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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 5, 2016 11:32 AM
From: Senator Camera Bartolotta
To: All Senate members
Subject: New Crime for Drug Delivery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury
In the near future, I will reintroduce legislation amending Title 18 to establish a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in "serious bodily injury" to the user. "Serious bodily injury" is currently defined in Title 18 as creating a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of a body member or organ. This legislation was Senate Bill 1361 of last session and co-sponsors included Senators Vogel, Hutchinson, Yaw, Yudichak, Vulakovich, Dinniman, Rafferty, Browne, Reschenthaler, Killion and Ward.

A troubling development in the illegal drug trade is the lacing of heroin with other powerful opiates such as fentanyl which, unfortunately, has caused the rate of overdoses to skyrocket in the last several years. Due to the absence of a corresponding state statute, district attorneys often refer these cases to federal prosecutors who can seek convictions for serious bodily injury under federal law. This places an undue strain on the United States Attorneys Office and takes away the ability of local prosecutors to pursue convictions in their home jurisdictions.

Earlier this year, the issue was brought to my attention during a public hearing hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania exploring the impact of the heroin and opioid addiction crisis during which a panel of district attorneys shared testimony supporting the need for a state statute of this kind.

Under my legislation, a felony of this nature would be considered a crime of violence under Title 18. As such, an initial conviction would not be subject to mandatory minimum sentences but subsequent offenses would be.

Please join me to co-sponsor this legislation and provide a much-needed tool for prosecutors in the Commonwealth to combat our drug problem.

Introduced as SB174