Michigan advances legislation that allows charges in overdose deaths

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The Michigan Senate recently passed two bills that would allow county prosecutors to bring charges in a drug overdose death even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county.

The bills would allow charges to be passed in the county where the victim died from the overdose, the county where the drugs were consumed, or the county where the drugs were delivered.

Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Lenawee and Monroe counties) sponsored the bills.

The inspiration for the bills was the 2016 death of a Monroe County man. He died of toxicity from fentanyl. Drug dealers sometimes use fentanyl as a cutting agent to make heroin more potent.

Monroe County charged the dealer with one count of delivery of fentanyl, causing death. The drug delivery occurred in Wayne County, and the Michigan Supreme Court later ruled that the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction.

“Opioid abuse is devastating Michigan communities,” said Sen. Lana Theis (R-Livingston County), who co-sponsored the bills, said. “The drugs are harming families, ruining lives, and taking away people’s futures. This legislation will better enable law enforcement to prosecute the drug dealers who are preying on our communities no matter where they are.”

The bills move to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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