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3 arrested in New York after Philip Seymour Hoffman's death

Many people were saddened to hear of the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Reports indicate that the acclaimed actor, who had a long and troubled history of drug addiction, died as a result of an apparent heroin overdose. As devastating as the event was, it may be no surprise that authorities quickly launched an intense investigation to determine where the heroin found in Hoffman's apartment came from.

It was recently announced that police have arrested three people in New York who they believe were connected to Hoffman and may have sold him illicit drugs. Whether they actually sold him illegal drugs and whether those drugs can be tied to his death are links that police have not yet established.

According to early reports, police tracked down the three individuals based on a tip from a man who claimed to have knowledge about the situation. Working on that one tip, police identified three people including a musician, a D.J. and the D.J.'s girlfriend and conducted a search of their apartments. During the searches, they reportedly seized a significant amount of heroin.

The three people have been arrested and charged with misdemeanor drug possession and felony possession of a controlled substance. It is the first time that any of them have been tied to criminal drug sales, and two of them have never even been arrested before.

However, it could be argued that police might have never arrested the three people, had the overdose victim not been a high-profile celebrity. In many situations involving the fatal heroin overdose of a non-celebrity, no such investigation is launched. In 2012, there were 382 heroin overdoses reported in New York City, yet most of us have no recollection of any arrests making national headlines.

This case is a strong reminder that not all drug cases are investigated and prosecuted in the same manner. Some cases are aggressively pursued and prosecuted while others may be largely ignored by the New York Police Department and prosecutors. Because a person who is accused of criminal drug activity may never be sure how his or her individual case will be handled, it can be crucial to speak with an attorney sooner rather than later. Legal support can protect a person from being unfairly targeted by authorities and from receiving overly-harsh punishment.

Source: International New York Times, "3 Arrested on Drug Charges as Police Pursue Hoffman Case," J. David Goodman, Feb. 5, 2014

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