U.S. Attorney’s Office Working With Families of Drug Overdose Victims

overdoseWhen you think of a victim of a crime, do you picture a person who has been physically assaulted or had something stolen from him or her? Of course, individuals can be victimized by a wide variety criminal activity, and, sometimes, a single crime can affect an entire family or more. In many criminal proceedings, the victim of a crime and his or her family play a role in the prosecution of the offender, as both witnesses and those seeking restitution from the accused.

Now, in the wake of the heroin epidemic that continues to plague the state—a major issue expected to claim the lives of more than 800 by the end of the year—United States Attorneys in Connecticut have started reaching out to the families of individuals who have suffered fatal overdoses. With the help of these secondary victims, the U.S. Attorney have been able to build stronger cases against defendants charged with selling the drugs that caused the overdose death.

Drug-Induced Homicide

According to federal law, if a person sells or distributes any amount of an illegal drug that leads to an overdose death, the seller may face a minimum of 20 years in prison and may be sentenced to life. Proving direct causation of an overdose, though, is often difficult, since many overdose victims have multiple substances in their systems, making it impossible to prove that a single drug was the cause. As such, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre Daly says that her office has yet to prosecute a defendant under that particular statute.

Mixed Results

The availability of such severe sentences has been frustrating for some family members of overdose victims, especially when the defendant is found guilty. In most cases, the defendant is a low-level dealer who distributed a relatively small amount of illegal drugs prior to the fatal overdose. Family members and loved ones are often eager to get involved in the pursuit of justice but are sometimes disappointed when the sentence is less than they are expecting. The U.S. Attorney’s office says, however, that the families still appreciate being a part of the process and that the prosecution of low-level dealers is helping officials work their way backward to higher-level operators.

Facing Heroin-Related Charges?

If you or someone you love has been charged with distributing heroin, it is important to seek legal help immediately. Contact an experienced drug crimes defense attorney in Connecticut for a free consultation today. Call [[phone1]] to get the guidance and representation you need to protect your future.

 

Sources:

http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20161217/connecticut-us-attorneys-office-working-to-help-parents-of-fatal-overdose-victims

http://www.businessinsider.com/drug-induced-homicide-policies-overdose-heroin-2016-10

http://www.drugpolicy.org/sites/default/files/Drug%20Policy%20Alliance_Fact%20Sheet_Drug-Induced%20Homicide.pdf

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