What to Know About Being Charged with Drug Delivery Resulting in Death
Being charged with drug delivery resulting in death is an incredibly serious offense in Pennsylvania and carries some of the strictest penalties that can be imposed under the Commonwealth’s law.
If convicted, you could face imprisonment and have large fines to pay. In addition, the offense also includes other significant consequences such as loss of driving privileges, mandatory drug and alcohol counseling, and a permanent criminal record.
The severity of the offense is further underscored by the fact that it is considered a felony if someone dies of a drug overdose in your presence, even if you may not have even been the one who supplied the drugs. You can be charged with this crime if were only co-using the drugs at the same time and survived, while another person died. So, regardless of if you had no intent to harm or cause death, you will still be held accountable for your actions. Also, even if you only had access to information related to the crime, you can still be charged with aiding and abetting in drug delivery resulting in death.
In this article, we will cover some key facts about being charged with death by delivery charges in Pennsylvania. Additionally, we will cover the consequences and sentencing guidelines for this drug crime and other important factors a judge will consider when deciding on your sentence if convicted. But don’t face this fight alone. Get in touch with an experienced drug crimes lawyer at Marinaro Law Firm today for a defense you can count on.
What Is the Legal Definition of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Under Pennsylvania Law?
In Pennsylvania, drug delivery resulting in death (or DDRD) is a felony offense that involves the unlawful distribution of a controlled substance to another person, which causes the death of that person. This crime means that you intentionally delivered, prescribed, sold, administered, gave, or dispensed a real or counterfeit controlled substance or drug to someone else, which resulted in their death.
What Has to Be Shown for You to Be Charged with Drug Delivery Resulting in Death?
The following has to be proven in a court of law, beyond a reasonable doubt, for you to receive a drug delivery resulting in a death charge:
- You intentionally delivered, prescribed, sold, administered, gave, or dispensed a real or counterfeit drug to someone else.
- You knew that this drug’s controlled substance or fatal dose was likely to cause serious bodily injury or the victim’s death.
- You caused the victim’s death by doing both points above.
- You did so while acting recklessly under the circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to human life.
If you are facing these charges, please get an attorney who will fight for you. Our criminal defense attorney has years of experience, both as a lawyer and a forensic chemist, to give you a distinct advantage in the court room. Don’t face the judge alone. Get in touch with us today for help.
What Needs to Be Established During a Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Conviction?
To be convicted of drug death by delivery charges, the prosecution must establish that the victim had consumed or was administered an illegal substance from which they subsequently died. To do so, they require evidence of the drug itself (or its metabolites) being present in their toxicology report and/or postmortem examination.
Expert Witnesses In DDRD Cases
Prosecutors are also trying to prove that it was, indeed, the drugs you delivered to the victim which caused their death, meaning that said drugs weren’t adulterated or cut with other substances before consumption.
The prosecution can often establish this by showing evidence of how much of the said substance was found in the deceased’s bloodstream and calling upon forensic experts to testify regarding how a drug like this would affect someone with similar characteristics to those of the victim.
Elements of Culpability in Drug Delivery Resulting in Death
Additionally, prosecutors also need to prove your culpability in this crime and that you deliberately provided the fatal dose of these substances knowing full well what could potentially happen if taken.
This proof can often be done through the prosecution establishing motive, such as testimony from witnesses who heard conversations between you and the victim before drug administration or surveillance footage indicating suspicious activity leading up to the event.
Also, prosecutors must prove this all while seeking out potential mitigating factors, such as lack of intent or unknowing distribution through witness testimonies or physical evidence.
What Are the Penalties for Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Charges?
In Pennsylvania, drug delivery resulting in death charges have severe penalties attached to them.
The specific penalty for drug delivery resulting in death depends on the circumstances and facts of the case and can range from long prison sentences and hefty fines.
Under Pennsylvania law, this charge is considered a first-degree felony, and the court can impose a maximum sentence of up to 40 years. The courts have the discretion to decide the severity of the penalty based on aggravating factors, such as if a weapon was used during the commission of the drug crime or if an ongoing criminal enterprise was involved.
If You Have Drug Death By Delivery Charges, Call Us at Marinaro Law
If you find yourself facing charges of drug delivery resulting in death, you need qualified, dedicated lawyers on your side. At Marinaro Law Firm, we are the legal professionals that can help protect your rights and work with you to provide the best possible outcome for your case. When you’re ready to have the right team working on your case, contact us to schedule a legal consultation and start on the path to getting the justice you deserve.
- The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania – Drug Delivery Resulting in Death Charges in Pennsylvania; December 2022.
- PACS – Title 18: Crimes and Offenses; Chapter 1. Criminal Homicide; § 2506. Drug delivery resulting in death.
- PACS – Title 18: Crimes and Offenses; Chapter 1. Criminal Homicide; § 2501. Criminal homicide.
- PAUSC – Act of Jun. 18, 2014, P.L. 741, No. 56, Titles 18 & 42