Sorry for the lousy title, I wasn’t sure how to word this.
For a story I’m writing, I need to know whether a character could be considered criminally negligent due to his illegal behavior that leads to someone else’s death – even though the death is pretty much unrelated and unforeseen by the main character.
Here’s the setup: a doctor writes a prescription for a controlled substance (a barbiturate) on behalf of a relative who’s addicted to said drugs. Later, without the doctor’s knowledge, the relative’s spouse ends up using the drugs to poison the relative.
Can the doctor be charged with anything other than falsifying a prescription? Perhaps criminal negligence? Accessory?
On the one hand I’m dubious that charges would be likely, since the doctor would hardly be expected to know the meds would be used by a third party.
On the other hand, since he knew the prescription wasn’t valid, he also knew these dangerous drugs were going to be used illegitimately no matter who had 'em. This does kinda make him seem liable, although that’s hardly a legal opinion.
Would the situation be any different if it was a gunshop owner giving a hunting rifle to a friend who lacks a license, thinking that the friend plans to use it for hunting – but then the friend’s wife ends up using the rifle in a murder?
In both cases we have a potentially lethal item that does have legitimate, legal purposes – and in both cases they’re being distributed illegally. So would either the gunshop owner or doctor be liable, either in a criminal or civil case?
Hope this makes some sense… Anyone have any thoughts?