It is common knowledge that illegal drug use is prosecuted severely. Those convicted of drug possession often face jail time, fines, and other penalties. While not everyone agrees that drug use should be illegal, those who choose to use drugs understand that they can be punished for the personal choices they make.
But a recent case involving accidental drug overdose shows that sometimes drug users can be held responsible for the actions of others as well. A 40-year-old Milwaukee woman was recently convicted of first-degree reckless homicide for supplying the heroin that killed her friend through an accidental overdose.
The incident occurred in 2008 at the woman's apartment. The woman had just received a delivery of heroin to her apartment. She was there with her boyfriend and a mutual friend. The three injected heroin together. When the woman and her boyfriend awoke a few hours later, they discovered that their 58-year-old friend had died of an overdose.
Rather than calling the police immediately, the couple cleaned up the apartment and made up a story to tell to the police. No one was initially charged in the man's death.
However, two years later the woman confided the details of the incident to a drug informant. She said that she sometimes felt guilty for the man's death but the decision to do drugs was ultimately his and therefore she was not responsible.
Police did not agree. The woman was convicted of reckless homicide for supplying her friend with the heroin that killed him. She will serve five years in prison after she finishes a prison term for an earlier drug conviction. After her complete sentence is served she will still have to be on extended supervision for six years.
The judge in charge of sentencing noted that "the public should understand that if you get involved in these drug relationships and something goes wrong, you have to pay the price." Even though drug use is a personal choice it is legally-dangerous territory. This is a clear example of how authorities crack down on drug use in any way they can. A person who supplies drugs can be held responsible for the consequences of someone else's choice to use them.
Source: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel online, "Overdose death leads to five-year prison term," Bruce Vielmetti, 07 March 2011