BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A recent high court ruling makes it easier for prosecutors to charge drug dealers with manslaughter when their customers die from overdoses.

In 2017, St. Mary’s County took the unusual step of charging suspected drug dealers with the deaths of eight people, but the next year, a special Court of Appeals ruling in a separate case called such charges into question.

The appeals court has since cleared the way for for prosecutors to charge some drug dealers with homicide, said Attorney General Brian Frosh.

He believes in bringing manslaughter charges against dealers selling the deadliest drugs.

A conviction requires proving an act of gross negligence resulting in death.

Gov. Larry Hogan made his position clear in the 2017 St. Mary’s County case.

“We need to get tough. We need to prosecute these folks,” Hogan said at the time.

But questions are raised as to whether this would actually be a deterrent, or if people sharing drugs will stop calling for help for fear of being charged with someone’s death.

Prosecutors will still determine what charges to bring.

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