Their Choice, You're Guilty

Two addicts use, and one dies. Who is at fault?

If two addicts share drugs, and one overdoses and dies then who is responsible? Law enforcement in many states are saying it is the survivor that is at fault. But, how much responsibility does one individual have over another’s decisions?

Comments
No. 1-5
FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa

I concur. It does also give a bit of legal weight to Trumps idea to have the death penalty available for major distributors. I'm not opposed to that. You'd have a rough time going after heroin and fentanyl manufacturers/growers, since 99% or better are outside the US (mainly China, the Golden Triangle, Afghanistan, and Mexico). As for the prescription meds that make their way onto the street you'd have an extremely hard time proving intent on the part of the doctor or drug company, except in particularly egregious cases like W. Virginia. Even then, they have enough money to get lawyers so evil they make Johnnie Cochran look like a paragon of virtue by comparison; so that only amounts to ANOTHER hole to throw money into. I think the most productive thing to do would be to declare an amnesty for opiate addicts, and offer treatment for free provided that after you get out you sign on to the Peace Corp for three years in Africa or somesuch thing. You get free treatment, Africa gets free labor, and the US government gets some free PR and foreign policy points, yet is spared the cost of trial and incarceration, ER visits, and digging a hole in Potter's Field, etc. It would also provide ex-addicts with an opportunity to go straight, remove them from their old "set" and a lot of triggers, and give them the chance to bank some money toward life "after" so that they don't get dropped penniless back into the same situation they were trying to escape, all while providing a structured environment. Obviously it can't be applied to everyone who has a problem, but our own infrastructure could use some work too, so if you're aged out of the peace corp, and still need help you can get your treatment and show up Saturdays to work on the bridge abutment off rte. 17, or fill potholes with the rest of the crew on overnights. Mind you this is all off the cuff, but I think it's not a terrible idea. Never happen, but it's nice to consider anyway.

Philip Carino
Philip Carino

It should be everyone, seller, manufacturer, buyer, user but it's always easier to prosecute someone readily available. Without these cooperation there'd be no addiction. Yes I'm living in a dream but wouldn't it be nice to aspire our law enforcers to actually target the root causes of these problems too?

FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa

I'm not arguing it's right; I'm just saying that there's legal justification. In my opinion, there is a certain moral justification as well. Addiction can drive you to do horrible things, but it doesn't obliviate the conscience. From my perspective if you encourage or enable someone to go down the road you're on then you bear some responsibility. As I said before, I don't think it's productive or useful to charge folks for doing it since the money could be better spent elsewhere; however the usefulness of the charge has no bearing on whether or not they knowingly contributed to doing something they knew was both wrong and harmful.

Without googling, I couldn't point to a specific instance where a bartender has been charged with manslaughter. I know some of them have been brought up on charges where I live, but I don't recall the nature of the charges or if there was a conviction. Licensing for bartenders varies widely from state to state, but there generally is some type of licensing requirement, as well as personal and business liability for violating approved standards and practices. Even clerks at gas stations which sell beer are required to be certified in my state, and numerous others. I do know for sure that liquor licenses are very expensive, and owners and managers do take a lot of care on who they hire since their livelihood can depend on it. If a bartender does screw up badly it's not uncommon for the liquor board to pull the license for the establishment. When was the last time you went to a BYOB restaurant outside of Mormon country? When one idiot can deep six a couple million worth of franchise rights and infrastructure owners are ridiculously careful.

Filibuster69
Filibuster69

Editor

@FelixCulpa The bartender thing I was not aware of. I agree to an extent. I do think that if two people are getting high together, and one does OD, then I’m not sure that steep a charge is right. If you are selling it, then I do in all honesty think that those charges are correct in most cases. But if two do get high and one does die, then I don’t think that the charge is warranted. The choice was made by both to use, and I’m not sure that having a ”running partner” die is necessarily the surviving addicts fault. I understand the reasoning behind those cases but as you said I don’t believe that it will change much.

Also, out of curiosity, have bartenders ever been charged with anything like third-degree murder for over serving like what has happened in many of these cases?

FelixCulpa
FelixCulpa

As far as bartenders go they can be, and often are, charged for criminal negligence in over-serving people, so let's put that aside. If you just happen to be in the same room as someone who ODs, then it's ludicrous to charge you with anything. Where supplying or injecting someone with drugs is concerned I don't see why it's unreasonable to charge someone with negligent manslaughter at least. I don't think it's the right thing to do, but by the laws we have if you help somebody obtain poison you know they're going to take, and they take it and die, or you administer it to them and they die, it shouldn't come as a surprise if there are consequences to those actions. When I say "poison" I'm not being moralistic either. I'm speaking of the variable potency in street drugs due to fentanyl. There's a reasonable and foreseeable risk of death in taking unknown drugs of unknown strength. I think little, if any, good will come of this kind of policy, but the ostensible legal and moral arguments I'm not able to find much fault with. What I think the REAL reasons for the policy are; "If we come down really hard here then we'll get a rep for it and the junkies will go somewhere else", I find detestable. This kind of NIMBY thinking spends money on prisons that could much more productively be spent on treatment or prevention. It's short sighted and doesn't address the problem, merely relocates it.

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