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Aggravated Death by Distribution

Skilled Charlotte Criminal Defense Lawyers Committed to Defending Clients Facing Charged Related to Overdose Deaths

In 2019, North Carolina was one of the first states to pass a law specifically targeting those who sell drugs to another person that subsequently leads to the user’s overdose-related death. Within just a few years, North Carolina lawmakers passed additional legislation increasing the penalties for death by distribution crimes. Currently, if you’re convicted of aggravated death by distribution, you could face a prison sentence of up to 393 months.

At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our Charlotte drug crimes lawyers are at the forefront of defending against these new—and severe—crimes. We take a comprehensive approach to every case we handle, investigating every possible defense before developing a comprehensive defense strategy to ensure your interests are well-protected throughout the process.

What is the Crime of Death by Distribution?

Death by distribution is a North Carolina crime that provides harsh penalties for those who give or sell certain types of drugs to another person who uses those drugs and dies from an overdose. There are three types of death by distribution offenses:

  1. Those involving the “delivery” of narcotics without malice,
  2. Those involving the delivery of narcotics with malice, and
  3. Those involving the sale of narcotics.

Of these three, only the third can potentially give rise to charges of aggravated death by distribution.

What Causes a Charge to Become Aggravated Death by Distribution

To lay the groundwork for what makes out a charge of aggravated death by distribution, it’s important to understand the non-aggravated version of the crime. As noted above, aggravated death by distribution is only applicable in those situations where the defendant sold narcotics as opposed to having given them away. This requires the prosecution to prove:

  1. The defendant sold drugs to someone else;
  2. The person who bought the drugs died from an overdose after ingesting them; and
  3. The defendant’s act of selling drugs was a proximate cause of the alleged victim’s death.

To obtain a conviction for death by distribution, the prosecution must establish each of the above elements, as well as present proof that the defendant had a qualifying drug conviction within the past ten years. Under North Carolina General Statutes § 14-18.4(c)(5), the following drug convictions can lead to charges of aggravated death by distribution:

  • Manufacture, sale, or delivery of a controlled substance (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(a)(1))
  • Continuing criminal enterprise (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95.1)
  • Use of a minor in a drug sale (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95.4)
  • Promoting drug sales by a minor (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95.6)
  • Drug Trafficking (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 90-95(h))
  • Any other similar drug crime under another state or federal law

Notably, the calculation of the ten-year period for the purposes of determining a qualifying conviction starts from the date that the defendant was released from prison. Additionally, any time they spent in jail or prison on unrelated charges is also excluded. Thus, for many people, this “ten-year period” is significantly more than ten years.

Given the stakes these cases present, it is essential that anyone who faces these charges works with an experienced Charlotte drug crimes lawyer with extensive experience handling death by distribution cases.

Speak With a Respected North Carolina Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Charges

If you’ve been charged with aggravated death by distribution, it is incredibly important to ensure that the lawyer you select to represent you has specific experience handling these complex and high-stakes cases. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, our Charlotte drug crime defense attorneys have decades of combined experience defending the rights of clients charged with felony narcotics offenses. We have been and will remain at the frontlines in defending clients against the excessively harsh penalties resulting from a death by distribution charge. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call 704-405-2850, or connect with us through our secure online contact form.

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