Heroin is generally considered one of the most harmful illegal drugs people use, and the penalties for being caught with even a small amount of heroin in Illinois can be substantial. Being found guilty of heroin possession could send you to jail for several years, and you could be forced to pay a hefty fine as well. And if you are caught by police with a large amount of heroin, you could face additional distribution or trafficking charges, leading to even harsher penalties upon conviction.
Is Heroin Possession a Felony?
Under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, heroin is a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs are considered to have no legitimate medical use and possessing a Schedule I drug carries the highest possible penalties under the Controlled Substances Act.
Possessing any amount of heroin is a felony, but the category of felony and the potential penalties involved depend on the amount of heroin you are caught with. If you are found with less than 15 grams of heroin, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony, while being found with 15 or more grams is a Class 1 felony. Depending on the amount of heroin you are found with, the potential penalties for heroin possession in Illinois are:
- 15 grams or less – 1-3 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000
- 15-99 grams – 4-15 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000
- 100-399 grams – 6-30 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000 or the full street value of the drugs, whichever is higher
- 400-899 grams – 8-40 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000 or the full street value of the drugs, whichever is higher
- 900+ grams – 10-50 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000 or the full street value of the drugs, whichever is higher
Additional Charges You Could Face for Possessing Heroin
While possessing heroin is already a major crime under Illinois law, you could also face additional charges based on the amount of the drug you are found with and the context in which you are caught by the police. For example, having a large amount of heroin on your person or attempting to sell the drug to someone else could result in a drug distribution charge, which may carry harsher penalties than a simple possession charge. If you are caught by the police while transporting heroin into the state, you could face a trafficking charge, which also carries stiffer penalties than a simple possession case.
Potential Defenses for Heroin Charges in Illinois
There are several ways you may be able to defend yourself against a heroin charge in Illinois, such as:
- Showing that the drugs are not yours – If you can show that the drugs in question do not belong to you, you may be able to have the charges against you dropped. For example, you may have let someone borrow your car, and they left the drugs there.
- Showing you were coerced into holding the drugs – If someone forced you to hold onto illegal drugs using threats or force, you might be able to have your charges dismissed.
- Showing you were the victim of entrapment – There have been cases where police encourage people to commit crimes that they would not have committed without encouragement. Entrapment cases are hard to prove, but you should not go to jail if the police essentially made you commit a crime.
- Showing your civil rights were violated – Evidence in drug cases needs to be obtained through a proper search and seizure. If the police or prosecutors violated your rights to obtain evidence against you, your attorney can fight to have that evidence dismissed, which could lead to the charges against you being dropped.
Contact a Chicago Heroin Defense Attorney Today
If you have been accused of possessing heroin in Illinois or any related charge, you need to speak with an experienced drug defense lawyer. The Chicago drug crime defense attorneys of Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC have successfully represented more than 20,000 clients over 30 years, including many clients accused of possessing illegal drugs. Our highly skilled and experienced legal team can protect you from abuses by police or prosecutors, and we will defend your rights to the full extent of the law. We can work with the authorities to have the charges against you reduced or dismissed, as well as represent you at trial if necessary.
Being accused of heroin possession in Illinois can have potentially catastrophic consequences, so be sure to speak to an attorney right away if you have been arrested. Contact Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (800) 996-4824 today for a free consultation with a Chicago criminal defense lawyer.