Maybe you share your drugs with a friend who just had a back injury. Maybe you sold a few pills because you just needed to make the bills. Maybe you’re just dealing enough to support your own habit. You’re careful about who knows what you’re doing, and you never engage in the kind of high-quantity deals that attract major investigations.

What’s the worst that could happen? Well, you could end up charged with murder.

Four Florida residents, ranging in age between 23 and 36, are now facing charges of murder in federal court for their roles in a spate of overdose deaths over the last 18 months. More arrests are likely to come. Indeed, at least 20 other people have already been arrested on overdose-related charges that may eventually include homicide.

According to State Attorney Melissa Nelson, there were 263 overdose deaths in 2019 — and the authorities are taking a hardline approach toward anyone who delivers drugs to another person who then dies of an overdose. It doesn’t matter if you sold the drugs or gave them away — and it doesn’t matter if it was just one pill or one hundred. In the eyes of prosecutors, you can be just as guilty as a major drug trafficker.

State authorities acknowledge that the decision to prosecute people for murder over drug overdoses they may have contributed to is “aggressive,” but they say that response is warranted due to the opioid crisis.

Aggressive policies like these may be designed to discourage drug dealing. However, they tend to ignore the reality of drug addiction and other social ills. If you’ve been charged with crimes related to drug trafficking or distribution, you need an experienced defense attorney on your side — particularly if the charges evolve into something like manslaughter or murder.

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