Dancing with Death: Why the NSW Homicide Offence of Drug Supply Causing Death May Cause More Harm than Good

Law Book Company Limited
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Criminal Law Journal, 2019, 43 (3), pp. 215 - 227
Issue Date:
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In November 2018, the New South Wales government rushed a new homicide offence of "drug supply causing death" through Parliament. It is now a crime – punishable by up to 20 years' imprisonment – for a person to supply a prohibited drug for financial gain where another person self-administers the drug and dies. The offence was implemented in response to drug-related deaths at music festivals. While similar provisions exist in the United States, the crime of drug supply causing death is the first of its kind to be enacted in Australia. This article critically examines the new offence. I critique the haste with which the legislation was introduced and identify problems that may arise in relation to prosecutions, especially with regard to proof of causation and mens rea. I argue that this "law and order" response to drug-related harms is not only unjustified; it may also do more harm than good.
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