Four people have been arrested after actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead of an apparent drug overdose.
New York City police say the suspects may have supplied the heroin that killed Hoffman. In the past, some New York courts have found that under state law, drug dealers cannot be held liable for a customer’s death.
The medical examiner’s office said today that the cause of death is still pending further studies.
Former prosecutor Anna Yum and criminal defense attorney Phil Snyder joined Happening Now to discuss what could be a landmark case.
Yum said the suspects could face possession and distribution charges, and possibly trafficking.
“If you can make that causal link between criminal negligence and if they acted recklessly to have caused Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, […] perhaps they’re looking at something to the effect of second-degree manslaughter,” she said.
Snyder said the linchpin in these types of cases is synthetic material the user may not know is in the drug. No such material was found in the initial reports. If that ends up being the final conclusion, Snyder doesn’t believe enhanced charges such as manslaughter will be filed.