Penalties for Drug Crimes in Illinois
Bridgeview, IL drug crime defense attorney protects clients’ rights
Over the decades, there have been contentious debates about how to punish drug offenders. In some instances, this has led to greater leniency and alternatives to incarceration, such as treatment for substance abuse. However, penalties for violations of the state’s controlled substance law remain steep. At Skinner Law Firm, P.C. in Bridgeview, we advocate for Illinois clients accused of drug crimes and push back against authorities that seek to impose harsh sentences by infringing upon defendants’ rights.
Penalties for controlled substance charges in Illinois
Under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, drugs are divided into five different categories, known as schedules, based on how much of a health threat they pose and whether they have any legitimate medical function. These schedules shape how severely crimes involving particular substances are punished. The most serious drugs, such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, are classified within Schedules I and II. Penalties involving these controlled substances include:
- Possession — Being caught holding a Schedule I or II drug below the levels required for an enhanced sentence is a Class 4 felony. This means that a first-time offender could face between one to three years of incarceration, even if only a small amount is found. Anyone found in possession of 15 grams or more of heroin, cocaine or morphine, but less than 100 grams, may be sentenced to between four and 15 years in prison and fined up to $200,000. There are three more levels, with the highest amount punishable by 10 to 50 years of incarceration.
- Delivery — Sentences for the distribution of drugs also depend on the amount at issue. The basic charge triggers a sentence that can run from four to 15 years. The top penalty (900 grams or more) results in at least 15 years of imprisonment with a maximum sentence of 60 years.
- Trafficking — Illinois law defines trafficking as the transport of drugs into the state for delivery. In these cases, the sentencing range is doubled from what the punishment would be for that same amount of drugs in a standard delivery case.
Even lower-level drug convictions can threaten your freedom, job prospects and parental rights. Don’t hesitate to contact a qualified defense lawyer if you’ve been charged.
Mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug offenses
Some federal drug statutes overlap with state laws, but you are more likely to be prosecuted by a U.S. Attorney if the alleged offense involves interstate activity or a large-scale trafficking operation. The federal court system has a completely different set of procedural rules and harsh mandatory minimum sentencing rules. This includes a required prison term of at least five years for people in possession of at least 100 marijuana plants or 40 grams of fentanyl. At higher amounts and for repeat offenders, the minimum rises to 10 years. If you’ve been charged with a federal drug crime, it is essential to retain an experienced attorney who knows how to handle these cases.
Defense strategies for drug charges in Illinois
Just because you were caught by police holding drugs does not necessarily mean that the authorities will be able to obtain a conviction. As a seasoned drug crime lawyer, Steven E. Skinner II can examine the facts thoroughly and pinpoint what types of defenses might allow you to obtain a dismissal, acquittal or reduced sentence. Law enforcement officers often overstep their boundaries and collect evidence without the necessary legal grounds. For certain substance-related charges, drug court might be an option that focuses on treatment and community service instead of incarceration.
Contact an Illinois drug crime defense lawyer to schedule a free consultation
Skinner Law Firm, P.C. in Bridgeview represents individuals who are facing drug charges in Illinois and federal courts. To make an appointment for a free initial consultation, please call 312-635-6459 or contact us online.