When a 26-year-old South Carolina college student was found dead in her off-campus housing of a drug overdose, the death didn’t appear to be accidental. She had been depressed and evidence led investigators to first classify the death as a suicide.

Then, they called it murder and charged her 27-year-old drug dealer and sometimes friend with killing her by knowingly supplying her with the oxycodone and other drugs that took her life. He eventually accepted a plea deal with the state and will now spend 24 years in prison.

There’s no question in this case that the defendant was dealing drugs. Police found drugs, cash and guns when they raided his home. What’s important to note, however, is that authorities everywhere are now looking far deeper into every overdose death than before. When possible, they are increasingly likely to find a way to charge the supplier of those drugs with murder.

This can affect you even if you aren’t dealing drugs for a living. For example, you could be accused of murder if:

  • You shared drugs with some friends at a party and someone died
  • You gave some leftover pain meds to your mother, father or another relative who needed them and they accidentally overdosed
  • You do the pickup for the drugs you and a friend intend to share (thus “supplying” your friend with drugs)
  • You just sell a few of your extra pills to cover your own habit or make the rent

As overdoses on fentanyl, oxycodone and meth continue to rise, the authorities are increasingly playing hardball with anybody they think may be contributing to the problem. If you’ve been accused of a drug crime, take the necessary steps to protect your rights and defend yourself.