As law enforcement professionals work to combat the opioid epidemic that's gripping large parts the country, people who provide drugs to someone who overdoses or are even around while the person took the drugs are increasingly being prosecuted for homicide and similar crimes. This includes not just dealers, but friends and family members.
One prosecutor in another state notes that the situation may be complicated. He says, "People agree…there's nobody forcing someone to take the controlled substance. But somebody might agree to take it from their friend or their boyfriend or girlfriend and they end up dying because of it. We feel that constitutes a crime of possibly murder in the third degree, but at least manslaughter in the second degree."
Another prosecutor puts it in stark terms: "I look at it in a real micro way. You owe me for that dead kid." An investigation by The New York Times found that in 15 states, homicide prosecutions for overdose deaths almost doubled from 2015 to 2017.
North Carolina is one of the states where a person can be charged with manslaughter or possibly murder if a person they've sold drugs to or even shared their drugs with dies of an overdose.
Of course, there's disagreement over whether prosecuting family and friends of someone who's died from a drug overdose is the best use of resources. However, prosecutors are clearly doing whatever they can to try to minimize the number of opioid deaths.
Any drug-related conviction can have a serious impact on a person's future. However, a homicide, manslaughter or murder charge can land a person behind bars for decades. If you or a loved one is facing charges related to someone's overdose death, an experienced North Carolina criminal defense may be able to work with prosecutors to minimize the charges and, if appropriate, seek substance abuse treatment as an alternative to prison.