The laws of Illinois criminalize the possession, distribution and manufacturing of controlled substances. Depending upon the type of drug that a person is accused of possessing and the quantity of the drug under their alleged control, the punishment for their alleged crime can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and decades in prison, if the person is convicted. However, a person facing drug crimes in the state can avail themselves to certain defenses that can reduce or even eliminate their pending criminal charges.
First, a person’s lack of knowledge can serve as a defense to a drug crime. As with other crimes, individuals facing drug charges generally must intend to commit the crimes they face and, as such, if a person does not know that they possess or have under their control an illegal substance, then they may be able to avoid the penalties of their charge.
Second, legal possession may serve as a defense if the individual has a prescription to have in their control the otherwise illegal substance. However, not all controlled substances are permitted to be used as prescriptions and this defense may not apply in all cases.
Third, insanity and infancy can serve as defenses for individuals who either lack the requisite mental capacity to commit their alleged crimes or individuals whose ages fall below a threshold level. In both of these scenarios, the defense stems from the alleged criminal’s inability to understand the criminal nature of their actions.
Finally, individuals may be able to use duress, compulsion or entrapment as drug crime defenses. These defenses arise when individuals are forced or coerced into committing illegal acts either against their will or under false pretenses by law enforcement officials. Other defenses may also exist to an individual’s pending drug charges.