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States seeking to charge drug dealers in drug overdose deaths

A person who is addicted to drugs has a chance to overcome that disease. However, some leaders are trying to address the problem at the source by charging those who deal drugs. California residents may be interested to know that many states have laws that hold drug dealers criminally responsible if a drug user who purchased the drug from the dealer has a fatal overdose.

In some states, an individual could spend up to 40 years in prison or even a life sentence under what are known as drug delivery resulting in death laws. In Ohio, a state representative sought such a law, but it stalled in the state senate. Even if such a law were to pass, legal scholars don't know if the statutes are legally sound.

One professor at Harvard says that it may not be possible to charge a drug dealer with murder. He says that it may be hard to prove that the dealer had the requisite intent and that the drug use caused the user to die. The sticking point is whether or not it is reasonable to expect an individual to overdose after using a drug such as heroin. A prosecutor in Franklin County in Ohio says that it is unlikely that a drug dealer intends for a customer to die, so he is in favor of involuntary manslaughter charges instead of murder.

Those who have been charged with drug possession or selling a controlled substance may wish to talk to a criminal law attorney. Legal counsel may be able to craft a defense against the charge that could result in it being dropped or reduced. It may be possible to argue that a defendant had a legally-permissible medical use for the drug.

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