Drug offenses can be extremely complicated and confusing. To begin with, there are two separate legal frameworks for drug crimes: state-level charges and federal offenses. Federal charges generally involve trafficking and come with mandatory minimum prison sentences.
But what about state-level charges in Illinois? What distinguishes a felony from a misdemeanor? And what are the categories of drug offenses?
The basic framework
As in the federal system, Illinois law addresses controlled substances by type and quantity. Unlike many other states, however, Illinois takes a harsh stance on possession. Almost all possession charges (except certain amounts of anabolic steroids) are felony offenses. Felonies range in severity from Class 1 (the most severe) to Class 4 (the least severe).
The substance and quantity both play a role in determining the severity of the offense. Schedule I controlled substances are those deemed to have a high potential for abuse, with no currently accepted medical use. Schedule V substances are those deemed to have the least potential for abuse and that also have a medical use. Penalties are harsher for drug crimes involving Schedules I and II substances.
Types of offenses
There are various types of drug offenses in Illinois, including:
- Possession with intent to sell or deliver (based generally on quantity)
- Illegal Cultivation
- Cannabis trafficking
- Prescription drug fraud
Each type of offense has certain elements – including a knowledge component – that the state must prove in order to secure a conviction.
Challenging drug charges in Illinois
When facing any type of drug charge in Illinois, you should never assume that the prosecution has a watertight case. You may in fact have strong grounds for fighting the drug charges.
Maybe the prosecution can’t prove the knowledge or intent requirement. Maybe there are problems with the way law enforcement searched your property and found the substance. Perhaps there are even grounds for a reduction or outright dismissal of the charges.
That’s why it is always smart to talk to a defense lawyer about the specifics of your case.