Illinois Decriminalizes Low-Level Marijuana Possession

Joliet Lawyer Marijuana Pot PossessionA recent study by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch included some staggering statics about drug possession charges. According to the study, every 25 seconds , a person is arrested for a drug crime. The rates of arrest for possession or use of drugs has increased dramatically since President Nixon’s “War on Drugs” press conference in June of 1971. A significant portion of arrests made since then has been for marijuana possession . In fact, according to the Washington Post , marijuana-related arrests occur more often than all arrests for violent crimes combined.

Growing Problems

The high rate of non-violent drug crime arrests has led many around the country to question the effectiveness and the necessity of such drastic measures. Prison overpopulation has become a major concern in many states, including Illinois. Observers and advocates for change point out that those convicted of non-violent drug possession offenses continue to take up prison space that could be used to house more dangerous, violent offenders.

Changing Landscape

In the state of Illinois, the official approach to marijuana has begun to evolve in recent years, beginning with the approval of a medical marijuana program back in 2013. This summer, lawmakers made a significant statement on the matter by approving a measure that decriminalized low-level possession of marijuana. An offense that could once be charged as a misdemeanor is now the rough equivalent of a parking ticket in Illinois.

According to the new law, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is still illegal but will result in the issuance of a citation which carries fines of between $100 and $200. Individual municipalities have the freedom to add additional fines and penalties, including the requirement to attend drug counseling or treatment. Marijuana citations are also expunged automatically every six months, on January 1 and July 1, meaning that low-level possession offenses will not follow an offender forever.

DUI Standards

The new law also provides the state’s first standard for impaired driving related to marijuana. Despite studies suggesting that such standards have no scientific validity, a driver found to have 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or 10 nanograms per milliliter of saliva in his or her system can be charged with driving under influence of marijuana.

Let Us Help

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana or DUI related to the drug, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today. We are equipped to provide the responsible, affordable representation you need to protect your future and your rights.

Illinois Felony Punishment Breakdown

Joliet Felony Criminal Charges AttorneyAre you facing felony charges ? A felony is any crime that is punishable by at least one year in an Illinois state prison. Misdemeanor charges, on the other hand, include a prison sentence of a year or less, depending on the severity. If you are facing felony charges, it is important that you consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. With prison time and hefty fines on the line, a guilty verdict can be life changing.

Under Illinois law , felonies are categorized based on the severity of the crime committed. In general, the less serious the crime is, the less severe the punishment is likely to be. Felonies are broken up into five categories - Class 1 through 4 felonies, followed by Class X, which includes the most severe crimes one can commit aside from first degree murder. If you are facing felony charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help determine which class of felony you are being charged with and can help you build as best a defense as possible. Below, we break down the punishments associated with each class of felony in Illinois.

Class 4 Felony

The least serious felony charges one can face are Class 4 felony charges. Examples include stalking and aggravated assault. Being the least serious of all the felony classes in Illinois, Class 4 felony punishments include a fine of up to $25,000 and between 1 and 3 years in jail.

Class 3 Felony

Class 3 felonies are a step up from Class 4, and thus carry harsher sentences. Aggravated battery, for example, is a Class 3 felony, and anyone found guilty of committing a Class 3 felony will face between 2 to 5 years in a state prison as well as fines of up to $25,000.

Class 2 Felony

Class 2 felonies—arson, for example—are very serious. Sentences range from 3 to 7 years in prison along with fines of up to $25,000.

Class 1 Felony

Class 1 felonies include high-level heroin and cocaine possession, as well as other very serious crimes such as criminal sexual assault. The punishment associated with a conviction ranges from 4 to 15 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Class X Felony

Class X Felonies are the most serious of all felony charges in Illinois. If found guilty, those who have committed Class X felonies face between 6 to 30 years in state prison as well as fines up to $25,000.

Extended Terms in Illinois

In some cases, a judge may determine that extended sentencing is necessary, and may sentence those found guilty of committing a felony to more than the typical prison time associated with the class of felony. Aggravating factors must be present for a judge to add extended terms. For example, a past criminal history , or being involved in a hate crime, would both warrant potential extended terms. Even a Class 4 felony, which is usually punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, can be extended to up to 6 years if aggravating factors are present. At the top of the list, a Class X felony with extended terms can be punishable by up to 60 years of incarceration.

Facing Charges?

Are you facing felony charges? A felony of any class can be life changing, so it is important that you consult with an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney who can help build a strong defense. At the Law Office Jack L. Zaremba, our team has years of success defending clients from a variety of charges. Mr. Zaremba himself is a former prosecutor who understands the Illinois legal system. Call 815-740-4025 today to set up a free consultation with us to review your case.

Facing Domestic Battery Charges: Three Actions that Can Damage Your Case

Joliet Order Of Protection Domestic Violence LawyerWhen you are facing domestic violence accusations of any kind, the potential consequences are grave, especially if you lack the proper knowledge and legal representation necessary to defend your case. Whether you are indeed guilty of committing a domestic violence crime or you feel you are being unjustly accused, the moment you are at risk for being charged, your behavior from that moment on has the power to influence your case.

Domestic Battery Defined

According to Illinois law, you have committed domestic battery if you have knowingly, without legal justification, caused bodily harm or made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature against a family or household member. The state considers domestic battery a Class A misdemeanor, but if you have prior convictions on your record and are arrested, you may face an upgraded Class 4 felony charge. In short, if you have interfered with someone’s freedom in any way by threatening, harassing, or physically hitting them, you have broken the law.

Actions That Can Make Matters Worse

Once you have been detained or arrested on allegations of domestic violence, any move you make can be used against you later in court. Although you may be tempted to make decisions out of anger, confusion, or hurt, any irrational behavior on your part can negatively impact your case. Here are three things to avoid when facing domestic battery charges:

1. Disregarding an order of protection

You may find that a court order has been filed against you that prevents you from contacting the person you are accused of abusing. This means you may be barred from your shared residence and from visiting them at work or school. You may also be required to attend counseling. Additionally, you may be required to appear in court and may be prohibited from taking your child (if applicable) out of town or out of state. In general, an order of protection places certain restrictions on you and keeps you from contacting the claimant. Violating this order is a Class A misdemeanor and can put you at risk for up to a year in jail plus expensive fines. Disregard the order twice, and you are looking at a felony charge.

2. Refusing to cooperate

If you are charged with a domestic battery offense, you will likely be prohibited from contacting the claimant and from entering or remaining at their residence for a minimum of 72 hours. If you attempt to contact them, whether on the phone or in person, you run the risk of being charged with additional offenses. Should you be arrested for violating an order of protection and contacting the claimant, it is critical that you cooperate with law enforcement to ensure you do not aggravate the situation. Do not resist your arresting officer, exert an argumentative tone, or go against the claimant’s wishes. A little cooperation can go a long way when it comes time to go to court.

3. Neglecting to consult with an attorney

A number of factors can keep you from consulting with an attorney when you’ve been accused of a domestic violence crime, such as financial worries, pride, and fear. Speaking with an attorney, however, is one of the very best things you can do to protect your rights.

Call for a Free Consultation

If you have been charged with domestic battery or any other type of domestic violence, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.


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