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Criminal charges elevated to murder after drug overdose

Louisiana law contains a large number of criminal drug offenses. A person convicted of a drug offense may face a fine and time in prison, in addition to the stigma of having a drug conviction on his or her record. The state's drug laws involve a wide variety of criminal activity, including possession, distribution, and trafficking of illegal drugs. Interestingly, a Louisiana case that appeared to be simply drug-related has recently been elevated to include criminal charges of murder.

The case stems from a death in St. Charles Parish earlier this year. According to the sheriff office's account of the coroner's report, the deceased died from a drug overdose involving multiple drug toxicities, including ethanol intoxication, fentanyl overdose, and heroin. Initially, two 39 year old individuals were arrested and charged with narcotics-related criminal charges, including distribution of heroin due to their alleged involvement in the death. More recently, following an investigation, the two individuals were both charged with second-degree murder due to their alleged involvement in supplying drugs to the deceased, which the police contend led to his death.

Under Louisiana law, the charge of second degree murder may involve the killing of another via unlawful distribution of a controlled dangerous substance classified as Schedule I through V that subsequently directly causes the death of another.

The initial allegations against these two individuals were serious, but the escalation of the charges to include murder has certainly made this an even more serious case. Both defendants would be wise to pursue an aggressive criminal defense to protect their rights. After all, the potential penalties for a murder conviction can be harsh and may include life imprisonment without the possibility for parole or probation.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "2 booked with murder after drug OD in St. Charles Parish," Littice Bacon-Blood, June 21, 2016

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