On July 29, 2016 the Governor signed Public Act 99-0697 that took effect immediately. This new Act decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of cannabis and drug paraphernalia. Under the new law, possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis or drug paraphernalia seized during the offense is characterized as a “civil law violation” and is punishable by a fine of $120. Previously, possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis was a Class B misdemeanor that was punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $1,500, and possession of drug paraphernalia was a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year of imprisonment and a fine of between $750 and $2,500.
All citations for this law are “May Appear” violations, which means that a court appearance is not required and the $120 can be paid prior to the court date. If the violation is paid in full by the next January 1 or July 1, the Circuit Clerk’s office will expunge all violations once the time has lapsed for a possible appeal of the charge. If an citation is issued to an individual under the age of 18, the Circuit Clerk will be impounding that information from public view.
If you receive a citation you can pay your $120 fine at the Courthouse or through the mail at anytime. Please remember to include your citation so that you can sign your “Plea of Guilty”. If you have not paid your fine and do not appear for your court hearing, an Ex Parte judgement will be entered against you. If your violation remains unpaid for the next 90 days, it will be sent out to collections.