Should Drug Dealers Be Charged in Deaths Related to Their Wares?
The problem with an argument like this is that most people would be under the impression that drug dealers should be held criminally liable under felony murder or some other statute when their drugs result in an overdose. The narrative is replete with very sad stories about individuals who died as a result of their addiction. However, the situation on the streets paints an equally sad story of children being recruited into criminal enterprises particularly because they won’t face those kinds of charges should they be caught.
Further, street-level dealers take all of the risk when it comes to the selling of drugs and a surprisingly lower percentage of the profits. While we characterize drug dealers as evil and greedy people who prey on the compulsions of the mentally ill, we’re really thinking of the traffickers who are working above them, moving large quantities of the drugs into the U.S. over the border or through ports.
If Not for the Drug Dealer, the Victim Would Still be Alive…
That argument is debatable seeing as how many drug addicts in the absence of their drug of choice may or may not take their own lives. Yet a 2017 law passed in Florida allowing prosecutors to charge drug dealers with murder if one of their customers dies of a fentanyl overdose. However, the law to charge drug dealers with murder has been on the books here in Florida since 1982, when Reagan was president. In other words, it’s a holdover of the so-called war on drugs, the huge policy failure that has resulted in overcrowded prisons with disproportionately black populations.
While the intentions seemed right, and concerns about fentanyl on the street have reached a veritable hysteria. Those who overdose from prescribed opioids will never see the same justice as those who overdose on street opioids. Why? Well, that’s a good question and one well worth asking.
Florida is not among the states that have sought criminal charges against major opioid vendors or the executives whose policies, lies, and kickbacks resulted in the flooding of American communities with drug addicts. Even states that have initiated these sorts of criminal prosecutions have done so without charging the legitimate drug deals with the same level of criminal charges as their counterparts on the street. While everyone might agree that getting fentanyl off the street is a good thing, the disparity in charging and sentencing leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of those who are targeted by aggressive anti-drug policies.
And there is still a question of who is the most responsible for the problem. Is it the street-level drug dealer who takes most of the risk? Is it the major trafficker who floods American streets with dangerous drugs? Is it the dockworker who looks the other way while these drugs are crossing into the U.S?
It’s going to be the street level dealer but it’s not a matter of ethics, it’s a matter of convenience. The police will only be able to link the death of the customer to the dealer on the street. So once again, the guy at the bottom of the totem pole takes all the risk and faces murder charges while the guys higher up the ladder face felony trafficking charges if they are ever caught.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
The West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at the Skier Law Firm represents defendants charged in drug crimes and asserts their rights under the law. If you’ve been charged, don’t take a chance. Talk to us today and set up an appointment soon so that we can begin building your defense.