Thursday, May 9, 2013

FROM BAD TO WORSE: AGGRAVATING FACTORS FOR DRUG DEALING CRIMES IN ILLINOIS

In Illinois, the penalties for knowingly manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance can be stiff enough. But selling drugs to the wrong person or in the wrong place can make a bad situation worse--in some cases even doubling your prison time.

Here are some factors that can affect the severity of the charges against you:

1) Selling to Minors: If you are an adult and you sell to a minor, you may be sentenced to twice the maximum prison term and twice the maximum fine. (720 ILCS 570/407.)

2) Using Minors to Sell: If you use your underage friend to make your deal, you can face three times the maximum prison term. (720 ILCS 570/407.1)

3) Pregnant Women: If you know she’s pregnant, you can get double the time depending on the type of drugs. (720 ILCS 570/407.2.)

4) Truck Stops or Rest Areas: Your prison time and fine can be doubled for dealing within 1,000 feet of a truck stop or rest area if you have a prior conviction for the same offense. (720 ILCS 570/407)

5) Public schools, parks, property owned by a public housing agency, nursing homes, churches, synagogues, senior centers: Delivering drugs within 1,000 feet of any of these facilities can upgrade your crime. For example, a Class 1 offense, for possessing less than 15 grams of heroin with intent to deliver, can become a Class X felony with increased prison time and double the fines. It does not matter if school was out and no kids were in sight. (720 ILCS 570/407.)

6) Subsequent offenses: A second or later conviction can double your prison term and fine. (720 ILCS 570/408.)

If you are charged with a drug crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Do not discuss your case with anyone, especially not the police. Trying to talk your way out of the situation might end up giving the prosecution the evidence they need to convict you.

An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Did the police have probable cause to stop you? Was the search that uncovered the drugs legal? If not, an attorney may have grounds to challenge your arrest and hopefully get the evidence against you suppressed. Did you knowingly intend to deliver the drugs? As with most crimes, the state has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You may have divided the drugs into separate parcels, but can the state prove you were preparing to sell? An attorney can look for holes in state’s evidence in the hope of winning an acquittal.

Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may help negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own. If you have questions about this or another criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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