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630-472-9700Available 24/7

Cook County State Attorney Announces Changes to Drug Possession Prosecutions

Posted on in Drug Crimes

possession, drug crimes, Oakbrook criminal defense attorneyThe Cook County state's attorney recently announced that her office will no longer prosecute the majority of misdemeanor marijuana charges and will instead recommend nonviolent offenders who are charged with low-level felony possession of cannabis, cocaine, Ecstasy, and heroin be enrolled in drug treatment programs.

Currently, a person who is charged with a Class 4 felony possession faces either one to three years in prison, a $25,000 fine or both. The state attorney said in her announcement that instead of facing criminal charges, an alternative prosecution program will be created to help keep drug addicts out of the criminal justice system and, instead, get them into rehabilitation programs. By treating chronic drug addiction has a public health issue – instead of a criminal one – prosecutors hope to help alleviate the overcrowding of the Cook County court system.

The Cook County courts have been bogged down for years, dealing with these low-level drug possession cases. Statistics from the American Civil Liberties Union reveal that in 2010, there were 33,000 people arrested in the county for possession of marijuana. This comes out to 91 arrests per day.

Similar programs have been implemented in Albany and Brooklyn, New York, as well as in Seattle, Washington, and Santa Fe, New Mexico

Changes under Cook County’s new program include:

  • There will be no misdemeanor charge prosecutions for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana for those defendants who have less than three arrests for similar charges;
  • For those who do have three or more arrests for similar charges, they will be sent to a drug program and charges will be dismissed upon successful completion of the program;
  • Anyone who is charged with a low-level drug possession felony will be sent through alternative prosecution program which will include drug rehab and social service programs. This would not apply to violent offenders; and
  • In order to reduce how many days a person spends in custody, drug offenders will be identified during their bond hearing – which is typically the first stage in the criminal justice system.

The proposed changes will not affect any pending cases of anyone currently charged with drug possession. If you have been arrested on drug charges, contact an experienced Oak Brook criminal defense attorney today.  Call Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.  at 630-472-9700 for a free consultation.

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