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What You Need to Know About Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Deaths

By Davis Law Firm | December 20, 2021

What You Need to Know About Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Deaths

Section 2C:35-9 refers to New Jersey’s citation for drug-induced deaths. If a person is found guilty of contributing to a drug-induced death, they may violate Section 2C:35-9. This includes any person who manufactures, distributes, or dispenses illegal drugs or controlled substances. This includes Schedule I and Schedule II drugs. To be convicted of Section 2C:35-9, the victim must consume a drug in one of these categories, which leads to their death.

Evidence Requirements of Section 2C:35-9

A prosecutor must establish five things when convicting someone under Section 2C:35-9. This includes:

  • Evidence of illegal drugs: Section 2C:35-9 only covers certain drugs, like LSD, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, or CDs.
  • Distribution or sale of the drug: The person accused of violating Section 2C:35-9 must have either sold, distributed, or manufactured the drug.
  • Awareness: The defendant must have also known that they were engaging in illegal behavior.
  • Use of the drug: The person who died must have used the drug in some manner.
  • Cause of death: The drug must have been the cause of the death.

It’s important to build a solid defense when dealing with these charges. Some defenses are not available, including claiming that the deceased frequently abused the drug. One of the most difficult parts of Section 2C:35-9 charges is that the prosecutor isn’t required to provide evidence of intent or recklessness as you do in other homicide or manslaughter cases.

If the prosecutor can prove intent in addition to violation of Section 2C:35-9, they may argue both. This can lead to even more severe consequences.

Potential Sentencing for Section 2C:35-9

New Jersey has taken a strict stance on drug-related deaths. Drug-induced deaths are considered a strict liability, which refers to the requirement of liability, regardless of a person’s intent or mental status. If the jury finds a person guilty of manufacturing, distributing, or dispensing illegal drugs that lead to death, they’ll likely be charged.

Potential charges for Section 2C:35-9 include:

  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • Legal fines of up to $200,000

It’s also important to note that this charge doesn’t merge into other similar sentences, like charges from the Narcotics Trafficking Network. This means that you could receive separate charges from multiple entities, and the consequences must be served separately. If a court believes that you violate Section 2C:35-9, they can also file a motion to detain you. This waives your legal right to pretrial release.

The potential consequences of these charges can be severe. You could spend up to 20 years in prison. Your prison sentence may be even longer if the prosecutor pursues additional charges. You need a highly experienced lawyer to assist you during this difficult time.

One of the challenges of charges under Section 2C:35-9 is that they often seem like they come out of nowhere. The defendant may not even know the victim or realize that they were a part of their death.

Contact an Experienced Trenton Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Section 2C:35-9 Charges in New Jersey

Were you arrested or charged under Section 2C:35-9 in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a permanent criminal record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at The Davis Law Firm, LLC have successfully represented clients charged in Trenton, Princeton, East Windsor, West Windsor, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 498-7722 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 2653 Nottingham Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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