Given a fentanyl related death & murder charge: https://abcnews.go.com/US/suspect-arrested-connection-deaths-2-men-drugged-beaten/story?id=98308800

Given that the suspect had beaten and robbed the victims, I would think it reasonable that the courts would "throw the book" at the suspect, when he is found guilty.

If on the other, hand he was a friendly (no beating, robbery & not a drug dealer) and the suspect merely gifted deadly narcotics to the victims, would the courts view this scenario no differently? Or would the suspect receive lesser charges / sentences if found guilty?

To facilitate the question, please assume any applicable NY / NYC / Federal statute.

  • Where? it depends on the jurisdiction and the specific law.
    – Trish
    Apr 3, 2023 at 13:04
  • Assume New York Jurisdiction please
    – gatorback
    Apr 3, 2023 at 14:23
  • I think the question is just “if you give someone drugs can you be charged with murder?” I don’t see what linking to a robbery and beating case has to do with it. Apr 3, 2023 at 15:01
  • It depends upon the specific homicide statute.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 3, 2023 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


There are different ways intent can be relevant to murder and related crimes. Different jurisdictions define them differently, but in general there are different degrees of culpability for

  • an act intended to cause someone's death
  • an act intended to harm someone that unintentionally causes death
  • a criminal act intended to harm nobody (for example a burglary) that causes someone's death
  • an act that wouldn't necessarily harm anyone but could reasonably be expected to create a risk of harm
  • an act that is entirely unintentional that causes death

Which of these applies to any given fact pattern will depend on the specific facts. Of the two examples in the question, it should be easy to see that the first is far more likely to result in greater culpability, but the second would nonetheless expose the friend to the possibility of a good deal of prison time.

Related New York statutes are found in Article 125 of the New York Penal Law, Homicide and Related Offenses.

  • Germany has something between 2 and 3: A criminal act tht is not intended to cause harm but known to be dangerous to others, and that danger is accepted. Say a getaway driver in a bank robbery, who drives dangerously and accepts that he might call someone.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 4, 2023 at 0:55

The constitutional minimum mens rea for murder in Canada (no matter which avenue is pursued; there are three) requires the subjective foresight that death was likely to result. See R. v. Martineau, [1990] 2 S.C.R. 633.

This is factored in by constraining the permissible definitions that Parliament can give to "murder." It also then factors in as a required element that the Crown must prove at trial. Without proving this element, there can be no conviction. It therefore also factors in at the charge-assessment stage, where charges will not be laid unless there is a reasonable prospect or substantial likelihood of conviction.

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