|Posted:||December 5, 2018 10:21 AM|
|From:||Senator Camera Bartolotta|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||New Crime for Drug Delivery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury & Addition of Sentencing Enhancements|
|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 662 from last session.
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.
The issue was brought to my attention during a public hearing hosted by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania which explored the impact of the heroin and opioid addiction crisis. A panel of district attorneys shared testimony supporting the need for a change in this state statute to help combat the opioid epidemic.
In addition to establishing a second degree felony for the delivery or distribution of an illicit drug that results in "serious bodily injury" to the user, my legislation would require the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing to create sentencing enhancement guidelines. This will ensure judges have the ability to increase a defendant's sentence when appropriate.
Please join me to cosponsor this legislation and provide a much-needed tool for judges in the Commonwealth to combat our drug problem.
Introduced as SB93