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Law enforcement authorities are getting desperate in response to the opioid crisis. As a result, many addicts who have done little more than share their drugs with a relative or friend are ending up facing charges from manslaughter to first-degree murder.

These charges are coming up all over the nation under little-known drug-induced homicide laws. Many of these laws were already on the books, but seldom (if ever) enforced. Others charges are being pressed under new interpretations of laws that were designed to target actual drug dealers and kingpins -- not addicts who simply share their drugs or sell to friends.

What can put you in the prosecution's crosshairs? Often, it is little more than being with someone who overdoses. While good Samaritan laws prevent the police from charging you with possession if you call for help for someone who overdoses, it does not prevent them from charging you with homicide for supplying the overdose victim with the drugs.

Is there anything you can do to protect yourself? Ideally, you'll avoid being in that situation altogether by staying away from drugs and never supplying anyone with anything they might use to overdose. However, if you find yourself in a situation where someone you know has overdosed, protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Do not give any information about how the individual obtained the drugs.
  • Do not deny knowledge of the drugs or claim anything that is untrue.
  • Invoke your right to remain silent and then do so, no matter what.
  • Contact an experienced drug defense attorney to represent you.

These types of prosecutions have been used against parents, adult children, spouses and the best friends of addicts. No matter what your relationship to the overdose victim, you will not find sympathy from the prosecutor's office. While there's no evidence that these types of prosecutions actually reduce the deaths from opioids, law enforcement continues to use them. As long as that continues, it will be necessary to remain on the defensive.

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