Illinois Sale of a Controlled Substance Laws

Learn about the penalties for selling drugs in Illinois.

All states regulate and control the sale and distribution 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 sale or distribution of CDS. Separate punishments apply to the possession of CDS for personal use, or for the unlawful manufacture of controlled substances. For information about possession of CDS for personal use, see Possession of a Controlled Substance in Illinois.

How Illinois Classifies CDS Sales Crimes

Illinois divides felonies into five classes: X, 1, 2, 3, and 4. CDS sales crimes can be of any class. Class X felonies are the most serious and receive the harshest penalties. Misdemeanors are divided into three classes: Class A, B, and C. Misdemeanor sales crimes are either Class A or B.

(ILCS 730 5/4.5.)

Class X Felony Sale

The distribution of, or possession with the intent to distribute, any substance that contains the following CDS is a Class X felony. The penalties are listed below and depend on the amount of the substance involved in the offense:

  • heroin
  • fentanyl
  • cocaine
  • morphine
  • LSD
  • 3,4-methylenedioxyamphetamine
  • Alpha-ethyltryptamine
  • MDMA
  • 3,4-methylenedioxy-ethylamphetamine
  • BZP
  • MMDA
  • N-hydroxy MDA
  • 2,5-dimethoxyamphetamine
  • 4-bromo-dimethoxyamphetamine
  • 4-Bromo-2,5 dimethoxyphenethylamine.
  • 4-methoxyamphetamine
  • 5-methoxy-3,4-methylenedioxy-amphetamine, and
  • DOET.

15 to 99 grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of six to 30 years.

100 to 399 grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of nine to 40 years.

400 to 899 grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 12 to 50 years.

900 or more grams. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 15 to 60 years.

Peyote, barbituric acid and amphetamine

The distribution of, or possession with the intent to distribute 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 X felony punishable by a period of incarceration of at least nine years.

LSD

The distribution of, or possession with the intent to distribute LSD in the form of an object (such as blotter paper or sugar cubes) is a Class X felony. The length of incarceration is dependent on the number of objects (or segregated parts of the object) involved in the offense:

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

200 or more but less than 600 objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of nine to 40 years.

600 or more but less than 1500 objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 12 to 50 years.

1500 or more objects/segregated parts. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 15-60 years.

Capsules, tablets, caplets, pills, or objects

The distribution of, or possession with the intent to distribute specified amphetamines (refer to the statute for a complete list) in the form of a capsule, tablet, pill, or object is a Class X felony. The penalty for their sale is dependent on the quantity of doses involved:

15 or more but less than 200. Punishable by a period of incarceration of six to 30 years.

200 or more but less than 600. Punishable by a period of incarceration of nine to 40 years.

600 or more but less than 1500. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 12 to 30 years.

1500 or more. Punishable by a period of incarceration of 15 to 60 years.

Class X felony fine

In addition to a period of incarceration, a defendant who is convicted of a Class X felony sale of CDS (other than fentanyl) may be fined an amount of up to $500,000, or the full street value of the CDS involved in the offense, whichever is greater.

Enhanced penalties for sale crimes that involve fentanyl

A Class X felony conviction for the sale of any amount of a substance that involves fentanyl, the sale of fentanyl by a person over the age of 18 to a minor, or the criminal conspiracy to sell fentanyl, faces an enhanced penalty of three years, which will be added to the term imposed by the court, and the maximum sentence for the offense will be increased by three years.

(ILCS 720 570/4.)

Class 1 Felony Sale

The sale of, or possession with the intent to sell, the following CDS is a Class 1 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of four to 15 years, and a fine of up to $250,000:

  • one or more but less than 15 grams of a substance that contains heroin
  • one or more but less than 15 grams of a substance that contains fentanyl
  • one or more but less than 15 grams of a substance that contains cocaine
  • ten or more but less than 15 grams of a substance that contains morphine.
  • 50 or more but less than 200 grams of a substance that contains peyote
  • 50 or more but less than 200 grams of a substance that contains a derivative of barbituric aid, or any of the salts of a derivative that contains barbituric acid
  • 50 or more but less than 200 grams of any substance that contains amphetamine, or any salt of an optical isomer of amphetamine
  • five or more but less than 15 grams of any substance that contains LSD
  • more than ten but less than 15 objects (or segregated objects) that contains any amount of LSD
  • five or more but less than 15 grams of an otherwise Felony X CDS
  • more than ten but less than 15 doses, pills, or tablets of an otherwise Felony X CDS
  • ten or more but less than 30 grams of any substance that contains pentazocine or an of it salts, isomers, and salts of isomers
  • ten or more but less than 30 grams of any substance that contains PCP, or any of its salts, isomers, or salts of isomers.

(ILCS 720 570/4.)

Class 2 Felony Sale

The distribution of, or possession with the intent to distribute, any substance that contains the following CDS, other than in the amounts discussed above, is a Class 2 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of three to seven years and a fine of up to $200,000:

  • Schedule I or II narcotic
  • LSD
  • amphetamine or fentanyl, their salts, isomers, or salts of isomers, or
  • BZP.

(ILCS 720 570/4.)

Class 3 Felony Sale

The distribution of, or possession with the intent to distribute, any substance that contains the following CDS, other than in the amounts discussed above, is a Class 3 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of two to five years:

  • Schedule I or II CDS (other than narcotics, LSD, amphetamine, fentanyl, methamphetamine, or BZP)
  • Schedule III CDS
  • Schedule IV CDS, and
  • Schedule V CDS.

In addition to incarceration, Class 3 felony sale of CDS includes the following fines:

$150,000: Schedule I or II CDS (other than narcotics, LSD, amphetamine, fentanyl, methamphetamine, or BZP).

$125,000: Schedule III CDS.

$100,000: Schedule IV CDS.

$75,000: Schedule V CDS.

(ILCS 720 570/4.)

Cannabis Control Act

The punishment for the delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, marijuana depends on the amount of the substance involved:

  • up to 2.5 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a period of incarceration of up to six months and a fine of up to $1,500
  • between 2.5 and ten grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by a period of incarceration of less than a year and a fine of up to $2,500
  • more than ten grams but not more than 30 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 and a fine of up to $25,000
  • more than 30 grams but not more than 500 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 may be fined up to $50,000
  • more than 500 grams but not more than 2,000 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class 2 felony and is punishable by a period of incarceration of three to seven years and may be fined up to $100,000
  • more than 2,000 grams but not more than 5,000 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class 1 felony punishable by a period of incarceration of 15 to 30 years and may be fined up to $150,000, and
  • more than 5,000 grams of any substance that contains cannabis is a Class X felony and may be fined up to $200,000.

(ILCS 720 550/5.)

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

Mandatory Minimums

If you are convicted of one of the following crimes, you will be sentenced to the minimum period of incarceration allowed for that crime. Additionally, the following crimes are ineligible for conditional discharge, probation, or periodic imprisonment (also called “weekend” imprisonment):

  • Class X felony sale of CDS
  • Class 1 felony sale of CDS that involves 5 grams or more of a substance that contains heroin, cocaine, or fentanyl
  • a second Class 2 felony sale of CDS if the defendant has a prior conviction in the past ten years for the same underlying crime in Illinois, under the law of any other state, or under federal law
  • conspiracy to sell cannabiscons in violation of the Cannabis Control Act.

(ILCS 730 5/5-5-3.)

Talk To An Attorney

If you have been charged with a sale of CDS crime, you face a lengthy period of incarceration and steep fines. To understand the crime you have been charged with, the possible penalties a conviction, and the options that are available to you, you should speak to an attorney who is experienced in defending CDS crimes.

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