Drug dealers could face felony charges in overdose deaths

By Dionte Coleman

INDIANAPOLIS—Legislation that would hold drug dealers responsible if their customers die after using the dealers’ products passed a House committee Monday.

House Bill 1359 would have dealers facing a more severe felony charge if someone overdoses on the controlled substance they sold.

HB 1359 was proposed by Rep. Gregory Steuerwald, R-Avon, and passed the House Ways and Means Committee by a 21-0 vote.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, looking over House Bill 1359 at the House Ways and Means Committee.
Photo by Kirsten Nielsen

“It is not murder because there is no intent to kill. If there was intent to kill then it can be charged as murder,” Steuerwald said.

Indiana Public Defender Council Executive Director Larry Landis said he fears overcrowding in prisons because those who would normally be charged with a misdemeanor can now be charged with a felony.

“We really have to look at this carefully. I understand the emotional reason for it, the outrage of opioid epidemic, but this is going to have enormous impact on the prison population,” Landis said.

Dionte Coleman is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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