Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Illinois seeking to decriminalize pot possession

On May 17, the Illinois House of Prepresentatives approved a bill that would take away criminal penalties for possession of marijuana. Instead, those found in possession of a "personal amount" of marijuana will simply face a fine.

Traditionally, a person who was found to be in possession of marijuana in Illinois could potentially face a jail sentence. Up to 2.5 grams was considered to be a class C misdemeanor punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 30 days and a fine of up to $1,500. Possession of up to 10 grams is a class B misdemeanor. The associated punishments could include a six-month jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,500.

According to the bill, those who were found in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana would be assessed a fine of up to $200. The offense would also be expunged and would not show up on a person's criminal record. If the bill is approved by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois will join twenty other states and the District of Columbia that have already passed legislation that remove the threat of jail time for possession of a "personal amount" of marijuana.

Criminal law is constantly evolving, as the push to decriminalize small amounts of a drug that many feel is safer than alcohol shows. However, this bill has not been enacted into law yet, and there may be some law enforcement officials who are opposed to it and who will take a person into custody even when a tiny amount is found in a person's car after a traffic stop. Having the assistance of a criminal defense attorney would be advisable in such an instance.

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