Defendant in Florida May Not Be Charged With Drug Possession if Drugs Found During Overdose

There is a law in Florida that is not well known that protects people from drug charges if police find drugs while assisting someone during a medical emergency due to a drug overdose. A Florida statute provides immunity from prosecution for a person who is experiencing a drug overdose and is in need of medical attention if the police find evidence of the drug possession crime as a result of the overdose and medical attention.

For instance, suppose a person uses a drug like cocaine or heroin and becomes seriously ill so that someone calls 911 for medical attention and the police arrive. If, in the process of assisting the person, the police find cocaine or heroin or any other evidence of illegal drugs, this law protects the person from arrest for the drug charge. If the police officer, who may not be familiar with this law in Florida, does decide to arrest the person, the criminal defense lawyer can file a motion to dismiss the drug charge based on this immunity. The police can take a person into protective custody who needs emergency medical attention due to drug abuse. However, this cannot lead to criminal prosecution if drugs were found during the medical treatment.

This protection does not help everyone who is feeling the effects of drug abuse. If a person is clearly impaired from drugs and someone calls 911 for an ambulance, that does not automatically trigger the immunity from prosecution. Ultimately, it would be up to a judge to decide, but the criminal defense lawyer would have to establish that the defendant was more than just high or intoxicated. The criminal defense attorney would have to establish that the defendant was experiencing a serious medical emergency when the evidence of the drugs was found. Presumably, this evidence would be presented by way of medical records and witness testimony, if applicable.

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