The rise of opioid-related deaths continues to dominate the news, with data from the CDC indicating that overdose deaths involving opioids have increased sixfold since 1999. In an effort to combat this ever-mounting number and curb drug overdose deaths amid the opioid crisis, Pennsylvania police and civil officials have implemented a number of stringent laws. One such regulation—labeled “Drug Delivery Resulting in Death”—is filed against individuals who sell or share a drug used during a fatal overdose.
A Drug Delivery Resulting in Death charge is one of the harshest charges in the Commonwealth, with only murder in the first and second degree carrying more severe penalties. These cases require the help of a knowledgeable legal professional who can carefully and strategically fight the prosecution’s arguments. Fortunately, experienced help is right around the corner. If you’re facing accusations of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death, contact us at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford today.
What is Drug Delivery Resulting in Death in Pennsylvania?
Under Pennsylvania Statute 18 P.S.§ 2506, a person commits a felony of the first degree if they intentionally dispense, deliver, or distribute any controlled substance under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act and that drug delivery results in another person’s death.
It’s also important to note the unique nature of this charge regarding the penalties associated with a conviction. A standard felony of the first degree has a maximum prison time of 20 years, but this charge stands alone in that it carries with it an enhanced maximum penalty of 40 years. Likewise, you may also face a maximum fine of $25,000, seizure of property by the state, and restitution to the victim’s family.
What Does the Government Need to Prove to Convict a Person of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death in Pennsylvania?
According to Pennsylvania law, the offense of drug delivery resulting in death includes two critical elements. They’re as follows:
- An individual must intentionally dispense, deliver, prescribe, administer, sell, give, or distribute a controlled substance that violates Pennsylvania law, and
- Another person must use the substance and die as a result.
This means that the prosecution needs to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant supplied the drug, did so intentionally, and acted knowingly or recklessly in causing the victim’s death. In this case, a person acts recklessly if they consciously disregard a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the drug could cause death. In other words, the prosecution needs to show that it was a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do in this scenario.
However, this is a unique charge as it doesn’t require the Commonwealth to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the death was intentional, but rather that it came from the reckless action of the defendant. That is, malice isn’t a required element of the crime.
Defending a Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Charge
Being charged with drug delivery resulting in death can be frightening, but there are fortunately a number of defenses available. The defense may focus on creating reasonable doubt concerning the defendant’s conduct being a significant factor in inducing death, and that other elements were the likely cause of it. Your lawyer may consider motions to suppress, which directly calls into question if the prosecution met the prima facie burden of proof at the preliminary hearing, as well as pre-trial arguments that focus on the admissibility of evidence.
In any case, if you’re facing Drug Delivery Resulting in Death charges in Pennsylvania, it’s essential that you get in touch with a seasoned Montgomery County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible for help sidestepping the consequences associated with a conviction.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Montgomery County
If you or someone you love has been accused of drug delivery resulting in death, there’s a lot at stake. At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, our Montgomery County criminal defense lawyers understand the defenses available in these cases and may be able to use them to refute the prosecution’s argument and give you the best chance at success. Our highly trusted and well-versed legal team is dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process.
For more than 65 years, the attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been serving clients’ legal needs in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and throughout the surrounding areas. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems. Give us a call at (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.