Supreme Court to Consider if Government Must Prove that Death by Distribution of Drugs Resulted From Drugs Alone or Was Forseeable.

Burrage v. United States, No. 12-7515: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear argument on whether one can be held strictly liable when you distribute illegal drugs to a person and that person dies even though you could not forsee death happening or when there is an issue about the drugs being the sole cause of the death. The Federal crime of Distribution of Drugs Causing Death carries a minimum mandatory 20 year prison sentence. Issues: (1) Whether the crime of distribution of drugs causing death under 21 U.S.C. § 841 is a strict liability crime, without a foreseeability or proximate cause requirement; and (2) whether a person can be convicted for distribution of heroin causing death utilizing jury instructions which allow a conviction when the heroin that was distributed “contributed to,” death by “mixed drug intoxication,” but was not the sole cause of death of a person.

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Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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