Philip Seymour Hoffman: Are Drug Dealers Accountable for Deaths?

Celebrity, News

Cops have busted four people in downtown Manhattan who may have supplied the heroin that killed Philip Seymour Hoffman. Although it’s unclear whether these people were the ones who sold Hoffman the drugs (they could have been part of a larger drug distribution operation), the events raise the question of just how liable drug suppliers can legally be held for deaths.

Enablers are Liable for Deaths

Providing prescription drugs to friends is obviously illegal, but there can be more serious consequences depending on the circumstances. Charges filed against the boyfriend and doctors of Anna Nicole Smith after her prescription-pill-overdose death included unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance and prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict — bringing 6 felony counts for the boyfriend and 7 each for the doctors. A similar tragedy happened in the case of Michael Jackson’s prescription medication overdose death; Jackson’s doctor was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Last July friends of drunk teen driver were arrested after the girl fatally crashed when they allowed her to drink home. The girl’s blood alcohol content was 13 times over the legal limit.  Another girl was arrested for throwing alcohol-fueled parties, one of which may have contributed to the crash. Enablers in these kinds of situations — especially where party hosts or parents allow minors or adults to drive away intoxicated — are definitely liable for what happens at or after the party.

Your Liability as a Prescription Medication Supplier

A small percentage of drug overdose deaths result in charges for suppliers, mostly due to lack of evidence. However, negligence or knowingly providing prescription drugs to those it is not prescribed for is a criminal offense.

Providing or administering prescription drugs to someone other than the holder of the prescription is a crime. Providing adult prescription medications to children can even be considered child abuse, so always get a prescription from a doctor for each person needing medication to avoid an overdose, let alone liability. Being charged with delivery of a controlled substance is serious business, so always go about getting prescriptions for you and your children the legal way.