I recently lost a dear friend and the circumstances of his death lead everyone to believe that he died because of a controlled dangerous substance overdose. The numbers don’t look good for curbing the overdose deaths. According to the CDC, there were more than 63,600 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, the problem seems to be getting worse.
This begs the questions: Will Drug Dealers Face Criminal Charges for Overdoses? What that means is, someone sold or gave an addict drugs that ultimately led to their death. In the days after his death, I’ve been asking a lot of questions to myself about how this can happen.
As a criminal defense lawyer it made me wonder and debate if the individual that sold or gave my friend the drugs would face criminal charges for his overdose?
While this is not a common scenario where one individual is charged for someone else’s death because they consumed an illegal drug that was sold to them. It is not unusual, as recently seen in Anne Arundel County, Maryland as well as Montgomery County, Md.
So I set out to start this debate with myself and with you to figure out if drug dealers should and will face criminal charges for the overdoses they cause.
How Drug Dealers Work
Here’s how this typically works:
- The drug dealer has drugs.
- The user needs drugs or wants drugs and contacts a drug dealer to supply those drugs to the user.
- The drug dealer then gives or sells the drugs to the user.
- The user then takes the drugs and subsequently dies from an overdose.
Fentanyl and It’s Dangers
Fentanyl is used as an additive that many drug dealers or illegal drug manufacturers are combining with the common street drugs to increase the “high” for the user.
Now, I am no way an expert on the molecular breakdown of drugs and controlled dangerous substances. But my understanding, from talking to recovery specialists and police officers is the Fentanyl and other additives increase the “high” for the user.
Why Use Fentanyl
I’ve always been told that the first time an individual uses an illegal drug, it’s the best “high” they will ever have. Therefore, every time they take drugs after the first time is there an attempt to feel the same way they felt the first time.
The drug dealers and illegal drug manufacturers or trying to increase the subsequent highs that drug users have and therefore boost their profits and the demand for their product.
The problem with this scenario is, the additive such as Fentanyl are so dangerous, even in small amounts that they kill by increasing heart rates and causing heart attacks.
Some experts suggest that fentanyl, the size of a grain of salt, can kill someone who has not built up a tolerance to the substance.
No Chemistry Sets Used by Drug Dealers
The drug dealers and illegal drug manufacturers are not using exact science when they add Fentanyl to the cocaine or heroin. Therefore, if they sell 20 different bags of drugs, 19 of the bags may have no fentanyl in it and the one remaining bag may have an excessive amount of Fentanyl.
Reckless Endangerment Charges for Drug Dealer
- that the drug dealer engaged in a conduct that created a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person,
- that a reasonable person would not have engaged in that conduct, you certainly believe that reasonable people would not be drug dealers, and
- that the drug dealer acted recklessly.
Involuntary Manslaughter Charges for Drug Dealer in Overdose Death
- that the conduct of the drug dealer cause the death of the drug user and
- that the drug dealer, conscious of the risk to the user, knowingly and recklessly disregarded the likelihood that the drug dealers actions would cause the death of the drug user.