessed the substance, and that actual or constructive possession occurred. Depending on the severity of the charges, conviction may require proving the total weight of the drug in question.
If you do find yourself being charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), your best defense strategy is always to work with a knowledgeable and experienced Illinois defense attorney. A few examples of legal strategies you may be able to use to battle various Illinois drug possession charges are here.
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.