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A Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Insight on Drug Crimes

by | Feb 12, 2022 | Firm News

As a Chicago criminal defense lawyer, there are a wide variety of offenses for which we regularly provide representation at trial. This post will briefly address some of the drug crimes for which a Chicago criminal defense lawyer is called upon to provide a defense.

On the Federal court front as a Chicago criminal defense lawyer, there are a surprising number of prosecutions for what used to be considered as State or local “street crimes.” These include drug offenses, which can include, for a Chicago criminal defense lawyer, representation in connection with clients accused of the manufacture, processing, sale, transportation, or distribution of a wide variety of controlled substances. The substances underlying such charged offenses can commonly include, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, meth, and fentanyl.  Alternatively, the Chicago defense lawyer may have to defend his client against allegations arising out of synthetic forms of those or other substances.

These Federally charged cases can arise even in connection with a single “buy” or transaction, particularly if the drug amount or quantity is high, or if the charged individual is believed to be in a position to assist prosecutors with charging others, or if the charged individual has a history of drug crime convictions.

They will also often be called upon to represent a defendant who has been charged in Federal court in Chicago as part of a drug “conspiracy.” Typically, for a Chicago defense lawyer, these cases involved organizations, including gangs or other affiliated individuals or groups. A Chicago criminal defense lawyer will be called upon to attempt to establish that his client was not a part of the charged conspiracy; or that the charged group does not actually represent a group of conspirators at all; or even sometimes that the charged individual was not part of the charged conspiracy, but instead was part of some other conspiracy or affiliation.

These defense lawyers may also have to start by pursuing pre-trial motion practice in an attempt to attack, or even learn more about, the Federal government’s case.

Of course, on the State court side, a Chicago criminal defense lawyer is called upon, on a regular basis, to represent clients charged with anywhere from relatively nominal amounts of illegal substances, to multiple kilos, or even truck loads of such substances. What makes Illinois somewhat unique for a Chicago criminal defense lawyer, as compared to some other States, is that the drug quantities may result in charges that carry either a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, or a 30-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Often, success with pre-trial motions or a not guilty jury trial may be the only paths to victory.

Of course, these State court criminal prosecutions present some advantages to attorneys. For one, as noted above, the charges often arise as the offense is allegedly being carried out, rather than as part of a long and painstaking investigation –  which is more the norm in a Federal drug prosecution. In addition, the witnesses, including members of law enforcement and expert witnesses, may not be as sophisticated as the witnesses encountered by the Chicago criminal defense lawyer in Federal drug cases.

In short, a Chicago defense lawyer of Chicago must be ready to apply his negotiation and trial skills in either Federal court or State court venues in defending felony drug cases.

-Michael Leonard   Leonard Trial Lawyers