Illinois law is geared toward punishing the big-time drug trafficker more than the small-time user. Nevertheless, it is a crime to knowingly possess a controlled substance, and the penalties can be quite severe. What can happen to you? What can you do?

Illinois law bars you from knowingly possessing a controlled substance. The degree of the charges and the punishment depend on the type of drug and the amount. (720 Illinois Compiled Statutes 570/402).

If you possess less than 15 grams of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, morphine or LSD, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in jail and fined up to $25,000. More than 15 grams of these substances or more than 200 grams of barbiturates, amphetamines or peyote is a Class 1 felony. Your sentence can increase according to the amount you possess. Up to 100 grams is punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison while more than 900 grams is punishable by 10 to 50 years. In addition, if you possess with intent to deliver more than 100 grams, you may be fined up to $200,000 or the full street value of the drugs.

If you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. What you think is a reasonable explanation might be used against you as an admission of guilt.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search that uncovered the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed.

Did you knowingly possess the drugs? As with most crimes, the state has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Maybe other people had regular access to the closet where the drugs were found. An attorney can look for holes in the state’s evidence in hope of winning an acquittal. For more information regarding the type of evidence needed for a conviction, see our blog at The Drugs Aren’t Mine: When You Are Charged With Possession of Narcotics.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. If you have questions about this or another criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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