Violent crimes: Wisconsin often rules drug overdoses as homicide

There is no question that much of Wisconsin and most other states throughout the country are experiencing a serious opioid crisis. However, that does not necessarily mean that every person charged with violent crimes such as drug-related homicide is guilty. There appears to be a rising trend in this state and others where illegal drug overdoses are treated as homicides.

Known as "drug delivery cases resulting in death," prosecutors have been encouraged to pursue such cases in the hope that it will somehow help reduce drug sales on the street. Many cases involve family members of victims being charged for their deaths, as well as those accused of being dealers. The rate of conviction for homicide in drug overdose cases is high.

Years ago, Wisconsin amended a first-degree reckless homicide statute. The amendment included administering or assisting to administer a controlled substance without proper legal authority if said administration or assistance resulted in death. Such a conviction may land someone in jail for up to 40 years, with fines as high as $100,000.

Knowing that another person's choice to take a drug could prompt charges for violent crimes if he or she overdoses and dies may indeed deter many Wisconsin residents from becoming involved in illegal drug distribution. Then again, every person has rights protected under the U.S. Constitution, and just because someone talked to someone before he or she died, or was with him or her, does not mean he or she is legally responsible for the death. An experienced criminal defense attorney would be the best source of support for anyone facing homicide charges in connection with a drug overdose.

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