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What is the difference between drug possession and trafficking in Illinois?

On Behalf of | Sep 28, 2023 | Drug Crimes | 0 comments

Despite Illinois legalizing marijuana for recreational use, state law still criminalizes the possession and sale of several substances, including heroin, methamphetamine and LSD. It is also against the law to have certain medications, such as fentanyl and anabolic steroids, without a prescription or to sell them without proper licensing.

If the police allege they caught you with drugs, you could face felony possession or trafficking charges that might put you in prison for years. While both crimes are obviously serious, a possession charge tends to carry a much lighter potential sentence compared with drug trafficking.

Double the prison time

That’s because state law allows for a trafficking sentence of at least twice the minimum sentence for the underlying possession offense. For example, a conviction for possession of 15 grams of heroin carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. A conviction for possession with intent to distribute that same amount of heroin can lead to a 30-year prison sentence.

Proving intent

Unlike possession, trafficking is an intent crime. The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to sell or distribute the drugs in your possession. This can make a successful prosecution more challenging since the authorities cannot always know what was in the defendant’s mind. However, evidence such as the defendant’s statements, communications and actions, as well as the volume of controlled substances in their possession or control, can imply intent.

With a felony conviction threatening your freedom, rights and reputation, there is a lot at stake when charged with a serious drug crime. Working with an experienced defense attorney can give you a fair chance at a just outcome.