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States prosecuting people associated with overdoses

Texas is one of a number of states that have laws dealing with drug-induced homicide. In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, law enforcement is increasingly cracking down on people who provide the drugs that lead to another person's fatal overdose. However, some argue that prosecuting these individuals is not the answer and could even increase the incidence of fatalities since people might be less likely to call for medical aid for fear of prosecution.

One 39-year-old woman in Pennsylvania is facing third-degree murder charges after she gave her neighbor some heroin and the neighbor died of an overdose. The precise charge, drug delivery resulting in death, could lead to up to 40 years in prison. The woman had become addicted to heroin after she took Percocet for years for back pain. Her neighbor had asked her to pick up some heroin for him with $10 he gave her. She was unaware that the heroin included Fentanyl, a potentially deadly synthetic drug.

From 2013 to 2017, news reports about people around the country facing similar charges tripled. While the original intent of the laws was to prosecute drug dealers, some say the renewed focus casts anyone involved in obtaining the drug as a dealer. Furthermore, there is little evidence that these kinds of prosecution reduce addiction.

A person who is facing drug-related charges should not assume the charges are not serious because they involved a small quantity of the drug or the person is not a drug dealer. Penalties related to what seem like even minor drug charges can be severe. While in some cases a plea bargain, which usually involves a guilty plea to lesser charges, can be a good strategy, people may want to talk the case over with an attorney first.

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