04/04/2013

New Law Targets Drug Dealers When Their Drugs Cause Death

On Thursday, April 4th, 2013, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed House Bill 2044 into law.

This bill creates two new crimes in Kansas.

1.) It prohibits the unlawful distribution of controlled substances, which result in great bodily harm.  Violation is a severity level 5 person felony.

2.) It prohibits the unlawful distribution of controlled substances, which result in death.  Conviction of this crime is a severity level 1 person felony.

This legislation was inspired after the untimely and tragic death of Jordan Krokroskia, 22, of Baxter Springs. 

Jordan was found dead in his home this past July after taking a single Fentanyl patch, which he obtained from David Tirrell, of Scammon.  Tirrell was sentenced on February 20th, 2013 to 5 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

Since that time, the Krokroskia family, along with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, other law enforcement officials and Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s Office has been urging the passage of HB 2044 in Topeka.

Prior to the bill being signed into law on Thursday, there were no Kansas statutes that specifically addressed the issue of someone unlawfully selling drugs and a death resulting from taking those drugs.  Instead, in some cases, prosecutors would seek a conviction for involuntary manslaughter.

If a suspect was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and had no prior criminal record, he or she could potentially receive probation under the Kansas Sentencing Guidelines.

With the passage of this law, being a level 1 person felony, that same drug dealer could be sentenced to 12.25 years if he or she has no prior record and nearly 54 and a half years in prison if he or she has three prior person felony convictions.   

This law does not just single out common street drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, but also includes prescription drugs, which are being abused at alarming rates nationwide. 

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