Theis supports drug-death jurisdiction bills

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would allow a prosecutor to bring charges in the drug-overdose death of a county’s resident, even if the illegal drugs were purchased in another county, passed the Senate on Wednesday.

“Opioid abuse is devastating Michigan communities,” said Sen. Lana Theis, R-Brighton, who co-sponsored the legislation. “The drugs are harming families, ruining lives and taking away people’s futures. This legislation will better enable law enforcement to prosecute the drug dealers who are preying on our communities no matter where they are.”

Senate Bills 20 and 21, sponsored by Sen. Dale Zorn, would broaden the potential for prosecution of delivery of a controlled substance causing death to three possible venues: The county where the drugs were delivered, the county where the drugs were consumed, or the county where the victim died from using the drugs.

The bills are the result of a case involving the heroin-overdose death of a man in Monroe County in 2016. The cause of death was toxicity from fentanyl, which is sometimes used by dealers as a cutting agent to make heroin more potent. The dealer was charged in Monroe County with one count of delivery of fentanyl causing death. However, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Monroe Circuit Court lacked jurisdiction because the delivery of the drug occurred in Wayne County.

The bills now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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