Previously, we began looking at the push to enact and enforce drug-induced homicide laws, noting that Florida recently joined a number of states which have these laws on the books. As we noted, there are various criticisms of these laws, including that they are not effective in preventing overdose deaths, they can discourage suppliers from contacting authorities when an overdose occurs, and that they can end up targeting family members and friends rather than dangerous drug dealers.
Criticisms of the law aside, anybody who faces charges of drug-induced homicide needs to work with an experienced attorney to build the strongest case in their defense, and to protect their rights in the criminal process. As we mentioned last time, proving that the sale of drugs to an individual caused that individual’s death is not necessarily easy.
For one thing, the chain of causation beginning with the purchase of the drugs and ending with the individual’s death needs to be very clearly established so there is no doubt about the defendant’s involvement in the overdose death. This can be complicated in cases where the source of the drugs is not clear, such as when the drug user bought from multiple sellers, or when the actual contribution of the drugs to the death is not clear, as can happen in cases of mixed drug intoxication.
The unfortunate reality is that sophisticated drug dealers are usually careful not to leave behind evidence that could implicate them in a drug user’s death. Those most likely to be charged under these laws are addicts who are close to the drug user. For these individuals, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney may not result in dismissal of charges, but a skilled lawyer may be able to help the defendant resolve the case more favorably in some circumstances, whether by having charges dropped or reduced, or by minimizing penalties in sentencing.