Drug charges are traditionally applied to those who sell or use drugs. However, it is now becoming increasingly common for drug or even homicide charges to be applied to non-dealer friends involved in supplying drugs for an overdose, those who shared drugs, or those who arranged the transaction to purchase the lethal drugs.
With the opioid crisis now claiming more lives per year than AIDS did during the height of that epidemic, law enforcement and the justice system is increasingly using the more severe charges in efforts to (in their eyes) curb the sale and distribution of drugs.
Instead of drug dealing, the charge is murder
According to the nonprofit Drug Policy Alliance, 20 states now have drug-related homicide laws on the books. Even the so-called “Good Samaritan” laws where states would not charge fellow addicts who try to seek medical assistance for a fellow user do not apply to drug-induced homicide. While Indiana does not use the “drug related homicide” charge, prosecutors are using current laws to hold dealers and friends accountable, usually with charges of a Level 5 or 6 felony. One needs look no further in newspapers around the state in recent months for stories on this legal approach, including this one, where the defendant was charged with reckless homicide.
Not treating the symptoms
Unfortunately, there is little evidence that they severe charges are effective deterrents for drug users or those who help them. Advocates claim that the threat of hard time is a deterrent for dealing or supplying drugs, but critics like Drug Policy Alliance point out that addressing addiction does not mean going after supplier. Addiction experts still believe that the best way to address drug addiction both individually and on a large scale is to address the need. This means getting addicts and users into detox and drug rehabilitation treatment.
Legal guidance is crucial
If you or a loved one face charges involving supplying drugs that led to someone’s overdose and accidental death, it is crucial to speak with an attorney with experience handling criminal defense specifically related to drug charges. Each case is different, but regardless of the charges, an attorney can help insure that the rights of the accused are protected.