One of the most common causes for drug crime convictions in the nation is possession of a controlled substance, namely marijuana. In the state of Illinois, this offense can be charged as possession or possession with intent to deliver (PWID). The penalties for possession vary depending on the drug in question, as well as the amount in possession. Drug possession statutes can be found in 720 ILCS 570. The basic penalties are as follows:

Marijuana Possession:

  • Less than 2.5 grams: 30 days in jail; 6 months for PWID
  • Greater than 2.5 but less than 10 grams: 6 months in jail; 1 year for PWID
  • Greater than 10 but less than 30 grams: 1 year in jail; felony, 1 – 3 years for PWID
  • Greater than 30 but less than 500 grams: felony, 1 – 3 years in jail or prison; 2 – 5 for PWID
  • Greater than 500 but less than 2,000 grams: felony, 2 – 5 years in jail or prison; 3 – 7 for PWID
  • Greater than 2,000 but less than 5,000 grams: felony, 3 – 7 years in prison; 4 – 15 for PWID
  • Greater than 5,000 grams: felony, 4 – 15 years in jail or prison; 6 – 30 for PWID

Cocaine & Heroin Possession

  • ALL cases are felonies
  • Maximum fine of $250,000 for all cases
  • Less than 1 gram: 1 – 3 years in jail or prison; 3 – 7 for PWID
  • Greater than 1 gram but less than 15: 1 – 3 years in jail or prison; 4 – 15 for PWID
  • Greater than 15 grams but less than 100: 4 – 15 in jail or prison; 6 – 30 for PWID
  • Greater than 100 grams but less than 400: 6 – 30 years in jail or prison; 9 – 40 for PWID
  • Greater than 400 grams but less than 900: 8 – 40 years in jail or prison; 12 – 50 for PWID
  • Greater than 900 grams: 10 – 50 years in jail or prison; 15 – 60 for PWID


The state (or government, depending on whether your charges are handled in state or federal court) relies on certain pieces of evidence to support a drug possession conviction. If certain evidence is not present, then there may not be enough cause to convict you of the crime. This could result in your offense being reduced to a lesser charge or dismissed completely.

Evidence could be dismissed by the defense attorney filing a “motion to suppress” evidence, witness testimony or professional opinion. One of the most common grounds used to justify a motion to suppress is Unlawful Search & SeizureYour Fourth Amendment rights entitle you to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. Drug searches and seizures are no different. Listed below are some other options that might be available to you if arrested for drug possession:

  • Accepting a plea bargain: Agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence may or may not be in your best interests. Get counsel from a trusted Chicago criminal lawyer to learn if accepting a plea bargain is the right choice for you.
  • Disproving intent: If you were charged with a more serious possession offense such as “possession with intent to deliver,” your defense attorney could attempt to prove that the possession was for personal use.
  • You were not in control of the drug: Drug possession charges can be combated by claiming that you were not actually in control of, or the “owner” of, the drug. This is easier to claim in constructive possession cases, rather than actual possession cases.


Call now to hire a Chicago drug crime lawyer from the criminal defense firm of Okabe & Haushalter. Our firm has won various awards ranging from inclusion in Super Lawyers® Magazineto high ratings on Avvo – Mark J. Haushalter has an Avvo Rating of 10.0 Superb and Ryan Okabe is rated 9.3 Superb. We have also been featured in the news, including being named a Leader in Criminal Defense in the October 15, 2012 edition of Newsweek magazine. If you are facing charges of possession, contact a Chicago criminal defense lawyer from our firm right away to begin building a strong defense.

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