Monday, May 6, 2013

JUST A LITTLE COCAINE: THE CRIME OF DRUG DEALING IN ILLINOIS

The police pulled you over for blowing a stop sign. Unfortunately, they saw some plastic baggies containing powder lying on the floor of your car. Now you are charged with possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance. What can happen to you? What can you do?

Illinois law bars you from knowingly manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver a controlled substance. The severity of the charges and the punishment depend on the type of drug and the amount. (720 ILCS 570/401). These penalties are also a step up from a charge of simple possession.

If you possess with intent to deliver less than 15 grams of heroin, fentanyl, or cocaine, 10-15 grams of morphine or 5-15 grams of LSD, you can be charged with a Class 1 felony, punishable by 4 to15 years in jail and fined up to $250,000. More than 15 grams of these substances or more than 200 grams of barbiturates, amphetamine or peyote is a Class X felony. Your sentence can increase according to the amount you possess. Up to 100 grams is punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison while more than 900 grams is punishable by 30 to 60 years. In addition, if you possess with intent to deliver more than 100 grams, you may be fined up to $500,000 or the full street value of the drugs.

Illinois law also classifies different drugs on “Schedules.” These schedules contain long list of pharmaceutical names and can be tricky. Where your drug fits on which schedule can determine whether you have a Class 2 or Class 3 Felony and the maximum amount you may be fined. For example, Schedule I-type opiates are a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years and up to a $200,000 fine. A Schedule V drug can be a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years and up to $75,000.

The penalties against you can also be increased if you deal to the wrong person such as a minor or pregnant woman or you deal in the wrong place such as a school or rest area. For more information on factors that can affect your sentence, see our related post at From Bad To Worse: Aggravating Factors for Drug Dealing Crimes in Illinois.

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 explain the presence of the drugs might only dig you in deeper.

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 hopes 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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