Florida Drug-Induced Homicide Laws

Orlando Drug Arrest Attorneys

Drug Dealer’s May Now Face Murder Charges for Selling Drugs That Result in Overdose

It’s August 2014 in Illinois and 30-year old Amy Shemberger is driving with a man to buy heroin for her and her boyfriend. The man she is driving with executed the transaction and then took Amy back home where she would shoot up with her boyfriend, Peter.

That day, both Amy and Peter would use heroin but only Amy would survive. As a result, Illinois prosecutors used expanded drug-induced homicide laws to hold Amy responsible for Peter’s death. She is now serving seven years in prison for sharing her drugs.

Fast forward to today and you now find Florida with a similar set of laws after the passing of HB 477 and SB 150, which allows for prosecutors to charge someone with murder for selling drugs to someone who overdosed.

Recent Case Result

Possession of Marijuana

Attorney Zahra Umansky represented a client charged with possession of cannabis under 20 grams & possession of drug paraphernalia – both carry a potential maximum penalty of 1 year in jail, 1 year probation & $1000 fine. Attorney Umansky was able to negotiate a plea offer for her client that was for a fine and court costs only. Attorney Umansky was able to prevent her client from being convicted on the possession of cannabis charge which carries a two-year driver’s license suspension.

Distributing Drugs That Result in Death in Florida

Whether the drug-induced homicide law is appropriate is up for question, but it is not surprising that action like this was taken. Florida is still in a state of drug crisis, with hundreds of people dying from overdose each year. In fact, the stats show that over 700 people died in the first half of 2016, with a growing number of deaths being the result of fentanyl overdose. Although not as infamous as heroin, fentanyl can be up to 50 times stronger.

The truth is that the alarming number of fatal overdoses caused by fentanyl is what inspired government officials in Florida to come up with the new drug-induced homicide law. However, this doesn’t mean that other types of major drugs are excluded. in fact, any death resulting from any controlled I substances or variations of synthetic drugs are punishable under the new law. This includes substances controlled under s. 893.03(1), such as:

  • Cocaine
  • Opium or any synthetic/derivative preparation of opium;
  • Methadone
  • Alfentanil
  • Carfentanil
  • Sufentanil

Recent Murder & Manslaughter Cases Related to Overdoses in Florida

Prior to these new laws going to effect on October 1, 2017, Florida prosecutors were already starting to charge dealers for supplying drugs that resulted in fatal overdose. In May 2017, Trumaine Muller was indicted for first-degree murder for selling fentanyl-laced heroin to Ariell Jade Brundige, who died after taking a lethal dose. More recently, Hugo Margenat-Castro was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for distribution of fentanyl that resulted in a person’s death.

The number of related charges are going to increase substantially. However, just because you are charged with selling drugs that resulted in overdose, that does not mean you are guilty. Prosecutors will not take these cases lightly, so it’s vital that you have someone fighting on your behalf.

Could This Make Matters Worse?

One of the biggest issues with Florida’s new law is that they could end up targeting the wrong people and even make it more dangerous for drug users. In the more than 20 other states that prosecute the distribution of drugs that result in death, there are tales just like Amy Shembereger’s. Partners, friends, and family can get ensnared by these laws for sharing drugs with someone who suffers a fatal overdose.

Drug-induced homicide laws can also undercut Good Samaritan laws that are supposed to protect you from prosecution if you are helping an injured or incapacitated person. If you are using with someone who overdoses, you may be less inclined to seek help out of fear of prosecution.

Fighting Charges Related to Drug Overdose

With these new laws in place, law enforcement will be eager to make arrests after a fatal overdose. When dealing with charges as serious as this, it’s important to take action immediately. People affected by the Florida drug laws need to fight the charges.

If you are faced with any type of criminal charges for providing drugs to someone who overdosed, contact our office at 407-228-3838. We have a board-certified criminal defense attorney and two former prosecutors on staff ready to help.

Recent Criminal
Case Results

Grand Theft ($300-$5000)

Nolle Prosequi-Case Dropped

CT-Driving Under the Influence Car (M1)

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

CT- Driving under the influence car

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

Grand Theft Third Degree

Adjudicated Guilty; One day jail/one day time serve; Restitution fees; Court Cost

Petit Theft < 300

We negotiated an agreement that entailed the State dropping the charge after our client completed a Pre-Trial Diversion Program. The Charge was dropped via a Nolle Prosequi.

Unlawful Speeding

Withhold of Adjudication; No points on license; Paid fine and clerk cost; 8 hour aggressive driver class; 90 days to satisfy fine and class

Shoot/Throw Missile Into Dwell/Struct/Veh; Child Abuse; Criminal Mischief; Battery (Domestic Violence)

No Information Notice - Charges Dropped

Attach Tag/Lic Plate To Unassigned Vehicle (M2)

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

DUI with Minor In Car or BAL of .20 or Higher

Pled No Contest, 1 Year Probation, 10 day Car Impound, Community Service

Motion to Modify Probation

Motion Granted in 48 hours

Petit Theft

Adjudication Withheld, 4 Months probation, Costs/Fines, Impulse Control Class

Petit Theft of $100 or MORE (M1)

Nolle Prosequi

Refuse To Submit To DUI Test (M1)

Case Dropped

Battery on Law Enforcement Officer (F3); Disorderly Conduct (M2)

Nolle Prosequi - Case Dropped

Battery

Charges Dropped

Scheme to Defraud(F3); Grand Theft(F3)

Motion to Terminate Probation Granted

Unlawful Speed

Dismissed

Failed to Yield at Intersection

Not Guilty

Leave Scene Of A Crash W/Property Damage (M2)

Case Dropped

Motion to Modify and Impose a Withhold of Adjudication

Granted

Attempted Burglary of a Conveyance

Charges dropped

Possession of Cannabis (less than 20 grams)

Charges dropped

VOP for DUI

Reduced to reckless driving

Possession of Alcohol Under the Age of 21

Charges dropped

Driving Under the Influence

Reduced to Reckless Driving

Violation of Probation

Case Dismissed

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Injury Settlements

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Scooter Accident

$275,000

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