As overdose deaths continue to increase in this country, they are increasingly being charged as homicides, but prosecutors aren’t just targeting drug dealers. More and more, fellow drug users, often friends and family, are being held accountable for overdose deaths.
Using laws meant for drug dealers, prosecutors are charging friends, family, and intimate partners of murder –acquaintances who share drugs at parties, a man who thought he bought heroin and gave his girlfriend a lethal dose of fentanyl, or a son whose mother died after he gave her heroin when her pain medication ran out.
Being charged with drug distribution in Wisconsin results in very serious consequences. Those consequences multiply if the distribution results in a death from overdose. In Wisconsin, this is because of a law known as the “Len Bias Law.”
Leonard (or Len) Bias was a college basketball player for the University of Maryland. He was the second overall pick for the Boston Celtics in the 1986 NBA draft. Two days after the draft, Bias died from complications of a cocaine overdose. The cocaine was remarkably pure, making it very strong. That suggested to prosecutors that the cocaine came from a high-level drug dealer.
After Bias’s death, the U.S. House of Representatives authored anti-drug legislation – The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The legislation demanded a life sentence for people who distributed drugs that resulted in an overdose death. This particular provision of the law came to be called the “Len Bias Law.”
Anyone who manufactures, distributes, or delivers schedule I or II controlled substances or analogs of those substances can be tried under the Len Bias Law if someone who takes those substances dies as a result. Anyone along the supply chain can be tried – it doesn’t matter if the drugs change hands multiple times. It also does not matter if the person who died mixed the drugs with other drugs or if the drugs sold were mixed with other drugs or substances.
People tried under the Len Bias Law are charged with first-degree reckless homicide, a Class B felony.
If you’re charged with providing drugs that police believe led to an overdose death, retain the services of a skilled attorney. There are ways to defend against these charges, including:
Grieving the death of a loved one from a drug overdose is hard enough on its own, let alone being charged with causing their death. If you’re facing charges for the overdose death of a friend, loved one, or family member, reach out to the attorneys at Tracey Wood & Associates today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your charges.
Headquarters, Main Office, and Mailing Address
Tracey Wood & Associates
6605 University Avenue
Middleton, WI 53562
Downtown Office (By Appointment Only)
Tracey Wood & Associates
345 West Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53703