As the country’s opioid crisis becomes more widespread, many states, such as Texas, are starting to blame others when an opioid overdose death occurs. This means that the drug dealer who sold the user the drugs that resulted in the overdose, the user’s friends and even his or her relatives could face legal consequences following a fatal overdose.
Drug-induced homicide laws in some states allow authorities to hold someone responsible for an overdose death. Although the laws in most states were designed to just hold the drug dealer responsible, some law enforcement agencies are beginning to bring charges against other users who might have been sharing drugs with the person who died. When an overdose death occurs, many law enforcement agencies treat the scene as a crime scene by recording any potential evidence of criminal activity.
In some cases, individuals who ultimately end up facing charges may have attempted to help the person who was overdosing by using Narcan or calling 911. While Good Samaritan laws generally protect people from certain drug charges if they actively seek help for a person who is experiencing a medical emergency after using drugs, those protections may end if that person dies.
Depending on the types of drug charges a person is facing, the potential legal consequences could range from fines to a lengthy prison sentence in addition to a criminal record. While Texas does not have drug-induced homicide laws when compared to some other states, drug possession charges and drug distribution charges can still have life-impacting consequences. A criminal defense attorney may develop a defense strategy based on the circumstances surrounding the case. For example, the attorney might argue that any drugs found did not belong to the accused person or that the authorities did not follow proper procedures.