Forever Tainted? Handling Drug Offenses And Their Long-Term Impact
This article will explain:
- What constitutes different drug offenses in Illinois law,
- The penalties and consequences of a drug conviction,
- How, if possible, your record can be cleared of a drug conviction.
Drug Charges: Felony Or Misdemeanor?
In Illinois, there are several key factors that determine the severity of your charges if you are caught with illicit substances.
First, the precise substance in question. Cannabis (or Marijuana) has been decriminalized in Illinois, which means possessing a certain amount (under 30 grams) is not a criminal offense under Illinois state law.. Possession over 30 grams is still illegal in Illinois. Any other illicit drugs are subject to potential felony convictions.
The second is whether you are being charged with possession or with distribution. Possession is less serious while distribution is more so, and the penalties are more severe accordingly.
Note that while possession of small amounts of cannabis is not a felony, distribution or delivery (of any amount more than 10g) is.
How Does The Amount And Type Of Drug Impact The Charge?
The type of drug and the amount you are caught with is critical in evaluating the severity of the charges that will be leveled against you.
For example, as we mentioned earlier, in Illinois, cannabis is decriminalized. Any individual can possess 30 grams, which is just over an ounce, but any amount over that is still illegal and cannabis is still illegal on a federal level.
When evaluating cases concerning other narcotics, 0 to 15 grams is generally the amount for the base offense. The consequences and the severity of the charges increase with the weight. The first increment is 0 to 15 grams, then generally speaking it’s 15 to 100g, 100 to 400g, 400 to 900g, and then over 900g. 900 grams is almost a kilo, and that would be a very serious offense with a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
The weight clearly makes a difference. So does having an experienced lawyer on your side.
What Penalties Can I Face For A Drug Distribution Conviction In Illinois?
There is a wide range of possible legal penalties for a drug distribution conviction in Illinois. Starting with a misdemeanor for the delivery of under 10g of cannabis, and ranging up through increasingly severe felony charges.
These start at a class 4 felony, which would mean possible penalties of probation or up to three years in prison. Delivery of a controlled substance however can be 4 to 15 years, potentially on probation, and can rise quickly from there depending on the weight.
In general, only amounts under 15 grams would be subject to probation. Delivery of anything over that, in most cases, is going to be a mandatory prison sentence.
It is possible to avoid prison even if charged with a drug or cannabis case with a mandatory prison sentences. However, this requires an experienced attorney to develop a strategy to accomplish this.
First Offense Drug Distribution Convictions: Is Prison Inevitable?
With the help of experienced and effective representation, prison is very much avoidable for first-time offenders, even for drug distribution convictions. However, this depends heavily on the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
The number of deliveries you are alleged to have made, and the weight and type of the drug(s) involved are all crucial factors. Though there are some other aggravating factors that can come into play, such as your criminal history.
Occasionally a first offender charged with delivery, distribution, or possession with intent is eligible for probation (and thus avoids serving time in prison) as long as the amounts involved remain small.. While there are some amounts beyond which prison is mandatory, a skilled lawyer may be able to negotiate even those down.
It will be much easier to avoid prison time and ensure probation if the first-time offense is for the delivery of a small amount to a limited number of individuals than for a high volume over a large number of transactions.
If I’m Convicted Of Drug Distribution Is There Any Way To Clear My Record?
In Illinois, it is far easier to remove a misdemeanor conviction than a felony conviction from your record. Fortunately, there are several different options, including first-offender programs, that would allow you to avoid a felony conviction in the first place.
If you’re convicted of a felony, however, even a drug offense, it will be very difficult to get it removed from your record. The best option is to fight to avoid a felony conviction in the first place, with the help of an experienced attorney.
How Can I Avoid A Felony Charge For Drug Distribution?
In order to avoid the more serious Felony charge, you will need to act while the case is still in court. And you will need the help of a skilled lawyer who understands the different options available to you.
- Statute 410, for first offenders, can help you get probation instead of prison.
- 710, for cannabis-related offenses, can help avoid a felony conviction.
- Second chance probation is an option for first-time class 3 or 4 felony offenders.
- TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities) probation, for individuals who are requesting the Court to consider them addicts.
Unfortunately, most of those special programs or cases are for possession only. If you’re charged with delivery or distribution, you will generally not be eligible.
However, a good lawyer will know how to negotiate down to a possession charge that would then make you eligible for those special types of probation, if the circumstances of the case allow.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Illinois Drug Law, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that an experienced professional has your back. For more information on Drug Offense Laws in Illinois, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (815) 290-9170 today.
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