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The Death Penalty for Drug Dealers: Could It Really Happen?

March 30, 2018, on Drug Crimes |

If you are convicted of dealing drugs, especially on the federal level, you can face very harsh penalties up to and including life imprisonment, depending upon the circumstances. Because the penalties are so harsh, it is imperative you get help from a Schenectady drug defense lawyer as soon as you are under investigation for a drug crime.

Although the penalties are so serious already, the Trump administration is proposing to take the penalties to the next level. As New York magazine indicates, President Trump's administration is looking into the possibility of crafting a new federal policy that would impose the death penalty for drug dealers.

Trump Administration Proposes Death Penalty for Drug Offenses

According to reports, both the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Department of Justice are evaluating the possibility of imposing the death penalty for drug offenses. In particular, the policy be considered would make it a capital crime to traffic in large quantities of fentanyl.

The proposal to impose the death penalty for drug dealers is part of the Trump administration's promised efforts to fight the opioid crisis. President Trump has indicated he believes that the death penalty could be an appropriate and effective solution to reduce opioid addiction and death from fentanyl overdose because other countries that impose the death penalty for drug dealers do not have as much of a drug problem as the United States. Those countries include the Philippines and China.

President Trump has long been vocal in his support of harsh penalties for drug dealers, reportedly commenting that other countries have less of a drug problem because they kill dealers and that drug dealers are “as bad as serial killers.”  Trump has indicated he does not believe showing sympathy is an appropriate response, and has sought briefings from foreign representatives on their own harsh policies for dealing with drug dealers, including being briefed by representatives of Singapore where the death penalty is also applied.

While it could potentially be legally permissible for federal policy to change so drug dealers would be eligible for the death sentence for drug crimes, critics of the policy fear that making this change could backfire and make the drug epidemic worse.

Critics indicate that if people who are addicted to opioids fear that they could potentially be sentenced to extremely harsh penalties, up-to and including the death penalty, that they may become afraid of authorities. This could result in people not seeking emergency help when they need it, and in people otherwise refusing to cooperate or become involved with authorities of any type.

It is unclear whether the Trump administration will actually move forward with any policies that make the drug laws harsher and it is far from certain that the Trump administration would find supportive partners in Congress willing to pass any legislation necessary to make penalties worse. Still, the fact that this is a policy under consideration shows that defendants in this political climate who are accused of drug crimes need strong representation from a Schenectady drug defense lawyer now more than ever.

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