Senate Bill 21 has been introduced by Senators Tom Umberg and Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, and Assemblymember Pacheco, in the 2024 session to implement a fentanyl admonishment in California on the statewide level. This is a re-introduction of Alexandra's Law, which was contained in last year's Senate Bill 44. The measure will mandate that people who are convicted or charged with a fentanyl-related drug offenses be read the following admonishment by a court:
“You are hereby advised that all illicit drugs and counterfeit line 12 pills are dangerous to human life and become even deadlier when they are, sometimes unknowingly, mixed with substances such as fentanyl and analogs of fentanyl. People can and have died from these substances, even in very small doses. It is extremely dangerous and deadly to human life to sell or administer drugs, in any form, when not lawfully authorized to do so. If you do so in the future and a person dies as a result of that action, and you knew or should have known that the substance you provided contained fentanyl or a fentanyl analog, you may be charged with homicide, up to and including the crime of murder, within the meaning of Section 187 of the Penal Code. In addition, this warning may be considered by a judge or jury as to whether you knew or should have known that the substance you provided to the decedent contained fentanyl.”
New to 2024, SB 21 also requires those convicted to complete a mandatory drug treatment and/or drug court program, depending upon applicability.
As Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a career lawyer and prosecutor, and a veteran, Senator Umberg has dedicated his life to the equal pursuit of justice for all. He believes there is no justice in allowing willful negligence by drug dealers or a lack of action on the part of the Legislature to result in murder and a continually escalating death toll caused by fentanyl poisonings. There is an unequal application of justice too, in cases where a drug dealer can be prosecuted in one county, but not in another when drug sales and people regularly cross jurisdictions.
Taken as a piece of numerous reforms to battle this crisis, SB 21 will implement a tempered approach to fentanyl poisonings that first warns and then punishes drug dealers who traffic in fentanyl in a manner that results in death. By using education and a measured approach that abides to the will of California’s voters, we will be able to hold people accountable when they knowingly and willfully cause the death of others.
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