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Overdoses and involuntary manslaughter in Ohio

There’s been a national shift in the types of drugs that are leading to overdose deaths. As the illicit drug market moves away from marijuana and methamphetamine, it’s moved on to something far more dangerous: fentanyl.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) fentanyl is being mixed into counterfeit prescription drugs at an alarming rate, and that’s causing unsuspecting addicts to overdose more often. That’s bad news for both addicts and their dealers. Anybody who buys what they think is a prescription painkiller or other narcotic on the street is risking death, while anybody who provides the adulterated pills could end up charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Can you really go to prison for someone’s overdose death?

If you supplied the overdose victim with the drugs that killed them, yes, you can be convicted of involuntary manslaughter and end up in prison. The authorities are desperate to stamp out the rising tide of drug-related deaths, so long gone are the days when an overdose was treated like an accident.

In fact, in 2020, the Ohio Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and 16-year prison sentence of a drug dealer who was held responsible for the overdose death of one of his customers. Involuntary manslaughter is a felony offense and is used when someone causes the death of another during the commission of a misdemeanor or felony — even though the defendant never intended to cause anybody’s death. A felony conviction generally means prison time.

These days, a drug trafficking charge can be just the start of your troubles. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, make sure that you immediately invoke your right to remain silent until you can consider all your defense options.