There will be no more threat of prison penalties and high fines in the state of Illinois for defendants who are found to be in possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. On Friday, July 29, Governor Bruce Rauner governor put his signature on a measure which decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana possession.
Civil Infraction Instead of Criminal Charges
Instead of being treated as a criminal offense, possession of small amounts of marijuana will now be treated as a civil offense and a guilty finding could result in a fine of between $100 to $200. Once the fine is paid, then the record of the incident is expunged from the person’s record.
Under the previous law, if a person was found guilty of possessing 2.5 grams of marijuana or less, he or she was facing a Class C misdemeanor conviction, which could result in up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a fine of $1,500. Convictions of possession of between 2.5 to 10 grams of marijuana resulted in a Class B felony on the defendant’s record, and a sentence of up to six months in jail and/or up to a $1,500 fine.
Reducing the Prison Population
One of the goals of the new law is to be to help alleviate the overcrowding situation in many Illinois prisons and jails. Prosecuting and jailing defendants for small amounts of marijuana have put a heavy burden on law enforcement budget resources in the state.
Illinois police officials, however, have been quick to remind the public that although this new law decriminalizes marijuana, it does not make marijuana legal for recreational use. If you are not enrolled in the state’s medical marijuana program and are found to be in possession, you can expect to face fines under the new law. They also reminded citizens that driving under the influence of marijuana is still illegal and if a person is caught doing so, they will be arrested and prosecuted.
The new measure goes into effect immediately. Illinois now becomes the 17th state in the country to make small amounts of marijuana possession a civil violation instead of a criminal one.
If you have been arrested for possession of marijuana, or any other drug, contact an experienced Wheaton criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of Salvatore C. Miglore & Associates at 630-933-8400 today for a free consultation.