Drug-Induced Homicide Law Complicated in Texas
Nationwide there has been a movement to combat the opioid crisis in the United States. Federal law states that if a drug dealer sells heroin or other opioids to someone and that person dies from an overdose after using those drugs, the drug dealer can be held responsible. In some cases, the sentence for such a crime can be as much as twenty years in prison, but those kinds of punishments are difficult to find in Texas. A qualified drug attorney can explain how the prosecution of drug-induced homicide works and can defend you.
Issues With Prosecuting Drug Dealers
Local law enforcement officials in that state most often say that their state laws simply do not coincide with federal laws, much like how Colorado and other states allow the use of recreational marijuana while federal law prohibits it. But in Texas, there are also practical problems that make it nearly impossible to arrest someone for selling opioids that caused an overdose.
Those include issues such as family and friends cleaning up the crime scene before police arrive, or a lack of evidence pointing towards the person selling the drugs in question. Typically in order to have grounds to charge or convict officials need to wade through social media posts, texts, email messages, and collect data from a paper trail and witnesses. This is not only something Texas officials do not usually have time for, but they also will not result in the 20-year prison sentences that are often seen in other states for the same offense.
The best that can be done, says Brooke Grona-Robb, assistant district attorney for Dallas County, in her county and in others is increase the sentencing of a drug trafficker when the drugs they have sold have resulted in a death or serious injury.
For instance, if a drug dealer was found selling one gram or less of a controlled substance in Dallas County, they could be charged with a state jail felony and have to serve 180 days to two years in prison. But when those drugs have caused the death of another person, the drug dealer’s sentence could be enhanced to add more time to the sentencing.
It is not a perfect system, says Grona-Robb, but it is the only practical one they have for now. With that enhanced sentence, the drug dealer may face anywhere from two to twenty years in prison. And in even more serious situations, such as when the drug dealer was present at the time of death but did nothing to help, that sentence could be increased to as much as five to 99 years in prison. These types of cases are almost never seen within the state, but it is also very hard to determine whether or not a dealer was present at the time of death if they have already fled the scene. If you have been accused of drug-induced homicide, contact a skilled drug attorney as soon as possible.