If you are ever charged with marijuana possession, you probably have a lot of preconceived notions about what the process looks like and your possible penalties and fines.

Below are a few debunked myths regarding marijuana possession in the area.

Possession charges don’t differ between Missouri and Illinois

Where you are charged with possession has a difference over how your case is handled. For instance, in Missouri, a drug charge is a felony if it is more than 35 grams, but in Illinois, it is a felony if it is over 30 grams.

The fines in Illinois are also considerably higher, even on a first offense, and a second offense of 10 to 30 grams is also a felony.

Medical marijuana is legal

Again, this relies heavily on where you’re using marijuana. Medical marijuana is legal in Illinois, but not in Missouri. A citizen-led initiative in Missouri failed to make the ballot in 2016, but advocates are working on an initiative for 2018.

Charges on a first offense will be light

The penalties and fines will be less severe on a first offense, but courts can look at aggravating or mitigating factors in a drug case, such as your past record. Those factors can lead to more substantial sentencing or fines. Even on a first offense, it’s helpful to seek counsel who can advocate for you and keep those mitigating factors from affecting your charges.

The courts don’t care about rehabilitating you, just criminalizing your behavior

In both Illinois and Missouri, there are special “drug courts” overseen by a judge whose aim is to rehabilitate the defendant instead of taking the case to trial. In these courts, judges have substantial control over operations. A defendant who agrees to drug court spends roughly 12 to 15 months attending treatment sessions and undergoing random testing. They also agree to regular court appearances.

However, those who fail to appear in court or fail drug tests are likely to be arrested and often given a brief jail sentence.

Ultimately, the myth you shouldn’t believe is that it is best handling your own marijuana possession case. Legal counsel can help navigate the charges and create realistic expectations.