leifertlaw October 17, 2017 Drug CrimesMurder
This past May, Florida State Attorney Melissa Nelson made national headlines when she laid charges against three men in connection with a fentanyl overdose that caused the death of another person. But while Nelson has stated that these types of cases are to be expected, many say that for the time being at least, these charges will do nothing to prevent overdoses tied to opioids.
It was in November of 2016 when Ariell Brundige and her boyfriend Tyler Hamilton, called their friend, Christopher Williams, and asked him to pick them up after they finished work together. After doing so, Brundige stated she wanted to use heroin and Williams called his friend Trumaine Muller to get some for her. Shortly after taking the heroin, Brundige died, but not before Hamilton and Williams tried to give her chest compressions and called 911.
Nelson wanted to prosecute after it was found that the heroin Brundige had tried was laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl. This is in conjunction with Federal laws, and with Florida’s state laws as well. If you have questions about drug-induced homicide laws and drug overdoses, speak with a qualified West Palm Beach drug attorney that can answer any questions you may have.
While some States have drug-induced homicide laws that are fairly new, this is not the case in Florida. In fact, Florida’s laws on the matter date back to 1982, when it was determined that drug dealers that cause overdose deaths can be charged with first-degree murder and face a minimum of life in prison.
But at the time the law was written, it only included certain drugs that would make enforcing this law legal. Fentanyl, the drug that is causing the opioid crisis around the country today, continues to not be included in that list. Many believe this is where Nelson is going to have a hard time prosecuting the three parties involved in or present for Brundig’s death. Especially when it comes to showing intent/ showing that they knew that the heroin they gave their friend had Fentanyl in it.
The law is going to change shortly. As of October 1, 2017, Fentanyl will be included on the list of drugs that drug dealers could be held responsible for. But because Brundige’s death occurred before that time, the case is going to be a hard one for Nelson to win. We are confident that there will be other opportunities for them to prosecute.
Florida’s Good Samaritan law also protects those who try to help or intervene when they see someone experiencing an overdose. While Brundige’s boyfriend did this by applying chest compressions, Christopher Williams told 911 operators at the time that she had not taken any drugs. This would exclude him from Florida’s Good Samaritan law.
After October 1, 2017, Nelson will be able to crack down on drug dealers with the full force of the law. And, she says, that is something that she is fully prepared to do. For the time being, however, there are a number of loopholes in the State that are going to make these types of cases very difficult to prosecute.
Palm Beach County has started a Sober Home Task Force Unit that is vigorously prosecuting those in the business of treating addicts solely for the money and who are doing so using fraudulent practices. The Federal Government is also cracking down on offenders, users, dealers and treatment providers who violate the laws surrounding these issues.
A skilled West Palm Beach lawyer can represent those in need, when they need it, regardless of the offense charged. The potential clients an attorney takes on can range from users, dealers, manufacturers and treatment providers. An experienced West Palm Beach attorney may possess the knowledge and experience to handle all of these matters throughout the State of Florida. Feel free to call a qualified attorney in order to get your case started.
Leifert & LeifertNA