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Fatal overdose in New Jersey leads to homicide-equivalent charges

Most people would never consider killing another person. Yet, when those same people are under the influence of drugs they sometimes make poor decisions that can contribute to the death of others. The State of New Jersey has strict liability laws for drug-induced deaths where those who are found to contribute to the death of another through the use of drugs are prosecuted as if they committed a violent crime such ashomicide.

A recent incident involving a man and a woman in Bergen County is a prime example of this. The two were reportedly using heroin together in an apartment when the woman overdosed. When he realized this, the man did not call for help or make any attempt to save her life. Instead, he allegedly gathered up all of the drug paraphernalia and other evidence from the apartment, and then fled. Police responded to a call from neighbors about an unresponsive female at the same location. The woman was already deceased when police arrived. Through the subsequent investigation, police were able to find and arrest the man who was allegedly using with the woman. They also linked another man to the pair, who was accused of selling them the heroin, and arrested him for drug distribution. Both men have been charged with felonies, including first-degree strict liability for drug-induced death. The man who was allegedly in the apartment at the time of the overdose was also charged with reckless manslaughter.

Drug crimes have very serious consequences, especially if the court determines there was a clear disregard for human life. Those who unwittingly find themselves in such situations may want to speak with a criminal defense attorney who handles both drug and homicide cases, so that they can determine the best defense strategy to mitigate the charges and consequences.

Source:, Bergen men charged with supplying heroin that led to Emerson woman's fatal overdose,”Dan Ivers, June 12, 2013