Knowing that Illinois still criminalizes marijuana, despite major changes in public opinion, there are a number of things that you can do to avoid being charged with a violation of the law.
The Cannabis Control Act delineates the varying penalties for the amount of marijuana found in someone’s possession. Less than 2.5 grams is a Class C misdemeanor and carries a possible punishment of 30 days in jail and up to $1500 in fines. 2.5 to 10 grams is a Class B misdemeanor that could result in 6 month in jails and up to $1500 in fines. 10 to 30 grams is considered a Class A misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail. Possession of 30 grams or more is a felony offense with much harsher prison sentences and fines. These charges also run the risk of being charged with additional penalty of intent to distribute.
- Don’t possess marijuana. This is obviously the best course of action to protect you against being charged with breaking the law. It is possession and not ownership that is the crime here, so claiming it is not yours is not a valid defense.
- Do not use marijuana in your car, or let anyone else use it in your car. Smoking marijuana leaves a strong, distinct odor that every police officer can readily identify, and smelling it gives them probable cause to search your car.
- Do not ride in anyone else’s car if it smells like someone has been smoking marijuana in it. If they get pulled over and the car is searched, and the police find something near where you are sitting, you could be blamed for it.
- If you are ever in a situation where police are asking you to consent to a search, it would be in your best interest to decline consent. Even if you have nothing to hide, if police find anything that may belong to someone else you could be blamed for it. Refusal need not be done aggressively or with disrespect to the police.
- If the police are questioning you, you must identify yourself, but you do not need to submit to questioning. This is certainly an intimidating situation, but if you are worried about incriminating yourself in any way, decline to answer any questions and try to remove yourself. The best way to accomplish this is to ask the police officer if you are free to leave, if the answer is no you are essentially under arrest. If the answer is yes, you can then walk away.
These are just a few simple tools you can utilize to avoid being charged and penalized for marijuana possession. Although useful to protect yourself in the moment, your best defense will come from a qualified Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney.