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Prosecutors seeking to crack down on heroin dealers

The number of heroin overdose deaths has climbed this year, and has become a great concern to lawmakers, prosecutors and law enforcement officers alike. Because of this, prosecutors are changing the way they approach overdose deaths so that they may hold drug dealers responsible.

For instance, they are investigating overdose deaths as crimes, instead of accidents. Detectives are dispatched to an overdose call, and paramedics are now instructed to treat them as crimes as well. This allows coroners to preserve evidence to be used in future prosecutions. 


Further prosecutors are resorting to little used laws that incorporate strict liability standards for people who sell drugs to people who may eventually overdose. The pursuit of these convictions is being conducted in New Jersey, Minnesota, Oregon and a number of states where heroin use has grown since the availability of opiates (painkillers) and methamphetamines have dropped. 

Also, federal prosecutors are charging individuals under statutes that prohibit the distribution of illicit drugs and allow for additional penalties if someone dies. Prosecutors are also relying more on cell phone records to trace drugs back to a specific person or group responsible for manufacturing them. 

With the new mode of investigating and prosecuting drug crimes, it is likely that some people may be unjustly prosecuted simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Others may be charged even if their constitutional rights are violated in the search for contraband. Because of this, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side in the event you are arrested. 

Source: Philly.com, Dealers now being charged in overdose deaths, August 11, 2013

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