The state of Illinois is working hard to keep controlled substances off the streets. Anyone found possessing, manufacturing or selling illegal drugs may face a number of consequences that can totally upend their life if they are convicted. This week, this column will go over drug possession laws, what is needed for prosecuting attorneys to obtain convictions in such cases and what defense options there are when fighting this type of charge.

To be charged with drug possession, police must find an individual with a drug on his or her person, in his or her vehicle, in his or her home or in one’s general vicinity. A criminal charge of possession does not mean a conviction is guaranteed. To be convicted on a possession charge, the following elements must exist in one’s case:

  • Illegal drug identified
  • The accused knowingly possessed the illegal drug
  • The drug was in the accused’s immediate control

The penalties associated with a conviction vary based on a number of factors. These factors are drug type, the amount in possession, number of offenses on one’s record and intent. Most drug possession charges are felony level offenses and have consequences that range from months to 50 years in jail/prison and fines that range from $1,500 to $200,000.

Some people believe that there is no way to fight drug possession charges, but that is not necessarily true. There are some defense strategies that are known to work. Some include:

  • Proving the drug was prescribed
  • Proving the accused was not aware of what he or she was carrying
  • Proving the accused was under duress
  • Proving the accused was the victim of entrapment

At the end of the day drug crimes, such as possession charges, are worth taking the time to fight. Knowing the right way to do that can be challenging. Legal counsel will have the ability to review the details of one’s case in order to determine the best defense to present in an Illinois criminal court.