State law requires the Coroner to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of death if the death is suspicious, obscure, mysterious, or otherwise unexplained and in the opinion of the examining physician or the coroner the cause of death cannot be established definitely except by autopsy, and where a death has occurred while being pursued, apprehended, or taken into custody by or while in the custody of any law enforcement agency. An autopsy occurs when there are:
- A sudden or violent death, whether apparently suicidal, homicidal, or accidental, including but not limited to deaths apparently caused or contributed to by thermal, traumatic, chemical, electrical, or radiational injury, or a complication of any of them, or by drowning or suffocation, or as a result of domestic violence as defined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986
- Maternal or fetal death due to abortion, or any death due to a sex crime or a crime against nature
- A death where the circumstances are suspicious, obscure, mysterious, or otherwise unexplained or where, in the written opinion of the attending physician, the cause of death is not determined
- A death where addiction to alcohol or to any drug may have been a contributory cause; or
- A death where the decedent was not attended by a licensed physician.