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Top court throws out charges related to Iowa drug death

Dealing with drug charges is obviously a very stressful experience. However, one thing to keep in mind is that prosecutors must be able to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order for the jury to issue a conviction. At times, law enforcement might not have enough evidence to support their claims as it relates to the relevant criminal statutes.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court dropped criminal charges filed against an Iowa man for a drug-related death. In 2010, a man was charged for providing heroin to a man who had died as the result of an overdose. Eventually, the man was convicted in a Des Moines courtroom and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

Despite being convicted and handed a very stringent sentence, the man appealed his case all the way to the country's highest court. Toxicology reports determined that the man in question had more than just heroin in his system when he died as the result of an overdose. What's more is that the medical examiner indicated that she could not say for certain that the man wouldn't have died as a result of taking heroin.

The drug-related conviction was challenged on the basis of "but-for causation," according to a report from Courthouse News Service. Specifically, the criminal statute involved in this case is based on whether or not a drug causes death. In this case, medical examiners couldn't definitively say that it was heroin that caused the individual to pass away. When taking this into consideration, the supreme court justices didn't believe the conviction should stand.

This case raises important points of distinction in terms of the law. If there isn’t adequate evidence to prove a person's guilt in accordance with the letter of the law, then it's possible to build a case against conviction.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Justices Toss Conviction in Heroin-Linked Death," Barbara Leonard, Jan. 27, 2014

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