Resurgence of Heroin Charges in Illinois

Skilled Defense Attorneys Defending Those Charged With Drug Crimes

Heroin has developed a reputation as a drug that is primarily abused by poor people living in the inner city. Whether there is any truth to this idea, it is undeniable that heroin has made significant inroads into middle-class, suburban communities and is swiftly becoming an epidemic in areas not traditionally associated with drug abuse.

If you or a loved one faces charges of heroin possession, trafficking, or distribution, it is crucial to get experienced legal counsel on your side right away. At the law firm of Martin & Kent, L.L.C., our attorneys regularly handle numerous drug cases in Illinois. We serve as tenacious advocates when it comes to protecting the rights of the accused. For a free and confidential initial consultation, call our office today to find out how we can help.

Why Heroin Is so Abused

Researchers and advocacy groups can almost directly trace the resurgence of heroin abuse in Illinois to the increase in prescriptions for powerful painkillers. For years, doctors have prescribed drugs such as OxyContin, Vicodin, and other opioid-based drugs for all types of aches and pains. These drugs can be highly addictive and when a prescription runs out, an addicted individual may decide to look for these drugs on the black market. However, illegal prescription drugs do not come cheap, and heroin is typically a much cheaper option that provides the opium-based high that addicted individuals crave.

Drug-related arrests occur in all areas of Illinois, including the following as reported by the Illinois State Police for a single year in our state:

  • Across Illinois state = 109,272 arrests
  • Cook County = 55,201 arrests
  • DuPage County = 5,519 arrests
  • Will County = 3,621 arrests
  • Kane County = 2,626 arrests
  • Kendall County = 556 arrests

With thousands of arrests occurring each year across Illinois, that chances are high that you or someone you love may find yourself under arrest, perhaps wrongfully so, on suspicion of heroin charges. After an arrest, your first call should be to our experienced criminal defense lawyers who understand how the criminal justice system works in Illinois.

Felony Heroin Charges

Possessing, selling, and trafficking heroin are all felony charges under the State of Illinois’ Controlled Substances Act. The criminal penalties imposed on convicted offenders depend on a number of different factors. Those factors include the amount and weight of the heroin that the police recover, prior criminal convictions, and other past offenses. Moreover, if police found heroin within 1,000 feet of a school building, the penalties may increase significantly. Prison sentences for drug convictions involving heroin can range anywhere from one to 50 years behind bars.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, you can face penalties for any of the following criminal offenses involving heroin:

  • Manufacturing or delivering a controlled substance
  • Selling or trafficking a controlled substance
  • Unlawfully possessing a controlled substance
  • Repeat or subsequent offenses involving heroin or other illegal drugs

While many people think that possessing a small amount of heroin should not be a big deal, authorities pursue convictions for all heroin-related offenses aggressively, including for simple possession. You should always seek assistance from a skilled criminal defense lawyer who will aggressively fight for your rights.

Potential Penalties for Heroin Trafficking

A judge can sentence convicted heroin trafficking offenders to jail time and/or require them to pay a large fine. A conviction for trafficking under 15 grams of heroin can result in a Class 1 felony charge. For a conviction, you can spend four to 15 years in prison, and you could also receive a maximum of $250,000 in fines.

Trafficking between 15 grams and 99 grams of heroin is a Class X felony, and a conviction can result in between six and 30 years in jail. Trafficking between 100 grams and 399 grams of heroin is also a Class X felony, which is punishable by nine to 40 years in jail.

Trafficking between 400 and 899 grams of heroin is a Class X felony, and a conviction can result in between 12 and 50 years in jail. Finally, trafficking 900 grams of heroin or more can lead to a Class X felony conviction and 15 to 60 years in jail. For any Class X felony conviction, in addition to the potential jail time, you could also face fines up to $500,000.

Potential Penalties for Selling Heroin

For a conviction of illegally selling heroin, you will also be facing some serious criminal penalties and consequences. Selling less than one gram of heroin can result in Class 2 felony charges, along with between three and seven years in jail. Selling between one and 14 grams of heroin is a Class 1 felony, which can result in between four and 15 years in jail.

