You probably already know that it is against the law to possess, sell, or distribute controlled substances in Illinois. However, you might not know that in some cases, distributing or delivering drugs can lead to homicide charges. Illinois enacted the Drug-Induced Homicide law in 1989. Under this law, if a person delivers a drug to another person, and that individual dies as a result of using the drug, the deliverer can be charged with drug-induced homicide. Someone convicted of drug-induced homicide in Illinois can face up to 60 years of incarceration.
Illinois’s Drug-Induced Homicide Law Is Hotly Debated
Illinois statutes state that a person commits drug-induced homicide if he or she unlawfully distributes, delivers, or sells an illegal drug to another person, and that person dies as a result of the drug. Drug-induced homicide is a Class X felony offense and is punishable by 15-30 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. In some cases, the prison sentence for drug-induced homicide can be extended to 60 years. There is a large amount of controversy surrounding this law. Some people believe that it is grossly unfair to charge a person with homicide for selling drugs to another person, and if the other person voluntarily consumed the drugs, then he or she took the risk. Others believe that the magnitude of the current opioid crisis in Illinois necessitates harsh penalties for selling fatal drugs. Since 2008, opioid overdoses have led to almost 11,000 deaths in Illinois. Drug overdoses, in general, are now considered the leading cause of death for people under age 50 in the United States.
Illinois' “Good Samaritan Law”
Drug-induced homicide is one exception to the Illinois “Good Samaritan Law.” The Emergency Medical Services Access Law of 2012 provides protection against being charged with a criminal offense for seeking help for someone who is overdosing. In some cases, if a person seeks emergency medical treatment for another individual who is overdosing, both the person seeking help and the person overdosing are protected from drug possession charges. However, the person seeking help could still be prosecuted for drug-induced homicide if he or she is the one who sold or distributed the drugs, and the overdose leads to death.