Riverside DA Calls on Lawmakers to Pass Alexandra’s Law

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin is urging lawmakers to pass legislation that could put some fentanyl dealers behind bars for life.

Under SB 44 (Umberg), also known as Alexandra’s Law, anyone convicted of selling deadly narcotics like fentanyl would receive a written warning about the dangers of controlled substances. 

The warning would specify that the overdose death of a customer could lead to homicide charges. That written warning could then be used in court as evidence that the dealer knew what they were doing.

This is similar to the Watson advisory currently issued to drunk drivers. People with a history of DUIs can be charged with murder if their drunk driving later results in someone’s death.

"[SB 44] should be a no-brainer, you would think," Hestrin said at a press conference Tuesday. "If we're just simply asking that those who are already convicted of a fentanyl-related offense signify ... that they've been warned about the dangers of future behavior — it does seem like an obvious law that should be in place." 

Hestrin is already leading the way on murder prosecutions for fentanyl dealers. He has 20 such cases pending. A bill like SB 44 would make convictions in these types of cases more likely.

SB 44 is the second attempt in the Senate to up the ante for fentanyl dealers whose products prove fatal. The last bill, SB 350, was issued by GOP Senator Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore. Her proposal was killed in committee.

According to California authorities, there were 6,843 opioid-related overdose deaths in California in 2021 and 5,722 of those were related to fentanyl.