Possession of a Controlled Substance in Illinois

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All states regulate and control the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for their possession. Illinois considers not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine to be controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

How Illinois Classifies Controlled Dangerous Substances

Illinois divides its CDS into five “schedules” based on factors such as their potential for abuse, and whether they are approved for legitimate medical use:

  • Schedule I drugs (such as opiates and certain opium derivatives and hallucinogenic substances) have a high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use, or are unsafe for use in treatment, even under medical supervision.
  • Schedule II drugs (such as coca leaves and opium) have a high potential for abuse, have an accepted medical use and can result in severe psychological and physical dependence if abused.
  • Schedule III drugs (such some steroids) have a potential for abuse less than Schedule I or II drugs, have an accepted medical use and can lead to low or moderate physical dependence and high psychological dependence.
  • Schedule IV drugs (such as diazepam) have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, have an acceptable medical use and may lead to limited psychological and physical dependence in relation to Schedule III drugs.
  • Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous, with the lowest potential for abuse, a currently accepted medical use, and likely to lead to only limited physical or psychological dependence. Schedule V drugs include medicines that have very small amounts of specified narcotic drugs.

To understand the charges and penalties you might face, look at the charging document in your case (usually called either a complaint or “information”, or, if from a grand jury, an indictment). Identify the name of the drugs specified in the document, consult the schedules explained above, and place them in the proper schedule. Then read below to learn about possible charges and sentences. The statute that explains what drug fits into each schedule is Illinois Compiled Statutes Chapter 720, section 570, article 1. (720 ILCS 570/100.)

This article concerns the unlawful possession of CDS. Separate punishments apply to the sale of CDS, or for the unlawful manufacture of controlled substances. For information about sale of CDS, see Sale of a Controlled Substance in Illinois.

How Illinois Classifies CDS Possession Crimes

Illinois divides felonies into five classes: X, 1, 2, 3, and 4. CDS possession crimes can be of any class other than Class X. Class 1 felony possessions are the most serious and receive the harshest penalties. Misdemeanors are divided into three classes: Class A, B, and C. Class C misdemeanors are the least serious CDS possession crimes.

(ILCS 730 5/4.5.)

Class 1 Felony Possession

Class 1 felony possession is the most serious of the possession felonies.

Heroin, cocaine, and morphine

The possession of heroin, cocaine, and morphine is punished depending on the amount of the substance involved in the crime:

15 to 99 grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years.

100 to 399 grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of six to 30 years.

400 to 899 grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of eight to 40 years.

900 or more grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of ten to 50 years.

(720 ILCS 570/402.)

Financial penalties. In addition to the periods of incarceration listed above, these crimes carry a financial penalty of up to $200,000 or of the street value of the CDS, whichever is greater.

(720 ILCS 570/402.)

Peyote, barbituric acid and amphetamine

The possession of any substance that contains 200 or more grams of peyote, barbituric acid (including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers), or amphetamine is a Class 1 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years and a fine of up to $25,000.

(720 ILCS 570/402, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30.)

LSD

The possession of LSD in any form, including as an object (such as blotter paper or sugar cubes) is a Class 1 felony.  The length of incarceration depends on the amount of CDS  or the number of objects (or segregated parts of the object) involved in the crime:

15 to 100 grams or 15 or more but less than 200 objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years.

100 to 399 grams or 200 or more but less than 600 objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of six to 30 years.

400 to 899 grams or 600 or more but less than 1500 objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of eight to 40 years.

900 grams or more or 1500 or more objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of ten to 50 years.

Financial penalties. In addition to the periods of incarceration listed above, these crimes carry a financial penalty of up to $200,000 or of the street value of the CDS, whichever is greater.

(720 ILCS 570/402.)

Amphetamines

The possession of specified amphetamines in any form, including a capsule, tablet, pill, or object is a Class 1 felony. The penalty for their possession depends on the quantity of doses involved:

15 or more but less than 100 grams, or 15 or more but less than 200 tablets, etc. Punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years.

100 or more but less than 400 grams or 200 or more but less than 600 tablets, etc. Punishable by a period of incarceration of six to 30 years.

400 or more but less than 900 grams or 600 or more but less than 1500 tablets, etc. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 12 to 30 years.

900 grams or more or 1500 or more tablets, etc. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 15 to 60 years.

Financial penalties. In addition to the periods of incarceration listed above, these crimes carry a financial penalty of up to $200,000 or of the street value of the CDS, whichever is greater.

Class 4 felony possession. Possession of any other amount other than those discussed above is a Class 4 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of one to three years and a fine of up to $25,000.

(720 ILCS 570/402, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-50.)

Pentazocine, methaqualone, and PCP

The possession of 30 grams or more of pentazocine, methaqualone, ketamine, or PCP is a Class 1 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years and a fine of up to $25,000.

(720 ILCS 570/402, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-50.)

Schedule I or II narcotics (other than those listed above)

The possession of Schedules I or II narcotics (other than those discussed above) is a Class 1 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years and a fine of up to $25,000.

(720 ILCS 570/402, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-50.)

Anabolic Steroids

A first conviction for the possession of an anabolic steroid is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a period of incarceration of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $1,500. A second offense under this section that occurs within two years of the first conviction is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a period of incarceration of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,500.

(720 ILCS 570/402, 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-50.)

Cannabis Control Act

The punishment for the possession of marijuana is based on the amount of the substance involved and whether there are multiple offenses under this section:

  • up to 2.5 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a period of incarceration of up to 30 days and a fine of up to $1,500
  • between 2.5 and ten grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor  and is punishable by a period of incarceration of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,500
  • more than ten grams but not more than 30 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by a period of incarceration of less than one year and a fine of up to $2,500
  • more than 30 grams but not more than 500 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class 4 felony and is punishable by a period of incarceration of one to three years
  • more than 500 grams but not more than 2,000 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class 3 felony and is punishable by a period of incarceration of two to five years
  • more than 2,000 grams but not more than 5,000 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class 2 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of seven to 14 years, and
  • more than 5,000 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class 1 felony and is punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years.

Fines for felony convictions. A felony conviction under this section may also be penalized with a fine of up to $25,000.

(ILCS 720 550/4, and 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-50).

Subsequent convictions

A subsequent conviction under this section is punished more harshly:

  • Subsequent convictions for Class A misdemeanor amounts are charged as Class 4 felonies.
  • Subsequent convictions for Class 4 felony amounts are charged as Class 3 felonies.

(ILCS 720 550/4.)

For more information see our article on Marijuana Laws in Illinois.

Talk To An Attorney

The possession of CDS is punishable by long periods of incarceration and steep fines depending on the type and amount of CDS involved in the crime. If you have prior possession convictions you may face enhanced penalties. You should contact an attorney who specializes in CDS crimes to understand the charges you face, any possible defenses or options, and the possible outcomes of your case.

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