Colorado Criminal Law – Giving Drugs To Someone You Know – Dangerous – Risky
Colorado Criminal Law – Giving Drugs To Someone You Know – Dangerous – Risky – With the epidemic of heroin use consuming our nation – it is important – no, it is critical to understand how dangerous it is to share drugs with a friend.. not only from a moral perspective – but from a legal perspective.
This article addresses the legal exposure of a person who shares, but does not “sell,” drugs with someone they know in a social situation.
Always Start With The Statute – The Colorado Law Regarding The Distribution Of Drugs
[HMS – It is important to note the use of the term “distribute” vs the sale of controlled substances -distribute includes giving drugs to another person – such as a friend. It is broadly defined in the next statute]
§ 18-18-405. Unlawful Distribution, Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Sale
(1) (a) Except as authorized by part 1 of article 42.5 of title 12, C.R.S., part 2 of article 80 of title 27, C.R.S., or part 2 or 3 of this article, it is unlawful for any person knowingly to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, or to possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance; or induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons, to manufacture, dispense, sell, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance; or possess one or more chemicals or supplies or equipment with intent to manufacture a controlled substance.
(b) As used in this subsection (1), “dispense” does not include labeling, as defined in section 12-42.5-102(18), C.R.S.
(2) Except as otherwise provided for an offense concerning marijuana and marijuana concentrate in section 18-18-406 and for special offenders as provided in section 18-18-407, any person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:
(a) Commits a level 1 drug felony and is subject to the mandatory sentencing provisions in section 18-1.3-401.5(7) if:
(I) The violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:
(A) More than two hundred twenty-five grams and contains a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance; or
(B) More than one hundred twelve grams and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones; or
(C) More than fifty milligrams and contains flunitrazepam; or
(II) An adult sells, dispenses, distributes, or otherwise transfers any quantity of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance or any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any amount of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance, other than marijuana or marijuana concentrate, to a minor and the adult is at least two years older than the minor;
(b) Commits a level 2 drug felony if:
(I) The violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:
(A) More than fourteen grams, but not more than two hundred twenty-five grams, and contains a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance;
(B) More than seven grams, but not more than one hundred twelve grams, and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones; or
(C) More than ten milligrams, but not more than fifty milligrams, and contains flunitrazepam;
(II) An adult sells, dispenses, distributes, or otherwise transfers any quantity of a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance or any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance to a minor and the adult is at least two years older than the minor;
(c) Commits a level 3 drug felony if the violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:
(I) Not more than fourteen grams and contains a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance;
(II) Not more than seven grams and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones;
(III) Not more than ten milligrams and contains flunitrazepam; or
(IV) More than four grams and contains a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance;
(d) Commits a level 4 drug felony if:
(I) The violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs not more than four grams and contains a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance; or
(II) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (c) of this subsection (2), the violation involves distribution or transfer of the controlled substance for the purpose of consuming all of the controlled substance with another person or persons at a time substantially contemporaneous with the transfer; except that this subparagraph (II) applies only if the distribution or transfer involves not more than four grams of a schedule I or II controlled substance or not more than two grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones;
(e) Commits a level 1 drug misdemeanor if the violation involves:
(I) A schedule V controlled substance; or
(II) A transfer with no remuneration of not more than four grams of a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance.
(5) When a person commits unlawful distribution, manufacture, dispensing, sale, or possession with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute any schedule I or schedule II controlled substance, as listed in section 18-18-203 or 18-18-204, flunitrazepam, ketamine, or cathinones, or conspires with one or more persons to commit the offense, pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, twice or more within a period of six months, without having been placed in jeopardy for the prior offense or offenses, the aggregate amount of the schedule I or schedule II controlled substance, flunitrazepam, ketamine, or cathin
18-18-102 – Definitions
(11) “Distribute” means to deliver other than by administering or dispensing a controlled substance, with or without remuneration.
(12) “Distributor” means a person who distributes.
(33) “Sale” means a barter, an exchange, or a gift, or an offer therefor, and each such transaction made by any person, whether as the principal, proprietor, agent, servant, or employee.
The “Situation” – Drugs Are Given To A Friend /Acquaintance – They Are Seriously Injured Or Die
The number of Colorado drug and alcohol overdoses has tripled in the last 10 years.
Sharing controlled substances with a friend or acquaintance, who later falls to sleep, is one of the most dangerous situations that can exist in the world of drug and use. It applies equally to the sharing of alcohol.
