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Bill could lead to harsher penalties after drug overdoses

In South Carolina and across the United States, opioids are garnering significant attention. This is understandable given the number of people who are having problems with these types of drugs. Specifically, fentanyl is drawing scrutiny from state and federal law enforcement with regular investigations and arrests being made. People who are alleged to be involved in drugs could be confronted with a litany of charges related to its possession, sale, trafficking and distribution.

There are laws that dictate the possible penalties if they are convicted and it is imperative to understand them as part of crafting a defense. It is also important to pay attention to potential changes to the law that could alter the landscape for an arrest and make the consequences worse for a conviction.

State lawmakers want to penalize drug dealers for fatal fentanyl overdoses

A proposal in the South Carolina State Senate seeks to strengthen the law for drug-induced homicide. The catalyst is the troubling number of people who are succumbing to fentanyl and losing their lives. Citizens who have lost loved ones to this problem gave anecdotal evidence as to the danger of the drug and why they believe those who supplied it should be held accountable to a greater degree. The new law would result in 20 years in prison for trafficking fentanyl if it is a first offense. A second offense would result in 30 years. In addition, if the law passes, the defense that the decedent was aware of what the drug was and took it anyway will no longer be allowed.

As this new bill shows, people who are dealing with drug charges may face harsher punishments than they anticipated based on the circumstances. The drug laws are not static and could change without people being aware of it. In some instances, even the person who is accused of selling the drug did not know what it was. There are strategies that can be used to lodge an effective defense. Perhaps the person did not supply the drugs in the first place. There might not be enough evidence to show that the accused person was involved in drug sales, trafficking or distribution. The unfortunate victim might have had other substances in their system or the cause of death might not be clear.

The law has not been enacted yet, but these defenses can be effective regardless of the level of drug charges a person is facing. There could be avenues to reduce the charges through a plea bargain. Or the person accused might not have done anything wrong at all. To be protected and avoid the criminal, personal, professional and financial penalties that come with a drug conviction, having help is key. For guidance with forming a strategy to fight the charges, it is important to have advice from the beginning.