Legal Question in Criminal Law in Michigan

Failure to help a dying person

Some homeless people I know, all alcoholics, live under this bridge. One of them started to drink windshield washing fluid which contains methyl alcohol, very poisonous. Now they allowed him to drink it, and later when he went to sleep in his tent they heard him groan in pain for 4 hours. The hospital was ironically up on top of that bridge. Now I feel what they did was morally wrong and it was a total sad and messed up situation, but could anyone who was present be legally held responsible for any action or non-action? I believe they told him it was safe to drink it or at least they did'nt stop him from drinking it. He died during the night.

Asked on 4/05/07, 11:32 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

William Morrison Action Defense Center
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Re: Failure to help a dying person

In the United States we have the freedom and the responsibility to live or die by our own hand. We do not have a legal obligation to keep anyone from killing themselves or even aid them when they are in the throes of dying. It's immoral, but it's not the law.

Unless someone forced or coerced him into drinking the washer fluid (even the dumbest drunk knows it's poison - which is why the skull and crossbones are on the label), there is no crime.

William Morrison

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4/05/07, 2:49 pm

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