In the past few years, there’s been an increase in the number of charges filed for overdose deaths throughout the Philadelphia area, including suburbs like Delaware County and Chester County.
In this criminal law article, we focus on the crime of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2506. Visit our Philadelphia Criminal Law Library for more legal info.
Section 2506 of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code provides:
(a) Offense defined.–A person commits a felony of the first degree if the person intentionally administers, dispenses, delivers, gives, prescribes, sells or distributes any controlled substance or counterfeit controlled substance in violation of section 13(a)(14) or (30) of the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L. 233, No. 64), 1 known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, and another person dies as a result of using the substance.
(1) A person convicted under subsection (a) shall be sentenced to a term of imprisonment which shall be fixed by the court at not more than 40 years.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply to a person convicted under section 2502(c) (relating to murder) when the victim is less than 13 years of age and the conduct arises out of the same criminal act.
In Pennsylvania, the crime of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death requires proof of the following:
- administering, dispensing, delivering, prescribing or otherwise providing a controlled substance (or a counterfeit substance) in violation of the Controlled Substance Act (section 13(a) 14 which applies to medical providers or section 13(a) 30 which applies to the general act of drug dealing; see below for the relevant sections)
- that causes the death of another person.
An individual who is convicted of the crime of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death faces a maximum of 40 years in prison, assuming that’s the only offense. Oftentimes, this charge is one of many that will get filed in the same case, including Possession with Intent to Distribute, Illegal Gun Possession (VUFA), etc. Convictions on these other charges often result in an increased prison sentence.
Because the stakes are so high, these cases must be reviewed carefully for any suppression issues. Constitutional violations can result in critical evidence being thrown out (or suppressed), which often results in dismissal of charges. For example, a Philadelphia resident is facing a charge for Drug Delivery Resulting in Death. Police enter his home illegally and seize heroin that is tied to an overdose death. A successful motion to suppress the drug evidence would probably result in dismissal of the charge of Drug Delivery Resulting in Death.
Related: PA Drug & Gun Possession Law: Contraband Found in Homes & the 4th Amendment
Relevant Portions of the Controlled Substances, Drugs & Cosmetics Act, Current as of January 2019
The Controlled Substance Act, Section 13(a) 14: The administration, dispensing, delivery, gift or prescription of any controlled substance by any practitioner or professional assistant under the practitioner’s direction and supervision unless done (i) in good faith in the course of his professional practice; (ii) within the scope of the patient relationship; (iii) in accordance with treatment principles accepted by a responsible segment of the medical profession.
The Controlled Substance Act, Section 13(a) 30: Except as authorized by this act, the manufacture, delivery, or possession with intent to manufacture or deliver, a controlled substance by a person not registered under this act, or a practitioner not registered or licensed by the appropriate State board, or knowingly creating, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver, a counterfeit controlled substance.
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