What is Criminal Drug Trafficking in Illinois?

by Sami Z Azhari on January 15, 2018

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Criminal drug trafficking in Illinois is a serious offense. There are a few types of criminal drug trafficking. 720 ILCS 550/5.1 outlines Cannabis Trafficking pursuant to the Cannabis Control Act while 720 ILCS 570/401.1 focuses on criminal drug trafficking pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act. Drug trafficking also applies to possession of a controlled substance or chemical substitute with the intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell.

In this context, the term controlled substance includes illegal drugs, such as cocaine, fentanyl, heroin, or ecstasy. The term chemical substitute refers to compounds created to mimic the properties of controlled substances.

Penalties for Controlled Substance Trafficking in Illinois

Under 720 ILCS 570/401.1 criminal drug trafficking in Illinois is generally a Class X felony. It is sometimes referred to as a “Super X” because the penalties of trafficking are double the term of imprisonment for possession of the controlled substance being trafficked pursuant to 720 ILCS 570/401.1(b). The penalties fluctuate based on the type of controlled substance or chemical substitute. Furthermore, the penalties escalate sharply for larger amounts of controlled substances or chemical substitutes.

For illustrative purposes, the following list breaks down the penalties for distribution or possession with intent to distribute the controlled substance of heroin or any chemical substitute with similar properties.

720 ILCS 570/401 – Manufacturing/delivery of Controlled Substance

  • 15 to 100 grams results in a prison sentence of six to 30 years;
  • 100 to 400 grams results in a prison sentence of nine to 40 years;
  • 400 to 900 grams results in a prison sentence of 12 to 50 years; and
  • 900 grams or more results in a prison sentence of 15 to 60 years.

The penalties listed above are for manufacturing and delivery. If the charge is Drug Trafficking, the prison terms listed would double.

720 ILCS 570/401.1 – Controlled Substance Trafficking

  • 15 to 100 grams results in a prison sentence of 12 to 60 years;
  • 100 to 400 grams results in a prison sentence of 18 to 80 years;
  • 400 to 900 grams results in a prison sentence of 24 to 100 years; and
  • 900 grams or more results in a prison sentence of 30 to 120 years.

In addition to the penalties outlined above, there are two other important considerations for criminal drug trafficking. First, the 85% rule applies to this crime. Stated otherwise, a person convicted of criminal drug trafficking is not eligible for release until they serve 85% of their sentence. Second, drug trafficking can result in federal charges as well, because for drug trafficking charges, the prosecution must show that the drugs were brought into Illinois from another state.

Penalties for Cannabis Trafficking in Illinois

720 ILCS 550 is the Cannabis Control Act and 720 ILCS 550/5 lists the penalties for manufacturing/delivery of cannabis. Cannabis trafficking has the same “Super X” penalties as a controlled substance. The penalties for both are listed below:

720 ILCS 550/5 – Manufacturing/delivery of Cannabis

  • 10 to 30 grams – Class 4 felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison;
  • 30 to 500 grams – Class 3 felony punishable by 2-5 years in prison;
  • 500 to 2,000 – Class 2 felony punishable by 3-7 years in prison;
  • 2,000 to 5,000 grams – Class 1 felony punishable by 4-15 years in prison;
  • More than 5,000 grams – Class x felony punishable by 6-30 years in prison.

Cannabis trafficking pursuant to 720 ILCS 550/5.1 requires an amount of 2,500 grams or more from another state and is punishable as a “Super X,” which would double the penalties listed above. So trafficking 2,500 to 5,000 grams would be punishable by 8 to 30 years in prison, and more than 5,000 grams of cannabis can result in a 12 to 60 year sentence. The sentence of Cannabis Trafficking is laid out in 720 ILCS 550/5.1(b).

Admissibility Evidence in Criminal Drug Trafficking Cases in Illinois

Often times, the most important consideration in Illinois drug trafficking cases is the admissibility of evidence. The Fourth Amendment protects all people from unreasonable search or seizure. In practice, this means that law enforcement must tread carefully when collecting evidence. Any mistakes can result in tainted evidence, which is not allowed in court proceedings. Concerning drug trafficking cases, specifically, it is important to examine and challenge the admissibility of all evidence, including traffic stops, drug dogs, video recordings, and police officer conduct.

To learn more about the admissibility of evidence in drug cases, please reference this recent blog post – What is Legality of Police Dog Sniffs During Traffic Stops?.

Reach Out to an Adept Illinois Criminal Lawyer Today

If you are dealing with criminal charges for drug trafficking or possession with intent to distribute, it is highly advisable to seek legal counsel from an adept Illinois criminal lawyer. With offices in Chicago and Rolling Meadows, Sami Azhari has the tenacity and skill to help you fight charges for drug crimes. If you have legal questions, contact Sami Azhari to get answers and start planning your defense.

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