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Drug Charges

How to Fight a Drug Possession Charge

Drug Lawyers Chicago

Whether you have a small amount of a recreational drug on your person, or a larger quantity for distribution, there are circumstances where you can fight a drug possession charge and create reasonable doubt sufficient enough to reduce your sentencing.

In all cases in the United States it is illegal to possess any amount of an illicit substance. That can also include selling medications that are prescribed to others, for recreational purposes. This article will explain how drugs are classified in terms of federal offenses, and provide advice on what you can do to fight a drug possession charge successfully.

Penalties for Drug Possession in Illinois

The Federal Government provides a classification for illicit substances based on three categories.  The categories and drugs in each class, are defined by their severity in terms of addictive properties and risk of loss of life, and other criterion.

The Federal categories or drug schedules are outlined as follows:

Schedule I

Drugs identified under Schedule 1 (according to Federal classifications) are the most lethal and dangerous types of drugs which are subject to the highest restrictions by the United States law.  For individuals charged with possession of schedule one drugs, or with trafficking of drugs in this category, the penalties are severe.  It should be noted that despite the legalized use of marijuana in some States and for medicinal prescription purposes, in court rulings as recent as April 2015 Cannabis was still determined to be a Schedule 1 drug legally in the United States.

Drugs included in this classification are: Heroin, Ecstacy (MMDA), LSD and Mescaline and Marijuana.

Schedule 2

Drugs classified under Schedule 2 are less dangerous, and present a lesser addiction risk as compared to Schedule 1 drugs.  Nonetheless the drugs outlined in Schedule 2 remain dangerous to the health of users and highly addictive.

Drugs included in this classification are: Cocaine, Crystal Meth (Methamphetamines) and Methadone.

Schedule 3

The drugs classified in Schedule 3 represent the least threat in terms of illicit drugs and substances, and most frequently refer to prescription or enhancing drugs that are abused for recreational purposes.

Drugs included in this classification are: Steroids, Valium, Xanax and many other prescription pain killers or mood management drugs.

When it comes to management of classifications that the state level, some states refer to all illicit substances in equal terms, particularly on charges of trafficking, but differentiate between narcotics and other substances.  For more information on sentencing and punitive fines for drug related charges, see the “Drug Offenses: Maximum Fines and Terms of Imprisonment for Violation of the Federal Controlled Substances Act and Related Laws” (2015).

Recommended Behavior While Being Searched for Drugs

No matter where a drug search occurs, in a residence, in a public building or facility, or even in your car when stopped by the authorities, you have specific rights that protect you against unreasonable search.  Understanding your rights can help determine how you should behave, what you should say and how little you incriminate yourself during a routine search.

When you are stopped by police officer who is not wearing a uniform, you have the right to request to see their badge or warrant.  Frequently in the case of drug trafficking or suspected drug use, plain clothed police officers will be used by the authorities to collect evidence to assist with the drug conviction.  However in the interest personal safety, an undercover drug officer must identify himself or herself when asked during a search or arrest.

Your clothing, your vehicle and your own personal residence searched on a reasonable suspicion that you are in possession of any number of controlled goods, including firearms or weapons, knives and blades which may have been used in an assault.  You may also be searched on suspicion of possession of stolen goods, or on suspicion of purchasing or facilitating the purchase of stolen goods.

When you are being searched, if you are being arrested and taken into custody by the authorities you must be read your rights according to the Miranda law.  You always have the right to remain silent and in some cases this is the best option until you’ve had an opportunity speak with a legal representative. However in the case of an illegal search, where you have committed no crime, the ability to explain to the authorities your reason for being there or plausible explanation may actually support your defense if you make a statement at that time. If you are of course guilty and being searched, the best measure is to remain silent to avoid incriminating yourself further.

The Power of Plausible Denial

It is little more difficult to claim ignorance if the drugs are located in a personal area, such as a bedroom or inside your personal effects such as a backpack, purse or your own personal vehicle.  In cases where the evidence clearly points to ownership of illicit substances, consulting with Chicago drug lawyers is the best next step in a quality defense.

If your home or private property was searched, and you had no knowledge of drugs on the premises, it is best to be honest and deny your knowledge of the illicit substances, and place the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you owned, or condoned the use of drugs on your property on the prosecution.

