The Serious Consequences of Heroin and Opioid Charges

Years ago, meth was the big problem, and a hugely successful cable television show told the story of a fictional high school chemistry teacher who took up manufacturing meth to pay for his cancer treatments.

Meth was huge, right up until it wasn’t the center of the national focus anymore.

These days, opioids are the problem du jour. A national crisis has developed involving opioid addiction and overdose deaths. Opioid addiction is costing Illinois in excess of $3.5 billion each year. Between 2013 and 2016, drug overdose deaths grew by more than 44 percent—and almost all of the increase came from opioid overdoses. Of the 2,278 overdose deaths in Illinois in 2016, 1,826 were opioid-related. Opioids are killing more people in Illinois than homicides—despite Chicago’s well-publicized gun violence epidemic.

Frequently, the problem begins with pain treatment. An athlete or car accident victim, for example, may suffer an injury. Doctors will prescribe opioids to control the pain. Those drugs, however, are not only addictive, but they can slowly lose their effectiveness, while the pain from the injuries may not go away.

Doctors, worried about addiction, may refuse to keep prescribing pain medication. Without a prescription to control their pain, patients may look to heroin or even more powerful opioids like fentanyl. They’re less expensive and—because licensed physicians and pharmacists don’t act as gatekeepers—in many cases they’re easier to obtain than prescription opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, or morphine.

Through no fault of their own, then, patients may find themselves addicted and breaking the law to feed their addictions and treat their pain. If addiction prevents them from working to earn a living, they may turn to drug dealing or other crimes to pay for their drugs.

At Martin & Kent, L.L.C., we understand how this can happen. We also know that while Illinois’s response to opioids, and drug enforcement in general, is evolving, the law isn’t so compassionate. Drug users, including those who have fallen into opioid addition, can still face arrest and prosecution, fines and prison time—you could find yourself facing serious legal problems. Arrests on opioid charges remain common, and after an arrest on such charges, you need to find good legal defense representation as soon as possible.

Legal Consequences

The state still imposes harsh penalties, with steep fines and prison time, for opioids. Under the Illinois law, penalties for possession of heroin in Illinois include:

  • Up to a year in jail for possession of less than 15 grams
  • Penalties of fines up to $500,000 and six to 30 years in prison for possessing 15 grams to 100 grams
  • Possessing 100 to 400 grams can yield a fine of $500,000 or an amount equal to the street value of the drugs, with jail time of nine to 40 years on top of that
  • Having 400 to 900 grams will get you fines of as much as $500,000 or the street value of the drugs, and you still could face 12 to 50 years in prison
  • Possessing more than 900 grams could get you fines of $500,000 or an amount equal to the street value of the drugs, in addition to 15 to 60 years in jail

Luckily, however, a statewide diversion program is now available. Rather than an arrest or prosecution, and the consequences that come with them, in many cases the state has made treatment programs available. Ask us if you qualify for this program. If you do, we’ll fight to get you into it.

If You Are Facing Heroin Charges, Mount a Strong Defense

If police officers arrest you on suspicion of any type of heroin or opioid offense, you need to move quickly to minimize the damage to your life and reputation. All criminal charges can leave lasting consequences, including allegations of possession, possession with intent to distribute, manufacture, or trafficking.

If a prosecutor issues any of these charges, you need to hire an attorney who will support your decision to invoke your right to remain silent, and then support your decision to stick to it. The right attorney will similarly support and assist all other efforts to defend your rights and fight for your acquittal.

After finding such an attorney, cooperate with them fully. Make sure your attorneys know everything about your case they need to successfully battle the charges against you. An experienced defense attorney can help you in many ways, starting with convincing the court to allow you reasonable bail, examining your case for violations of your constitutional rights, and finding lab errors or other technical errors that could hurt the case against you.

If You Face Heroin-Related Charges in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, Consult the Criminal Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

After an arrest for heroin or opioid charges, you are facing a conviction that carries serious implications for your future. You will need the best defense you can get. Call the criminal attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C., who have considerable criminal defense experience, as well as time as felony prosecutors. They will put forth an aggressive defense for you no matter what type of charges you face, and they are committed to delivering the best possible outcome. For a consultation in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact them 24 hours a day at (630) 430-8622.



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