Drug cases are some of the most common criminal offenses in the United States.
According to the Department of Justice, in 2014, 50 percent of male and 54 percent of female federal prisoners were in prison for drug-related offenses. Don’t let yourself become a part of that statistic.
Drug possession is the most common drug-related offense, and each case requires a unique legal approach. The most important thing is to know your rights. Illegal search and seizure is all too common in cases involving drugs. If you think your rights were infringed upon, an experienced lawyer can help you to avoid a possession charge. There is a possibility that if a police officer searched your car, home, or person without permission, a warrant, or probable cause, your case may be thrown out on the basis that your rights were violated.
It’s also possible to dispute the possession of a drug. If an officer found drugs and arrested you—thinking the drugs belonged to you—but you didn’t know the drugs existed, you may be able to avoid charges. If you didn’t know the drugs were there, it shouldn’t be your fault.
An experienced lawyer can also help you avoid a trial in the first place. By the time you get to trial it can be harder to avoid, but Illinois provides ways for you to steer clear of criminal charges. Options include:
- Attend “drug school,” classes that teach the dangers of drugs. You give up your right to a hearing, but it’s a good option if you don’t have a criminal history or drug record, and were found with a small amount of drugs.
- Expungeable probation—after completing a probationary period with no additional offenses, the drug charge is removed (expunged) from your criminal record. This can be a good option for first-time offenders.
- Deferred prosecution— a 12-month probationary period, after which the charges will be dropped.
- Treatment alternatives for specific clients (TASC) help those who have had past convictions or may be addicts.
An experienced attorney can help you decide which option is best for you and your case. Don’t be charged with a drug possession that could result in permanent changes to your criminal record, jail time, and excessive fines without first contacting an attorney.
Drug possession with the intent to distribute
Drug possession with the intent to distribute is similar in a lot of ways to drug possession, but penalties are harsher. When drugs are found in small baggies, or are found along with large amounts of cash or scales, officers will often assume you were in the middle of a drug deal. But to win the case against the accused, the prosecutor must find evidence that the individual intended to share the drugs (either at a cost or for free) with others.
Unlike low level drug charges, distribution is a felony and not a misdemeanor, which means finding the right attorney is even more important. The wrong lawyer can have you sitting in prison for a year or more. Under certain circumstances for Class 2 drug offenses, an experienced lawyer could get you a probationary period for possession of 1 gram or less of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
Other options depend on the net weight of the drug. Like generic drug possession charges, arguments about the knowledge of the presence of the drug can be made to help avoid charges. You also have the same 4th Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure that applied to drug possession. Additionally, as police abuse is becoming increasingly apparent, it’s possible to launch an entrapment defense where it is found that police in some way forced an individual into taking illegal action. With so many potential options, and the possibility of harsh punishment, finding a good lawyer is a necessity.
If you have been arrested for a possible drug possession or intent to distribute charge, contact Jack Epstein today. As always, your case evaluation is free. Let us know how we can help at 773-522-7000.
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