Recently there has been some legal argument as to the criminal consequences of heroin-related deaths in Cook County and DuPage County. This country discusses the possibilities and limitations of criminal liability. The case of 21-year old Christopher Houdek is interesting. Apparently he and a girlfriend Adrianna Diana (20) cooked and injected heroin. The next day she found him unresponsive. Paramedics were summoned, but the victim died in hospital. The County Coroner ruled it an accidental death by heroin intoxication. The prosecutors disagreed and charged Diana together with two dealers with homicide. The story becomes even more tragic in as far as one of the defendants (Diana) died from an overdose whilst out on bail.
The Legal Issues
This case is a real trial for the criminal law in Illinois. It raises the prospect of vicarious criminal responsibility as well as safe custody. It could be argued that Diana was a victim too, particularly if one considers the dealers to be the ultimate villains in this case. At the same time both people who died were adults and there is no evidence to suggest that they were forced by the dealers to consume the heroin. Likewise it must not be forgotten that heroin is a controlled substance in Illinois. Its procurement, sale, distribution and consumption can constitute a criminal act. Sadly the case is not unique. Between 2013 and 2015, there were over 2000 fatal overdoses in Illinois. The law is complicated further by the fact that the involvement of large scale supply chains makes these acts subject to federal and international law.