Friday, May 27, 2016

"But-for" Standard Applies to Charge of Distribution of Controlled Substance Resulting in Death

United States v. Burkholder, 816 F.3d 607 (10th Cir. 2016): Mr. Burkholder was charged with distributing a controlled substance resulting in death. On appeal, Mr. Burkholder contended the district court erred when it refused to instruct the jury that it was required to find that the victim’s death was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of Mr. Burkholder giving him a single Suboxone (buprenorphine) tablet to the victim. The Court holds that 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(E) does not require proof of proximate causation; the instruction that the district court gave the jury that “but for [the victim] ingesting the buprenorphine distributed by the Defendant, [the victim] would not have died” was a legally adequate statement of the law.