Cheronis & Parente LLC

Criminal Defense Blog


The legal impact of substance abuse

If you struggle with substance abuse, you may feel that, in many ways, your addiction has already taken your freedom. However, for many in Illinois and across the country, the decline into drug addiction can have a literal effect on their freedom and their future.

In the nation’s jails and prisons, the highest population is from those convicted of drug crimes. In a single year, criminal courts send nearly 100,000 people to jail for drug offenses. If you are facing charges of drug crimes, even simple possession, you have an uncertain future ahead of you.

Possession and trafficking

Drug laws divide controlled substances into schedules. Crimes related to schedule I drugs, such as heroin, marijuana and Ecstasy, may result in much harsher penalties than those involving schedule IV or V drugs, like Xanax or prescription cough medicine. Additionally, the amount of each drug you may have in your possession when police arrest you determines the severity of the charges.

A small amount for personal use may still result in jail time, but possessing a large amount may lead police to conclude that you intend to traffic the drugs, and this can have devastating consequences. It may help you to understand the following facts about drug distribution laws:

  • In Illinois and most states, drug distribution is a felony, depending on the schedule and amount of drugs involved.
  • Felony charges for trafficking drugs can result in decades behind bars.
  • You may also pay tens of thousands in fines.
  • Repeat offenses may lead to double the penalties, which may mean spending a large portion of your life in prison.
  • If a court convicts you of selling drugs to a minor or hiring a minor to distribute drugs for you, your penalty may increase.

Police may search your home or vehicle for evidence that you are involved in the sale of drugs. This evidence may include scales, plastic bags, cash or other items. These items may even result in additional charges of possessing drug paraphernalia, which is any object you might use to store, package or consume drugs.

Getting the help you need

Substance abuse can get out of control quickly, and many regret the choices they make when under the influence of powerful drugs. Perhaps the best decision you can make is to seek help for an addiction before you face legal issues. However, if you are already dealing with charges of possession or distribution, you are not alone. You can reach out for experienced and compassionate legal representation.

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