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death, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyFor decades, drug dealers have faced serious criminal consequences if they were caught selling illegal substances like cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, marijuana or other drugs. Now, because of a disturbing increase in drug overdoses, those who sell drugs may be facing even more severe penalties.

Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for those under the age of 50. In 2016, overdoses were linked to the death of approximately 64,000 people in the U.S. Some states have already been able to legally charge dealers of drugs like cocaine or heroin with first-degree murder if the drugs they sold led to a person’s death through overdose. However, the proliferation of a new drug called fentanyl has caused legislators to sanction even stricter laws.

Fentanyl is a drug up to 50 times more powerful than heroin. It is often combined with heroin—sometimes without the dealer or buyer’s knowledge. Fentanyl is intended to be used for anesthesia or for managing chronic pain. When prescribed and monitored by a medical professional, it can be a beneficial drug, but when recreational users underestimate the amount of fentanyl they are consuming, it can be deadly. Fentanyl caused 20,100 deaths in 2016 in the United States alone. This represents a staggering 540% increase in overdose deaths caused by the drug in the last three years.

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medical examiner, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyIn certain cases, the evidence that a crime has been committed is almost overwhelming. For example, a store’s broken window combined with missing merchandise are fairly strong indications that a burglary has taken place. Violent crimes often leave similar evidence in the form cuts, bruises, wounds, and other injuries that leave little doubt as to the nature of the behavior that caused them. Sometimes, however, the physical evidence available does not offer a very clear picture of what occurred, or, even that something illegal ever happened. Medical examiners tend to be at the center of such controversy, as was the case recently in Massachusetts when a physician in the employ of the state changed his opinion regarding the death of a 6-month-old baby girl.

The Tragic Death of an Infant

More than two years ago, in March of 2014, a 6-month-old baby girl died at Boston Children’s Hospital after lapsing into unconsciousness while under the care of a sitter. The medical examiner who conducted the girl’s autopsy studied the case for a full year before releasing a report that baby had died as a result of shaken-baby syndrome. The examiner pointed to spinal fractures, retinal injuries, and swelling in the child’s brain. As a result, the sitter was charged with child’s murder.

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