For anyone whose life has been negatively affected by drug addiction, either struggling with an addiction themselves or watching a loved one suffer, tougher laws and harsher sentences for those who provide illegal substances may seem like a good thing. The two-fold result of stricter drug trafficking laws includes shrinking the supply of drugs on the street and sending a message to others who would want to sell their drugs in Maryland.
However, making its way through the state legislature now is a new bill that some believe may go too far in sending that message. If police believe you sold or gave fentanyl or fentanyl-laced drugs to someone who later died of an overdose, you may be facing charges that include murder.
Overdose leads to murder charges
Of the thousands who died of drug overdoses in Maryland last year, 90 percent of them had taken fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic drug similar to morphine or heroin but much more powerful. In fact, it is so powerful that it only takes a small amount, as little as a few grains of sugar, to create a lethal dose for an adult. It is also cheaper, so drug traffickers often mix fentanyl with other drugs to produce a highly addictive and deadly combination.
You may face distribution charges for selling heroin or other controlled substances, but if someone overdoses because of a fentanyl combination, the following may occur if this bill passes:
- You may face charges of second-degree murder for each fatal overdose connected to your sale of fentanyl or fentanyl-laced drugs.
- Second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 40 years in prison, which is twice the length of a distribution conviction.
- Authorities can charge you with second-degree murder even if you are unaware that the product you allegedly sell is laced with fentanyl.
- You may also face these charges if you do not sell but freely share fentanyl-laced drugs with someone who subsequently dies of an overdose.
Whether this bill passes into law is uncertain, but even now, strict laws and penalties exist for those who sell drugs in Maryland, many of whom – perhaps yourself included – are dealing with their own addictions. Prison may not be the answer for getting your life back on track. Your best course of action may be to reach out for legal and personal assistance to help you through this difficult time.