Can a Florida drug overdose Grant Immunity From criminal prosecution?

Usually the answer is "no" However, one recent case involved a victim who was found to be impaired, but not overdosed from heroin. The cop noticed the patient had signs of intoxication that included bloodshot eyes, rambling speech, and swaying. The patient told the deputy that he was taking medication. 

Florida Statute 893.21(2), Marchman Act, Florida Statute 397.675, overdose, immunity
Drug overdose in Florida can
immunize from prosecution under
Florida Statute 893.21(2)

Victim of Drug Overdose?


The cop saw a syringe hanging out of his pocket. The patient's mother was there and was concerned that the patient have been using drugs. The patient was taken into custody under the Marchman Act. Florida Statute 397. This Florida Drug Law provides for involuntary commitment of people who are in danger due to drugs or alcohol. The police took the patient to a drug treatment facility. He was not held or hospitalized. 

Charged with Possession of Heroin


The prosecutors charged him with possession of heroin and one lower-level court had dismissed the case based on Florida Statute 893.1.(2) that has a provision to immunize persons who have experienced a drug-related overdose. The higher court ruled that while the patient was impaired and taken into custody under the Marchman Act, Florida Statute 397.675, he was not the victim of an overdose. 

Definition of Overdose in Florida Drug Laws


The court look to the definition of drug overdose and found that an overdose meant that it was too great a deuce of a therapeutic agent or a lethal or toxic amount of a drug overdose. Overdose has almost been defined as an excessive and dangerous dose of a drug. The court found the patient was not immune from prosecution, as he showed signs of drug impairment but no signs of an overdose. Since he was not suffering from an extreme physical illness or possible death, although he was quite high, he was not exhibiting signs of a drug overdose that would have immunized him from prosecution under Florida Statute 893.21(2). 

893.21(2), Florida Statutes (2013):


(2) A person who experiences a drug-related overdose and is in need of medical assistance may not be charged, prosecuted, or penalized pursuant to this chapter for possession of a controlled substance if the evidence for possession of a controlled substance was obtained as a result of the overdose and the need for medical assistance. 


Source: State v Silliman, 5D 14 -2895 (June 12th 2015 Fifth District Court Florida).

Full Opinion is Here:

http://www.5dca.org/Opinions/Opin2015/060815/5D14-2895.op.pdf