HB 474/SB 375 – Death by Distribution

HB 474 / SB 375 – Death by Distribution

Primary House Sponsors: Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union), Rep. Destin Hall (R-Caldwell), Rep. Carson Smith (R-Pender), Rep. John Faircloth (R-Guilford)

Primary Senate Sponsors: Sem. Harry Brown (R-Onslow), Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Mecklenburg)

Bill Summary

This bill creates offenses of death by distribution of certain controlled substances and aggravated death by distribution of certain controlled substances.

A person would be guilty of death by distribution of certain controlled substances if all of the following requirements are met:

  • Person distributed at least one certain controlled substance to the victim
  • Ingestion of the controlled substance caused the death of the user
  • Person’s unlawful distribution of the certain controlled substance or substances was a proximate cause of the victim’s death
  • Person did not act with malice
  • Person has a previous conviction of trafficking or has a prior conviction within 7 years of the date of the offense.

The certain controlled substances in this act include any opium, opiate, opioid, synthetic or natural salt, compounds or derivatives of opium, opioid, opiate, cocaine, methamphetamine or a mixture of one or more of these substances.

Death by distribution of certain controlled substances in violation of this section and of murder.

The following penalties would apply

  • Death by distribution – Class C Felony
  • Aggravated death by distribution – Class B2 Felony

Bill Movement


This bill was filed on March 26, 2019.

This bill was referred to the following House Committes:

  • Judiciary
    • This bill was heard for discussion only on April 9, 2019.
    • Public comment was allowed on this bill. NCMS Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Chip Baggett, stated NCMS concerns over the impact this could have on physicians and PAs who are acting within the standard of care. He also voiced concern over ensuring treatment of patients.
    • A Proposed Committee Substitute passed on April 26, 2019.
  • Rules
    • This bill passed on May 3, 2019.
  • House Floor
    • This bill was amended by Rep. Dean Arp (R-Union) to clarify that the action would need to be part of selling, delivering, or part of selling or delivering in order to fall under this felony charge.
    • The amendment would also states that any licensed medical practitioner issuing a valid prescription within the course of standard medical practice would be exempt.
    • This bill passed 83 – 34 and will now move to the Senate.


This bill was filed on March 28, 2019.

This bill was referred to the following Senate Committees:

  • Judiciary
    • This bill was calendared to be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 10, 2019. It was pulled from the calendared and is likely to be heard next week.
    • This bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committe on April 11, 2019.
  • Rules
    • This bill passed in Senate Rules on April 30, 2019.
  • This bill was heard on the Senate floor on May 6, 2019 and was rereferred to the Rules Committee.

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