Have you ever shared some leftover prescription painkillers with a friend or relative who needed them? Maybe you’ve given your best friend a few of your Ritalin tablets to use as “study drugs” before a big test or shared drugs with a buddy at a club or concert.
While you may not think that much harm can come from it, anyone can accidentally overdose on drugs at any time – and you could be charged with manslaughter or murder if you delivered the drugs into the victim’s hands.
How is it legally your fault if your friend accidentally overdosed?
Essentially, if you supplied the drugs to someone who dies of an overdose, it doesn’t matter that money never exchanged hands. In the eyes of the law, you’re still a drug dealer – and that makes you responsible for the victim’s death.
Once, overdose deaths were generally treated like tragic accidents or a horrible by-product of addiction. Then, states started getting tough on dealers and distributors, in an effort to stem the tide of deadly drugs out there on the street. Laws allowing prosecutors to charge drug dealers with various forms of homicide were put into place and existing laws are creatively applied to make the charges – and California is no exception.
As recently as December 2022, prosecutors in one California county charged a teenager with murder after another teen died from ingesting a fentanyl-laced pill that she thought was just Percocet. Many people think that this kind of action is an overreach, but it’s becoming an increasingly common practice – even though it does little to curb overdoses. Someone experimenting with drugs from a friend is probably not remotely aware of the danger, and someone desperate for relief from a medical condition probably doesn’t care.
If you’re facing the possibility of a lengthy prison term due to another person’s overdose, you need experienced legal representation before you speak with the police. Find out more about your options today.