In the state of Illinois, the Controlled Substance Act (720 ILCS 570/200, et seq) prohibits possession of cocaine. Under Illinois law, possession of cocaine is treated very seriously and is always a felony charge. That differs from many states, which have a misdemeanor charge when a small amount of cocaine is possessed for personal use.
Illinois cocaine charges where the prosecution believes the person to be engaged in drug dealing are often filed as either “manufacture and delivery” (often abbreviated mfg/del) or “possession with the intent to deliver,” with each county’s prosecutors having their own preference between those charges. As an example, in Rock Island, IL I tend to see more of the manufacture and delivery charges, while in Henry County, IL I see more of the possession with intent charges. Regardless, of which version of the charges are filed, the case is a serious one.
In Illinois, the maximum sentence that a person can receive for a cocaine charge will depend upon a variety of factors. Illinois law provides for more serious penalties when factors such as location (e.g. in a school zone), delivery to a juvenile, death of a person who used the cocaine, previous convictions for drug dealing, larger amounts, etc., are present. In the most severe cases, a person convicted of cocaine charges in Illinois can receive 60 years in prison and a fine of half a million dollar. Many Illinois cocaine charges carry a mandatory term of imprisonment, making even those charged with a first-time offense in danger of spending many years in prison if convicted.
For a person to be in “possession” of cocaine in Illinois, the prosecution does not have to prove that the person actually physically possessed the cocaine. Instead, if the prosecution can show that a person was having someone else hold it for them, or otherwise had dominion and control over the cocaine, it can be enough for a conviction. An common example is situations where the prosecution alleges that a person had another person (often a juvenile) hold the cocaine for them as it was being sold.
Fighting a cocaine case in Illinois is a difficult but certainly not impossible task. The key part is to handle each aspect of the case with the utmost care, as the penalties if convicted are harsh. Often, defense of a possession with intent or mfg/del cocaine case in Illinois will center around a Motion to Suppress, which is where we ask the court to throw out the evidence against the client due to a violent of the client’s 4th amendment, 5th amendment, or 6th amendment rights. In other cases, the defense focuses upon showing a lack of a connection between the client and the alleged drug dealing activity. Still other cases center upon showing that the state’s witnesses are not credible and there is simply not evidence to show that the elements of the crimes charged have been met. Or, in some cases, the best strategy involves seeking a reduction of the charge and drug court or other such resolutions that avoid prison (or even avoid a felony conviction).
Any person who is facing a cocaine charge in the state of Illinois is wise to exercise their right to remain silent, and seek an attorney at once. Doing so is the the best way to preserve your rights and ensure the best possible resolution to the case.