The Illinois Controlled Substances Act states, "Except as otherwise stated by this act, it is unlawful for any person to knowingly possess a controlled or counterfeit substance or controlled substance analog" (720 ILCS 570/402).
Pertaining to guns and other weapons, the law states that Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon is committed when "a person commits the offense of aggravated unlawful used of a weapon when he or she knowingly..." (goes on to state all of the actions which fall under this statute) (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6).
The Illinois Controlled Substance, Cannabis Control Act, and Act 5 Criminal Code of 2012 have something in common, they all require the defendant to knowingly possess the substance or item.
What does it mean to possess something knowingly? There have been many controversies over the definition of knowledge over past years in the courts. In 2010, Illinois established what they recognize to be a definition of knowledge under the Criminal Offenses Act.
"The nature or attendant circumstances of his or her conduct, described by the statute defining the offense, when her or she is consciously aware that his or her conduct is of that nature or that those circumstances exist. Knowledge of a material fact includes awareness of the substantial probability that the facts exist" (720 ILCS 5/4-5).
In short, this means that the circumstances of a particular case can result in a person being deemed to be aware that he/she is in possession of any unlawful substance, or is probably. This is a lower standard than having a subjective intent to be in possession. The good part is that these are fact questions which are left to the jury to decide. As we will see, sometimes seemingly incriminating facts have an innocent explanation.
When you are charged with the possession, it is the States job to prove you knowingly or intentionally possessed that item. "Not only is it the State's job to prove you knowingly possessed the cannabis, but they also must prove that you understood, or knew, the material was an illegal, controlled substance "(U.S. v. Covarrubias, 65 F. 3d 1362 (1995)). In U.S. v. Covarrubias the district court stated a way which knowledge may be inferred or assumed :
You may infer someone has knowledge of something from a combination of feeling or thought that something is likely or true, and a lack of interest or concern in the truth (U.S. v. Covarrubias, 65 F. 3d 1362 (1995)).
Listed below are several examples where the fact of knowingly possessing has played a large roll in the decisions of cases.