As the opioid epidemic rages on throughout this country, law enforcement offices and government agencies are looking for ways to mitigate its damaging effects. According to the North Carolina General Assembly, the death by distribution law is an attempt to reduce overdose deaths in the state.
This law details significant penalties for those who distribute opiates or other drugs to a person who ultimately overdoses. Because drug addiction is a complex problem with no easy answers, it is important to understand how this law works and what it entails.
Death by distribution of controlled substances
Certain elements must be present for a person to be charged with death by distribution. The accused must have illegally sold a controlled substance, which includes opiates, opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, or depressants. The person who purchased it must have died as a result of ingesting said substance, and ingestion of the controlled substance must be determined to be the proximate cause of death. Also, the seller must have not acted with malice, meaning it was not their intention to cause loss of life. Death by distribution is punishable as a Class C felony.
Aggravated death by distribution of controlled substances
Aggravated death by distribution contains most of the same elements as the standard death by distribution charge. However, as an aggravated charge, the accused must also have been convicted of the same or similar crime within the preceding seven-year period. Aggravated convictions are categorized as a Class B2 felony.
While the stated goal of the death by distribution law is to prevent overdose deaths and protect people struggling with addiction, it may actually hurt the people it purports to help. That is why all charges of drug use or distribution must be accompanied by skilled legal counsel to ensure your rights are protected.