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New law protects overdose victims and those who try to help

House Bill 110 is the new 911 Good Samaritan law, recently signed by Governor John Kasich. The law provides immunity for someone who has overdosed as well as the person who calls 911 to get help. Ohio has now joined with 37 other states and the District of Columbia in enacting legislation that may save lives

The growing concern

Overdose fatalities are increasing in Ohio, and there is great concern over addiction to both prescription opiates and illicit drugs like heroin. You may have a family member--your son, Andrew, perhaps--who overdosed. Under existing Ohio law, if you had called 911 to summon help, both you and Andrew might have been arrested for using or possessing drugs. However, if someone has overdosed, time is of the essence, and you do not want to hesitate in calling for medical assistance because of the possible legal consequences. The new 911 Good Samaritan law grants immunity to both of you from being charged, arrested and prosecuted for minor drug possession. The hope is that Andrew will get timely medical help and survive the incident.

Issues with the new law

If Andrew had prior legal difficulties and is on parole, he is not eligible for immunity. Furthermore, the overdose incident does not have to be kept private. Medical personnel can share the name and address of your son with law enforcement, so there would likely be an investigation into the matter. Even if he was not on parole, he would have to undergo treatment for his drug problem to receive immunity.

Dealing with other offenses

Remember that the 911 Good Samaritan law only protects the overdose victim and caller when simple drug possession is involved. It will not protect you or anyone else involved from other drug-related offenses, such as selling or trafficking drugs. If either of you is being charged with more serious drug violations, reach out to an experienced criminal law attorney who can examine the facts carefully and aggressively defend your case.

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