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What Does The Prosecution Have To Prove For Drug Distribution Resulting In Death?

May 05, 2022

The opioid epidemic continues to rage throughout Pennsylvania, and across the entire country. According to the CDC, fatal overdoses due to opioids are happening at a rate of six time more than they have since 1999. These deaths are tragic and for some, they can even result in criminal charges. That was the case for a man, who was recently sentenced to 14 years in prison for drug distribution resulting in death. During his case, the criminal defendant admitted to providing fentanyl to an 18-year-old female, which resulted in her death.

Selling opioids on the street is a crime, but no one wants anyone else to lose their life as a result. If you have been charged with drug delivery resulting in death, it is important to know that a charge does not automatically mean you will be convicted. Below, our criminal defense lawyer in Allentown explains what the prosecution must prove to secure a conviction.

The Offense of Drug Distribution Resulting in Death

In Pennsylvania, a person will be charged with a felony of the first degree if they knowingly deliver, distribute, or dispense any substance listed in Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act if it results in fatal consequences for the recipient of the drug.

The penalties for this offense differ from other charges for a felony of the first degree. An offense with this classification is usually punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison. However, a conviction for drug delivery resulting in death carries a potential prison sentence of 40 years. In addition to this, individuals may also have to pay a fine of no more than $25,000; they may have their property seized; and the court may also order them to pay restitution to the family of the victim.

Elements the Prosecution Must Prove

When pursuing a conviction for a drug delivery resulting in death charge, the prosecution must prove two key elements of their case. These are as follows:

  • The defendant must have knowingly dispensed, delivered, prescribed, administered, sold, given, or distributed a substance classified as controlled under state law, and
  • The recipient must have consumed the substance and died as a result

Knowingly delivering a drug to another person that could result in death is a reckless act. As such, the prosecution must show that the defendant acted recklessly and intentionally disregarded the unjustifiable and substantial risk of fatality. Malice is not an element of this offense and so, the defendant does not have to intend to cause the death of another person. Rather, they only have to act recklessly.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Allentown Today

There is a lot at stake if you have been accused of drug delivery resulting in death. At van der Veen, Hartshorn, Levin & Lindheim, our Allentown criminal defense lawyer knows this and will build a strong case that can shield you from the harsh consequences a conviction will bring. Call us today at 215-515-6892 or contact us online to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.



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