Most often in this circumstance – rather than calling 911 – because of a fear of being prosecuted – those who “distributed” (gave) drugs or alcohol to a friend – let these drugged persons “sleep it off.”What can happen? the “friend” never regains consciousness and dies as the party rages on in the next room.
The Problem – Drugs Are More Available – More Powerful – And Easier To Ingest
The number of people overdosing and dying today from opioid and alcohol overdoses is exploding. Today more people today die from overdoses than car crashes. Heroin and opioid abuse is particularly dangerous because the purer forms of this highly addictive drug make it possible to snort rather than inject it, thus making it more “acceptable” to groups of people who might never have used it before….and it’s cheap and easy to obtain.
Heroin is highly addictive — one in four people who use it will quickly become addicted. In a very short time of the use of this drug, the families of these new addicts will tell you how terrible their experience has become. Some of these parents can also tell you about the day their son or daughter was dropped off on their front lawn, dead.
The Possible Criminal Charges For Giving Drugs To A Friend/Acquaintance Who Later Dies
As noted – giving drugs to a person – rather than selling them – falls under the same law. Distribution is broadly defined under the law as “delivering… a controlled substance, with or without remuneration.” Prosecutions of the people who gave drugs to someone who died, while not common, can happen.
Clearly possession, or possession with intent to distribute, is the most commonly charged offense in this situation. However, more and more, Colorado’s District Attorneys are prosecuting the persons who sell, trade or just “give” drugs to someone who overdoses with crimes that are much more serious.
Possible Crimes That Can be Charged For Giving Drugs To Someone Who Later Dies
- If the intent is to cause the death of another – First Degree Murder.
- Knowing that the person you have given drugs to will die from them – Second Degree Murder
- If the act was reckless or negligent – Manslaughter
- First, Second and Third degree assaults maybe charged if the person does not die.
Some of the kinds of drugs commonly shared these days are “Suboxone,” methadone, Molly (MDMA),heroin, and all manner of “pharm” from the drug cabinets of the parents of young people.
The good news, if there is any, is that Colorado has enacted a relatively new law – the 911 Good Samaritan Law – that assures those who call 911 in the case of an overdose will not face criminal charges. The idea behind the law is to save lives by getting medical help for someone who has overdosed. It protects the friend – the Samaritan from criminal prosecution for calling 911 and then stays with the person.
Colorado’s 911 Good Sam(aritan) Law
The research has clearly demonstrated that the fear of arrest and prosecution is the primary reason that people don’t call 911. Colorado’s Good Samaritan law provides limited protection from being charged and prosecuted for the possession of small amounts of drugs. But if you sell drugs to another, you are not protected under the new law.
There has always been a kind of medical professional’s version of a Good Samaritan Law – what follows is an older law passed to immunizes those attempting to save lives.
13-21-108. Persons rendering emergency assistance exempt from liability.
(1) Any person licensed as a physician and surgeon under the laws of the state of Colorado, or anv other person, who in good faith renders emergency care or emergency assistance to a person not presently his patient without compensation at the place of an emergency or accident, including a health care institution as defined in section 13-64-202 (3), shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions made in good faith as a result of the rendering of such emergency care or emergency assistance during the emergency, unless the acts or omissions were grossly negligent or willful and wanton. This section shall not apply to any person who renders such emergency care or emergency assistance to a patient he is otherwise obligated to cover.
(2) Any person while acting as a volunteer member of a rescue unit, as defined in section 25-‘).5-103 (II), C.R.S., notwithstanding the fact that such organization may recover actual costs incurred in the rendering of emergency care or assistance without compensation at the place of an emergency or accident shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions in good faith.
(3) Any person, including a licensed physician, surgeon, or other medical personnel while acting as a volunteer member of a ski patrol or ski area rescue unit, notwithstanding the fact that such person may receive free skiing privileges or other benefits as the result of his volunteer status, who in good faith renders emergency care or assistance without other compensation at the place of an emergency or accident shall not be liable for any civil damages for acts or omissions in good faith.
Now there is also the 911 Good Samaritan Law 18-1-711
Colorado’s 911 Good Samaritan Law § 18-1-711
This law was made effective on May 29, 2012. Unlike other states that have enacted this kind of law, Colorado’s version does not prohibit the arrest of a Good Samaritan – it does, however, immunize the Samaritan from the prosecution of certain crimes.
