Burlington Office


Burlington County Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Death Defense Attorney

Our law firm has successfully handled thousands of criminal, DWI, and municipal court charges throughout Burlington County and New Jersey.

Schedule free Consultation

Protecting Your Rights Against Drug Induced Death Charges in Mount Holly NJ

Drug Overdose Death Charge Lawyers in South Jersey

When your conduct is inherently dangerous, you are strictly liable for the consequences in civil law. Thus, an individual who keeps gasoline in their garage in a residential neighborhood may be strictly liable for those injured when the gas explodes. Regardless of fault, the person maintaining a dangerous condition pays for damages. Conversely, criminal laws typically involve fault or guilty acts that the state punishes with sentences aimed at holding the defendant responsible for their conduct and deterring others from engaging in similar behavior. However, sometimes the legislature wants to outlaw specific behavior regardless of intent, mistake, or fault, such as statutory rape, selling alcohol to a minor, and causing a drug-induced death.

With the rise of drug overdose deaths from opioids and other dangerous drugs in the country, including New Jersey, the legislature enacted laws to lower the drug-induced death rate and hold drug dealers and traffickers strictly liable. Thus, when you face charges for a drug-induced death, the state does not have to prove that you intended to hurt or kill someone to convict you. This lowers the prosecutor’s burden in proving its case, as the state does not have to prove your intent to obtain a conviction. Not only that, but New Jersey imposes some of the worst consequences in the criminal code on those accused of causing drug-induced death.

Being charged with drug-induced death and other drug crimes is devastating. You may not even know the victim, as perhaps you did not personally dispense or deliver the drugs to them. Nevertheless, the court can detain you upon arrest and potentially keep you in jail pending trial, the outcome of which can be decades in prison and a life irrevocably changed for the worse. Our criminal defense firm includes one of our partners, William C. Fay, who previously handled narcotics and other criminal investigations on behalf of the state in the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General. Now, he uses his depth of knowledge and insight into drug prosecutions to best defend clients charged with serious crimes like drug induced death in Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and throughout Southern New Jersey. Contact the law offices of Proetta, Oliver & Fay at 609-850-8284 today to talk to a skilled drug defense attorney about your case.

What it Means to be Charged with a Drug Induced Death Crime in New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9 holds strictly liable those who manufacture, distribute, or dispense Schedule I or II drugs, such as LSD, methamphetamine, phencyclidine, or any analog of a Schedule I or II drugs that results in another’s death from taking the manufactured, distributed, or dispensed controlled dangerous substance. The state must only prove that the accused knowingly manufactured, distributed, or dispensed a Schedule I or II drug to a victim who died from taking such a controlled dangerous substance. Only intentionally supplying the drugs to the victim requires evidence for a conviction.

The law does not consider that the victim took too much of the drug, committed suicide by overdose, regularly used the same drug, or took their chances ingesting, inhaling, or ingesting a controlled dangerous substance. Often, a drug overdose is accidental when the user is unfamiliar with the appropriate dose, buys from someone new with more potent substances, or consumes CDS that has been laced with power-enhancing drugs, such as fentanyl. The victim may not have understood their own tolerance level or the presence of a more powerful drug.

Burden of Proof for Strict Liability Drug Induced Death Offenses in NJ

Regardless of the victim’s naïveté, foolishness, or addiction, the state can convict someone based on the fact that, but for the drugs the defendant gave to the victim, the victim would not have died. They need only prove the drugs that led to the victim’s death were one or more of those listed in N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9, the defendant’s knowledge of the illegal transaction, the victim’s receiving the drugs from the defendant, and the victim’s death after using the drugs.

Two other considerations for proving a drug-induced death are remoteness and intervention. To pin the victim’s death on the defendant, the state must prove the proximity of the victim’s demise to the manufacturing, distribution, or dispensing of the drug to the victim. In other words, a defendant may not be liable for the victim’s death three or four months after the defendant sold them the drugs. Ordinarily, a drug user does not wait months before using the drugs they purchase. However, the state might prove the victim waited, but the evidence must be compelling to convince a jury that, beyond a reasonable doubt, it was the defendant’s drugs that caused the victim’s death.

The state must also rule out any possibility that an intervening factor relieved the defendant of liability. For example, the state may not convince a jury that the defendant’s drugs caused the victim’s death when the victim took the illegal substance but soon after suffered gunshot wounds during a robbery. Unless the coroner’s office and good forensics can determine the victim’s death as attributable to the drugs and not the gunshot wounds, the state may have trouble proving the defendant caused the victim’s death and that it would not be unjust to find the defendant guilty. However, a conviction is more likely when ordinary circumstances confirm the user died of an overdose soon after taking drugs they bought from the defendant.

Ramifications of a Drug Induced Death Conviction in New Jersey

When someone is charged with a strict liability for drug induced death offense, a conviction can lead to anywhere from 10 to 20 years in prison with maximally $200,000.00 in fines for a first degree indictable crime. A judge could also order the defendant to pay other fees and penalties and suspend their license. Worse still, the violation of 2C:35-9 does not merge with other crimes, such as a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5, due to the manufacturing, distribution, or dispensing of controlled dangerous substances. So, a defendant could face separate sentences for several crimes and serve consecutive sentences. That could mean a very long time in prison.

Our South Jersey Drug Induced Death Lawyers can Zealously Defend You

Keep in mind, in strict liability for drug-induced death cases, the prosecution does not have to prove your intent to harm the victim; therefore, a careful defense strategy is necessary. A defense attorney’s first job is raising doubt that the prosecutor’s case represents the actual facts. For example, the prosecution must prove the defendant supplied the drugs that led to the victim’s death. When the victim buys drugs from various sellers, that may not be easy, or the evidence may be circumstantial. In other words, witnesses may testify that the defendant was on the victim’s property on the day of the death, but that does not prove the victim bought drugs from the defendant. A jury may not be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt.

And when time or third parties intervene to cast doubt on the real cause of the victim’s death, the state may not be able to convict the defendant. The prosecution must prove each element of the crime to convict, and our talented team of criminal defense lawyers know how to cast doubt about one or all them. We are also highly equipped to challenge the legality of the evidence offered to prove the state’s case. When you face charges for strict liability drug-induced death, find the help you need to unwaveringly defend your case by contacting the criminal defense team at our South Jersey law firm. With your liberty at stake, you want the best legal representation you can access, and we are here to assist you. Call 609-850-8284 anytime for a free consultation.

Contact Us

Our phones are answered 24 hours a day. We are available weekdays during business hours. We also meet with clients on evenings and weekends by request. We have four office locations conveniently located in Jersey City, Edison, Middletown, Cranford, Burlington, and Hamilton. All major credit cards are accepted.

Burlington Office

525 Highway 73,
Suite 104, Marlton,
New Jersey 08053
Phone: 609-850-8284
By Appointment Only

Hamilton Office

100 Horizon Center
Boulevard, Hamilton,
New Jersey, 08691
By Appointment Only

Point Pleasant Office

3828 River Road,
Suite A, Point Pleasant,
New Jersey 08742
By Appointment Only

Middletown Office

180 Kings Highway,
Middletown Township,
New Jersey 07748
By Appointment Only