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What Does Conviction for Possession of Drugs Entail?

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People convicted on the grounds of possession of drugs can face an array of penalties at the time of sentencing, which can vary from state to state. Conviction for simple drug possession can invite lenient penalties such a fine of less than $100 and/or a few days in jail, to stricter ones like a huge fine of thousands of dollars and several years in state prison.

The fact that simple drug possession attracts the lightest sentence should bring relief to those accused of it. However, the intent to distribute drugs or the manufacturing of drugs can bring you heftier consequences.

At times, prosecutors offer plea bargains to defendants, which might help them get some concession in the form of a reduced sentence, a lowered charge, the dismissal of the case, or a higher priority investigation.

Illegal drugs and narcotics are often referred to as “controlled substances.” Possession of drugs such as heroin, marijuana, or any other controlled substance, is a crime under the state as well as the federal laws.

Possession of Controlled Substance

A person is said to possess a controlled substance when he is found to be owning or otherwise possessing drugs or other illegal substances. The drugs in question include marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine (or meth), or other illegal narcotics.

Apart from that, certain legally available drugs or prescription medicines are also considered as controlled substances and possession charges can apply even if you are found possessing these medicines without a proper prescription.

Wondering what else could land you in legal trouble? Read on.

1. Intentional Control

You can be accused of the crime of possessing a controlled substance if you are found to be knowingly or intentionally keeping/retaining an illegal drug. In order to prove you guilty, the prosecution needs to establish that you knew that the drugs were illegal and yet you were in control of them and/or intended to use them.

Prosecutors can demonstrate this from the circumstances of the case, without the support of your statements or the evidence that you actually did use the drugs.

2. Being in Possession

Possession implies that you had personal and physical control over the controlled substance.  Several times, courts have ruled that a person can have either actual or constructive possession over the drug. This implies that you were either carrying it in your pocket (or another form of personal custody), or that you had control over it, for example by having it in your bag, hidden in your car or at home.

3. Partial Control

You can be convicted of possessing drugs if the prosecutor can prove that you had at least partial (or shared) control over the drug.

If drugs are found in an apartment shared by two roommates, for instance, each can be convicted for drug possession. To convict them, however, the prosecutor should be able to prove that they both, in fact did have control over the drugs while they were roommates in the same home.

Drug Possession Penalties

Depending on the state the crime occurred in, drug possession charges can lead to a wide spectrum of penalties.  The severity of the punishment will be based upon several factors such as the amount and the type of drug discovered, how the drug was found, and the criminal history of the person found possessing the drugs.

Let’s take a look at some of the important consequences that come with such as charge.

1. Fines

Most convictions for drug possession culminate in fines. These fines can be either very low i.e. even lesser than $100 or can go up to as high as $100,000 or above.

2. Imprisonment

Going to prison or serving jail time is also likely for a person convicted of drug possession. Jail sentences can differ depending on the nature of the crime, the type and the amount of drugs, and the state laws. Typically, it varies from a few days or weeks to a decade or more.

3. Probation

Probation statements are common in drug possession cases and are generally coupled with other penalties such as fines, jail time or rehabilitation. Probation will require you to be in touch with a probation officer and fulfill specific terms and conditions, failing which a jail sentence may come into effect for you.

4. Diversion Programs

These programs are, typically, used in first-time-offender cases. The prosecutor allows the drug offender to undergo a counselling and a behavior program which, just like probation, requires the offender to abide by certain terms and conditions for a stipulated period of time. The prosecutor can agree to drop the drug charges upon the successful completion of the program by you. However, if you do not go by the diversion terms and conditions, the prosecutor can pursue the matter further.

5. Rehabilitation

Several states make provisions for the court to sentence a drug offender to spending a fixed period of at a rehabilitation center or a drug treatment program. This is done in exchange for serving jail time. Attending rehabilitation can also be one of the terms in probation sentences.

Getting Legal Help

You need to ensure that you engage the best DUI lawyer to help you fight drug possession charges, thereby leaving you devoid of a criminal record.

