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paraphernalia, Kane County drug crimes defense attorneyBy now, you probably know that low-level possession of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense in Illinois. The possession of less than 10 grams is a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $200—similar in most regards to a traffic violation. Illinois, however, has maintained its statute regarding the possession of drug paraphernalia. While the law was amended to account for the new guidelines on marijuana possession, loopholes still exist that could land a person in serious trouble.

What the Law Says

The Illinois Drug Paraphernalia Control Act makes it illegal to possess products, equipment, or materials that are intended to be used in producing, preparing, testing, hiding, or using controlled substances, including marijuana. (Technically, equipment for making methamphetamine is covered under a separate statute but is still illegal.) The drug paraphernalia law covers a wide variety of products, including but not limited to:

  • Pipes;
  • Bongs;
  • Carb tubes;
  • Scales; and
  • Cutting materials.

In most cases, the possession of drug paraphernalia is a Class A misdemeanor. Those who are approved for medical marijuana by the state of Illinois are permitted to possess the appropriate products to facilitate medical use.

Two Civil Law Violations

When low-level marijuana possession was decriminalized in Illinois in 2016, the Drug Paraphernalia Act was also updated. The update created a new civil law violation to go along with the civil offense of low-level possession. Specifically, the Act now says that a person who is cited for the civil violation of marijuana possession may also be cited for possession of related drug paraphernalia—presuming such paraphernalia is found.

The Act, however, does not say what should happen if no illegal drugs are found or if the police and prosecutors handle the drug possession offense as a local ordinance violation. For example, if the police legally search you and find a small marijuana pipe in your pocket but you are not in possession of marijuana, the law seems to suggest that you could be charged with the full misdemeanor offense of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Similarly, if local police do find a small amount of marijuana, they could opt to cite you under an applicable municipal ordinance instead of the state law. In such a case, the paraphernalia charge could plausibly still be brought on the state level.

Contact Us for Help

If you are facing charges of any type related to the possession of drug paraphernalia, it is important to seek help from a qualified Kane County criminal defense attorney. Call 847-488-0889 for a free, no-obligation consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Sources:

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1937&ChapterID=53

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1947&ChapterID=53

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decriminalization, Kane County criminal defense attorneyFor the second time in two years, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner will have to decide whether or not to approve legislation that would make low-level possession of marijuana a civil offense rather than a crime. Last summer, the Republican governor used his amendatory veto authority to rewrite the proposed decriminalization measure, reducing the amount of marijuana to be considered low-level and increasing the punitive fines. Last year’s bill eventually stalled before making it back to the governor’s desk, but this year’s version also includes the changes Rauner made a year ago.

Current Legal Guidelines

Under existing Illinois law, if you possess or use marijuana, you are subject to criminal prosecution unless you have been formally approved for participation in the state’s medical cannabis pilot program. While many people may not think of marijuana possession as a serious crime, possession of up to 2.5 grams is a Class C misdemeanor, and up to 10 grams constitutes a Class B misdemeanor. Anything more than 10 grams is a may be prosecuted as a felony depending upon your conviction history, and potential penalties are increased if you are found to have intent to deliver.

Proposed Changes

Despite the inclusion of provisions suggested by the governor himself, there is no guarantee that Rauner will sign the measure this time around. Should he decide to do so, however, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana would no longer be prosecutable as a crime. Instead, it would be considered a civil offense, similar in nature to a traffic ticket. Individuals guilty of low-level possession would be ordered to pay a fine of at least $100 and as much as $200. The new law would also require the circuit court overseeing the jurisdiction issuing the fine to expunge all low-level possession records twice per year, once on January 1 and again on July 1.

Opportunity for Progress

Many around the state see the decriminalization of minor marijuana possession as a clear step in the right direction. They believe that zealous prosecution of non-violent drug crimes—especially those involving marijuana—tend to waste municipal and state resources. From a policy perspective, the measure would also contribute to Governor Rauner’s stated goals of significantly reducing the population of the Illinois prison system.

If you have been charged with possession of illegal drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, or heroin, you need an attorney who will fight to protect your rights. Contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Elgin, Illinois today. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule your free confidential consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola.

Sources:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-marijuana-decriminalization-legislation-0519-20160518-story.html

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1937&

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/99/SB/PDF/09900SB2228lv.pdf

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marijuana, decriminalization, Elgin criminal defense attorneyAs more states around the country are beginning to reconsider the criminal prosecution of low-level marijuana possession, the debate continues here in Illinois as well. Despite last year’s bipartisan efforts to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of the drug, the measure stalled when Governor Bruce Rauner took issue with limits that he found too permissive and fines that he thought were too lenient. The topic is now back under consideration by the state Senate as part of an omnibus bill which may see a vote as early as next month.

