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Law Offices of Lance T. Marshall

An overdose death could mean 40 years for defendant

Most people in Pennsylvania know that it is illegal to buy or sell narcotics. Either party to such a transaction may end up facing drug charges. If, however, the person who purchased the narcotics ends up dying from their use, the person who sold the narcotics to the deceased could be in considerably more trouble.

Pennsylvania recognizes a crime known as "drug delivery resulting in death." This type of offense is charged as a homicide and, as one might imagine, is a much more serious offense than drug possession or distribution. If someone is convicted of this crime, that person could be sentenced to up to 40 years in state prison. A recent State College case illustrates the seriousness of this offense.

According to reports, a student at Penn State University arranged to buy heroin from an acquaintance. The acquaintance traveled from Pittsburgh with his girlfriend to make the sale, spent some time with the student and then boarded a bus back to Pittsburgh. The next day, the student died of an overdose from the drugs delivered by the acquaintance. The "heroin," it turned out, was actually methylfentanyl, which is considerably stronger than heroin.

The student is deceased and the acquaintance is now in jail, facing drug delivery resulting in death charges, and could spend the remainder of his adult life in prison. This case demonstrates just how easily a low-level drug sale can escalate into something much, much worse - for both parties. A defendant in such a case will need to craft a strong defense strategy.

Source:, "Man charged in Penn State student's overdose death," Geoff Rushton, April 5, 2018.

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Law Offices of Lance T. Marshall
250 East Beaver Avenue
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State College, PA 16801

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