A man in Delaware County is facing a charge of drug delivery resulting in death – a relatively new crime in Pennsylvania that is a classic example of how reaction legislation often leads to terrible results.
Philadelphia Man Charged With Drug Delivery Resulting in Death
According to the initial reports, Richard Latimer sold cocaine to another man in Collingdale at least ten times between November 2018 and February 2019. On February 21, Mr. Latimer then sold the Collingdale man $100 of cocaine that was laced with fentanyl.
The combination of fentanyl and cocaine, which is difficult to detect because both substances are white and powdery, is far more potent than either drug on its own.
On February 22, the Collingdale man was found dead in his home.
Mr. Latimer was arrested and charged with drug delivery resulting in death. He was also charged with lesser offenses, including involuntary manslaughter and ten counts of delivery of a controlled substance.
A New and Serious Offense in Pennsylvania
Drug delivery resulting in death is a new criminal offense in Pennsylvania. Found at Pa. Cons. Stat. § 2506, it prohibits intentionally selling or administering any controlled substance to someone who ends up dying from that substance.
While this law has been in effect for a long time, it was only in 2006 that it became relevant. That was when the Pennsylvania Legislature removed a provision that required the defendant to have maliciously provided the drugs. By removing that requirement, the Legislature allowed prosecutors to pursue anyone who provided drugs that ended up causing a death, even if they had no intention for the person taking those drugs to die.
The penalties for drug delivery resulting in death are shockingly high: Up to 40 years in jail.
The Problem of Reactionary Legislation
The changes that the Pennsylvania Legislature made to the old law dealing with drug delivery resulting in death were done in reaction to the early onsets of the opioid crisis. Lawmakers wanted to punish drug dealers for providing the drugs that led to an overdose, even though they knew that the dealer was rarely responsible for the overdose, itself. Even when the drugs are laced with other substances – as was the case, here – in many cases the dealer has no awareness of the problem, as they often act as nothing more than a middleman between the manufacturer and the buyer.
As a result, numerous people in Pennsylvania are facing criminal charges that carry decades more prison time than would be justified.
Criminal Defense in Philadelphia With Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a criminal defense lawyer in Philadelphia. He represents the accused, including those who have been charged with the new crime of drug delivery resulting in death. With his strong legal representation, you can rest assured that everything is being done to combat the drug charges you are facing. Contact him online or call his law office in Philadelphia for the legal guidance and counsel you need at this troubling time in your life: (215) 535-5353.