Can a Greensboro criminal defense attorney explain new death charges? Yes of course!
There is new legislation from the North Carolina General Assembly that create a new murder charge, called death by distribution. This is legislation that Greensboro criminal defense lawyers have been anticipating passing for the past few years as a result of the opiate crisis.
The new crime, created by the legislature, is death by distribution, S.L. 2019-83 (H 474). Also created is the advanced Aggravated Death by Distribution, which does not require the element of malice.
Essentially, if a person sells at least one certain controlled substance, which causes the death of the user, and the controlled substance is the proximate cause of the death, then the charge may be levied against a person.
Aggravated death by distribution occurs when the elements of the crime are met, and the person has a prior qualifying conviction, such as a similar charge, a PWISD, drug trafficking, etc.
Greensboro criminal defense lawyers will tell you that death by distribution is a Class C felony charge, with a maximum punishment that is greater than 19 years in prison, whereas the aggravated death by distribution is a Class B2 felony, with a maximum punishment of over 40 years!
This is interesting legislation, as many prosecutors across the country do not agree with pursuing what is essentially a murder charge for distribution of a controlled substance, which is then used voluntarily by the victim. There is amble opportunity for abuse of this statute, and critics fear selective prosecution.
This charge is likely to be challenged up to the highest courts over the next decade. The Greensboro criminal defense attorney firm of Garrett Walker Aycoth and Olson will be closely watching how these charges are brought and applied in Guilford County.