Illinois Look-a-Like Controlled Substance

The Law – 720 ILCS 570/404

It is unlawful for any person knowingly to manufacture, distribute, advertise, possess, or possess with intent to manufacture or distribute a look-a-like substance.

Any person 18 years of age or over who delivers a controlled substance look-alike to a person less than 18 years of age may be sentenced to imprisonment for a term up to twice the maximum term and fined an amount up to twice the amount otherwise authorized.

WHAT IS A “LOOK-A-LIKE” SUBSTANCE?

A “Look-alike substance" means a substance, other than a controlled substance which (1) by overall dosage unit appearance, including shape, color, size, markings or lack thereof, taste, consistency, or any other identifying physical characteristic of the substance, would lead a reasonable person to believe that the substance is a controlled substance, or (2) is expressly or impliedly represented to be a controlled substance or is distributed under circumstances which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the substance is a controlled substance.

Illinois prohibits the manufacturing, selling or possessing with the intent to sell any substance that looks like a controlled substance. For example, powdered sugar can be considered a look-a-like of powdered cocaine and would be the basis of a Look-A-Like offense. A substance can be considered a look-a-like for purposes of the statute if its shape, color or size would lead a reasonable person to believe the substance is a drug or if an individual represents the substance to be a controlled substance in a way that would lead a reasonable person to believe that the substance is in fact a drug.

Many factors can be taken into account in determining whether the look-a-like item was being represented as a controlled substance. Factors that would be taken into consideration include, but are not limited to: statements made by the person in possession of the substance, whether the substance is packaged in a manner similar to the packaging found with regards to controlled substances and whether the amount of money or other item being exchanged for the look-a-like substance is substantially greater than the value of the actual substance.

The state must prove that a reasonable person would believe that the substance is a controlled substance. If the state cannot meet this burden, the charges pertaining to a Look-A-Like substance will fail. As an illustration of this principle, if a person offered to sell a small bag of whitish-yellowish “substances” which: looked like popcorn, smelled like popcorn, felt like popcorn and tasted like popcorn while representing that the items in the bag contained crack-cocaine, the charges relating to a Look-A-Like substance would most likely fail. This is because a reasonable person would not believe the baggie contained crack-cocaine.

Additionally, Illinois law punishes individuals over the age of 18 that deliver a look-a-like substance to someone under the age of 18 more severally. In these circumstances, prison term and fines are doubled.

Illinois also prohibits the mere possession of a look-a-like substance. However, unlike Possession with Intent to Deliver, the punishment for mere possession is a petty offense punishable by fine only. Nonetheless, a second or subsequent conviction of possession of a look-a-like substance is a Class C Misdemeanor, which is punishable by jail time.

As with all other offenses in the Controlled Substances Act, a second or subsequent conviction of any offense listed in the Act may be punishable with twice the jail time and twice the fine than what would be allowed for a first offense.

The Sentence

Delivering to someone over the age of 18

Manufacturing, delivering, advertising or possessing with intent to deliver a look-a-like substance:

  • Class 3 Felony
  • 2 to 5 years in prison
  • Fine of up to $150,000

Delivering to someone under the age of 18

Manufacturing, delivering, advertising or possessing with intent to deliver a look-a-like substance:

  • Class 3 Felony
  • 4 to 10 years in prison
  • Fine of up to $300,000

Possessing a look-a-like substance

1st Offense

  • Petty offense
  • Fine up to $1,000

2nd or Subsequent Offense

  • Class C Misdemeanor
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Fine up to $1,500

Probation Possible? Yes

Supervision Possible? Yes

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