Under “regular” probation, a felony conviction stays on the defendant’s record forever unless the Governor issues a pardon – not very common. Understanding the differences between drug, TASC and regular probation is important because it can mean the difference between having a clean record or being permanently labeled a convicted felon.
A further distinction is also necessary between drug probation and TASC probation. For drug probation, the Defendant is charged with possessing illegal drugs. For TASC probation, the charge does not have to be drug related, but rather, the Defendant elects to be treated as a person with a drug problem. For example, if the Defendant is charged with Residential Burglary, they would not be eligible for drug probation or regular probation, but may be eligible for TASC probation.
TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), is actually run by a not-for-profit organization with offices in every county in Illinois. In 2010, it provided services to 19,462 clients. In large part, TASC provides services to defendants that have substance abuse and/or mental health problems. TASC does not offer treatment directly, but rather coordinates the treatment program for the Defendant. TASC also provides services not related to cases involving drugs such as the Domestic Violence Diversion program. For more information on TASC see: www.tasc.org
Under the Illinois Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependency Act (20 ILCS 301/40), a Defendant can request from the Court that they be treated as someone with a drug problem and referred to TASC for an evaluation. However, the Court may find the Defendant is not eligible for TASC if there are: 1) charges pending alleging a violent crime; 2) the defendant has two or more prior convictions for violent crimes; 3) the offense charged is a crime of violence; 4) the defendant elected and was admitted to a treatment program on two prior occasions within any consecutive two-year period under Article 40; 5) the offense charged is in violation of Section 401 (a), (b), or (c); 5) The offense charged is related to methamphetamines; and 6) the offense charged falls under any other exclusion (DUI offenses, Residential Burglaries with one or more prior felony convictions, other pending felony offenses, etc.).
Even if the Court finds the Defendant eligible for TASC under 20 ILCS 301/40, acceptance into TASC is not automatic. TASC has to accept the defendant. Generally, TASC will accept a Defendant if they determine that a rehabilitation program will help and so long as the charge is not for a violent crime, involves a weapon, or possession of methamphetamines. Once the Defendant is accepted into TASC, a tailored program is put in place to assist the Defendant with his substance abuse rehabilitation. The program and probation is for 24 months. Upon completion, the judgment of conviction is vacated by the Court with the result being that case is concluded without a conviction. The arrest record can also be expunged from the public record 5 years after completion of the 24 months of probation.
Some Defendants run into problems while on “TASC probation” because they do not follow the program or fail one of the many drug tests. In those circumstances, the prosecutor usually files a Violation of Probation and asks the Court to sentence the Defendant to jail time. Most judges are aware that recovery is not easy and will give the Defendant some lee way. However, a Defendant who shows little regard for the terms of their probation will get little or no sympathy from the Court
Turning our attention to drug probation, it is available under three circumstances under Illinois law:
(a) Marijuana Possession. Under the Cannabis Control Act (720 ILCS 550/10), a person who is charged for Possessing Marijuana is eligible for drug probation so long as there was no Manufacturing and/or Trafficking involved. This probation is sometimes referred to as “710” probation in reference to the law before it was revised.
(b) Other Drug Possession. Under the Illinois Substance Control Act, (720 ILCS 570/410), a person who is charged for possessing your most common street drugs or possessing an unauthorized prescription form, is eligible for drug probation. This probation is sometimes referred to as “1410” probation in reference to the law before it was revised.
The term of drug probation is for 24 months. During that period, the defendant is required to a) submit to a minimum of 3 drug tests during the term of probation, b) perform 30 hours of community service and 3) not possess a firearm. Further, you must pay mandatory fines and costs which are approximately $1,200,00. The Court can further add additional terms to the probation depending on the circumstances.
Unlike TASC probation, in drug probation a judgment is not entered against the defendant. When the defendant completes his drug probation, the case is simply dismissed. Under TASC probation, a judgment is entered against the Defendant when they enter TASC and the judgment is later vacated by the Court upon successful completion of probation. As noted, under TASC probation, TASC designs a tailored program for the defendant and they must comply with the recommendations of TASC to successfully complete probation.
The State legislature has take notice that drug addiction is a disease and has carved out these limited exceptions to regular probation to give addicts an opportunity to get better and avoid criminal convictions. With the thousands of inmates currently in jail for drug related crimes, one would think that these programs need to be expanded and the law amended to reflect the enormity of the problem of drugs in our communities.
For more information about the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Legal Defenders, P.C., visit us at www.thelegaldefenders.com or call us anytime at 1-800-228-7295.