New Law Provides Immunity for Those Seeking Overdose Help

By Dave Mueller, Criminal Defense Attorney

Recent statistics released by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy reveal the frightening scope of our nation’s raging heroin epidemic. According to the federal government, fatal heroin overdoses rose 35 percent in 2012 to 5,927.

Central Pennsylvania is at the heart of this epidemic. I have seen first-hand the toll this scourge is having on our community, including too many young people losing their lives to drug overdoses. This problem is compounded in many cases by a failure of family and friends to call for life-saving medical attention for those experiencing a drug overdose, for fear of finding themselves or that person in trouble with the law.

Our legislature recently acted to give relief to this problem by passing the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Act 139. In part, Act 139 will provide immunity to anyone who calls 911 or otherwise makes a bona fide report of their own or another person’s drug overdose. This will include immunity from probation or parole violations. Given the ability of EMTs and hospital ER staff to administer a drug called Narcan and potentially reverse the overdose, this grant of immunity should leave little reason for any person to waste precious time. Call 911 immediately.

If you know of someone who is struggling with a heroin addiction, be sure they know about this new law. And if you or someone you know has been charged with any controlled substance offense, contact us immediately so that we can explore your options.

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