18-1-711. Immunity for Persons Who Suffer or Report an Emergency Drug or Alcohol Overdose Event
(1) A person shall be immune from criminal prosecution for an offense described in subsection (3) of this section if:
(a) The person reports in good faith an emergency drug or alcohol overdose event to a law enforcement officer, to the 911 system, or to a medical provider;
(b) The person remains at the scene of the event until a law enforcement officer or an emergency medical responder arrives or the person remains at the facilities of the medical provider until a law enforcement officer arrives;
(c) The person identifies himself or herself to, and cooperates with, the law enforcement officer, emergency medical responder, or medical provider; and
(d) The offense arises from the same course of events from which the emergency drug or alcohol overdose event arose.
(2) The immunity described in subsection (1) of this section also extends to the person who suffered the emergency drug or alcohol overdose event if all of the conditions of subsection (1) are satisfied.
(3) The immunity described in subsection (1) of this section shall apply to the following criminal offenses:
(a) Unlawful possession of a controlled substance, as described in section 18-18-403.5(2) (a) (I), (2) (b) (I), or (2) (c);
(b) Unlawful use of a controlled substance, as described in section 18-18-404 ;
(c) Unlawful possession of two ounces or less of marijuana, as described in section 18-18-406(5) (a) (I); or more than two ounces of marijuana but no more than six ounces of marijuana, as described in section 18-18-406(4) (c); or more than six ounces of marijuana but no more than twelve ounces of marijuana or three ounces or less of marijuana concentrate as described in section 18-18-406(4) (b);
(d) Open and public display, consumption, or use of less than two ounces of marijuana as described in section 18-18-406(5) (b) (I);
(e) Transferring or dispensing two ounces or less of marijuana from one person to another for no consideration, as described in section 18-18-406(5) (c);
(f) Use or possession of synthetic cannabinoids or salvia divinorum, as described in section 18-18-406.1 ;
(g) Possession of drug paraphernalia, as described in section 18-18-428 ; and
(h) Illegal possession or consumption of ethyl alcohol or marijuana by an underage person or illegal possession of marijuana paraphernalia by an underage person, as described in section 18-13-122.
(4) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit the prosecution of a person for an offense other than an offense listed in subsection (3) of this section or to limit the ability of a district attorney or a law enforcement officer to obtain or use evidence obtained from a report, recording, or any other statement provided pursuant to subsection (1) of this section to investigate and prosecute an offense other than an offense listed in subsection (3) of this section.
(5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “emergency drug or alcohol overdose event” means an acute condition including, but not limited to, physical illness, coma, mania, hysteria, or death resulting from the consumption or use of a controlled substance, or of alcohol, or another substance with which a controlled substance or alcohol was combined, and that a layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug or alcohol overdose that requires medical assistance.
A Colorado Law To Address A National Overdose Crisis
While Colorado’s 911 Good Samaritan law does not protect against initial arrest of the Good Sam reporter, and protects only the person who makes the report and meets all of the laws requirements, it is believed that most police are interpreting the law liberally to prevent the need to arrest and to include more than one person making the report if that is the case.
This law is considered landmark legislation in that it chooses compassion and understanding over the historically blind and destructive approach of the “War on Drugs.”
Alcohol “Overdoses” Are Key Among The Deaths Of Young People
The 911 Good Sam Law also applies to alcohol overdoses.
Underage drinkers – particularly in high schools and colleges – fear reporting alcohol overdosing because of the repercussions later in life of a criminal history related to the being charged with a crime involving alcohol. Many young people are misinformed and many deaths due to overdosing on alcohol could be prevented.
Alcohol is the most widely abused drug on Colorado college campuses and universities. “Sleeping it off” ignores the hidden dangers of liver failure or death from aspiration (usually of vomit). The Good Samaritan Law needs to be taught and understood by these young people.
Bottom Line – If You Give Away Your Drugs – You Are In Danger Of Destroying Your Life And The Life Of The Person Who Takes Your Drugs
While there may be a method to avoid prosecution if a friend overdoses on drugs or alcohol in your presence, that law – the 911 Good Sam Law – does NOT immunize you if you are the so called drug dealer and have given those drugs to them illegally.
Recently an example of this situation was highlighted in the prosecution of two young people in Colorado Springs in the connection with the death of a Colorado Springs teenager who overdosed on the drug “Molly” (Ecstasy). The two individuals were charged with a Class 3 Felony for the distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance after the police responded to a drug overdose call.
The victim in that case was a 17 year old girl whose kidneys and liver failed after taking the drug. While she was life-flighted to the Children’s hospital in Aurora – she later died.
The two people charged and who gave the young girl the “Molly” were identified as the source of the drugs that led to the death of the girl.
Colorado Criminal Law – Giving Drugs To Someone You Know – Dangerous – Risky
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