Two men meet in rehab. Neither is ready to commit to a life of sobriety. The one man sells the other man drugs or arranges for him to get access to drugs, and that man dies. Now, the other man is facing homicide charges. He is convicted of giving the other man a fatal dose of drugs. He pleads guilty and is sentenced to seven years.
Prosecutions such as these are becoming more popular and increasing the risk to drug dealers or even those who procure drugs from a drug dealer to deliver to a friend who is going to share the drugs with them. In this case, the victim’s parents pushed police to investigate the overdose as a homicide. Police were able to recover cell phone exchanges between the two men. Importantly, one exchange involved the victim complaining that he believed he overpaid for his drugs. The defendant responded by telling him he had given him the correct amount and the correct change.
The Controversy Surrounding This Law
The problem for police is, how do you differentiate between a career drug dealer and just another victim of drug addiction. Every day, addicts go out in search of drugs, share them with others, and abuse them together. Should individuals who are sharing their drugs with friends, or buying them from real drug dealers be held to the same standard as heroin dealers who do this for a living? Ultimately, the law does not differentiate between the two and that really is a problem because society holds drug dealers to one standard while they hold drug addicts to another standard.
This creates a situation where misguided teenagers are often charged with sharing drugs with their friends at parties.
Collateral Damage and Bad Laws
The law gets itself into trouble all the time because they want to penalize someone for who they are, but that cannot. You cannot make it illegal to “be a drug dealer,” you can only make certain actions illegal. Nonetheless, the law wants to target drug dealers to raise the stakes for dealing substances like heroin and fentanyl that cause a lot of overdoses. So, what does the law do? They say, “if you provide drugs to someone who overdoses, we will charge you with their death.” Now, what happens? Well, as it turns out, drug dealers can be awfully hard to catch based on overdoses, but kids and friends will always call 911 to ensure that their friends are saved. So, now you have a situation where the law finds it easiest to catch and prosecute non-drug dealers.
We often face situations like this under the law. A bad law designed to harm bad people actually harms good people and victims of the drug trade. Meanwhile, the executives who were delivering hundreds of thousands of doses of oxycontin to communities with 10,000 people have yet to face any homicide-related charges for the millions of deaths that they cause.
So, no, this law is not good, it harms people it should be helping and is not effective at keeping drugs or professional drug dealers off the streets.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing serious charges related to drug-induced homicide, call a Chicago criminal defense attorney who believes that you should not be found guilty of those charges. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.