New Illinois Criminal Laws Going into Effect January 1, 2020

St. Charles drug charges defense attorney

State and federal laws are always changing. In fact, over 250 new laws are planned to take effect in Illinois at the beginning of the new year. It is crucial to stay up-to-date with these law changes so that you know exactly what your rights are in the event you are charged with a criminal offense. Read on to learn about some of the most important changes taking place in Illinois law this January.

Recreational Marijuana Is Legal for Illinois Residents Over Age 21

The most newsworthy new law taking effect this January is the legalization of cannabis for recreational purposes. Illinois residents aged 21 and over will be legally allowed to purchase marijuana products from licensed retailers in the state starting January 1, 2020. Illinois residents can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and up to 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products.

Illinois residents are not legally allowed to smoke marijuana on public streets, in public parks, in a vehicle, or in the presence of an individual who is underage. Because cannabis is still illegal under federal law, Illinois employers will still have the right to require drug testing and take action against employees who violate drug-free workplace policies.

The new legislation allowing recreational marijuana will also allow individuals to automatically receive clemency for marijuana possession convictions involving up to 30 grams of marijuana. Individuals convicted of possession of 30-500 grams of marijuana may petition the court to have their possession charge expunged. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you clear your criminal record if you qualify.

Other Changes to Illinois Laws 

The legalization of recreational marijuana is just one of many changes to Illinois laws that are taking place in 2020. Other important legal changes you should know about include:

  • The statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse will be eliminated. A statute of limitations is a law that dictates the maximum amount of time after an alleged offense that legal proceedings regarding the offense can begin. This means that you can face charges for sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual abuse years or even decades after the alleged sexual crime took place. The statute of limitations for prosecuting female genital mutilation is also being eliminated.

  • A first-time offense of passing a stopped school bus will now be punishable by a $300 fine. If you are caught for this type of traffic violation for a second time, the fine increases to $1,000.

  • The fines and penalties punishing a violation of Scott’s Law are increasing. Scott’s Law requires drivers to reduce their speed, proceed with caution, and change lanes if possible when they approach any police or emergency vehicle stopped along the road.

Contact a St. Charles Drug Charges Defense Lawyer

Recreational marijuana use becomes legal for Illinois adults 21 years old and older starting January 1, 2020. If you have previously been charged or convicted of a low-level cannabis-related charge, you may be eligible for clemency. At the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC, we have a wide range of experience helping defend against criminal charges and expunging criminal records. If you are facing a drug-related criminal charge or another type of criminal offense, contact a knowledgeable Illinois criminal defense attorney from our law firm for assistance in fighting these charges and clearing your name. Call our office today at 630-232-1780 for a free, confidential consultation.