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Federal Drug Convictions Come With Harsher Penalties

 Posted on May 19, 2017 in Criminal Law

Federal Drug Convictions Come With Harsher PenaltiesU.S. Attorney General Jess Sessions recently instructed federal prosecutors to use the maximum charges in drug cases. If prosecutors follow through on the mandate, it will further illustrate how federal drug charges can have greater consequences for defendants than state drug charges. While both Illinois and federal drug convictions can result in prison sentences, federal laws require mandatory prison time for many convictions.

Illinois Laws

Punishments for drug convictions in Illinois vary, depending on the substance, the quantity and whether there was an intent to deliver:

  • Marijuana possession is a misdemeanor if it is less than 10 grams or a first-time offense for not more than 30 grams. The penalty can be no greater than a year in jail.
  • A second offense for possessing more than 10 grams or first offense for possessing more than 30 grams is a felony, which can be as high as class 1, depending on the quantity. A class 1 felony for marijuana possession can result in four to 15 years in prison.
  • Manufacturing or distributing marijuana is a greater misdemeanor or felony than merely possessing the same amount. At worst, it is a class X felony, which can require six to 30 years in jail.
  • Possession of illegal drugs other than marijuana is a felony, with longer maximum prison sentences. For instance, possession of more than 900 grams of cocaine, heroin or morphine with an intent to deliver can result in as long as 60 years in prison.

While the punishment for Illinois drug convictions can include prison sentences, the court can sentence the offender to probation instead of prison, as long as the offense is no greater than a class 1 felony.

Federal Laws

Federal drug charges can be more severe than state charges because they generally involve the trafficking of drugs over state lines. While a conviction for any federal drug trafficking offense can result in prison time, the more severe charges have mandatory sentences, including:

  • A minimum five years for trafficking 100 to 999 kilograms of marijuana;
  • A minimum 10 years for trafficking 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana;
  • A minimum five years for trafficking smaller amounts of cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine or PCP; and
  • A minimum 10 years for trafficking larger amounts of those substances.

A second conviction of any of those offenses will double the minimum prison sentence.

Defending Against Charges

When prosecutors seek the maximum charges in all drug cases, non-violent offenders can receive mandatory prison sentences. Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, is an experienced DuPage County criminal defense attorney who can contest your drug charges or negotiate with prosecutors for lesser charges. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-260-9647.


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