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How Drug Dealing Can Lead To 40 Years In Prison In Indiana

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Thousands of people are charged with possessing and dealing controlled substances–i.e., illegal drugs–each year. Many of these cases are quickly elevated to felony charges based on special circumstances. For example, under Indiana law if a person distributes cocaine, methamphetamine, or a similar controlled substance that results in someone’s death, that dealer can be charged with a Level 1 felony, the most serious non-murder offense on the books.

Appeals Court Upholds Conviction of Woman Charged in Connection with Death of Another Woman and Her Unborn Child

A recent Indiana case offers a cautionary tale on how the law works in this area. In Campbell v. State, the victim was a pregnant woman looking to purchase heroin. A friend drove the victim to a dealer who sold her some of the drug. Dissatisfied with the quality of the heroin, however, she attempted to find heroin from another dealer.

According to prosecutors, this led the victim to the defendant and her boyfriend. The victim initially texted the boyfriend about purchasing methamphetamine. The defendant and her boyfriend subsequently appeared at the home of the victim’s friend to make the delivery. They returned a short time later to make a second delivery. The evidence at trial indicated the defendant “weighed out” some heroin and took it inside the home of the victim’s friend.

The following morning, the victim was found lying face down on the floor of her friend’s house. When paramedics arrived, they determined the victim had been unconscious for about 30 minutes. They were unable to resuscitate her and both her and her unborn child were dead. A postmortem examination of the victim revealed she had a number of controlled substances in her system, including methamphetamine, fentanyl, and substances produced by the ingestion of heroin.

Prosecutors subsequently charged the defendant with Level 1 felony dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death. Initially, the prosecution filed a criminal information specifically alleging the defendant delivered heroin to the victim. This was later amended to say she delivered “heroin and/or fentanyl.” After the defense objected to this wording, the prosecution again amended the information to simply alleged that she delivered “a controlled substance.”

A jury found the defendant guilty. The judge imposed a 40-year prison sentence, which is the maximum penalty for a Level 1 felony in Indiana. On appeal, the defendant argued the prosecution’s amending of the charges against her violated her constitutional rights.

The Court of Appeals rejected that argument and upheld the defendant’s conviction. The appellate court explained that amending the charge to delivering a controlled substance was not “unconstitutionally vague” and did not deprive the defendant of an opportunity to prepare and present a defense.

Contact Rigney Law LLC Today

Indiana prosecutors take drug crimes seriously, especially when someone has died as the result of drug use. As cases like the one above illustrates, the state will not hesitate to go after suspected drug dealers and effectively pursue a life sentence against them. So if you find yourself under investigation or arrest for similar offenses, it is imperative that you work with an experienced Indianapolis drug crimes lawyer. Contact Rigney Law LLC today to schedule a free consultation.

Source:

scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7346109940874644201

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