To Prosecute or Not to Prosecute Drug Dealers for Customer Overdoses

The big question lately has been if a drug dealer sells someone some heroin and that person dies because of it, is that drug dealer liable for this individual’s death? Some say yes and other simply don’t agree. On Friday, a NJ drug dealer was sentenced to 18 years in prison for selling heroin to a Gloucester County man who died of a drug overdose. 

 Joshua L. Rodriguez, 24, was convicted on a charge of first-degree strict liability for a drug-induced death following the death of Daniel Chakov, 42. Witnesses testified that Chakov traveled to Camden to buy heroin from Rodriguez. Chakov died on October 31, 2014, at his parent's home, where he lived. Rodriguez has remained jailed since his arrest in December 2014. He was convicted in February. He must serve 85 percent of his term before he is eligible for parole and is subject to five years of parole supervision following his release from prison.

A growing number of law enforcement officials around the country are prosecuting drug dealers for causing heroin overdose deaths. Many people who were addicted to prescription painkillers switched to heroin after drug companies made their products more difficult to crush and snort. Heroin is also much less expensive than pills such as oxycodone.

The GCPO has filed similar charges in several overdose death cases in recent years. "In light of the scourge heroin has caused, law enforcement, in appropriate cases, will continue to pursue dealers who sell lethal doses of this drug," Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said in a statement following Friday's sentencing.

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