What is the death by distribution act?

The governor of North Carolina signed a bill into law back in July called the death by distribution act. Once the new law goes into effect on December 1st, you could face charges of second-degree murder if you were to sell a controlled substance to someone illegally and the person you sold it to later died as a result of using it.  

According to Fox 6 Now, the charges and penalties that you could theoretically face if charged under the death by distribution act would depend on your past record. If you had no previous conviction for unlawful distribution, you could serve up to 20 years in prison for a Class C felony. However, if you did have a record of prior unlawful distribution conviction, you could face Class B2 felony charges and potentially serve up to a 40-year sentence.  

Critics of the law allege that there is no evidence that it is effective at curtailing drug trafficking in states that have imposed similar regulations. They also claim that it could deter bystanders from calling 911 or otherwise assisting with an overdose despite provisions in the law that it will not interfere with the immunities that the Good Samaritan law provides.  

The North Carolina Medical Society had a specific criticism of the bill initially. Its concern was that the law would inadvertently punish prescribing doctors for following the standard of care in providing medications to patients. Eventually, legislators, in cooperation with the society, added an amendment that addresses this concern.  

The purpose of the law, according to the legislators behind it, is to combat the opioid epidemic. They allege that a harsher penalty will act as a deterrent for drug dealers.  

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.