Appeals Court Upholds Drug-Induced Homicide Conviction
With all of the talk nationwide about criminal justice reform and alternatives to imprisonment for so-called “low-level” and non-violent offenders, it is understandable that the severity of certain drug crimes can be underestimated. Of course, in most such cases, the offenses in question tend to be simple possession or the possession of drug paraphernalia. Most people realize that other drug crimes—including possession with intent to deliver, manufacturing, and trafficking—are much more serious. Perhaps the most serious drug-related offense is known as drug-induced homicide and is, for all intents and purposes, tantamount to murder.
A case involving allegations of drug-induced homicide from 2012 was recently heard by an appellate court in Illinois. A three-judge panel upheld the trial court’s finding that the defendant had committed drug-induced homicide, despite being friends with the victim.
A Quick Summary
Court records indicate that in late June of 2012, a 31-year-old Wheaton woman was released prison after completing a sentence for drug-related charges. She was spending the next day celebrating with friends and family when the defendant arrived to pick up the woman’s girlfriend from the party. The defendant, who was 32 years old at the time, also gave the recently-released woman heroin, cocaine, and a kit for using the drugs. Shortly afterward, the woman told her family she was going to take a shower. Several minutes later, she was found unresponsive on the bathroom floor and was later pronounced dead.
The friend who provided the drugs was arrested and charged with unlawful delivery and drug-induced homicide. She was found guilty at trial, but she appealed on the basis that the law was applied incorrectly and that she had not been proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Her arguments, however, lacked sufficient merit and the appeals court upheld her conviction. She remains in prison serving a 9-year sentence and is eligible for parole in 2020.
Understanding Drug-Induced Homicide
Drug-induced homicide is one of the few criminal offenses in which you can be held responsible for actions taken by another person. According to Illinois law, a person commits drug-induced homicide when he or she delivers a “controlled substance to another, and any person’s death is caused by the injection, inhalation, absorption, or ingestion of any amount” of the substance that was delivered. This means that if you sell heroin to an acquaintance and he or she overdoses on the heroin you sold, you could face charges for drug-induced homicide. The charges would be applicable even if you directed your acquaintance regarding how much could be “safely” used at one time. Similarly, you could also be charged if your acquaintance shared the drugs at a party and another partygoer died.
As a class X felony, a drug-induced homicide charge carries substantial criminal penalties. Prison sentences range between six and 30 years, and fines can reach as high as $25,000.
Seek Help With Your Case
If you have been charged with any type of drug-related offense, you need skilled guidance immediately. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Joliet. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Jack L. Zaremba understands the Illinois criminal court system, and he will work hard to protect your rights and limit the damage to your future. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.