Difficulties Investigating and Prosecuting Heroin Overdose Cases


Heroin overdoses have become an epidemic in the Orlando area. The number of heroin overdoses has significantly increased over the years. The Drug Enforcement Administration is making efforts to combat this problem by actively investigating heroin overdoses, and then sending the cases to the federal prosecutors for prosecution. When an individual overdoses on a drug, the person they bought the drug from is held criminally responsible for their injury or death under Federal Statute 21 USC § 841. This statute mandates a minimum of twenty (20) years prison time, but is almost impossible to prove and convict. This research will address the difficulties investigating and prosecuting heroin overdoses. It will examine the groups in the federal system that are involved in the investigation of these cases; the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Attorneys. This research will propose that certain changes need to happen in order for this statute to be effective and useful. It will be necessary to address heroin and what it does to the body when an overdose occurs. The federal statute concerning drug overdoses will be presented. This research will introduce those in the federal system that work on heroin overdose cases, then will proceed into the difficulties each of these groups encounters while working these cases. Sample situations and examples of cases will be described in order to illustrate the points. This research will lead to a proposed solution in an attempt to successfully prosecute more cases under this federal statute and reduce the number of heroin overdoses occurring. The purpose of this research endeavor is to address the problems and educate on this statute in an effort to decrease the number of heroin overdoses that occur in our community. It will attempt to help adapt the current statute and policies in order to improve the outcome of these cases and better serve the interest of society. The number of heroin overdoses needs to be curbed and this research will attempt to aid in helping deter and punish those involved in selling illegal drugs.


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Thesis Completion





Bast, Carol M.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Legal Studies


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs; Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic; Heroin -- Overdose







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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