Do You Get Higher Or Lower Level Drug Cases?
There are quite a few low drug cases because marijuana is pretty prevalent these days; not so much with pounds and pounds of marijuana, but there are a lot of people selling, and they eventually get caught, arrested and squeezed by the police, who will offer a deal if they turn on their friends and a lot of them do.
Where Do People Tend To Get In Trouble for Low Level Drug Offenses?
Mostly, it happens during traffic stops, mainly because police aren’t sticking their nose in your house to smell if you’re smoking marijuana. Usually they just pull over a car and smell the marijuana, which can linger in your car for quite some time.
How Serious are the Police About Prosecuting People Even for Very Small Amounts?
These days, police are arresting everyone for everything. Sometimes, a police officer will dump it on the street and say, “Get out of here,” but that’s very rare these days.
Another thing to consider is, if you’re driving and you have even trace amounts of marijuana in your system, you’re officially driving under the influence, which can lead to horrible consequences for the driver. Say you smoked three weeks ago and you’re pulled over at two in the morning; your eyes are bloodshot, but you’ve had nothing to drink, and you blow double zeroes into a Breathalyzer, so the police ask for a urine or blood test; marijuana stays in your system for as much as 28 days, so if the test comes up positive, it doesn’t matter if you smoked three weeks ago; it’s still an automatic DUI here in Illinois.
They are going to have to come to grips with that at some point when it comes to medical marijuana; obviously, if a patient smoked three weeks ago, it’s not affecting him now. Unfortunately, there’s no leeway for that in the statute right now; it’s horrible.
What About Possession of Drug Paraphernalia as a Separate Charge?
The definition of paraphernalia is something that can be used for the ingestion of an illegal substance, whether it’s crack or pot. In 90% of cases, you won’t be charged if the bowl is really clean, but if any amount of testable residue is in that bowl, whether it’s 0.01 grams of cocaine, heroin, meth or pot, you’ll be charged with the possession of the drug, as well as the paraphernalia.
There are now these e-cigarettes, with which people were smoking what’s called wax, which is kind of an extruded base of marijuana without the smoke. It’s vaporized, so it doesn’t smell like pot, and people got away with smoking these e-cigarettes in bars because up until recently; now, they’ll get you into trouble.
Are Cases Involving Small Amounts of Drugs Easier to Defend?
No, because there usually isn’t a defense to it, although we usually get a pretty good outcome. In Illinois, there are two different ways to handle these cases favorably for the client. One is what’s called court supervision, which means you pay a fine and they give you a period of time to stay out of trouble. You may also have to undergo very minimal counseling, but at the end of that time period, a conviction is never entered, the case is dismissed and can later be expunged.
Court supervision can happen with any drug-based misdemeanor stage, or there’s also section 550 of the Illinois Statutes, which says basically the same thing – they put you on probation for a couple of years, you’ll be drug tested and you’ll have to do some drug counseling, but at the end, no conviction is entered.
Whether that happens depends on the county. In my county and in Cook County and Chicago, they have a drug class in which you go for four weekends for three hours and they just drop your case. They even do that for felony cases, although if you’re late for class or miss one, it goes right back to the preliminary hearing court, which means you lose that break and start over.
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