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It’s something that allows you the rare opportunity to keep a felony off your record. Section 410 of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act allows certain individuals to get probation instead of a conviction if charged with possession of small amounts of drugs. Section 410 is only for someone who has not been convicted or placed on probation for drug possession in the past.

Getting caught with small amounts of cocaine, for example, is a felony. First-time offenders can avoid serving time and can keep their records clean if they qualify for – and successfully complete – their 410 probation.

In order to get 410 probation, you will be found guilty. Then, the judge basically puts your case on hold. If you successfully complete the probation, then the case is dismissed. If you fail to comply with the terms of your probation, the probation can be revoked and you can be sentenced to whatever penalty the law allows … It’s as if you’re going back to the day you pled guilty, but without the option of probation. You only are eligible for 410 probation one time.

Many people fail 410 probation because the requirements are strict. You cannot break the law during your probation; you cannot possess a firearm; you must submit to periodic drug testing (and pay for it yourself); and you must complete 30 hours of community service in most cases. The judge has the discretion to include additional requirements, such as paying fines and undergoing treatment.

Employers often ask if you have been convicted of a crime. One of the main benefits to 410 probation is that you can answer “no.”

If you can get through probation, you still have one more step to go through if you want to completely erase it from your record. After five years, you can petition for expungement. If granted, the record of your probation will be completely erased. Most types of probation cannot be expunged; 410 probation is an exception.

Keep in mind that 410 probation is not granted automatically. An experienced defense attorney can let you know if it’s realistic for your case.