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Representatives Argue for Lower Drug Penalties in Illinois

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drug crimes, penalties, decriminalization, Illinois criminal defense lawyer, Chicago criminal attorneyIllinois representatives Dennis Rebolletti and Michael Zalewski believe that lower drug crimes should be associated with lower penalties. This concept came forth as one possible solution to Illinois' overcrowded prison system, and some representatives believe that marijuana possession should be decriminalized with only small fines as punishment. Some representatives believe that realignment is needed because so many lower-level drug criminals are being sent to prison.

Zalewski informed the House Judiciary Committee that future legislation might include lower penalties for small amounts of heroin and cocaine, too, in part to reduce the work drug enforcement labs have to do. Labs are used to verify the drugs, but some of those cases are eventually dismissed, causing a backlog in processing. This isn't the first time Zalewski has put forth a lesser-sentence bill.  Last year, he tried to get others on board with plans regarding illegal weapon possession. He believes that this radical approach is what's necessary to reduce the burden on prisons. To date, there is no legislation confirming the exact details of what decriminalization would look like, but Zalewski believes there is a lot of potential with this kind of legislation. Keeping some people with lower-level possession charges out of prison and cutting down on the number of drug tests that labs have to do would help curb growing costs on criminal justice. The current proposal would link marijuana possession with a $250 fine on a first offense, rather than the possible one year in jail that an accused individual might face today. Drug charges are serious. Under current law, you could face prison time if convicted of drug charges. If you have been charged, you need the guidance of an attorney who is familiar with current charges and procedures in Illinois. If you have been charged with drug possession, contact an Illinois criminal attorney today.
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