New North Carolina Law Would Allow Drug Dealers to Be Charged with Murder
As the opioid epidemic and other dangerous drugs continue to claim lives, lawmakers in many U.S. states seek to stop the crises through legislative action. North Carolina recently joined in the effort by passing the Death by Distribution Act, which could lead to murder charges under circumstances you might not expect. You could be arrested if you illegally provide a designated controlled substance to an individual who later dies from consuming it. In such a situation, it’s critical to retain a legal professional that combines the skills of both a drug lawyer and a murder attorney.
While the law may be new, the legal concepts behind it are well-known to our criminal defense team at Randall & Stump, PLLC. We have extensive experience representing clients in both drug and murder cases, so we’re equipped to handle the legal challenges. We can develop a defense strategy after reviewing the details of your case.
To schedule a free, initial evaluation, contact us today at (980) 237-4579.
Details of the New Law
North Carolina’s Death by Distribution Act extends criminal liability to the person who supplies a dangerous drug to another individual, if the recipient experiences a fatal overdose or other reaction after consuming it. The law, which takes effect December 1, 2019, describes the essential elements the prosecution must prove to secure a conviction. A drug and murder lawyer can explain in greater detail, but such elements include:
- You distributed one of the controlled substances defined by the statute, a list that includes opioids and their many derivates.
- Consumption of the drug was the victim’s cause of death.
- Your role in providing the controlled substance was a contributing factor in the fatal ingestion.
If the prosecutor meets these requirements, you could be convicted of a class C felony, for which you’d face 44 to 182 months in prison.
However, the new law also applies more serious charges if you’ve been convicted for drug trafficking in the past. Under the Act, this offense is a class B2 felony, the potential prison term for which is 94 to 393 months in prison.
Legal Representation is Crucial for Fighting the Charges
Since the new law encompasses multiple, interconnected charges, it’s critical to work with a legal professional that has experience defending both drug and murder cases. Always remember that the prosecutor must prove each element above beyond a reasonable doubt. A slight question in the minds of jurors could lead to an acquittal. For instance:
- A murder lawyer can present evidence that the victim’s death was caused by some other factor, such as being involved in a fatal car accident after ingesting the drug.
- Another example may be where a considerable amount of time passed between your distribution and the victim’s death.
- Your drug lawyer may fight death by distribution charges where the controlled substance isn’t covered by the statute. Alternatively, you could defend on the grounds that you legally distributed the drug pursuant to a proper prescription.
Plus, as in any criminal case, you may have defenses based upon your civil rights. If police engaged in unlawful search or other violations of constitutional law, the charges could be dismissed for lack of evidence.
Discuss Your Options with a North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney
When you work with Randall & Stump, PLLC, you’ll receive defense services across a wide range of criminal matters. Our team possesses high-level knowledge of the relevant laws, backed by years of combined experience in the courtroom. Please contact our Charlotte, NC office at (980) 237-4579, or fill out our online contact form to schedule your no-cost consultation today.