Symposium Title

The Big Data Revolution and Its Impact on the Law


Drug overdoses are rapidly increasing and are now tragically one of the leading causes of death of young adults in Pennsylvania. To combat this problem, Pennsylvania began aggressively charging individuals responsible for distributing drugs that were the cause of an overdose death under Section 2506 of the Pennsylvania Criminal Code: Drug Delivery Resulting in Death. The crime-which was originally classified as thirddegree murder but is now a first-degree felony-requires that the defendant acted recklessly in distributing drugs to another person, and carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. As drug addiction rates continue to soar across the country, many other states are enacting similar statutes in an attempt to dissuade drug dealers from distributing drugs. While the desired effect of the statutes is the same, the approach varies drastically from state to state. If viewed as a spectrum, Section 2506 falls somewhere in the middle between other state statutes ranging from embracing leniency to imposing strict liability. Proponents of charging individuals under Section 2506 believe that a conviction will hold drug dealers responsible for their actions and will deter others from distributing drugs. Critics, however, argue that Section 2506 has not been proven to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths or to deter dealers. This Comment will detail the elements of Section 2506 and explain how Section 2506 has withstood multiple constitutional challenges by individuals charged under the statute. This Comment will then compare Section 2506 to similar statutes of other states to analyze whether a better approach exists. Ultimately, this Comment will argue that the best approach is to charge drug dealers under the traditional drug distribution statutes and use the funds currently expended on investigating and prosecuting individuals under Section 2506 to expand Pennsylvania's current drug addiction programs.

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