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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Drug Overdoses In Florida May (Or May Not) Lead To Charges

Drug Overdoses In Florida May (Or May Not) Lead To Charges


Florida is a state with an unfortunate history when it comes to drugs. Due to relative ease of access and a lacking social safety net, drug use and abuse remains high in the state. Florida’s Department of Health reports that drug overdoses have steadily risen in recent years, reaching a peak of over 2,000 in the second quarter of 2020. Yet not every overdose case is the same. In some cases, Florida law does protect those who act in good faith – but those who act recklessly can face the full power of the law.

Saving Lives Is Most Important

The situation is all too common: a friend or loved one overdoses on one or more drugs, but witnesses are too afraid to seek medical help for them out of fear of a jail term for drug possession (or, if the amount is high enough, drug trafficking). What many do not know is that the Florida legislature, in 2012, passed a law that grants immunity from prosecution in some – but not all – cases where someone seeks help for an overdose. Getting that person help is seen as more important than busting someone for drug use.

While it may not prevent you from being charged with some other offense, the law states that a person who seeks help “in good faith” for a person that is overdosing cannot be prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance, if the evidence for that charge comes from the person seeking the help in the first place. So, for example, if you witness a friend overdosing on heroin and call 911 with the purpose of saving their life, you cannot be prosecuted for possession of heroin if the only evidence for that charge comes from seeking medical help.

Drug-Induced Homicide

In order to benefit from the overdose law, a person must be acting “in good faith” – but if they are not, Florida law may lead to them being charged with homicide if the overdose victim dies. The state has a law on the books condemning what is referred to as drug-induced homicide. The law states that if a person engages in the “unlawful distribution” of certain substances or mixtures that are later the “proximate cause” of the death of the user, they may be guilty of homicide.

What this means for the average person is if they provide certain drugs (or mixtures of drugs) to another person, and that person later dies as a result of taking those drugs, the person who provided the drugs may be charged with their murder, despite not inducing them to take drugs or having any involvement beyond giving or selling them. These are very serious charges and must be taken seriously if they are ever leveled at you.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

The best way to avoid any entanglements with drugs is, of course, never to have anything to do with them. However, there are many different situations where drug offenses are committed; you may escape prosecution, or you may face the ultimate charge. A West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from the firm of Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. can help clarify your situation and try to answer any questions you may have. Call our office today to speak to an attorney.



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