In recent years it has become popular for illegal drug dealers to mix highly potent drugs such as the heroin with a substance known as fentanyl in order to generate a more profound high for those who are taking the drug. Fentanyl is the dangerous opioid drug compound that has produced far too many deaths in Massachusetts and the New England region as a result of its use. People who receive drugs that are mixed with fentanyl have a substantially increased risk of accidental fatal overdosing. In response, prosecutors are seeing drug dealers charged for deaths resulting from the drug dealing activities.
Illegal opioid drug use that prompts fatal overdosing is one of the biggest epidemics that Massachusetts law enforcement and the legislature has had to face in the recent past. According to a 2016 data brief study by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, fentanyl-related deaths are on the rise in Massachusetts. Over half of all opioid drug-related deaths in Massachusetts in 2015 also involved fentanyl. Needless to say, the state takes the matter of death due to drug-related overdosing very seriously.
Drug Dealers Charged for Overdose Deaths
One of the ways that Massachusetts is trying to combat the drug overdosing problem is to levy manslaughter charges against drug dealers when their buyers overdose. If prosecutors can link the drug product that caused a fatal overdose to a particular drug dealer, the prosecutor will bring manslaughter charges against him or her. The reason that manslaughter charges are brought is because the drug dealer is responsible for causing the death of the victim. The manslaughter charges will most likely be involuntary manslaughter charges as the death was likely not the intention of the dealer, nor was the death purposely caused by the drug dealer.
Now, you might be thinking, “How could the drug dealer be held responsible for the death of the victim? The dealer did not force the victim to take the drugs.” This is an astute observation, but the state prosecutors do not care. The death of the victim would not have happened but for the dealer providing the drugs, and thus the dealer is the cause of the victim’s death. Facing manslaughter charges for a fatal overdose is an uphill battle in Massachusetts.
Anyone who is charged with selling or distributing illegal drugs needs to consult with an experienced drug crimes criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being arrested. If someone died as a result of taking drugs that you gave them, you may face manslaughter charges as well as your drug charges. Manslaughter charges are serious and the consequences are steep. You will need a skilled and dedicated defense lawyer in your corner fighting for your rights.
Contact a Massachusetts Drug Crimes or Manslaughter Defense Lawyer
Drug charges are tough to fight in Massachusetts, and having a manslaughter charge stacked on top of your drug charges can make things more complicated and more difficult. You need an experienced defense lawyer who can handle both aspects of your criminal defense.