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Criminal Defense Lawyers Serving McHenry County, Illinois

Illinois drug induced homicide defense lawyer

Under Illinois’ drug-induced homicide law, it is possible for an individual to be charged with a Class X felony even if he or she did not intend to kill another person. The law defines drug-induced homicide as unlawfully delivering a controlled substance to another individual that then results in death, either to the direct recipient or another party, from the injection, inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of the substance. Charges of drug-induced homicide can be complicated, and the penalties for a conviction are severe. If you are facing such charges, discuss your case in detail with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to ensure that you understand exactly what may lie ahead during the criminal justice process.

Recent Illinois Drug-induced Homicide Cases

In March 2017, four Kane County individuals were charged with drug-induced homicide after a victim died from overdosing on fentanyl-laced heroin they had provided. In late 2016, another Kane County woman was charged with this offense after a male victim died from the same cause: heroin laced with fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a narcotic used to treat severe pain. Like other opioids, it has a high risk for addiction and abuse by users. On its own, fentanyl can be more dangerous than heroin, and when the two are combined, the mixture can be fatal as users face severe risks of respiratory distress. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to know exactly what is in a bag of heroin, which can cause unsuspecting users to place themselves in great danger when they use the drug.

Intentional vs. Unintentional Drug-induced Homicide

Reading the language of Illinois’ drug-induced homicide law, it is easy to see how this offense could be committed unintentionally. An individual who sells, delivers, or distributes illegal controlled substances to others is already committing a criminal offense by doing so, but are not often doing so with the intention of harming consumers. The law, which was initially passed to target drug dealers whose actions caused overdose deaths, does not actually differentiate between individuals who deal drugs for profit and individuals who simply give drugs to others, such as in a party environment. The person providing the drugs may even intend to use the drugs as well.

It is a complicated law, and many feel it is unfair because an act as simple as partying with a friend could lead to a homicide charge. Supporters of the law argue that individuals who use and exchange illegal substances know the risks associated with drug use and should be subject to steep penalties if their actions cause others’ deaths, inadvertently or not.

Penalties for a Drug-induced Homicide Conviction

As a Class X felony, a drug-induced homicide conviction has the following penalties:

  • A minimum prison term of 15 years. This term can be as long as 30 years or, if the defendant is sentenced to an extended prison term, up to 60 years. An extended sentence may be applied if certain aggravating factors are present, such as the victim’s age or gang involvement in the offense; and
  • A fine of up to $25,000.

Defense Strategies Against a Drug-induced Homicide Charge

Never assume that you are going to be convicted of a crime. It is possible to build a defense against any type of charge, including serious charges like drug-induced homicide. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your defense strategy could result in prosecutors dropping your charge or reducing it to a lesser offense, such as a Class 1 or Class 2 felony.

Possible defenses to a drug-induced homicide charge include:

  • A lack of evidence linking you to the victim’s death via overdose;
  • Evidence collected illegally, which may not be used in court; and
  • Proof that you did not give another party illegal drugs.

Work with an Experienced Crystal Lake Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing any type of criminal charge, it is important that you work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to develop an effective defense strategy for your case. To get started, contact our team of Crystal Lake criminal defense lawyers at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC today and schedule a free, confidential consultation today.

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