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Is Causing A Fentanyl Overdose Illegal In Bergen County?


Various lawmakers across the country have vowed to take a tougher stance against fentanyl. In some jurisdictions, new laws make it illegal to cause an overdose death. In these states, dealers may even face murder charges for selling drugs to someone who subsequently overdoses. Does New Jersey have these laws? What happens if you cause an overdose death in Bergen County?

Strict Liability for Drug-Induced Deaths in New Jersey 

Since 1987, New Jersey has followed a doctrine of “strict liability for drug-induced deaths.” The Garden State was one of the first jurisdictions to even consider charges for causing overdoses – long before the current controversy over fentanyl. Under this doctrine, you may be charged with homicide if you sell a controlled substance to someone who subsequently overdoses. You could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted. 

Alleged Drug Dealer Arrested for Causing Overdose in Bergen County 

In May of 2024, a SWAT team arrested an alleged drug dealer in Bergen County. Authorities claimed that this individual had supplied a “fentanyl-laced substance” to an individual who subsequently overdosed back in April. After a one-month investigation, authorities claim to have traced the drugs back to the defendant before executing a search warrant. This search resulted in numerous charges, including second-degree possession with intent to distribute cocaine and third-degree possession with intent to distribute fentanyl.

However, the authorities did not mention any homicide charges for the alleged overdose death. This is strange, especially since the police seemed so certain that the dealer sold the drugs that caused the man’s death. Prosecutors noted that “additional charges are possible,” perhaps hinting that they do not have enough evidence to pursue these homicide charges.

It Is Very Difficult to Secure a Murder Conviction for an Overdose Death 

Although it is possible to face homicide charges for causing an overdose, prosecutors often struggle to secure these convictions. It is difficult to prove that a specific quantity of drugs sold by a specific person caused a specific person to overdose. In cases where prosecutors have secured convictions, the evidence is typically very obvious. For example, one individual pleaded guilty to manslaughter in New Jersey because his drug baggies were marked with a distinctive “stamp” – a clear indication of their source.

A defendant might also face homicide charges if their text messages are especially incriminating. For example, a dealer might describe the specific drugs and quantities to the alleged victim over text messaging. If prosecutors seize these records, they could use them to secure a conviction.

Find an Experienced Drug Defense Lawyer in Bergen County 

If you’re facing criminal charges after allegedly causing someone’s overdose in Bergen County, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney right away. Choose Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney at Law to get started with a defense strategy. With our help, you can push back against needlessly excessive penalties. Reach out today – and book a consultation.



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Phillip J. Murphy,
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Free Consultations Calls Answered and returned 24/7 Phone: (845) 639-6600 Fax: (845) 639-6620

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Phillip J. Murphy, Attorney At Law is located in New City, New York and serves clients in and around New York, New Jersey & Connecticut. Contact our experienced criminal defense law firm.
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