Because of the widespread use of marijuana in our society, it is common to see criminal cases involving people who have been caught with marijuana and charged with Possession of Marijuana. While several States have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, Illinois is not one of those States. The furthest Illinois has gone to legalizing marijuana is to enact the Medical Marijuana statute which allows for the medical use of marijuana. Unless you have been approved to use Medical Marijuana, it is illegal to use and possess any amount of marijuana in Illinois. So what could happen to you if you are arrested by the police and charged with possession of marijuana?
As of about a year ago, if you were caught with any amount of marijuana whatsoever, you could be facing a Class A misdemeanor which carries a maximum punishment of up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. But about a year ago, the law was changed to make the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana a civil matter and not a criminal matter. In other words, if you are caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana, you will be given a ticket and charged with a Municipal Violation and not a criminal case. You will have to pay a fine, like you received a traffic ticket. The marijuana possession law was changed so that someone charged with the possession of a small amount of marijuana could avoid having a criminal matter show up on a background search. The new law provides that six months after the municipal violation, your criminal record will automatically be expunged so that a charge of a small amount of the Possession of Marijuana will not show up on a background search. Expungements for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will happen July 1st and January 1st of every year automatically.
If you are caught with more than 10 grams of marijuana, you could be facing criminal charges. The potential penalties that you could be facing will depend on the amount of marijuana you are caught with. If the marijuana was more than 10 grams but less than 30 grams, you will be facing a Class A misdemeanor. If you are caught with over 30 grams but less than 500 grams, you could be facing a class 4 felony, which carries a possible prison sentence of one to three years. If you are caught with over 500 grams of marijuana but less than 2000 grams, you could be facing a class 3 felony which carries a potential jail sentence of between two to five years. If the weight of the marijuana was over 200 grams but less than 5000 grams, you could be facing a Class 2 felony which carries a possible prison sentence between 3 to 7 years. If the weight of the marijuana is over 5000 grams, you could be facing a Class 1 felony which carries a possible prison sentence of between 4 to 15 years.
Generally, if the marijuana was for personal use, the law will not treat you as severely as if the marijuana was being sold. If you are caught with a large amount of marijuana, more marijuana than anybody could have for personal use, the police and prosecutors may decide to charge you with Delivery of a Controlled Substance or with Possession with Intent to Distribute or Deliver. In addition to recovering a large amount of marijuana, the police may also recover other items with which may indicate that the drugs were being sold. An example would be if a scale and plastic bags were recovered along with the marijuana. A prosecutor may feel that they can prove that you were selling the marijuana even though they have no evidence of drug dealing. But if you are being charged with selling the marijuana, the law and the court will treat you much more severely than if you merely possess the marijuana for personal use. While a prosecutor will have a hard time convicting you of dealing drugs just because you possess the large amount of marijuana, whether such a prosecution could be successful or not depends on the unique facts of your case. It’s very important that if you are facing criminal charges involving the possession or distribution of drugs, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who could look out for your best interests and do everything possible to win your case.
Criminal Criminal defense lawyer, James Dimeas, has spent the past 25 years handling drug cases throughout Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and Kane County. Chicago criminal defense lawyer, James Dimeas, is an award-winning criminal defense attorney. He was recognized as a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago” by Expertise in 2017, and a “Best DUI Attorney.” The National Trial Lawyers have recognized James Dimeas as a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys has recognized James Dimeas as a “10 Best Attorney Client Satisfaction.” If you are facing drug charges in Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, or Kane County, you can contact attorney James Dimeas anytime for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas by calling him at 847-807-7405.