Tampa Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

How drug trafficking can lead to murder charges 

Mar 5, 2021 | Drug Charges

Most people know the penalties for a conviction of selling illicit drugs are no slap on the wrist. Depending on the degree of the charges, maximum prison sentences can range from 5 to 30 years. But these penalties pale in comparison to the penalties for a murder conviction. Yet most sellers of illicit drugs are unaware they could potentially face penalties for murder with every sale they make.

Murder by overdose

If an adult person dies in his or her home from drinking too much alcohol, they usually bear the consequence of their actions alone. However, when someone takes illicit drugs in their home and dies from a fatal overdose, the dynamics change. The law holds the individual who provided the illegal drug responsible for the death.

In the eyes of the law, the victim would still be alive had another not provided the illegal substance. It views the deceased as a murder victim. The illicit drug is the murder weapon. And it considers the person who provided the drug to be the perpetrator.

Tampa couple charged for murder

A recent incident serves as such an example. On February 8th, police charged a Tampa couple for the death of a man and his girlfriend. Both victims died from fentanyl overdoses. Detectives used the call log in the deceased woman’s cellphone to track down the sellers. Posing as the victims, they arranged a meeting for another “sale.” When the suspects arrived at the rendezvous location, detectives arrested them. They searched the suspects’ vehicle and found fentanyl inside.

Detectives used a search warrant to find more illicit drugs in a public storage unit rented out by the couple. Unaware that their previous customers were now deceased, the couple admitted to selling them the fentanyl. With that confession in place, police charged the pair with murder.

Penalties for murder convictions

Murder convictions carry some of the most severe criminal sentences. These range from 15 years to life in prison without parole. Prosecutors can push even further for aggravating murder charges under the first-degree. It is within their discretion to request the death penalty.

If you are ever confronted by law enforcement for involvement in illicit drugs, you may not have full awareness of the gravity of the situation until it is too late. Contrary to what law enforcement may tell you, explaining or confessing to anything will likely make your situation worse. It is in your best interest to seek legal counsel.


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