Possession of an illegal substance is a crime, but possession with the intent to distribute is an even more serious criminal offense. Under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act, knowingly possessing, manufacturing and delivering controlled substances can result in criminal charges.
Generally, a prosecutor must prove three basic elements beyond a reasonable doubt to establish that someone is guilty of a drug crime involving distribution. The person must have knowingly possessed the drug, brought it into the state of Illinois and had the intent to deliver the drug.
In Illinois, the penalties for drug distribution crimes will generally depend on the quantity of the drug and type of drug. Generally, the most serious drug distribution crime would be a Class X felony which could result in a minimum of six to 30 years in prison and a maximum of 15 to 60 years in prison. Less serious drug delivery crimes may be classified as Class 3 felonies with a minimum sentence of two to five years, with convicted drug traffickers getting double that sentence (four to 10 years). A drug distribution conviction can also come with hefty fines of anywhere from $75,000 to $1,000,000.
Fortunately, there are a few defenses available to those charged with drug distribution crimes. One of the most commonly used defenses is the lack of knowledge defense. A person may not be convicted of drug possession or distribution if they did not know that they had an illegal substance in their possession. In other words, if a person did not intentionally sell a drug or did not know that he or she was in possession of the drugs, their charges may be dismissed.