Recreational marijuana may be legal in Illinois, but that doesn’t mean you have free reign to do whatever you please with the plant. There are still rules and regulations that need to be followed, and if you don’t follow them, you can end up with a marijuana possession charge. It may not seem like a big deal considering the drug is legalized recreationally in Illinois, but that conviction can still cause significant problems in the future. It may show up on background checks for jobs and housing applications, and it could impact your ability to get into the school of your dreams, so don’t take the charge lightly.
So what are your options if you end up facing a marijuana possession charge in Illinois? We share some of the more common defenses to possession charges in today’s blog.
Defending Against Marijuana Possession Charges
You are allowed to purchase and possess recreational marijuana in Illinois, but certain limitations apply. For example, you can’t have more than 30 grams in your possession, otherwise you can face charges. Being in possession of between 30 and 100 grams is a misdemeanor offense, and it only gets worse from there. Possessing more than 100 grams of having a subsequent possession offense will result in felony charges, which carry the potential for significant fines and jail time.
Another issue people run into is when they have marijuana in a vehicle. It is illegal to transport marijuana, even if you legally purchased it, unless it is contained in sealed, odorless and child-proof container. Transporting it in the container provided by the dispensary will work, but carrying it in a plastic baggie in a vehicle will result in charges, so be smart if you’re transporting legally-purchased weed.
When it comes to defending a marijuana possession charge, you have a few different angles you can take. It’s not going to be easy to win because there have to be significant factors for police to charge someone with possession considering recreational possession is legal in Illinois, but you should consider taking the case to court because of the potential for significant penalties. After talking with a criminal defense attorney, some of the defenses that may be pursued for your case include:
- The Possession Aspect – Police may try to attribute possession of the drug to you even if it wasn’t on your person. For example, if they found marijuana in your office, locker or dorm room, they may assume it’s yours. However, if other parties had easy enough access to this location, you can make a reasonable argument that the marijuana is not yours or that it could have come from someone else. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, and if you can provide reasonable doubt, you may get the charges dropped.
- Illegal Search – Police sometimes don’t follow proper protocol when collecting evidence, so if the basis for the search was based on incorrect information or they did not follow the guidelines specified by a warrant, you can get the evidence thrown out, which would effectively put an end to your case. For example, if the police searched areas that were not outlined in a warrant, they claimed they had a warrant when they did not, or they stopped your vehicle without reasonable suspicion and found marijuana, you can fight to have that evidence thrown out.
- Miranda and Due Process Violations – Even if the evidence against you appears to be clear, due process and your rights still need to be upheld throughout the legal process. If your Miranda rights were violated or you were coerced into giving a false confession, your lawyer may challenge these aspects of your case.
- Witness Credibility – Some cases center around the reliability of witnesses, so it’s important that you look reliable and those speaking against you appear unreliable. If there is a dispute over whose drugs were found, we can develop a defense that makes your side of the story look more reliable. Even if the witness is a law enforcement officer, if there are holes in their story, we’ll work hard to point them out at trial.
These are just a few of the ways we can help defend you against serious marijuana possession charges in Illinois. If you or someone you know is facing a marijuana-related charge, reach out to Brett Appelman and the team at Appelman Law today to learn how we can help.