29 Sep 23

What to Do if You’re Charged with Drug Possession in Chicago

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Last Updated on: 30th September 2023, 09:57 pm

What to Do if You’re Charged with Drug Possession in Chicago

Getting charged with drug possession in Chicago can be really scary. Even if its a small amount for personal use, these charges carry real consequences. But don’t panic! With the right legal help, you can get through this.

First off, take a deep breath. I know your probably freaking out right now, but try to stay calm. Panicking wont help anything.

Next, start thinking about getting a lawyer. Drug charges are complicated, with lots of technicallities in the law. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side is crucial.

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know if your facing drug possession charges in Chicago. I’ll explain the laws, penalties, and legal defenses so you can make smart choices. My goal is to give you the info you need to get through this difficult situation.

Illinois Drug Possession Laws

Illinois has strict drug laws that classify possession of even small amounts of illegal drugs as a crime. The specific penalties depend on the type and amount of drug, as well as your criminal history.

Here’s a quick overview of the main Illinois drug possession statutes:

  • 720 ILCS 550 – Cannabis Control Act
  • 720 ILCS 570 – Illinois Controlled Substances Act
  • 720 ILCS 646 – Methamphetamine Control and Community Protection Act

These laws make it illegal to possess, manufacture, or deliver illegal drugs including marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, prescription medications, and more. Possession of small, “personal use” amounts is still against the law.

Penalties range from fines and probation for minor marijuana possession up to extended prison sentences for repeat heroin or cocaine offenses. Trafficking and selling drugs leads to even harsher punishments.

Common Drug Possession Charges

Most Chicago drug arrests are for simple possession of a controlled substance under 720 ILCS 570. Common charges include:

  • Possession of Cocaine – Class 4 felony, 1-3 years prison
  • Possession of Heroin – Class 4 felony, 1-3 years prison
  • Possession of Methamphetamine – Class 3 felony, 2-5 years prison
  • Possession of Prescription Drugs – Class 4 felony, 1-3 years prison
  • Possession of Marijuana – Class B or C misdemeanor, up to 6 months jail

Penalties increase for second and third offenses. The type of drug and amount you possessed impacts the charges too.

Steps After Being Arrested

If your arrested for drug possession, here are important steps to take:

  1. Remain silent – Don’t say anything to police without your lawyer
  2. Contact a defense attorney immediately
  3. Don’t discuss case details over the phone or email
  4. Follow your lawyer’s advice about next steps
  5. Avoid social media posts about your case
  6. Begin gathering evidence and witnesses to support your defense

Following your lawyer’s guidance from the start is critical. Police will try to get you to incriminate yourself, so keep quiet until you have legal counsel.

Hiring a Chicago Drug Defense Lawyer

Finding the right lawyer is the most important thing you can do. Drug cases require an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer. Here’s what to look for:

  • Focus on drug possession charges
  • Familiar with local courts and judges
  • Willing to fight aggressively against charges
  • Handles cases personally and doesn’t pawn you off
  • Responsive and makes you feel comfortable

Don’t just choose the first lawyer you find online. Vet them thoroughly and choose someone who instills confidence. This is too important to get wrong.

Possible Defenses for Drug Possession

A skilled lawyer will evaluate the details of your case to craft the strongest defense. Here are some common options:

  • Illegal search – If police lacked probable cause for search, evidence may be excluded
  • Illegal stop – Arrests resulting from racial profiling or unfounded stops can be challenged
  • Not actual possession – If drugs were not in your physical possession at time of arrest
  • Planted evidence – You can allege police planted drugs on you
  • Mistaken identity – Argue that police arrested the wrong person

An attorney may also negotiate with prosecutors for reduced charges or pretrial diversion programs. But don’t count on this – fight the charges aggressively from the start.

Likely Penalties If Convicted

Unfortunately, many minor Chicago drug possession cases end in a conviction or guilty plea. Common penalties include:

  • Probation or court supervision
  • Fines up to $25,000
  • Suspended license
  • Drug counseling or rehab
  • Community service
  • Jail time from 1 month to several years

Penalties escalate quickly for repeat offenses or if you violate probation terms. Never assume a conviction will be minor – fight it vigorously.

Impact of Drug Conviction

Beyond direct penalties, a drug conviction can negatively impact your life for years. Consequences include:

  • Criminal record making jobs harder to get
  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Ineligibility for public housing and benefits
  • Difficulty traveling internationally
  • Loss of student financial aid
  • Higher insurance rates
  • Immigration issues if not a citizen

These collateral consequences demonstrate why aggressively fighting any drug charge is so important, even a misdemeanor.

Getting Your Case Dismissed

While challenging, it is possible to get drug possession charges dropped or dismissed. An experienced lawyer will know how to put together a convincing argument for dismissal. This usually involves:

  • Filing motions to suppress illegally obtained evidence
  • Disputing the drug testing procedures
  • Challenging the police’s probable cause for arrest
  • Questioning the chain of custody of evidence
  • Leveraging procedural errors by police or prosecutors

Skilled Chicago drug defense lawyers know how to get charges tossed out before trial. But it takes hard work and persistence.

What to Expect at Trial

If charges aren’t dismissed pretrial, your case may end up at trial. Things to expect include:

  • Jury selection
  • Opening statements from lawyers
  • Testimony by police officers
  • Cross-examination by your lawyer
  • Review of physical evidence like drugs
  • You may choose to testify or remain silent
  • Closing arguments then jury deliberation
  • Waiting anxiously for verdict

Your lawyer’s trial skills are crucial here. Negotiating a plea bargain is also an option before trial.

How to Avoid Jail Time

For small, personal use drug possession charges, jail time is possible but not guaranteed. Here are tips to avoid it:

  • Hire an aggressive lawyer to fight for you
  • Get into a drug rehab or counseling program
  • Highlight positive things like employment and education
  • Emphasize it was a foolish one-time mistake
  • Do community service before sentencing
  • Submit character reference letters to the judge

Jail time is hard to avoid for repeated drug offenses or charges beyond simple possession. But an experienced lawyer can still help minimize incarceration.

Finding Hope After an Arrest

Getting arrested for drug possession feels devastating. But thousands get through it and go on to live happy, successful lives. With the right legal strategy, you can move past this too.

The most important thing is not losing hope. So many people have overcome way worse situations. You’ll get through this and be stronger for it.

Lean on family and friends for support during this difficult time. And find activities that bring you joy and keep you motivated.

Stay positive and keep envisioning the day these charges are behind you for good. With hard work and commitment, you’ll get there. Just don’t give up!

You got this. And you’re not alone. There’s always hope, and a good lawyer can help you find it during even the darkest times.

If you or a loved one is facing drug charges in Chicago, contact a dedicated drug defense attorney right away. They can walk you through all your options and start building the strongest case for dismissal or acquittal.

With the right legal strategy, knowledge of the system, and determination, you can move past this challenge. The future is still bright – never lose sight of that.

You have the power to take control of this situation, starting today. Be brave, be strong, and take the first step by calling an attorney. Better days are coming.

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