Understanding Federal and State Drug Crimes in Illinois

Posted on in Drug Crimes

drug crime, Illinois law, Arlington Heights criminal defense attorneyIt is estimated that annually, drug and alcohol abuse by citizens costs society upwards of $100 billion dollars. This total includes treatment, healthcare, accidental death, injury, and law enforcement costs. In each state, there are laws at both the state and federal level that are intended to combat the prevalence of drug crime by prohibiting the possession, production, and dispersal of illegal drugs.

In Illinois, illegal drugs can include both organic and manufactured substances such as marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, among others. Generally, federal charges are reserved for drug crimes such as trafficking or possession and, or intent to distribute large quantities of illegal substances. Federal charges typically come with the potential for longer prison sentences and stiffer penalties than those of state charges. Charges at the state level are more commonly for possession of smaller quantities of illegal substances and, or paraphernalia.

Non-Medical and Medical Marijuana in Illinois

In Illinois, marijuana possession is responsible for more than half of state and local drug arrests. Possession of over 10 grams of marijuana can result in a felony charge and could cost the convicted anywhere from one to sixty years in prison, depending upon the amount and if it was a first time offense or not.

Currently in Illinois, we are in the second year of a four-year medical marijuana pilot program. However, no dispensaries currently exist for patients to legally obtain marijuana. Additionally, there is absolutely no provision in the new laws for state-sanctioned, home-grown medical marijuana. Therefore, attempting to use a medical marijuana defense in cases involving small amounts of possession for charges at the state level will not necessarily be successful.

Illinois First Offense Program

Eligibility to participate in the first offender program is one benefit usually available to those pleading guilty to either state or federal drug crimes. The Federal First Offender Act allows a defendant with no prior convictions regarding illegal substances to enter a plea of guilty, but their conviction is not officially on their record.

If the offender successfully completes the application process and is accepted to the program, he or she will be given opportunities to fulfill requirements such as completing community service hours, counseling, writing an apology to the victim, obtaining a high school diploma or GED, paying compensation to the victim, and paying for the program fees. Successful completion of the program means that the court then dismisses the charges without entering the conviction after the offender successfully completes one year of probation. If the participant fails to successfully complete the First Offender Program, the case will be returned to the court for sentencing.

If you are contending with drug charges, please contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney with over two decades of experience defending clients in state and federal court. At the law firm of Scott Anderson, we represent individuals in Cook, Lake, DuPage and McHenry Counties. Please call 847-253-3400 to schedule a complimentary consultation today.