Articles Tagged with drug crimes

Macro_cannabis_budEven as some states such as Colorado move to deregulate some previously controlled substances or drugs, Chicago still grapples with the offense of Marijuana possession. At the moment, the state has decriminalized possession but not the actual smoking of pot, which in itself represents a dangerous contradiction. People buy and secure marijuana (often at a great cost) in order to smoke it. Allowing possession whilst banning consumption seems to be one of those incidents in which lawmakers are just too stubborn to admit that they may have made a mistake. Instead they are being dragged screaming and scratching into reality. The consequence for the public is a sequential law that is often riddled with inconsistencies.

The state of the law at the moment must be confusing the potheads and maybe that it is how it was intended. For the defense attorney things are much clearer. Although the client may be arrested for smoking, it is usually the possession that begins the chain of offending that is of interest to the prosecutor. Some localities like Cook County have used prosecutorial policy and discretion to bring more rationality to the law. Hence arrests are made for first and second time offenders but it is rare to make it to the court unless there are other pending matters that the prosecutor wishes to deal with as the defendant is in custody. The Chicago police department also routinely fines those who are caught holding pot. This policy makes sense since everybody knows that you only hold pot when you intend to smoke it or resell it to someone else or hold it for another form of exchange.

The Mechanics and Intentions of the Law

712px--_13_-_ITALY_-_Siringa_droga_-_drugs_-_syringes_-_dealing_IT_WIKIPEDIA.svgRecently 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.

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Local agencies in Illinois are getting concerned about the increasing use of designer drugs, particularly as it relates to driving offenses. Incidents of bizarre behavior that is clearly out of the ordinary are being reported regularly. It is almost as if there is something in the water but the truth is much simpler; drugs are to blame and the law enforcement agencies are of the view that it is about time someone did something about it. The clinicians call it Alpha-PVP while the street-smart call it Flakka. Although this is a relatively new drug, it is noted for its highly addictive qualities. Some have compared it to Bath Salts, but it is much worse. Dozens of overdose deaths are being reported or suspected, and the strange behavior that it induces in its fans includes running around the streets in the nude.

Worse still, Flakka is a combination and co-dependency drug which is preferred by those that are already heavily addicted. The challenge for the law is whether to deal with production, consumption, or distribution or all of them together; the latter being a complex and resource-heavy task. To make matters worse the designer drug trade is based on the ability to create permutations and versions of the same drug using various combinations of the active ingredients. Consequently these research drugs are outside the current specifications of the law and yet they are as dangerous (or even more dangerous) than their parent counterparts. The shipping trail starts all the way to Asia before making its clandestine journey all the way to Illinois. A lot of disguise and misrepresentation is involved since the narcotics and stimulants are disguised as legal products, hence evading the legal controls.

Should the Federal or Local Government Crack Down?

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Did you know that drug dealers can be held criminally responsible if their clients die from an overdose after purchasing their drugs? In Illinois, a drug dealer in this situation can be charged with reckless homicide. This is exactly what recently happened to an alleged drug dealer in Chicago known as “Big D.”

The Journal Times reports that the Burlington police discovered an unresponsive 28-year-old man passed out in his car at a gas station back in May. Officers tried to revive the man but unfortunately he passed away and was pronounced dead at the scene. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner indicated that the man’s cause of death was a fentanyl overdose, according to the Times. Fentanyl is an opioid-based painkiller that can be legally prescribed by a physician, but which is also sold illegally on the street.

As part of the investigation, police officers interviewed a witness who told the police that a person known as “Big D” had supplied heroin and other illegal drugs to the deceased victim shortly before his death. The dealer was identified and law enforcement officials arranged a sting operation under which the cooperating witness arranged to purchase drugs from Big D. Afterwards the dealer was arrested, charged with first-degree reckless homicide, delivery of narcotics, and conspiracy to manufacture or deliver heroin, and is being held on $100,000 bail.

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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.

marijuanaWhether you are facing charges of possession of a controlled substance or illicit drug, or you have been charged with trafficking with the intent to sell or distribute illegal drugs, there are many legal defenses available to you. Depending on which, if any, is applicable, you can greatly reduce the severity of your sentence, especially if it is your first offense. Some of the key defenses are discussed here.

Denial of Ownership

Denying ownership is the common defense put forth in a drug crime and is often quite successful. You should not claim ownership of any drugs if you are searched or your premises are searched, or if you are in a place the police raid and drugs are found; instead you should exercise your right to remain silent and immediately contact an attorney.