Heroin Sale, Manufacturing, Possession with Intent

The ongoing war on drugs and rising crime in Illinois have prompted lawmakers and law enforcement to take steps to crack down on the illicit drug trade. Few would disagree that drug dealing has a devastating impact on society, but we’ve seen a number of complications with how drug investigations are handled by law enforcement over the past several years.

Sometimes, that means the use of illegal surveillance or wiretaps, or unlawful searches and seizures. In other cases, the charges target an otherwise good person caught up in difficult circumstances. On occasion, an innocent person is wrongly accused.

Among the most serious criminal drug charges in Illinois are those of selling, manufacturing, trafficking, or possessing heroin with the intent to deliver. Heroin itself is a deadly drug with dire consequences for users, and the charges surrounding it can have a life-altering impact on the accused.

The consequences of a conviction for heroin delivery, manufacturing, trafficking or possession with intent can include:

  • A lengthy prison sentence — including decades in a state penitentiary
  • Fines of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars
  • A permanent felony record that can be a barrier to employment or your career
  • Effects on your professional license, if you have one
  • Effects on your immigration status, if you’re a non-citizen
  • Effects on your child custody or visitation rights, especially if your offense was committed in the presence of your child

Heroin offenses are treated very seriously in Illinois. If you’ve been charged with delivery, manufacturing, trafficking, or possession of heroin with the intent to deliver, you should seek the help of a resourceful Illinois Chicago drug lawyer who can aggressively fight your charge.

Defining Heroin Delivery, Manufacturing, Trafficking, and Possession with Intent

The delivery, manufacturing, or possession of heroin is a complex charge that covers a few different types of actions related to the illicit heroin trade. Under 720 ILCS 570/401, they include:

  • Delivery — It is illegal to knowingly deliver heroin in Illinois. Delivery essentially means to transfer possession, whether or not for money. Selling heroin can be charged as delivery, but so could simply giving it away to another person.
  • Manufacturing — It is likewise illegal to create or manufacture heroin and other controlled substances.
  • Trafficking — Heroin trafficking involves knowingly bringing the drug into Illinois from another state or country.
  • Possession with intent — This describes when someone has heroin on their person or in their possession, and is planning to sell or distribute the substance. Charges of possession with intent often involve large quantities of heroin, but this is not a requirement. You can be charged with the felony of possession with intent for even a relatively small quantity of heroin, if a prosecutor can prove that you intended to deliver it to another person.

In order to prove that someone wanted to sell, manufacture, traffic, or possess heroin with intent to deliver, a prosecutor must generally collect and introduce outside evidence beyond the drugs themselves. This additional evidence may include items commonly associated with the charge, such as baggies, scales, and other paraphernalia.

Intent to sell must also be established, even if no transaction took place. Sometimes, the location of the arrest may help support the charge, such as when someone is arrested in an apartment complex or on a street corner known for drug dealing, but location alone may be insufficient for a charge absent other evidence.

Penalties for Illinois Heroin Offenses

Selling, manufacturing, delivering, or possession of heroin with the intent to deliver are serious felony offenses that are harshly punished if you’re found guilty. Possible penalties depend on the amount of heroin involved, and may include:

  • 10 to 15 grams — You may be sentenced to 4 to 15 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $250,000
  • 15 to 100 grams — You may be sentenced to 6 to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000
  • 100 to 400 grams — You may be sentenced to 9 to 40 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000 or the street value of the drugs
  • 400 to 900 grams — You may be sentenced to 12 to 50 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000 or the street value of the drugs
  • More than 900 grams — You may be sentenced to 15 to 60 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000 or the street value of the drugs

You may be sentenced to a longer prison term if your offense involved the use of a firearm.

  • Use of a firearm — Adds 15 years
  • Discharge of a firearm — Adds 20 years
  • Discharge of a firearm causing injury or death — Adds 25 years to life

Trafficking heroin is an even more serious crime under Illinois law. If you’re found guilty, 720 ILCS 570/401.1 states that you can receive at least double the minimum sentence for sale, manufacturing, delivery, or possession with intent. The penalties for trafficking are likewise based on the amount of heroin involved, so a charge of trafficking in 100 to 400 grams of heroin could be punished with a prison sentence of at least 18 years and up to 80 years.

Common Defenses to Heroin Charges

An Illinois heroin charge is a grave legal matter with potentially life-changing consequences. You may effectively be sentenced to the rest of your life in prison if you’re convicted for delivery, manufacturing, trafficking, or possession with intent to deliver large amounts of heroin.

However, these types of charges often rely on evidence obtained in from searches, seizure, wiretaps or surveillance, or on information obtained from confidential informants. These methods of investigation often can be flawed, which in turn means that evidence obtained as a result of methods that didn’t comply with the law or your constitutional rights may not be admissible in court.

Some common defense strategies in heroin cases can include:

  • Investigative errors: Examining whether officials overstepped their legal bounds during an investigation, relied on incorrect information from a confidential informant, or made other mistakes that might have jeopardized the proceedings.
  • Legal rights: Working to suppress or dismiss evidence used by the prosecution if your search and seizure rights were violated at any point in the process.
  • Hard proof: It’s much tougher to prove this charge than simple possession, due to the nature of the evidence that gets introduced. A skilled Illinois criminal defense lawyer may be able to demonstrate that the facts tell a different story than the one argued by prosecutors.

How a Chicago Drug Defense Lawyer Can Help

Cases involving heroin sales, delivery, manufacturing, trafficking, or possession with intent can be large and complex. Charges may stem from lengthy, multi-jurisdictional investigations and involve voluminous evidence and numerous witnesses. Defending a case like this requires experience and skill.

Chicago drug defense lawyer Michael O’Meara has more than 20 years of legal experience that includes both prosecuting and defending drug charges. He has an in-depth understanding of how felony drug cases work in Chicago and the strategies local prosecutors use to try to prove your guilt. This perspective from both sides of the criminal process gives O’Meara the knowledge to build strong defense strategies designed to obtain the best possible result.

If you have been charged with the sale, delivery, manufacturing, trafficking, or possession of heroin with intent to deliver, it is crucial that you talk with an attorney who will fight to obtain justice and to protect your rights. Contact O’Meara Law LLC today at 312-909-0706 for a free consultation to learn how he can help you.