Law Would Punish Dealers For Opioid Overdoses

Mar 27, 2019

Opioid related Emergency Department visits.
Credit N.C. Department of Health and Human Services

Some state lawmakers say a bill filed this week would help fight the opioid epidemic by punishing drug dealers for causing deaths by overdose.

The Republican-backed legislation would classify the crime as "death by distribution."

State Representative Destin Hall is a co-sponsor. The Caldwell County Republican said that unlike with a murder charge, prosecutors would not have to prove malice. Hall said the punishment would be equal to a conviction for voluntary manslaughter - ranging from 3.5 to 7.5 years.

"There's also a crime for aggravated death by distribution if an individual has been previously convicted of certain drug crimes and it would carry a heightened punishment," he added.

Hall said the bill is meant to provide state prosecutors with another tool – and would not take resources away from addressing addiction.