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Can a Heroin Dealer be Charged with Murder in Indiana?

One question that many Hoosiers ask is “can a heroin dealer be charged with murder in Indiana?” The answer is, generally, yes. Heroin dealers can be charged with a crime that is similar to murder if they manufacture or deliver a controlled substance or analog that results in the death of another person. In Indiana, this offense is called “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death,” a Level 1 felony.  

If you’re currently being investigated for a drug crime that may or may not have involved the death of another person, you should contact an Indiana drug crimes attorney as soon as possible. The severity of the penalties associated with a Level 1 felony is second only to murder, and you could face up to 40 years in prison, if convicted. To best protect yourself and your freedoms, you’ll want to hire an attorney who fully understands the laws regarding drug dealing in Indiana and how they apply to these situations.  

The Indiana criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP include former deputy prosecutors who have prosecuted similar cases in the past. This means that they have a strong grasp of how the state will approach your case and the various types of strategies they may apply in court. If you want a better chance at securing the best possible outcome in the case against you, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Indiana Drug Crime Attorneys

Dealing in a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death

As it relates to the question “can a heroin dealer be charged with murder in Indiana?” Indiana Code 35-42-1-1.5, states that a person who knowingly or intentionally manufactures or delivers a controlled substance considered to be a narcotic or an analog in violation of Indiana Code 35-48-4-1, that, when used, injected, inhaled, absorbed, or ingested, results in the death of a human being who used the controlled substance, commits dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death, a Level 1 felony. This same law applies to several other types of drugs, as well, including cocaine, methamphetamine (manufacturing or delivering), and schedule I, II, or II controlled substances or their analog.  

If a person commits the offense of dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death, but the controlled substance involved is a schedule IV drug, then they would commit a Level 2 felony. In addition, if the drug was a schedule V drug, a synthetic drug, a controlled substance analog, or a substance represented to be a controlled substance, the person would commit a Level 3 felony.  

Range of Penalties for Those Convicted of “Dealing in a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death”  

As stated earlier, those charged with “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death” face some of the most serious penalties under Indiana law, especially if the drug involved was cocaine, methamphetamine, a narcotic, a schedule I, II, or III controlled substance or a controlled substance analogue. Per the Indiana sentencing guidelines, a person charged with a Level 1 felony, would face a prison sentence of 20-40 years and a fine of up to $10,000. If the defendant was dealing a schedule IV drug and was subsequently charged with a Level 2 felony, they would face between 10-30 years and prison and a fine of up $10,000. Finally, those charged with the lowest level felony under this law, a Level 3 felony, would face between 3-16 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.  

Given the severity of these penalties, especially the lengthy prison sentences, it’s vital that anyone charged with dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death speak to a drug attorney in Indianapolis immediately. If you’re not sure who to call, the experienced and skilled criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to speak with you any day of the week. Call us today at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

Other Questions Related to “Can Heroin Dealer be Charged with Murder in Indiana?” 

While many people wonder whether or not a heroin dealer can be charged with murder in Indiana, there are several other common questions that people ask about this offense. These questions often touch on the history of this law, the statutory defenses available to people charged with “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death,” and notable cases of heroin dealers being charged under this law in Indiana.  

How does Indiana’s Approach to Charging Heroin dealers with Murder Compare to Other States in the US? 

In March of 2018, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed House Bill 1359 into law, joining over 20 other states who have similar drug-induced homicide laws. Indiana’s law, however, is particularly harsh, as offenders who are convicted of dealing schedule I, II, or III drugs, as well as cocaine, narcotics and methamphetamine resulting in the death of another person can be charged with a Level 1 Felony in Indiana. If convicted, these offenders would face, according to the Indiana Sentencing Guidelines, up to 40 years in prison. While two states neighboring Indiana, Illinois and Michigan, also severely penalize offenders, other states mandate a lesser, but still lengthy sentence for those convicted of a drug-induced homicide. For example, under Washington state’s drug-induced homicide law, a person convicted of controlled substances homicide could face up to 10 years in prison. 

Are There Any Statutory Defenses for “Dealing in a Controlled Substance Resulting in Death?”  

While an experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney may be able to develop a sound defense, there are no statutory defenses for the charge of “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death.” In fact, Indiana Code 35-42-1-1.5(d) explicitly states that it is not an applicable defense that a human being died after voluntarily “using, injecting, inhaling, absorbing, or ingesting a controlled substance or it’s analog; or as a result of using the controlled substance or controlled substance analog in combination with alcohol or another controlled substance or with any other compound, mixture, diluent, or substance. 

Are There Any Notable Cases Where a Heroin Dealer Has Been Charged with Murder in Indiana? 

Since the law was signed in 2018, dozens of individuals have been prosecuted and convicted of “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death.” However, the most notable case of a heroin dealer being charged with murder in Indiana is the case of James Alvin Trimmnel v. State of Indiana. This was the first time a drug dealer was charged with murder under the new Indiana law on “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death,” and ultimately, the charges made against Trimmnel were dismissed by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The reason for the dismissal of charges stemmed from the fact that the defendant had sold heroin to a person who proceeded to inject his wife with the substance, leading her to overdose and die. The Court of Appeals ruled that:  

“Trimnell could not have anticipated or reasonably foreseen that Rachel would become acutely intoxicated with alcohol prior to or during the time that Nathaniel injected the drug in Rachel’s arm,” wrote Senior Judge Carr L. Darden. 

“Likewise, Trimnell could not have anticipated or reasonably foreseen that Nathaniel would not promptly seek medical attention when it became obvious that Rachel became unconscious, she was unresponsive and suffered difficulty breathing, but waited until hours later in an to attempt to obtain medical treatment for her. Furthermore, Trimnell could not have foreseen how much of the drug Nathaniel would inject in Rachel’s arm.” 

More recently, in August of 2022, an Indianapolis resident was the first person in Boone County, Indiana, to be convicted under Indiana’s “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death” law. The defendant, who dealt in fentanyl, was sentenced in late September to 25 years in prison

Have Other Questions Related to “Can Heroin Dealer be Charged with Murder in Indiana?” 

For those wondering “can a heroin dealer be charged with murder in Indiana,” it’s important to know that the answer is generally, yes. However, the offender would not be charged with murder. Instead, they would be charged with “dealing in a controlled substance resulting in death.” If you’ve been charged under this law or worry that a current investigation may lead to this charge, you need to find sound legal representation as soon as possible. This offense is incredibly serious, and without a deeply experienced Indiana criminal defense attorney you could spend the next 30 years of your life behind bars.  

If you’re ready to begin building the strongest defense possible, or simply have other questions related to this offense, contact the Indianapolis attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. We stand ready to review your case, develop the most appropriate defense strategy given the circumstances of your charge, and represent you throughout each stage of the Indiana criminal justice process. To speak with a member of our team today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. 

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Can a Heroin Dealer be Charged with Murder in Indiana?
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Can a Heroin Dealer be Charged with Murder in Indiana?
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Wondering “can a heroin dealer be charged with murder in Indiana?” Generally, yes, but it's not called murder in Indiana. Learn more about the laws by reading this article.
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Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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