Georgia law protects you from criminal penalties if you seek medical help for a drug overdose.
Opioid drug overdoses are reversible. When someone who has taken a dangerously large dose of opioids, the chances of survival and recovery are very good if the person is treated in time with naloxone (Narcan), an overdose-reversing medication. If you call 911 when you experience overdose symptoms or to get help for someone with you who has overdosed, the law protects you from being charged with drug possession. If the police unfairly arrest you when you seek help for an overdose victim, or if you are facing criminal charges indirectly related to an overdose emergency, contact an Atlanta drug crimes defense lawyer.
The Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law: Staying Alive is the Most Important Thing
The Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law of 2014 protects drug overdose victims and the people who seek help for them by calling 911 from facing certain types of criminal charges. Specifically, if the first responders or any police that are called to the scene find drugs or drug paraphernalia in your possession, neither the overdose victim nor the person who called for help can be charged for possession of these drugs or paraphernalia. If there are huge quantities of drugs at the scene, it may count as probable cause for the police to investigate whether a drug trafficking operation is taking place.
The Georgia 911 Medical Amnesty Law arose out of necessity, and it has saved many lives. Opioid abuse and addiction are widespread in Georgia, as in many other states. In recent years, as the supply of addictive prescription opioids has been restricted, many people have turned to heroin, an old but unregulated street drug. Sometimes heroin is adulterated with fentanyl, an inexpensive but highly potent synthetic opioid. Fentanyl causes more overdoses than any other drug because most people do not know that they are taking it.
When Someone Else Overdoses on Your Drugs
You cannot get in trouble with the law for overdosing on drugs, but if you cause someone else to overdose, you can face criminal charges. If someone dies from a drug overdose, the person who supplied the fatal dose could be charged with homicide, whether they sold the drugs to the victim or gave them to the victim free. This rule is not new, nor is it exclusive to Georgia. A medical student in Pennsylvania was charged with homicide when he bought ADHD medication online from China; he gave one of the pills to his girlfriend. The pills were not what the sellers claimed they were, and she suffered a fatal overdose. In 1982, the actor John Belushi died from an overdose of cocaine and heroin; Cathy Smith, the drug dealer who injected him with the drugs, eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter and served 15 months in prison.
Reach Out to Ghanayem & Rayasam Drug Defense Attorneys
You have the right to seek medical help after a drug overdose without fear of criminal punishment. If the police charge you with a crime, anyway, call a drug crimes defense lawyer. Contact Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia or call (414) 561-0202 for a free consultation.