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In Illinois, "controlled substance" charges are always felonies and include any drugs other than cannabis. Controlled substance charges usually involve the following drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • MDMA
  • Methamphetamine
  • Hallucinogens
  • Psychedelics
  • Prescription Drugs

The Illinois statute for controlled substances is 720 ILCS 570/401 – 414. Methamphetamine is listed separately under 720 ILCS 646/1 – 120.


Drug-related charges are extremely common throughout the country. In Illinois, charges for drugs other than cannabis usually occur in two broad categories: possession under 720 ILCS 570/402 or manufacturing/delivering/possessing with intent to deliver under 720 ILCS 570/401.

Possessing a drug without evidence of selling it is known as "simple possession." You likely will be charged with simple possession if you have a small amount, in one bag or container, and no scale is nearby.

On the other hand, you may be charged with manufacturing/delivering/possessing with intent to deliver if you have a large amount, have multiple containers, or a scale is nearby. Obviously, if you deliver to an undercover officer or an informant, you will be charged with delivery.

Regardless of whether you are charged with simple possession or something more, the government has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed the drug. As with all drug charges, you cannot be convicted of possessing something you were unaware of. Additionally, even if you knowingly possessed the drug, the evidence may be suppressed if law enforcement disregarded the Constitution in order to arrest you.


If you are convicted of a drug offense, you may be eligible for a deferred-prosecution program and avoid going to prison.

Some examples of deferred-prosecution programs include:

Drug School: Drug school is a program in Cook County that allows clients charged with simple possession to avoid a conviction. To qualify, the client must have no felony convictions, and no misdemeanor convictions for selling drugs or for a violent crime. The client attends 4 drug-education classes, which take place weekly and are 2.5 hours each. After completing the classes, the client becomes eligible to have his or her case dismissed.

2nd-Chance Probation: 2nd-Chance Probation is for clients charged with non-violent felonies. To qualify, the client must have no felony convictions, no convictions for a violent crime, and no previous placement in a deferred-prosecution program. Treatment for substance abuse is often part of the program. Successful completion of the program allows the client to avoid incarceration and dispose of the felony charge without a conviction.

TASC Probation (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities): TASC probation is a program designed to encourage clients to address the causes of their behavior. TASC case-managers prepare individualized plans to help participants overcome their personal challenges and make better choices. Treatment for substance abuse is often a central focus. Under TASC probation, the judge enters a conviction against the client when they enter TASC but vacates the conviction upon successful completion of the program. Acceptance into TASC is often denied, but a skillful defense attorney can improve your chances of being admitted into the program.

Drug Court: Drug court is a program for clients charged with non-violent felonies that have addiction issues. Drug court provides clients with counseling, drug screening, and drug treatment. Regular court monitoring helps clients stay on track. Successful completion of the program results in a reduction of the sentence or even a dismissal of the charges. More important, however, is that clients leave the program with the skills needed to live a life free from addiction.

If Charged with a Crime, You Need a Trial Lawyer

John Joyce is an agressive trial lawyer with the training and experience you need to win your case. Call us now at 773-789-7899 to receive a free consultation.


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