Selling 15 to 99 grams of heroin is a Class X felony, which can get you between six, and 30 years in jail. Selling between 100 grams and 399 grams of heroin is also a Class X felony which can result in nine to 40 years in jail.

Selling 400 to 899 grams of heroin is a Class X felony which can lead to up to 50 years in jail. Finally, selling 900 grams of heroin or more is a Class X felony which is punishable by up to 60 years of incarceration.

In addition to receiving jail time upon conviction, you could face fines in the amount of $25,000 all the way up to $500,000, depending upon the circumstances surrounding the drug sale.

Potential Penalties for Heroin Possession

Although a charge of heroin possession is arguably the least serious heroin-related charge, a conviction can still land you in jail or subject you to harsh monetary fines and other penalties. Possessing less than 15 grams of heroin can result in Class 4 felony charges, and a conviction can result in between one and three years in jail. You could also have to pay a maximum of $25,000 in fines.

If you are caught possessing between 15 and 99 grams of heroin, you can face Class 1 felony charges, and a conviction can lead to between four and 15 years in jail. Possessing between 100 grams and 399 grams of heroin is a Class 1 felony, and a conviction can result in between six and 30 years in jail.

Possessing between 400 and 899 grams of heroin is a Class 1 felony and for a conviction, you can receive up to 40 years in jail. Finally, possessing 900 grams or more of heroin can lead to Class 1 felony charges and between ten and 50 years in jail. In addition to potential jail time following a conviction for heroin possession, you could also be sentenced to pay a maximum of $200,000 in monetary fines.

Possible Legal Defenses to a Heroin Possession Charge

If you face charges of heroin possession in Illinois, a DuPage, Kane, and Cook County criminal defense lawyer may be able to assert one or more strong legal defenses on your behalf. When it comes to charges of heroin possession, some of the most common defenses include:

  • Lack of specific intent – If you lacked the necessary specific intent to possess heroin, then you may be able to assert a lack of intent as a defense to your heroin possession charge.
  • Mistake of fact – If you were mistaken about a fact that is a central element of the crime of heroin possession, then you may be able to assert a mistake of fact as a legal defense to this charge. For example, if you did not believe that the drug you were possessing was heroin, then you may be able to successfully raise this legal defense.

  • Duress – If someone else unlawfully coerced you or threatened you with death or serious bodily harm, causing you to commit the crime, then you may be able to raise duress as a legal defense to your heroin possession charge.

  • Police entrapment – If a police officer or investigator used undue coercion to illegally talk you into committing the drug crime, then you may be able to raise entrapment as a defense.

  • Lack of control – If you face charges of heroin possession, you may be able to allege that you did not have actual or constructive control over the drug—or that the drug in question actually belonged to someone else.

Working to Avoid the Harsh Consequences of a Drug Conviction

Our lawyers understand how people become addicted to heroin and we are sympathetic to their plight. The law, however, is not so understanding. The consequences for a heroin-related drug charge can be severe and may include a lengthy prison sentence, heavy fines and a permanent criminal record that can severely limit opportunities long after a person serves his or her debt to society.

We work hard to help people avoid these harsh consequences. If we are unable to secure a dismissal of the charges against you, we can explore alternative sentencing options. For example, we may able to get your case heard in drug court, an innovative program that is designed to treat the addiction, not punish the addict. Upon successful completion, any criminal sentence may be reduced or eliminated, or the court may even dismiss your case altogether. We can also explore other options to help mitigate criminal penalties, such as a plea bargain. In every case, you can count on us to be tenacious defenders of your rights.

Contact Our Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys Right Away

If you or a loved one faces charges involving heroin, our experienced criminal defense lawyers are here to give you the help you need. Call our office at (630) 474-8000 today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. With offices in Wheaton in DuPage County, we provide criminal defense services to individuals throughout DuPage County, Kane County, and Cook County, Illinois.