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Prosecuting Drug Overdose Cases

The Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III July 20, 2022

Substance abuse is a complex problem that strains relationships and families, robs communities of social and economic progress, and threatens the lives of those that engage in its practices. Unfortunately, as substance abuse continues to rise, determining fault in drug overdoses and the laws surrounding these cases have also increased in complexity. 

If you or someone you love has been arrested on a homicide charge that’s related to a drug overdose, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney for guidance. At the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III, Attorney Cox understands that sometimes good people find themselves in unfortunate situations. If someone in your family has suffered a fatal overdose and you may be potentially involved, you need representation you can trust. Representation that explains the uniqueness of your situation and maximizes the chances of getting your case reduced or dismissed. 

Tom Cox serves clients in Dallas, Texas, as well as neighboring areas of Irving, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, University Park, and Dallas County.

Overview of the Opioid Problem in Texas

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, fentanyl, and prescription pain medicines such as Vicodin and OxyContin. These drugs can be almost immediately addictive and when misused are highly dangerous. Over the past two decades, the nationwide opioid crisis continues to spike and the lone star state has been no exception. In a recent San Antonio health report Texas lands in the top 5 U.S. states with the most opioid-related deaths. Texas also racks up over $1.9 billion annually for health-related costs associated with opioid abuse. In response, the Controlled Substances Act allows prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against multiple parties, not just the person who overdosed. That means drug distribution companies, doctors, drug dealers, or providers may all face criminal charges in connection with a drug-related death. Although the purpose of the law is to penalize those that deliver or supply the drugs, friends and loved ones who may not have been directly involved may be caught in the crossfire. 

Charges Against Drug Distribution Companies

In 2019, federal prosecutors brought charges against the nation's largest wholesale distributor of control substances, the Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC). In the case, prosecutors successfully demonstrated evidence that proved RDC supplied millions of dangerous opioids through illegal and suspicious orders. Although the opioid problem is still at an all-time high, the RDC case has paved the way for more accountability in the distribution of opioids to pharmacies and doctors.  

Charges Against Doctors

In addition to drug distribution companies, there is also a more stringent focus on ensuring doctors and other medical professionals are accurately and appropriately prescribing highly addictive drugs. Unfortunately, many doctors write prescriptions loosely and fail to adequately evaluate the full extent of the patients' needs and their use of the drug. This can lead to higher addiction and overdose rates as drugs can easily be abused or end up in the wrong hands. As the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration cracks down on the prescription of opioids and other high-demand painkillers, doctors face harsh charges should they be connected to an overdose death that resulted from an irresponsible or unlawful prescription.

Charges Against Dealers or Drug Providers

Undoubtedly, drug dealers or those that provide drugs in a fatal overdose face the most immediate scrutiny. As in any drug-related crime, investigators seek to climb the ladder from the person who supplied the drug to the large-scale distributor. Sometimes, this results in a significant drug bust, but in the majority of cases, many overdoses are the result of shared drug use or drugs that were provided by low-level drug offenders.  Typically these suppliers have no intent to cause harm to another person and sometimes they believe they were initially trying to help (i.e. sharing an addictive painkiller with a friend who is having significant back pain). When this happens, charges related to an overdose can feel unjust and the mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be life-altering. 

Criminal Defense You Can Trust

If you or someone you love is facing charges related to a drug overdose death, these charges must be taken seriously, and you need the immediate help of a trusted criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III, Attorney Cox understands that sometimes bad things happen to good people. If you are in Dallas, Texas, or the neighboring areas of Irving, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, University Park, or Dallas County, let him fight on your behalf. Don’t wait, contact an experienced attorney today to get started.