NJ Prosecutors Rely on Strict Liability Law to Prosecute Drug Dealers in Fatal Overdose Cases

August 23, 2016 | By admin

Prosecutors in New Jersey and elsewhere in the US are cracking down on drug crimes and responding to a significant rise in drug overdose deaths by going after the drug dealers who sold the illegal narcotics in the first place.

In New Jersey, a person who is convicted of strict liability for a drug-induced death can potentially be sentenced to 10-20 years in NJ State Prison. The law is codified in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9 and specifies that any person who manufactures, distributes, or dispenses a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) is strictly liable for a death which results from the injection, inhalation, or ingestion of that substance. Moreover, the crime is classified as a first degree felony, which is as serious as it gets in the New Jersey Criminal Code.

The need for the law was clear to NJ legislators and prosecutors: more and more people are dying every year as a result of heroin overdoses and prescription drug overdoses. While drug dealers have always been subject to criminal charges for illegal drug distribution and illegal drug possession with intent to distribute, it used to be rare for New Jersey prosecutors to actually go after the dealers for causing the overdose death of a user. That has now changed.

In fact, some states like New Hampshire, Ohio, and West Virginia impose even stricter penalties in strict liability drug overdose cases. Offenders can potentially be sentenced to life imprisonment when someone uses their drugs and dies as a result. Lawmakers believe that the harsh punishments are necessary in order to deter illegal drug activity that exposes users to significant health risks, including death. The message being sent to anyone thinking about selling illegal narcotics is that doing so could kill the user and lead to the dealer spending the rest of their life behind bars.

For additional information, read the Yahoo.com article, “Prosecution Trend: After Fatal OD, Dealer Charged with Death.”


If you or a loved one has been charged with heroin distribution, cocaine distribution, or any other drug offense in NJ, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Lombardi and Lombardi, P.A. will help you fight your drug offense charges. Contact us now to schedule a free consultation.


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