TASC and Drug Probation – A Primer

ScholarDrug and TASC probation is a special kind of probation because the law allows you to avoid a criminal conviction and eventually expunge your arrest record. It is one of the few ways to avoid going to jail and avoiding a permanent criminal conviction.

Under “regular” probation, a felony conviction stays on your 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, you have be charged with possessing illegal drugs.  For TASC probation, the charge does not have to be drug related, but rather, have to elect to be treated as a person with a drug problem.   For example, if you are charged with Residential Burglary, you 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 criminal defendants that have substance abuse or mental health problems.   TASC does not offer treatment directly, but rather coordinates the treatment program for the individual.  TASC also provides services not related to cases involving drugs such as the Domestic Violence Diversion program.

Under the Illinois Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependency Act you can request that the Court treat you as someone with a drug problem and referred to TASC for an evaluation.  However, the Court may find that you are not eligible for TASC if there are:  1) charges pending alleging a violent crime; 2) you have two or more prior convictions for violent crimes;  3) the offense charged is a crime of violence;  4) you 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 you eligible for TASC under 20 ILCS 301/40, acceptance into TASC is not automatic. TASC has to accept you.  Generally, TASC will accept you 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 you are accepted into TASC, a tailored program is put in place to assist you with your 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 the 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 mandatory drug tests.  In those circumstances, the prosecutor usually files a Violation of Probation and asks the Court to sentence you to jail time.  Most judges are aware that recovery is not easy and will give you some lee way.  However, if you show little regard for the terms of your probation, you 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” or “410” probation in reference to the law before it was changed.

(c) Methamphetamine Possession.  Under the Methamphetamine Control Act (720 ILCS 646/70), a person is charged with possessing less than 15 grams of methamphetamine, is also eligible for drug probation.  This probation is often referred to as “Section 70” probation.

The term of drug probation is for 24 months. During that period, you are 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 add additional terms to the probation depending on the circumstances.

Unlike drug probation a judgment is not entered against you.  When you complete your drug probation, the case is simply dismissed.  Under TASC probation, a judgment is entered when you 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 you 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.

John Ioakimidis is an award winning Chicago criminal defense attorney with almost 22 years of experience aggressively representing his clients against drug charges.  If you have a drug case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

Additional Resources

Treatment for Safe Communities Program.

Illinois Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependency Act, 20 ILCS 301/40.

720 ILCS 550/10.

720 ILCS 570/410.

720 ILCS 646/70.