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 sale. Illinois considers not only well-known drugs like LSD, heroin, and cocaine to be controlled substances, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.
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 have the highest potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, while Schedule V drugs have the lowest abuse potential and a currently accepted medical use. Examples of CDS listed in each schedule include:
To understand the charges and penalties you might face, look at the charging document in your case (usually called a complaint, information, or indictment). Identify the name of the drugs specified in the document and consult the schedules explained above. 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 2. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 570/200.)
This article concerns the unlawful sale or distribution of CDS. Separate punishments apply to the possession of CDS for personal use. For information about possession of CDS for personal use, see Possession of a Controlled Substance in Illinois. Illinois regulates marijuana possession and sale separately, see Marijuana Laws in Illinois.
Illinois statutes refer to illegal drug sales as the delivery of, or possession with intent to deliver, controlled substances.
Most CDS sale crimes are felonies, which Illinois divides into five classes: X, 1, 2, 3, and 4. Class X felonies are the most serious and receive the harshest penalties. Some CDS sale crimes constitute misdemeanors, falling under Class A or B, which are the most serious misdemeanor offense levels. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 570/401; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/4.5 (2019).)
Some states primarily classify CDS crimes according to drug schedules. Illinois takes a mixed approach and classifies some CDS crimes by specific types of drugs and others by schedule. For this reason, this article is organized by offense level.
Class X felonies carry the most serious penalties for CDS sale crimes.
The delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, certain CDS—including heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, morphine, LSD, and specified hallucinogenic substances—constitutes a Class X felony. The penalties are listed below and depend on the amount of the substance involved in the offense.
If a sale crime involves LSD or a specified hallucinogenic substance (like Molly or Ecstasy) sold in object form (such as blotter papers, dots, capsules, or pills), penalties depend on the number of objects involved.
In addition to the period of incarceration listed above, a defendant convicted of a sale crime involving 100 grams or more may be fined an amount up to $500,000 or the full street value of the CDS involved in the offense, whichever is greater.
The delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, 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 six to 30 years.
Other CDS sale crimes subject to Class X felony penalties include those involving delivery of, or possession with intent to deliver:
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 570/401, 405, 407; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-25 (2019).)
The delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, any of the following CDS is a Class 1 felony, punishable by incarceration of four to 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000:
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 570/401; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-30 (2019).)
The delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, 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.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 570/401; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-35 (2019).)
The delivery of, or possession with the intent to deliver, 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 and maximum fines ranging from $75,000 to $150,000.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 570/401; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-40 (2019).)
Illinois law provides mandatory minimum sentences for the most egregious CDS sale crimes. Also, penalties increase for CDS sales involving vulnerable populations and in other circumstances.
Fentanyl added. Illinois adds three years to a person’s sentence for a CDS sale crime or criminal drug conspiracy involving a substance containing any amount of fentanyl.
Drug-free zones. Enhanced penalties apply for CDS sales on or within 500 feet of certain properties including schools, public parks, religious buildings, nursing homes, and senior citizen housing complexes. The penalty increases to the next felony class level.
Employing a minor to sell CDS. Any person 18 or older who engages or employs a minor (younger than 18) to deliver a CDS faces an imprisonment term of up to three times that of the underlying crime.
Repeat offenses. The penalties for a second or subsequent offense can be doubled. Repeat offenses may also be subject to mandatory minimum sentences described below.
Mandatory minimum sentences. If you are convicted of one of the following crimes, the court must impose the minimum period of incarceration allowed for that crime and cannot order conditional discharge, probation, or periodic imprisonment (also called “weekend” imprisonment): Class X felony sale of CDS, Class 1 felony sale of CDS involving more than 5 grams fentanyl or more than 3 grams of heroin, or a repeat Class X or 1 felony within 10 years.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 570/407, 407.1, 408; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-5-3 (2019).)
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 for a conviction, and the options that are available to you, you should speak to an attorney who is experienced in defending drug crimes.