Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child – Fentanyl Overdose
January 14, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Drug Charges, News & Announcements, Violent Crimes Social Share
When a person is charged with manslaughter, they are accused of being responsible for the death of another person, albeit without the premeditation element which would make it a murder charge. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a person can be charged with aggravated manslaughter, which comes with more severe penalties.
In a recent Florida case, two individuals have been charged with aggravated manslaughter for the death of their child, in addition to possession charges of fentanyl. This article will give details from the case along with relevant information on manslaughter and drug charges in Florida.
Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested parents Wendy Previl, 30, and Shaneka Dean, 30 after their one-year-old child died from a fentanyl overdose. According to the report from BSO, deputies from Deerfield Beach responded to a call in reference to a medical emergency on September 24th, 2022.
When the authorities arrived at the scene, they found a one-year-old child in distress and in need of medical attention. The infant was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
BSO Homicide and Crime Scene Unit detectives opened a lengthy investigation into the case. The investigation revealed that the child had died from an accidental lethal ingestion of drugs—including fentanyl. Police found that both parents had neglected to provide the proper care and supervision for the child.
Previl and Dean have both been arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child and possession of fentanyl.
Manslaughter Charges in Florida
Manslaughter is defined as the crime of killing another person without malice aforethought, or the act of killing someone without the intention to. It is the legal term for a homicide that is considered less culpable than murder.
Florida Statute section 782.07 explains that a person can be charged with manslaughter for the killing of another human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another. A standard manslaughter charge can result in a second-degree felony in Florida. The penalties for a second-degree felony include up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
Manslaughter charges can have enhanced penalties for specific circumstances. For instance, a person who causes the death of an elderly person, a disabled adult, a person under the age of 18, or an officer defined under section 943.10(14) can result in an aggravated manslaughter charge. Aggravated manslaughter is considered a first-degree felony in the state of Florida. A first-degree felony has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years in prison.
Facts on Fentanyl
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is highly potent and is listed as a Schedule II controlled substance. That means there is a legitimate medical purpose for the drug when under the supervision of a licensed medical professional. Even if patients are prescribed fentanyl, they still need to be monitored for possible abuse.
There are two different types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical fentanyl and illicitly manufactured fentanyl. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is medical-purpose fentanyl, which was created to help with intense pain management after surgery. It can also be used to help patients with chronic pain that have a tolerance to other opioids.
Illicitly manufactured fentanyl is what is most often associated with fentanyl overdoses. This type of fentanyl can be found in powder or liquid form, and can be illegally sold in eye droppers, nasal sprays, or pressed into pills resembling other prescription opioids. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl can also be added to other substances even without the user’s knowledge of its existence. The DEA warned that illicitly manufactured fentanyl is often sold through social media, made to look like other prescription pills.
The following is a list of common “street names” for illicitly manufactured fentanyl:
- China Girl
- China Town
- China White
- Dance Fever
- Great Bear
- Murder 8
- Tango and Cash
Dealers have been known to mix it with other substances to increase the potency for a lower cost. There is a huge risk of other illicit substances being contaminated with fentanyl, and producing such products is not an exact science. That means there is no standard for how much is in a single pill or nasal spray, making it extremely dangerous for those who consume it.
The following is a list of statistics on fentanyl from the DEA:
- Between 2020-2021 opioid-related overdose deaths rose by 38.1%.
- Overdoses from synthetic opioids (primarily illicitly manufactured fentanyl) rose 55.6% and were the top reason for the increase in overall overdose deaths.
- 42% of pills tested for fentanyl had what is considered to be a possible lethal dosage (at least 2mg).
- Drug trafficking organizations are known to distribute the illicit substance by kilogram—one kilogram of fentanyl has the potential to kill 500,000 people.
How Does Fentanyl Affect the Body?
According to the DEA, an average of 136 people die each day in the United States from opioid overdose. With all of the potential risks that come with fentanyl use, some may wonder how the illicit drug affects the body. Fentanyl can produce the following effects/feelings:
- Pain relief
- Urinary retention
- Pupillary constriction
An overdose is when an individual takes an excessive amount of a drug, likely to the amount of a dangerous dosage. When an individual overdoses on fentanyl, it has similar effects as other opioids; however, a fentanyl overdose can be initiated both faster and stronger than other opioids.
Potential signs of a person overdosing on fentanyl include the following:
- Small pupils
- Loss of consciousness or falling asleep
- Slow, weak, or no breathing
- Choking or gurgling
- Body becomes weak
- Cold/clammy skin
- Discolored skin on lips/nails
The state of Florida has had an increasing number of fentanyl-related overdoses. Recent overdose deaths have resulted from other illicit drugs containing fentanyl. This includes marijuana, cocaine, and counterfeit prescriptions. People overdose on fentanyl without realizing the illicit substance was there, or that it could be deadly.
Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine, and as little as two milligrams (around 5 grains of salt) can be deadly. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), over 6,150 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2020.
What to do in an Opiate Overdose Situation
If you believe that someone is overdosing on a drug, the first thing you should do is call 911 immediately. If available, administer “Narcan” or Naloxone. Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse an opioid overdose—including fentanyl, heroin, and prescription opioids.
Naloxone has two forms and can be administered by anyone without medical training or authorization. The two forms of naloxone include a nasal spray and an auto-injector.
Naloxone can reverse an overdose quickly by blocking the opioid’s effects, returning the user’s breathing to normal within 2-3 minutes. In some cases, naloxone can be helpful even if the person has stopped breathing. When a strong opioid like fentanyl is involved, the user might require more doses of Naloxone.
To read more about naloxone and how it’s distributed, find the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s page here.
HEROS – Helping Emergency Responders Obtain Support (HEROS) is a program from the Florida Department of Health that provides free naloxone to emergency response agencies. Since the program began in 2018, there have been over 455,000 doses distributed to emergency response agencies.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline – Referred to as the Treatment Referral Routing Service, this 24/7 helpline offers confidential treatment referrals and information regarding mental health, substance abuse, prevention, and recovery.
Opioid Treatment Program Directory – Directory of treatment programs in each state for addiction and dependency on opioids, prescription pain relievers, etc.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
Getting caught with the possession of fentanyl or other synthetic opioids is an extremely serious offense. The state of Florida is known to prosecute drug possession cases harshly, especially when it results in the death of another person such as in the example case above. If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime involving fentanyl or other illicit substances, contact a criminal defense lawyer in your area.
Don Pumphrey and his team have years of experience representing Florida citizens for various criminal charges. Our attorneys will work alongside you to build a strong defense for your case. Contact Pumphrey Law Firm today and receive a free consultation regarding your specific case. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key