In the state of Pennsylvania, a drug case that results in death carries heavy penalties. If you supply drugs to another person, you may become legally responsible for what happens to that person.

Due to the high penalties involved, it is important to understand what a death by delivery charge is and what it may mean for your future.

What is death by delivery?

Death by delivery is when a person receives drugs from another and then dies as a result of taking the drugs. The charge allows the court system to send a person to prison as if he or she committed the act of murder.

It does not matter if you were not present at the time of death or if you did not intend for the buyer of the drugs to die. The court may still find you responsible.

What are the penalties for death by delivery?

According to Pennsylvania’s Title 18 Statute, it is a felony in the first degree for anyone to intentionally administer, dispense, deliver, prescribe, sell or distribute a controlled substance or counterfeit substance if the person who receives the drug dies as a result. First-degree felonies may result in a prison sentence of as many as 40 years.

In addition to the lengthy prison sentence, the felony conviction can follow you for the rest of your life through collateral consequences that affect your career options, housing availability, public assistance and education opportunities.

Is there a defense against death by delivery?

It may be possible to build a defense against this type of charge. For example, professionals may analyze the toxicology results of the person who overdosed to see if he or she took more than one illegal substance and bring expert witnesses to the courtroom. They may also challenge the prosecution to provide solid proof that the defendant was in communication with the person who died regarding the substance.