The Illinois Controlled Substance Act makes it a crime to possess illegal drugs either for personal use or with intent to distribute. It covers many types of controlled substances including illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and heroin, as well as look-a-like substances and prescription drugs. Whether you’re accused of possessing a small amount of marijuana or a more significant amount of harder drugs, a conviction under the Controlled Substances Act can have grave consequences that could affect your freedom, ability to find a job, and other rights. Because of this, it’s important to consult with a criminal defense attorney with experience defending drug cases as soon as possible after you’ve been arrested.
What The Prosecution Must Prove if You’ve Been Charged with a Drug Crime
Merely possessing a controlled substance is not enough to establish guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that requires prosecutors to establish certain facts to get a conviction. In order to obtain a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
· That the substance in question is actually illegal under Illinois law, or a controlled lookalike substance defined in the Controlled Substance Act.
· That the defendant knowingly possessed the substance in question.
· That the defendant had either actual or constructive possession of the substance. This means that the drugs were either found on the defendant or in a vehicle, and that police followed the law when finding the drugs.
If a prosecutor cannot prove each of these things, then a defendant cannot be convicted of a crime under the Controlled Substance Act. While each case is unique, often it is difficult for prosecutors facing an attorney who is experienced with defending drug cases to prove each of these elements. Often, there are extenuating circumstances that courts will consider.
One common defense in drug cases is to argue that the actions of the police amounted to an unlawful search and seizure. Police must have a warrant or probable cause to search you or your property, and if they do not have probable cause, they have violated your constitutional rights. In that case, a court will not allow any evidence that the police illegally obtained to be introduced at trial. If prosecutors cannot introduce any evidence of drugs found by police, they simply have no case.
In addition, there might be circumstances showing that the drugs belonged to someone else or that a defendant did not know that he or she was in possession of illegal drugs. Any of these defenses may be argued to dismiss or reduce drug charges.
Chicago Gun Crimes Lawyer
Drug crimes are extremely serious. A conviction for drug possession can not only result in jail time, but also make it harder to find steady employments. That’s why it’s so important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one have been charged with a drug crime in the Chicago area. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.