Chicago’s Heroin Epidemic and Overdose Crisis


In October of this year, there were more than 100 heroin overdoses in Chicago, including 74 in a 72 hour period. Police blame one batch of heroin that swept through Chicago’s West Side, which was laced with the drug fentanyl, a powerful painkiller. Most of the users who overdosed obtained the heroin from the same two sources, which is what led authorities to determine that a single batch was to blame for all of the overdoses. Those who overdosed failed to respond to Narcan, the drug used in emergency rooms throughout the United States to reverse the effects of a heroin overdose. Not until emergency room doctors doubled and tripled the Narcan amounts were they able to save the lives of the people who overdosed.

Chicago Police are Cracking Down on the Heroin Problem

Heroin use has been on the upswing in Cook County. Throughout the United States, heroin overdoses have quadrupled in the past ten years. Between 2007 and 2013, heroin use in the United States has doubled, and many experts believe no city has been harder hit than Chicago.

In an attempt to stop the rise in heroin use and overdoses, the police are cracking down on heroin use throughout Chicago. If you are arrested on heroin-related charges, it is important to retain an experienced drug defense attorney who can aggressively defend your rights.

Criminal and Financial Penalties for Heroin Convictions

Punishment for the possession of heroin depends on the amount you have in your possession when caught. If you are charged in Illinois for possession of at least 15 grams of heroin, you will be charged with a Class 1 Felony. If you have 15 to 99 grams, you can be punished with a jail sentence of four to 15 years. If you are arrested with 100 to 399 grams of heroin, you face a jail term from six to 30 years. 400 to 899 grams of heroin carries a jail term of eight to 40 years, and 900 or more grams of heroin is punishable with a prison term of ten to 50 years. In addition to the possible prison sentences, anyone charged with possession of heroin can be hit with a financial penalty of up to $200,000, or up to the street value of the drugs that were in your possession, whichever is greater.

Elements of a Conviction

If you are to be convicted of possession of heroin, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the substance in question is heroin, that you knowingly possessed it, and that the heroin was in your immediate and exclusive control. To establish the third element, the prosecutor must prove that you had either actual or constructive possession of the heroin. Constructive possession means you did not necessarily have physical control over the substance, but you had the intent and capability to maintain control and dominion over it. Constructive possession is often charged if drugs are found in your apartment or home.

More people die of Heroin overdoses in Illinois than anywhere else in the country. If you have been arrested and are facing charges related to heroin, call the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg today. If you are in the Chicago or DuPage area and need a compassionate, experienced drug defense lawyer who will help you make the best decisions regarding your heroin arrest, call or email us today for a no obligation consultation.

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