If someone dies of a drug overdose, many would declare it to be a tragic accident and hope for some improved treatment for addiction that would reduce the number of deaths by overdose. For law enforcement, however, an overdose death may easily become a homicide investigation. If you happen to have shared an illegal substance with the deceased, you may be the person police are looking for.
Pennsylvania allows prosecutors to charge anyone who delivers drugs that result in a fatality. Whether this means an overdose or a deadly reaction, you may still be facing serious charges if police connect you to the drugs that caused someone’s death.
The charges you face
In some cases, the “drug delivery resulting in death” charge pertains to those who are high up the ladder in the drug trade or those who make their living selling drugs to desperate addicts. However, more than half of those charged with homicide following a drug overdose are people who sell just enough to pay for their own drugs, who buy drugs for a friend or who share what they have with someone else.
Most of the time, police have arrested caretakers, friends or family members who gave someone too high a dose. A small percentage of those charged with drug-induced homicide are doctors.
Pennsylvania has the highest rate of drug delivery resulting in death cases filed across the country. In the past 17 years, Pennsylvania prosecutors filed 664 cases. The next highest state filed half as many. Giving or selling drugs that result in someone’s death is a first-degree felony charge, and a conviction means facing the possibility of 20 to 40 years in prison. Studies show that if you are a minority, you are more likely to receive the larger end of that sentence.
Taking the first step
If you are facing charges of drug delivery resulting in death, you may benefit from the representation of a skilled and experienced lawyer. An effective attorney will have the resources to scrutinize the results of toxicology reports and any technological evidence, such as cell phone records. A quality attorney will also have access to experts who can challenge the evidence against you.
Facing felony charges following a friend or loved one’s fatal drug overdose will not get you the help you may need. If you are struggling with your own substance abuse issues, you still have a great deal on the line, including the opportunity to get your life back on track and work toward a brighter future.