In the state of Illinois, possession with intent to distribute is a serious felony offense that can have permanent effects on your future if convicted. A felony conviction can lead to loss of employment opportunities, costly legal fees and fines, a prison term, and a permanent criminal record. In order to avoid or minimize these penalties and save you time and money, legal representation from a criminal lawyer is your best option.
At Ktenas Law, our legal experience stands out in the Chicago area. If you or a loved one are dealing with this challenging experience, contact us to begin your free consultation with a criminal lawyer who is dedicated, aggressive, and successful.
How is Intent to Distribute Defined?
Possession with intent to distribute is a fairly common phrase that you may have heard on television shows or through a gossiping neighbor, but what does it actually mean?
Intent to distribute means an individual who was in unauthorized possession of a controlled, counterfeit, or look-alike substance knowingly planned a delivery or transfer the substance to another party. Delivery or transfer simply means "sell." So in very simple terms, intent to distribute means a person intended to sell a controlled substance.
This is a felony crime in the state of Illinois and can carry hefty penalties with a conviction.
So how do you prove someone planned to sell an illegal substance if they didn't do it yet? Usually, this charge is applied to amounts of illicit substances that are too large for personal use. Again, simply put, if a person has more drugs on them that they could consume alone. Other factors including paraphernalia like baggies, scales, or bookkeeping ledgers can signify intent to distribute.
For the crime of possession of an illicit drug, the minimum sentence in the state of Illinois is a one-year minimum jail term. This includes a conviction for drug possession of a controlled, counterfeit, or look-alike substance. Charges for possession with intent carry harsher penalties because these violations are seen as more heinous as they endanger public safety.
Even though marijuana is a commonly distributed substance in the state of Illinois, it carries lesser penalties. This is because of a recent change in drug possession laws regarding the use and sale of cannabis. For the more common drugs, like cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, LSD, morphine, or heroin the following can be used as a general guideline for statutory penalties for possession of drugs with intent to distribute:
Less than 1 gram - a prison sentence of three to seven years and a fine up to $200,000.00 (Class 2 Felony)
Between 1 gram and 15 grams - a minimum prison term of 4 years and a maximum sentence of 15 years and a fine of up to $250,000.00 (Class 1 Felony)
Between 15 and 100 grams - a prison term of between 6-year minimum and 30-year maximum sentence and a fine of up to $500,000.00 (Class X felony offense)
Above 400 grams - the minimum and maximum term continue to increase, but the maximum fine stays at $500,000
As you can see, possession of a substance with intent to distribute is a serious violation punishable by severe penalties. Subsequent offense violations also carry more severe criminal penalties. A criminal defense lawyer can help you build a strong defense for your best shot at minimum punishment.
Factors That Affect the Severity of a Possession With Intent Charge
The negative consequences can be further affected by other enhancing factors including:
The type of controlled substance - highly lethal drugs carry heavier charges than less harmful drugs
The amount of the illicit substance in possession
The criminal history of the individual - prior criminal offenses versus first-time offenders
The age of the person(s) for the intended distribution - If the unlawful delivery was intended for a minor under the age of 18
The proximity to a school, public park, or church - within 1500 feet carries additional charges
The possession of firearms at the time of the arrest
With any of these additional charges, the penalties could be as much as doubled. It's important to seek legal counsel to obtain the minimum sentence possible for your case.
As in every criminal justice case, a strong defense is based on specific details. After reviewing your unique case, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will be able to tailor common defenses to your situation.
In many cases, they may opt to negotiate a plea deal or plea bargain. This is where the prosecution and defense make arrangements for a guilty plea in exchange for a lesser charge or lesser sentence. For example, receiving probation or drug treatment education instead of the maximum sentence, or taking a Class 2 Felony charge instead of Class 3. While the defendant may still have to serve a jail term or pay a fine, it will be greatly reduced compared to the initial penalties. This is usually the best option in cases where there is strong evidence against the defendant. It saves all parties time and money.
If the defendant would like to risk trial, there are other defenses to possession charges that an experienced defense attorney may use to avoid a maximum sentence. The prosecution has to establish unlawful possession with intent to distribute beyond a reasonable doubt. That may not be easy if they do not have strong evidence against you. Your lawyer will be able to outline the risk you may be taking on this route. Perhaps your criminal defense attorney believes the prosecution has limited evidence.
Perhaps the credibility of witnesses can be challenged. Perhaps mistakes were made when filing the evidence making it unsubmissive in court. Or maybe the arresting officer committed violations against your constitutional rights during the arrest. Any of these errors have the potential to get a case dismissed or at least lesser charges or reduced sentencing. An experienced and intelligent lawyer will know exactly what to look for and will be able to advise you on the options for your criminal defense situation.
At Ktenas Law, we pride ourselves on our aggressive defense strategies. Chicago attorney, Alexander Ktenas is a former prosecutor who is able to use his knowledge of the other side to create a strong criminal defense. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it's important to obtain legal representation for the best possible outcome. Contact the Ktenas Law office today for your free consultation.