FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. According to the New York Times, prosecutors are increasingly seeking homicide charges in drug overdose deaths. In some of these cases, family and friends end up in jail. In other cases, the people who are facing criminal charges are friends who shared drugs at a party, loved ones who purchased street drugs for family, or victims who purchased a batch of opioids with fentanyl.
In some cases, individuals faced charges because they helped a loved one or friend inject the drug, but in other cases, these individuals were the ones calling 911, trying to save their loved one’s life.
Individuals can face criminal charges for the death of a person to whom they supplied drugs under drug delivery resulting in death laws. The laws were written to help prosecutors seek out drug dealers, but the unintended consequence is that individuals and family members who share drugs can now face prosecution.
In fact, the definition of “dealing” has become increasingly vague. In some cases, sharing a needle or even arranging a deal can be prosecuted. In Pennsylvania, the laws were changed so that individuals can be charged with a drug overdose homicide regardless of whether they had malice toward the victim. In Rhode Island, the attorney general has suggested imposing mandatory minimum life sentences for these crimes. As the opioid crisis continues to grow, we may see two waves of victims—those who tragically overdose, and those addicted friends and family who end up in the criminal justice system rather than getting help for their addictions.
Does seeking charges stop drug dealing on the street? Many critics of the policy and experts believe that this tactic does nothing to end the opioid epidemic or to stem the tide of drug addiction. Prosecuting family and friends also seldom leads officials to kingpins or major drug dealers.
Florida is one state where it is illegal to obtain drugs for a person that later leads to the person’s death. If you are caught giving drugs to a person who later overdoses, you could face criminal homicide charges. State good Samaritan laws that protect individuals from drug possession charges afford no protection for homicide charges.
Many overdose scenes are now treated as homicide scenes.
The Drug Policy Alliance, calls drug overdose homicide cases “counterproductive and inhumane.” As more people die from drug overdoses, we are more likely to see victims and family members face serious criminal charges.
Homicide charges can result in serious jail time, the loss of your freedom, and other serious consequences. If you are facing homicide charges or manslaughter charges because of a friend or loved one’s overdose, consider reaching out to the Fort Lauderdale, Florida criminal defense lawyer at Michael D. Weinstein, P.A. Florida is one state that can pursue drug overdose deaths as homicides. If you find yourself facing the double tragedy of a loved one’s overdose and your criminal charges, protect your rights. Visit us at https://mdwlawfirm.com/ to learn more.
Michael D. Weinstein, P.A.
12 Southeast 7th Street, Suite 713
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301