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Illinois Court upholds stiff sentence in marijuana growing case

 Posted on January 30, 2014 in Criminal Defense

An Illinois appeals court recently upheld a tough sentence for a man who was convicted of marijuana manufacturing.

The defendant, Michael J. Hogan, was sentenced to a prison term of 15 years in prison plus a two year period of probation, in addition to fines, fees, and a concurrent sentence. Mr. Hogan appealed the sentence, citing its harshness.

Authorities searched Mr. Hogan's apartment after his landlord entered it and discovered various marijuana plants growing. Police searched Mr. Hogan's apartment and confiscated up to 5,000 grams (11 pounds) of marijuana.

He entered an open plea agreement to unlawful manufacture of cannabis and marijuana possession, for the dismissal of a charge of unlawful production of cannabis.

Prosecutors will often over-charge defendants in hopes of scaring a criminal defendant into a plea deal. In this case, Mr. Hogan pleaded guilty to two charges and appeared surprised when he was sentenced to the maximum term in prison.

The sentencing judge noted that Mr. Hogan had an extensive history of drug manufacturing and dealing, including several convictions and active warrants. Mr. Hogan also presented no mitigating evidence, which means that the court had nothing to consider which weighed in favor of giving him a lighter sentence.

Mr. Hogan sought to withdraw his guilty plea and vacate the judgment due to excessiveness, and then appealed the trial court's denial of his motion.

The appeals court judges were mostly unsympathetic to Mr. Hogan's appeal. They found that his extensive drug-related history and regular course of drug dealing conduct outweighed any mitigating factors. The court also noted that although he received a long sentence, it was still within the statutory limits for his crimes.

Pleading guilty to a drug crime without a plea agreement for a specific period of time is risky. This case shows that the harshness of a particular judge is often not a basis to subsequently withdraw an appeal.

Rolling Meadows attorney Donald J. Cosley is highly experienced in drug criminal defense cases. If you have a question about a drug charge, contact him online or call 847-253-3100.

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