Drug Charges and Trafficking in Illinois

Drug Related Criminal Charges and Trafficking

Drug Charges in Markham IllinoisDrug charges and drug trafficking charges in Illinois are two different, though co-related charges. The first involves possession whereas the second involves distribution. Many persons who receive drug charges are never charged with trafficking, but anyone charged with drug trafficking will have additional drug charges including possession.

As noted, the state of Illinois puts controlled substance (drug) violations into two categories:

  • Possession
  • Possession with intent to distribute or manufacture (trafficking)

Considering the nature of the illegal drug trade, this is a reasonable approach. Logically, all drug offenses can fall within these two categories. As far as formal charges are concerned, the only differences within either category involve the type and quantity of the drug in question.

For instance, as a general rule, so-called ‘harder’ drugs such as ketamine, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, morphine, LSD, and so forth are classed separately from ‘softer’ drugs like marijuana. In addition, paraphernalia is a different charge, but still a form of possession violation. Violations involving each drug and its derivative differ per category according to quantities involved. Higher quantities of an illegal substance = a higher felony status if convicted of the charges.

What Are the Penalties for a Drug Trafficking Conviction in Illinois?

As you may have guessed, a higher felony status = higher penalties. Again, the key difference lay in the quantities and the type of drug. Harder drugs and larger quantities ensure a stiffer penalty if convicted of the charges, whether possession-related or trafficking. Of course, trafficking charges themselves are stiffer, as a rule, than possession charges.

For instance, a conviction for drug trafficking charges…

  • start at 4 – 15 years in prisonwith fines up to $250,000. That is the penalty for trafficking between 1 and 15 grams of heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl; these are Class 1 felony charges.
  • On the upper end of the scale are Class X drug trafficking charges. These result in sentences for between 15 – 60 years’ incarceration and up to $500,000 in fines.
  • Then there is Marijuana.Trafficking in marijuana starts at a Class B misdemeanor with up to 6 months’ jail time and $1500 fine. The upper end, however, is a Class X Felony with 6 – 30 years in prison for a conviction and up to $200,000 in fines.


The difference lay in the fact that “trafficking” in Illinois includes everything from selling dime bags on a street corner to turning tons. Everything distribution-related is included and carries different sentences depending on quantities. So even giving a joint to a friend can be charged as drug trafficking under Illinois statutes.


Naturally, smaller quantities will make the drug charge “possession” and the penalties will be lower. Larger quantities result in stiffer sentences. Then, there is the matter of “Stacking” or “Multiplying” charges.

What is Stacking or Multiplication of Drug/Trafficking Charges?

If you have spent any time in the system, you already know: Much of what happens in the system occurs according to how different people interpret different laws and rules. The way one police officer may write his report will differ from the way another will write the report. Same information, but with a different placement can result in a different interpretation by the District Attorney assigned to the case. Too, different prosecutor’s may choose to bring different charges based on the exact same information.

Stacking or multiplying charges involves adding any and all possible related charges to a defendant. This does a few things:

  1. Provides the District Attorney’s Office with leverage which could be used to gather additional information about a case or a conviction or both.
  2. Increases the “conviction” rate of a publicly-elected official.
  3. Effectively stacks the deck against defendants

For instance, consider someone arrested in possession of 300 grams of marijuana. If contained within a single unit, one prosecutor may only charge possession. Given the quantities, however, another prosecutor may choose to add a trafficking charge. Additionally, if the marijuana was separated into 300 one-gram bags, trafficking charges are pretty much a given. Also, each bag can then be a separate possession charge. So rather than one possession or one trafficking charge, there is one charge of drug trafficking + 300 charges of possession on the indictment.

That’s multiplication and stacking of charges.

What is the Best Defense Against Drug and/or Trafficking Charges?

The best defense is to call your attorney as soon as possible. Most calls are from the police station, which is good. It means that the Fifth Amendment protection has been invoked. Hopefully, your right to remain silent was not violated. By that, meaning that you have not volunteered information about your case to investigators.

In other words, if you are arrested on drug charges in the Chicago area, only provide your name, date of birth, and address to authorities. If they want to know more, tell them to contact the Law Offices of Daniel D. Hinich at


Don’t answer any questions, even if it seems totally unrelated to your case. Be polite, but be quiet; your defense begins with your silence. Tell police to call me and I’m on the way.

Can Daniel D. Hinich Help With My Drug/Trafficking Charge?

For more than 25 years, Daniel D Hinich has been helping people just like you beat drug and drug trafficking charges in the state of Illinois. From his Law Office in Homewood, Mr. Hinich has helped thousands in South Chicago and nearby suburbs defend their rights.

One of the first things you can expect from Daniel D Hinich is that your case will be given the attention it deserves. Whether the drug/drug trafficking charges you face are severe or “simple,” Mr. Hinich will get the facts and work out the best possible strategy with you. Communication is a vital element to any case. For this reason, expect for Mr. Hinich to keep you well informed regarding your case. If you have questions, he will be able to give you answers because at every step of the case, he will be directly involved.

Read the Illinois Controlled Substances Act here.

Check out too the Illinois Trafficking Penalties – Controlled Substances Table provided by the University of Chicago. The pro-marijuana legalization organization Norml has an excellent chart showing all Illinois marijuana laws.


Other Questions People Ask about Drug and Trafficking Charges

Is it true that under an ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor?

The under-an-ounce idea is mostly urban legend. Sure, some states have eased the penalties involved for up to 28 grams (one ounce) of marijuana, but not Illinois. In the state of Illinois, a drug possession charge involving an ounce of marijuana is a felony; a conviction results in between 1 and 6 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

What is drug trafficking?

In Illinois, trafficking is any activity intended to distribute controlled substances. Thus, manufacturing an illicit drug, growing pot, giving a joint to a friend, hooking someone up, or otherwise facilitating the movement of a drug can result in a trafficking charge.

What is the charge for growing marijuana?

In Illinois, growing in the case of marijuana is the equivalent of manufacturing. Thus, there is likely to be a charge of trafficking added to a possession charge. The plant will be weighted and the charges leveled according to quantity. If more than one plant is involved, expect multiple charges for possession. If arrested, do not answer questions. Have the police call your attorney, Daniel D. Hinich immediately.