MINNEAPOLIS– Legal experts say the finding that Prince died of an accidental overdose of the synthetic opioid fentanyl could make the prospect of criminal charges more likely.
A Chicago-based attorney with no link to the case says the substance, while it has medical applications, is frequently associated with illegal trafficking.
Gal Pissetzky also explains that categorizing the death as accidental indicates only that it was not intentional. It does not preclude charges if the fentanyl was supplied illegally.
The illegal distribution of fentanyl resulting in death carries a mandatory minimum 20 years behind bars in federal court.
The same offense can mean third-degree murder charges in Minnesota and up to 25 years in prison.
The 57-year-old singer was found dead April 21 at his Minneapolis-area estate.
Investigators had been reviewing whether Prince died of an overdose and whether a doctor was prescribing him drugs in the weeks before his death.
Prince was last seen alive at 8 p.m. the night before he died. He was dropped off at Paisley Park, his home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
The next morning a staff member called 911 to report that Prince had been found unresponsive in an elevator. Paramedics were unable to revive him and he was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.