Data from the Tennessee Department of Health shows that 1,631 people in Tennessee died from drug overdoses in 2016, an increase of 12 percent from 2015 to 2016. This number also represented the highest number of fatalities attributed to this cause in the state's history. Recognizing the seriousness of this situation, Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill regarding immunity for individuals suffering from a drug overdose.
The immunity law for drug overdose was passed in 2015. The law prevents people from being charged for a drug violation if they help someone seek medical assistance after suffering from a drug overdose. The law applies to third parties who are trying to help someone believed to be going through an overdose as well as to the person who has overdosed. Seeking medical assistance in this context means:
- Calling 911 or otherwise accessing medical assistance;
- Contacting law enforcement or a poison control center; or
- Providing care or contacting a person or entity that can provide care while waiting for medical assistance
Individuals who seek medical assistance for a person who has overdosed are not to be arrested, charged or prosecuted for a drug crime if the evidence for such charge is based on the request for medical assistance.
The law provides protection from all of the following when these factors are related to seeking medical assistance:
- Penalties for a violation of a protective order
- Penalties for a violation of a pretrial release, probation condition or parole condition
Factors to Consider
The immunity law when applied to the person who is overdosing only applies to his or her first overdose. If a person does not qualify for the protections under the immunity law, its provisions may allow the attempt to seek medical assistance to be used as a mitigating factor in a criminal prosecution. Evidence is still admissible when the immunity law does not apply, so you may still be arrested for drug crimes after an overdose.
Contact a compassionate Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyer when facing drug charges
Our Murfreesboro criminal defense lawyers understand how drug addiction can impact Tennessee residents. We work to help you get the help that you need. Our criminal defense lawyers have established relationships with prosecutors and health centers that assist individuals with drug addiction problems. We may try to negotiate an agreement with a prosecutor for you to pursue drug counseling instead of serving time if this option is available in your situation. Contact us online or call us at 615-890-1982 to schedule a confidential consultation with a skilled criminal defense lawyer.