Delaware’s Courts and Legislators Review Heroin Deaths

The availability of heroin is responsible for many overdoses and deaths in Delaware in recent years and has prompted a number of changes in laws. Police, paramedics, and mental health officials have all seen a steady increase in heroin use among the population, and the Drug Enforcement Administration named it as Delaware’s largest drug threat. The state’s legislature has been taking proactive steps to fight the heroin epidemic, and federal authorities recently indicted an alleged Delaware heroin supplier, charging that the individual’s supply of drugs resulted in the overdose death of a woman in Pennsylvania.

Indictment of Alleged Heroin Supplier in Delaware

On October 13, 2016 Donte Jacobs was indicted and charged under a new law in Delaware with conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic additive that can strengthen the effect of heroin on an individual, that resulted in the death of a Pennsylvania woman. Federal authorities charged the alleged supplier after the victim’s boyfriend agreed to work with police, meeting a dealer at a local mall for a purported drug purchase. After the deal was completed, law enforcement arrested the dealer, who named Jacobs as the supplier of the heroin and fentanyl.

A judge soon granted the approval for prosecutors to search Jacobs’ phone. Police arrested the alleged supplier, and Jacobs now faces the possibility of incarceration in prison for 20 years to life, a minimum of three years probation to be served after release from prison, and a fine not exceeding $5,000,000. The indictment of Jacobs is especially significant because it is the first time in nearly a decade that federal authorities have built a criminal case in Delaware whereby the alleged heroin supplier is charged with distributing drugs that directly resulted in an individual’s death.

Commission Formed to Combat Heroin Epidemic

While crime related to heroin use has skyrocketed in Delaware, increasing nearly 2,000% in Sussex County alone, state leaders have taken formal steps to understand why Delaware has so many residents dying of heroin overdoses. The chair of Delaware’s Senate Health Committee, Bethany Hall-Long, D-Middletown, sponsored Senate Bill 174 to review specific overdose fatalities through the creation of the Drug Overdose Fatality Review Commission.

Delaware’s Senate Bill 174

Senate Bill 174 is a legislative bipartisan bill that passed on April 21, 2016. Its Drug Overdose Fatality Review Commission seeks answers to Delaware’s heroin, prescription opioid, and fentanyl problems, including where heroin use spikes are distributed throughout the state and how individuals are procuring opioids. The commission intends to present recommendations to the state on ways that future fatalities may be averted.

The Drug Overdose Fatality Review Commission includes Attorney General Matt Denn, who explained that heroin-related deaths in Delaware have tripled between 2009 and 2014. The commission has been exploring several factors as to why Delaware’s overdose death rate has skyrocketed, including pinpointing specific locations from which heroin supplies may be originating.  

As heroin-related overdose deaths continue to rise in Delaware at an alarming rate, residents are eager to find a way to combat the problem. Many of Delaware’s leaders are taking proactive steps to understand the state’s heroin epidemic and find answers about its prevalence and roots. The indictment by federal authorities of an alleged drug supplier in Delaware who is accused of selling heroin that led to a woman’s death by overdose is a relatively rare indictment in the state, and the case may have political and legal communities paying close attention to its outcome.

When a person is charged with a drug offense and needs assistance during this difficult time, retaining an experienced and skilled lawyer is crucial. The criminal defense attorneys of Murray Phillips Law provide expert counsel and legal representation for individuals charged with drug offenses. Murray Phillips P.A. serves residents of Delaware and has conveniently-located office locations in Wilmington, Georgetown, and Camden.

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