Dealing Resulting in Death: What Indiana Drug Defendants Need to Know

In their attempt to curb drug use, Indiana legislators are passing increasingly strict laws against drug dealing and possession. However, as an Evansville criminal defense lawyer knows, some of these laws can be highly problematic. One example in this respect is the recent introduction of the offense dealing resulting in death.

In this article, we will explain what it entails, why it is difficult to defend, and how a skilled lawyer may approach this complex task.

Dealing Resulting in Death in Indiana: What the Law Says

This criminal offense is enshrined in Indiana Code 35-42-1-1.5. It is defined as “knowingly or intentionally” manufacturing and delivering a controlled substance, resulting in the user’s death after:

  • Using
  • Inhaling
  • Injecting
  • Absorbing
  • Ingesting

This offense is classified as a Level 1 felony – the highest level, on a par with murder. Thus, the penalties for dealing resulting in death are up to 40 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

Focusing on the Elements of the Crime

In order to support the charge of dealing resulting in death, the prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly or intentionally sold, delivered, or financed the delivery of a controlled substance.

Also, they must prove that the victim died as a direct result of using the respective substance.

Why Is This Offense So Problematic?

The terms defining the offense leave many people open to very severe charges, even though they did not have the intention to supply a recreational drug or cause harm. A simple example to illustrate this is the following:

A person’s spouse recently suffered a surgery and is in pain. The person gives them prescription pain medication left over from a previous condition they suffered from. The spouse takes the medication, suffers an allergic reaction, or overdoses by mistake and dies.

Under the new law, the person who gave the prescription medication (a controlled substance) is charged with dealing resulting in death.

Indiana drug laws are increasingly tough on the trafficking side

Voluntary Using Is No Defense

Your Evansville criminal defense attorney has further bad news for you if you are charged with this crime: you cannot invoke the defense that the deceased voluntarily took the controlled substance.

Also, you cannot invoke the defense that they took the controlled substance in combination with other substances – such as sleeping pills and alcohol.

How Can an Attorney Defend You?

So far, it may appear that there is no way to defend yourself if you are charged with dealing resulting in death. However, do not lose hope! A skilled lawyer can poke holes in the prosecution’s case.

Some valid defenses in this situation may be:

  • You did not know that the substance you supplied was a controlled substance
  • Casting doubt on your level of involvement in the transaction
  • Identifying a longer chain of custody of the controlled substance until it reached the deceased person
  • If the deceased had multiple drugs in the system, the attorney can order new tests to show that another substance caused their death

Consult with an Experienced Evansville Criminal Defense Lawyer as Soon as Possible!

Dealing resulting in death is a very serious crime, which could send you to jail for up to four decades. Remember that no matter how hopeless your situation may appear as presented by the prosecution, there are ways to fight the charges.

To do that, get in touch with an experienced Evansville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible after being charged. With over 85 jury trials and more than 30 years of experience in criminal law, Verdelski Miller is the best ally you can have in this difficult situation.

Call us to schedule a free case evaluation at 812-247-6453!

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