Do hire an attorney from the state where you’ve been accused of such a crime. For instance, if you were charged for possession or driving under the influence of drugs in Chicago, look for a DUI lawyer in Chicago.

Not only will he would have specialized in fighting drug crimes, he will also be well-versed with the laws of the case. This could be immensely helpful for you.

Conclusion

While most people do not consider drug possession a serious crime, getting convicted for it can leave an impact on one for a long time. Apart from that, it also leads to establishing a criminal record, which could hinder you from living a normal life in the future. A skilled lawyer can be your best ally in such a situation. Do hire one who can protect your interests as well as your rights.

Common Types of Crimes That Are a Result of Drug Use

Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the systematic use of a drug (or any substance) by an individual in such a manner which may result in harm to themselves or to society in general. Drug abuse may start as a fun activity or as a response to peer pressure but if left untreated or uncontrolled, may escalate into a full-fledged debilitating condition. Penalties for drug abuse are quite stringent although it varies from state to state. In case you have been charged with drug-related offences, you must consult a criminal defense attorney right away.

Relation between Crimes and Drug Abuse

In the U.S., as in any other society, there a strong and multidimensional link between crime and drug abuse. In its most direct form, it is a criminal offense to manufacture; distribute or possess any drug that has been classified as having the potential for abuse. Such drugs typically include heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and morphine. Drug trafficking and drug production are also crimes under the drug abuse category and these are often controlled by organized gangs and powerful drug cartels.

Why Drug Abuse leads to Crime

According to a criminal defense attorney, drug addiction and crimes related to it are two of the most persistent social problems of the U.S. today. The relation between drugs and crimes is so apparent and overwhelming that it has been a topic of interest to social workers, psychologists and policy makers alike. Despite the best efforts and intentions, there has not been much reduction in drug related crimes because of various reasons.

The prime reason why drug abuse leads to crime is financial. According to seasoned criminal defense attorney who has handled hundreds of such cases, most drug addicts commit crimes in order to finance their addiction. Purchasing drugs such as heroin and cocaine is not cheap. Most prisoners convicted on drug-related charges admit that they have committed some form of crime or other in order to buy drugs.

Moreover, research shows that criminal activities of regular drug abusers vary significantly with their level of dependence. There is a spurt in such activities when the abuser faces an intense urge for the drugs followed by a lull in crime during periods of less dependency.

Kinds of Crimes Committed by Drug Offenders

Since drug related crimes fall under the category of criminal offense, a professional criminal defense attorney should be hired for handling such matters. Although the amount of money spent on drugs varies from inmates to inmates, a general pattern shows that almost 83% have committed theft and 78% have committed robbery to acquire money. Other common crimes related to drugs include fraud (almost 70%) and break and enter (approximately 68%). Prostitution is another common crime committed by many regular drug offenders when they cannot get money to buy the drugs. Critical addicts who lose all kinds of self-control when the urge is extremely strong may resort to certain violent crimes such as armed robbery or mugging.

What is the penalty for cocaine possession in Illinois?

Like many states and under federal law, possession of cocaine in Illinois is charged as a felony. Though penalties for possession of cocaine, as opposed to the trafficking or sale of cocaine, are not as great, aggravating factors like weight and/or prior offenses can escalate the severity of punishment greatly.

Possession can be defined in one of two ways: actual and constructive. Actual is the most commonly understood form of possession. Actual means having actual physical custody of the cocaine; this could be on your body, in your wallet, or in your jacket. Constructive possession is less understood, but is applied in cases where cocaine might be found in a house you own and to which only you have access. You don’t have to have the drugs on you to be charged with possession.

If you are charged with possession, you do face some stiff penalties. If you are found with less than 15 grams, it’s a Class 4 felony and punishable by one to three years in prison. Being caught with between 15-99 grams escalates to a Class 1 felony and comes with it a mandatory prison time of between 4 and 15 years. Caught with between 100-399 grams? That will get you a mandatory 8-40 years; more than 900 grams comes with a whopping 10-50 years. Of course, the cost of a charge of cocaine possession is greater than just the prison time alone. Penalties may also include fines of up to $200,000, again depending on the amount of cocaine in question.

Getting in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately could minimize the severity of your penalties, especially if this is your first offense.