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Tags: texas | senate | fentanyl | legislation | greg abbott | prosecutors | murder charges

Fentanyl Dealers Face Murder Charges Under Texas Bill

By    |   Thursday, 16 March 2023 08:35 AM EDT

Members of the Texas Senate have unanimously passed a bill that will open the door for prosecutors to eventually seek murder charges against people who sell, make, and deliver fentanyl.

The bill, passed on Wednesday, increases the penalties on the sale and production of fentanyl and classifies overdoses as "poisonings," and its approval helps achieve one of Gov. Greg Abbott's calls for legislation, reports The Texas Tribune.

The bill, which will now head to the Texas House, also increases penalties for making or delivering less than one gram of fentanyl, changing the crime to a third-degree felony rather than a state jail penalty.

Further, if someone dies of an overdose as a result of making or selling the drug, the new law escalates the penalty to become a second-degree felony.

Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, who introduced the new legislation also in 2021 presented a bill that increased the penalties for the manufacture or delivery of more than one gram of fentanyl.

"We have tragically learned the extent of how dangerous fentanyl is and how even under one gram is so dangerous," she said Wednesday while introducing the new bill. "It's a fact that fentanyl is flooding our borders. It is absolutely without a doubt killing our citizens on a daily basis, and it's time that we take a comprehensive approach to combat this."

Abbott cheered the Senate's action, posting on Twitter: "Here we go! You kill Texans with fentanyl. You get charged with murder."

In Texas, overdose deaths from fentanyl have risen by almost 400% between the fiscal year 2019, with 333 people, compared to 1,662 in fiscal year 2021. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicts more than 5,000 people in the state died of drug overdoses between July 2021 and July 2022.

The new bill also strengthens penalties for the manufacture, delivery, or possession of larger quantities of fentanyl, bringing punishment of between 10 years to life in prison for having between 200 and 400 grams of the drug and 15 years or more in prison for having more than 400 grams.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, just two milligrams of fentanyl, an amount that could fit on the tip of a pencil, is a potentially deadly dose.

Huffman acknowledged that there are some challenges in charging suspects with murder over fentanyl including the question of whether the suspect knew they sold something that includes the drug.

"It may be that they find it's easier to prosecute under the other statute that I passed that would make it a second-degree felony," she said. "But there may be extraordinary cases where it's clear cut and the prosecutor then could have this tool to file for a first-degree felony."

There are exceptions in the law for the prescription of fentanyl by medical professionals.

The state Senate also on Wednesday passed another Huffman-sponsored bill that makes it mandatory for law enforcement or first responders to provide overdose information to the state for use in a digital overdose mapping system.

Sandy Fitzgerald

Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics. 

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Members of the Texas Senate have unanimously passed a bill that will open the door for prosecutors to eventually seek murder charges against people who sell, make, and deliver fentanyl.
texas, senate, fentanyl, legislation, greg abbott, prosecutors, murder charges
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2023-35-16
Thursday, 16 March 2023 08:35 AM
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