Olsinski Law Firm team

Defenses in Death by Distribution Cases

Knowledgeable Charlotte Drug Crimes Lawyers Unwaveringly Committed to Defending Clients Facing Drug-Related Homicide Charges

In recent years, North Carolina joined the small group of states that allows prosecutors to bring homicide charges against those who sell drugs that subsequently lead to another’s overdose-related death. These charges, known as “death by distribution,” are among the most serious crimes in North Carolina and require the assistance of an experienced Charlotte drug crimes lawyer.

At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we’ve created a team of highly experienced criminal defense attorneys who are dedicated to defending clients charged with death by distribution and aggravated death by distribution. Since these charges found their way into the North Carolina law books, we’ve been at the forefront of defending against what can be decades-long prison sentences and all the other consequences of a serious felony conviction.

Death by Distribution: An Overview

Death by distribution refers to a group of crimes that provide exceedingly harsh penalties for those who either sell or give drugs to another person who then dies after taking the drugs. There are four different death by distribution offenses, all of which are considered serious drug felonies:

  • Death by Distribution Through Unlawful Delivery of Certain Controlled Substances
  • Death by Distribution Through Unlawful Delivery with Malice of Certain Controlled Substances
  • Death by Distribution Through Unlawful Sale of Certain Controlled Substances
  • Aggravated Death by Distribution Through Unlawful Sale of Certain Controlled Substances

While there are some major differences between each of these offenses, they all require the prosecution to prove 1.) you sold or gave someone else narcotics, 2.) the person receiving the narcotics used them and then died from an overdose-related cause, and 3.) your act of providing them with drugs was the proximate cause of their death.

Defenses to Death by Distribution

Death by distribution cases can be challenging for the prosecution to prove. However, due to their seriousness, district attorneys devote a tremendous amount of resources to investigating these cases. As a result, you should assume that the government will be very prepared. Below are the most common defenses to death by distribution charges:

Lack of Causation: One possible defense is to challenge the causation between the distribution of the drug and the death of the person. The defense would need to show that the drugs did not directly cause the alleged victim’s death or that other intervening factors were the primary cause of death. For example, did the alleged victim have other types of drugs in their system? Did something else happen after they took the drugs that caused or contributed to their death?

Lack of Knowledge: Another defense involves claiming you were unaware that the substance you distributed was an illegal drug or that you did not know it could be harmful. However, this defense can be challenging because the law often assumes a person understands the nature of controlled substances. Generally, this defense works best in cases where the defendant gave the victim the drugs rather than selling them.

Accidental Distribution: If the distribution was accidental or without the intent to distribute (for example, if someone else used your drugs without your knowledge), this could serve as a defense.

Duress or Coercion: If you can prove that you were forced or coerced into distributing the drug under threat of harm, this might also serve as a viable defense. While this defense doesn’t apply in most cases, it can come into play if the defendant was acting under threat, for example, if they were the victim of human trafficking themselves.

Are You Facing Drug-Related Homicide Charges?

If you are currently charged with death by distribution or aggravated death by distribution, reach out to the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, to get started on your defense today. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we’re committed to developing compelling defenses designed to minimize the consequences of your recent arrest. With decades of experience under our belt, we know what it takes to ensure your case ends in the best result possible. 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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