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Criminal Defense Blog


Global drug possession penalties vary widely

As in other regions of the country and places around the world, Illinois criminalizes the possession of designated controlled substances, often referred to as illegal drugs. The penalties for drug possession can vary significantly depending on the specific drug a person has as well as the amount that they possess and their previous record for drug charges. The charges could range from misdemeanor charges for possession of marijuana to felony charges for possession of cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine.

Every state sets its own criteria for drug crimes, including penalties for possession charges, leading to widely variant policies that differ from state to state. Of course, some drug offenses can also be federal crimes, but these usually reflect trafficking or manufacture allegations rather than simple possession. Debates over the best way to deal with drug offenses have become prominent nationally and internationally. In Illinois, marijuana has been largely decriminalized for personal recreational use and legalized for medical use, with many advocates pushing for full legalization.

Many European countries, like the Netherlands, emphasize the need to treat drugs as a social concern more than a criminal matter, so individual possession cases often focus on treatment. Portugal has gone a step further and decriminalized personal possession entirely. On the other hand, Greece punishes drug addicts more leniently than those who are not addicted. However, other countries have taken an entirely different path; in Malaysia, Singapore or Saudi Arabia, drug possession charges can lead to physical punishment like caning or flogging or even the death penalty.

When people are arrested and face drug charges in Illinois, they are at risk of a felony criminal record, prison time or even deportation. As the consequences for a possession conviction can be severe, a criminal defense attorney may be important in asserting a strong defense to the charges before and during trial, including challenging unlawful searches or other police conduct.

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