Chicago, like the rest of Illinois, punishes drug crimes harshly. Mandatory sentencing laws often limit judges’ flexibility when it comes to sentencing a criminal after a drug conviction. Many variables impact sentencing lengths for drug crimes and establish possible additional penalties and consequences.
Types of Crimes
Drug crimes are grouped by the type of crime committed, the type of drug, and the amount of drugs involved. Common types of drug offenses include possession, sales, distribution, trafficking, manufacturing, and prescription fraud. Types of drugs include marijuana, controlled substances, and prescription drugs. Controlled substances include methamphetaminea, cocaine, heroin, morphine, peyote, LSD, and ecstasy.
Examples of Sentences
In Chicago, even a class 4 felony, the least serious class of felony crimes, can result in a one-year sentence to the Illinois State Penitentiary. Possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana, the amount that defines possession for personal use, qualifies as a class C misdemeanor in Chicago. The offender can receive a 30-day jail term and a maximum fine of $1,500 for the class C misdemeanor. However, possession of more than 5,000 grams of marijuana becomes a class 1 felony and can result in a maximum fine of $25,000 along with a prison sentence between four and 15 years. Sales of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana will result in a class B misdemeanor with a $1,500 fine and a possible maximum six-month jail term. In addition, Illinois law includes enhancements for certain types of drug offenses — for example, possession of between 15 and 100 grams of any controlled substance can mean a $200,000 fine.
Penalties for Drug Crimes
The penalty for drug offenses depends on the type of crime committed. For example, possession of drug paraphernalia may result in misdemeanor charge, which does not require jail time and simply results in a fine. However, the state can charge manufacturing and trafficking in dangerous drugs as a felony and require significant time in prison. Common penalties for mid-range offenses can include jail, probation, fines and court fees, random drug testing and substance abuse treatment.
Some circumstances result in enhanced penalties for drug crimes. The presence or use of weapons can enhance drug conviction penalties. The presence of minors during a drug arrest can enhance the potential penalties. Arrests near a park, school, movie theater or church can double the time in prison and the fine. Convictions for second or third offenses will also increase penalties.
Prison time and excessive fines are not the only consequences of drug arrests. Felony drug conviction can prevent people from getting certain types of employment, such as jobs in nursing or teaching. A conviction as an adult will stay on a criminal record indefinitely. In some situations, a conviction might affect an individual’s ability to successfully find housing or repair his credit history. Similarly, a drug conviction can also prevent a person from receiving government funding, getting student loans, voting, enlisting in the military, serving on a jury, and buying or possessing firearms.