Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

The Death Penalty for Drug Dealers?

As some advocate for more lenient drug laws and rehabilitation instead of punishment, the Trump administration is suggesting that the best way to fight the opioid epidemic in this country is to execute drug dealers. According to White House officials, Trump has shown particular interest in Singapore’s policy of capital punishment for drug dealers.

“Some countries have a very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty, and they have much less of a drug problem than we do,” said Trump at a White House summit on opioids earlier this month.

And last year, Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Thousands of people have been killed by the police as a result of Duterte’s “drug war.” A Boston drug crimes defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime.

Opioid addiction has reached crisis levels in the United States, with nearly 64,000 people dying from the drug in 2016. Most Americans would agree that something has to be done to stop this growing problem. But the death penalty?

Are Drug Dealers Ever Executed?

Under current federal laws, the death penalty may be used in drug cases, but only in these four extreme situations:

  • When a drug-related drive-by shooting results in a murder;
  • When a drug-related murder is committed with a firearm;
  • When a murder is is committed in relation to drug trafficking;
  • When a law enforcement officer is killed in a drug-related situation.

Unintended Consequences

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid can be fatal, even in small amounts. As such, the Trump administration has suggested implementing the death penalty for individuals convicted of trafficking large amounts of fentanyl. But critics of making fentanyl-trafficking a capital crime argue that doing so could bring an onslaught of unintended consequences. Daniel Ciccarone, a professor at University of California at San Francisco, believes fear of the death penalty could drive addicts underground as well.

“It will keep people from any positive interface with police, any positive interface with public health, any interface with doctors,” said Ciccarone, adding that fewer addicts might seek treatment. “People will become afraid and hide. They won’t trust the police, and they won’t trust the doctor either.” A MA drug crimes defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with any type of drug crime.

Further, Regina LaBelle, Obama’s deputy chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that laws that currently allow for the death penalty to be applied to drug-related cases haven’t had a measurable deterrent effect.

What are the Penalties for Trafficking Opioids in Massachusetts?

In MA, the current punishment for trafficking large quantities of opioids is up to 20 years in prison. Although harsh, 20 years with the possibility of parole pales in comparison to the death penalty.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Drug Crimes Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys will fight tirelessly to keep you out of jail and to keep your record clean. If you have been charged with a drug crime, a rehabilitation program may be a better solution than prison. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our attorneys have an impressive track record of obtaining alternative sentencing options for our clients, or getting their charges dropped entirely. People make mistakes. Don’t make another one by hiring the wrong defense attorney. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.


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