DA explains how drug dealers can be charged with murder in Tennessee

TENNESSEE — It’s common knowledge that if somebody kills someone else with a weapon, they’ll be charged with murder. But did you know that in the state of Tennessee, illegal drugs are considered weapons?

In Tennessee, if a dealer sells illegal drugs and the buyer dies from an overdose, law enforcement will press second-degree murder charges.

District Attorney Amy Weirich said the law is important because there’s no doubt the opioid crisis has struck the Mid-South.

“We’re going to do everything we can, working with law enforcement, to identify those perpetrators and bring them to justice,” Weirich said. She is referring to the drug dealers.

Shelby County, and the entire state of Tennessee, charge those dealers as murderers if their drugs result in a deadly overdose.

The Shelby County Health Department recently issued back-to-back overdose spike alerts.

As FOX13 has been reporting for weeks, on August 25th, 16 people overdosed and five died in just 24 hours. Just 5 days later, 20 more overdoses left 3 more people dead.

Download the FOX13 Memphis app to receive alerts from breaking news in your neighborhood.

Trending stories:

“We do all we can to hold those offenders accountable. Again, whether it’s someone who pointed a gun and pulled the trigger, or an offender who sold a deadly substance that killed someone,” Weirich said.

The DA told FOX13 in the last couple of years, Shelby County has been able to convict “about a dozen” people for murder after selling drugs that resulted in death.

She wants people to know that dozen represents only a fraction of the deadly drug cases the DA’s office is cracking down on.

“Hundreds of people have been convicted both state and federal side for distributing these drugs that didn’t result in a death,” she said. “And for the less-than-12 that have been convicted on the murder side, think about what didn’t happen. The deaths that didn’t occur, the addictions that didn’t occur because those individuals have been stopped,” Weirich said.