Lower Possession Threshold, Higher Fines

Compared to last year’s legislation, this year’s version is a little stricter. The bill proposes to make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana—down from 15 grams—a civil offense, on par with a traffic violation. Last year, Governor Rauner thought the proposed fines of $55 to $125 to be too low, so the current measure would allow the financial penalties to range from $100 to $200, dependent upon the circumstances of the offense. The governor’s office has expressed its general approval regarding lawmakers’ cooperation with Rauner’s requests, and "will continue monitoring the legislation."

Expungements

Another major consideration in the bill is that it would allow local citation records regarding marijuana to be purged on an annual basis. Thus, offenders who were cited on separate occasions more than a year apart would not be treated as repeat offenders and thus subject to higher fines. Critics of this provision suggest that the expungement of possession records would make it very difficult to determine if a particular individual needs rehabilitation or substance abuse treatment in the event of future, more serious offenses.

Drugged Driving Limit

The proposed law would also, for the first time, establish a quantifiable standard for impairment related to driving under the influence. Currently, the state follows a zero-tolerance system which means that any trace of marijuana in a driver’s system—regardless of the fact that traces can remain for weeks after consumption—could be grounds for a DUI charge. If the omnibus is passed in its existing form, the legal limit would be set at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, a standard that experts say is roughly equivalent to the .08 percent blood-alcohol content limit in place for drunk driving situations.

Uncertain Future

While the legislation is part of a statewide effort to reduce the prison population and increase consistency in enforcing drug laws, it also has garnered a fair share of criticism. Many are concerned that decriminalization sends the wrong message about marijuana and that the proposed guidelines are still not strong enough. Even if the Senate approves the bill, it would still need to be approved in the House and be signed by the governor before it can take effect. For now, the outcome is decidedly undecided.

If you or a family member has been charged with drug possession under the current laws in Illinois, contact an experienced Elgin criminal defense attorney. We will help you understand your situation and work with you in exploring options for avoiding a criminal conviction. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule a free consultation at The The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola today.

Source:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-illinois-pot-decriminalization-20160325-story.html

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Posted on in Marijuana

marijuana, Illinois law, Kane County Criminal Defense AttorneyThe future of the debate over marijuana decriminalization in Illinois will soon be in the hands of Governor Bruce Rauner after a bill cleared the state Senate earlier this month. The proposed law would decriminalize low-level possession of marijuana in the state, making such possession punishable as a civil offense, similar to a traffic ticket. Possession of larger amounts, as well as the illegal production and trafficking of marijuana would remain prosecutable in the criminal system, but the law is seen by many as a reasonable approach to a contentious topic.

"Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for individuals who commit serious crimes," said Representative Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who introduced the in the state House earlier this year. "Criminalizing people for marijuana possession is not a good use of our state’s limited law enforcement resources." The bill was passed by the House in April, and was recently approved in the Senate by a vote of 37-19.

If enacted, the measure would make marijuana possession of 15 grams or less, which is approximately 25 cigarette-sized joints, a civil violation. Offenders would be subject to a fine of up to $125. Under current Illinois law, possession of marijuana, depending on the amount and an offender’s history, may be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony. The penalties associated with such charges, obviously, are much more significant than the fine proposed in the new measure.

The bill’s sponsor in the Senate, Senator Michael Noland, D-Elgin, has continued to push for the change, despite his own personal views on the use of the drug. "It’s wrong," he said, "and I would encourage the children of this state and my own children to abstain from the use of the substance." However, Senator Noland acknowledged that many people do use marijuana and that decision should not threaten their social or professional lives.

Supporters of the legislation believe that the proposal can help Governor Rauner in his efforts to reduce the prison population. Earlier this year, the governor announced his aim to cut the number of people in prison by 25 percent over the next decade. The bill, however, has not been sent to the governor’s office just yet, as sponsors indicate that some cleanup language will need to be approved before it is ready for Rauner’s signature. Governor Rauner has not indicated whether he intends to sign the measure, but through a spokesperson, pledged to consider it carefully.

If you have been charged with the possession of marijuana or any other drug, contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today. At the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola, we understand the impact that such charges can have on your future and are prepared to help you every step of the way.

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