It is the rare community that has not seen lives destroyed by the “Opioid Epidemic.” Every day, Americans die due to the abuse and misuse of powerful opiates and painkilling drugs such as OxyContin®, fentanyl, Vicodin®, and Percocet®. More than 42,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016 alone. In addition to being deadly, these opiates are also highly addictive which can lead otherwise law-abiding individuals to engage in deceptive and criminal conduct to obtain the medication and substances their brains are telling them they need. The resulting addictions also create a large and lucrative market for those who wish to profit by manufacturing, selling, and distributing these drugs.
The sheer devastation caused by opioid abuse has led lawmakers, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors to take an aggressive stance against crimes involving opiates, including their illegal possession. If you are caught with illegal opioids or prescription painkillers in Illinois without a valid prescription, you could face severe penalties.
At the Wigell Law Group, we know that addiction can cloud judgment and drive people to make poor decisions. We also know that these individuals need compassion and help, not punishment and demonization. That is why we take a non-judgmental yet aggressive approach when defending clients against opiate possession charges, always seeking an outcome that avoids incarceration in favor of treatment and other alternative sentencing arrangements.
Illegal Possession of Opiates in Illinois
All forms of opiates, whether legal prescription medication or illegal drugs like heroin, are controlled substances under Illinois law. While prescription painkillers are “legal,” they are only legal for those who hold valid prescriptions for them. If you don’t have a prescription, your possession of even one pill or patch is illegal. It doesn’t matter how you obtained the drug, either; any of the following can be the basis of prosecution for possession, and potentially other offenses such as prescription fraud:
- Taking medication from a friend or family member, with their knowledge or not
- Stealing prescription pads
- Forgery or alteration of prescriptions
- Impersonating a physician
- Using someone else’s ID to obtain medication
- “Doctor shopping” to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Purchasing from the black market
Penalties for Opiate Possession
Penalties for opiate possession are primarily determined by the kind and amount of drugs involved. Under both Illinois and federal law, illegal narcotics are classified into five schedules. Heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance, while most prescription opioids, including fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine, are Schedule II drugs. Convictions for substances on these two schedules typically come with the harshest penalties.
As with most crimes, penalties for opiate possession increase on second and subsequent convictions, and if you are charged with possession with intent to distribute, the possible consequences become even more dire.
Charged With Opiate Possession in Chicago? We Can Help.
Criminal charges and the prospect of a conviction for opiate possession can make an already difficult situation an overwhelming one for individuals struggling with opiate abuse, as well as for their loved ones. Whether an opiate possession charge arises from a momentary lapse in judgment or errors made by police or prosecutors, the experienced Chicago drug crime defense attorneys at Wigell Law Group can help.
For over 40 years, individuals charged with drug crimes have turned to attorney Raymond Wigell and his dedicated team of legal professionals to protect their rights and their futures. We provide aggressive advocacy in the courtroom while also giving compassionate counsel that can bring clarity and a path forward during a frightening and confusing time.
To schedule your free and confidential initial consultation, please call us today at 312-535-3796 or use our online contact form.