Possession of Cocaine

Cocaine possession is, unfortunately, all too common in Illinois. Good, hardworking people may become trapped by addiction or thrust into difficult situations, creating the potential for a serious criminal charge.

If you’re found guilty of cocaine possession, you can face severe penalties. Potential consequences of a cocaine possession charge in Illinois may include:

  • A jail or prison sentence — possibly decades
  • Expensive fines and court fees — up to hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • A permanent criminal record that can prevent you from getting a good job
  • Being barred from receiving financial aid to pay for college or university classes
  • Losing your professional license and being unable to practice law, medicine, or nursing, or to work as a teacher, pharmacist, or other licensed professional
  • Losing your custody or visitation rights to your children
  • Losing your immigration visa or permanent resident status, denied citizenship, or being deported

However, there may be hope. An experienced Illinois drug defense lawyer may be able to help you fight your charge and minimize the consequences, or avoid them altogether. A skilled attorney can explain your charge, discuss potential outcomes, and craft a compelling defense strategy that may lead to reduced or dismissed charges.

Defining Possession of Cocaine

It’s a felony crime in Illinois to possess cocaine under 720 ILCS 570/402. In order to convict you, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • Possessed a controlled substance
  • The controlled substance was cocaine
  • You knew it was cocaine
  • You knew that you possessed it

Someone doesn’t need to have cocaine on their person in order to be convicted of possession. A person may be charged when they are in the vicinity of and have access to cocaine, even if it’s not in their pocket. For instance, someone may be charged with cocaine possession if the drugs in question are in a bedside stand or on a shelf in their home.

The two forms of possession are called “actual” and “constructive” possession.

  • Actual Possession — Having the cocaine on your person, such as carrying it in a bag or in your pocket.
  • Constructive Possession — Having cocaine under your “dominion and control,” which essentially means that you have the ability to take actual possession at any time. Constructive possession could include having cocaine in your apartment, your car, or some other place where you can access it and take actual possession.

If a prosecutor can’t prove that you had either actual or constructive possession, you may have a viable defense to your cocaine possession charge.

Penalties for a Possession of Cocaine Conviction

Possession of cocaine is a felony in Illinois regardless of the amount. However, the penalties increase the more cocaine you are suspected of possessing. A conviction may result in:

  • Those accused of possessing up to 15 grams prison may face 1 to 3 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
  • Those accused of possessing between 15 and 100 grams may face 4 to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000.
  • Those accused of possessing between 100 and 400 grams may face 6 to 30 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000, or the full street value of the drugs.
  • Those accused of possessing between 400 and 900 grams may face 8 to 40 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000, or the full street value of the drugs.
  • Those accused of possessing more than 900 grams may face 10 to 50 years in prison and fines of up to $200,000, or the full street value of the drugs.

Defending Your Possession of Cocaine Charge

Given the complexity of a cocaine possession charge and often difficult legal proceedings, it is crucial to work with a resourceful Illinois drug defense attorney. An experienced defense attorney will fight on your behalf and attempt to achieve one of the following outcomes:

  • Get the case dismissed altogether
  • Obtain a not guilty finding from a judge or jury
  • Negotiate to have the charged reduced to something less serious
  • Convince a judge or prosecutor to be lenient

Those accused of cocaine possession may have several avenues for explaining or denying the charges. Some common defenses include:

  • Law enforcement errors — A skilled Illinois drug defense attorney can examine the possibility that charges resulted from a flawed investigation or that officials received inaccurate or incorrect information from an informant.
  • Violation of rights — Those accused of crimes are entitled to certain rights, and evidence may be suppressed if officials violated those rights when conducting drug investigations, searching you or your property, or seizing the drugs.
  • Leniency — Those with no prior criminal history may be eligible to undergo substance abuse treatment or fulfill other requirements in lieu of a jail or prison sentence.

How Chicago Defense Attorney Michael O’Meara Can Help

Those accused of drug crimes in Chicago are often good people who make mistakes, get caught up in difficult situations, or struggle with addiction. For that reason, Chicago criminal defense lawyer Michael O’Meara wants to help those accused of cocaine possession work through a difficult situation and move on with their lives.

O’Meara has the skills, resources, and knowledge to fight drug charges. He has more than 20 years of legal experience, including as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense lawyer, that gives him an advantageous perspective on the criminal justice system in Cook County and the surrounding area.

When you hire O’Meara, he’ll conduct a thorough analysis of your charges and fight for the best possible outcome for your charge. Contact O’Meara Law LLC for a free consultation at 312-909-0706 to learn how he can help.