daughters friend gave her his morphine pills for pain….daughter died from morphine overdose…

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daughters friend gave her his morphine pills for pain….daughter died from morphine overdose…

my daughter 21 years of age died for a morphine overdose ….friend stated he gave her his morphine pills because she said she was in pain….is this not a crime…

Asked on June 18, 2009 under Criminal Law, North Carolina

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

First of all, I'm sorry for your loss.

Yes, this is a crime.  Depending on the specific facts of the case, the charge could be something along the lines of criminally negligent homicide, or the North Carolina equivalent.  Basically, criminal culpability arises from the failure to use reasonable care to avoid consequences that threaten or harm the safety of the public and that are the foreseeable outcome of acting in a particular manner.  Here, supplying your daughter with the morphine pills, a non-prescribed and controlled substance that resulted in her death.

Additionally, and I know under the circumstances that money is not your object, you could also bring a suit for wrongful death.  Your daughter's contributory actions (ie voluntarily taking the pills) could effect the settlement but a claim could still be made.

You need to report the crime to the police, and then consult an attorney in your area about the civil suit.

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

When an individual provides someone with a non-prescribed controlled substance, and the person subsequently dies from taking it, the individual who provided the substance may be exposed to both criminal and civil liability.  From a criminal perspective, if you feel that a crime has been committed you should report it to the police, who are in the best position to investigate and then turn over to the prosecuting authorities.  Moreover, your daughter's estate may have a claim against the individual who provided her with the morphine, sounding in wrongful death.  However, this claim will potentially be affected by any contributory negligence (on behalf of your daughter, for taking the pills) as well as the existence of any assets (read: recoverable money) on behalf of the defendant.  Nevertheless, I recommend that you consult with and/or retain an attorney to discuss all of your legal options proceeding forward.


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