Virginia State Police Tackle Drug Overdoses
Starting this month, Virginia State Police troopers will carry medicinal dispensers to treat illegal drug overdoses, reported The Roanoke Times. The medicinal dispensers carry a pharmaceutical called naloxone, which can help treat an overdose from heroin or other opiates.
The Virginia State Police was able to purchase approximately 2,100 of these dispensers with a $154,800 grant from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Moving forward, troopers, special agents, sergeants, and first sergeants will be trained to administer naloxone in certain overdose situations.
In light of this news story, it seems like a perfect time to review Virginia laws concerning the safe reporting of drug overdoses.
What is Safe Reporting of Drug Overdoses?
Code of Virginia Section 18.2-251.03 addresses the safe reporting of drug overdoses, enabling individuals to report an overdose without fear of criminal charges. Section 18.2-251.03 establishes an affirmative defense to certain drug crimes, but only if the overdose reporter adheres to certain conditions.
That being said, Section 18.2-251.03 only applies to the following criminal offenses:
- Unlawful purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol under Code of Virginia Section 4.1-305;
- Possession of a controlled substance under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-250;
- Possession of marijuana under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-250.1;
- Intoxication in public under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-388; and
- Possession of controlled paraphernalia under Code of Virginia Section 54.1-3466.
Section 18.2-251.03 does not provide any protection for other criminal charges.
What are the Requirements of Safe Reporting?
In order for an overdose reporter to qualify for protection under Section 18.2-251.03, they must adhere to the following requirements.
- Submit a Report — The overdose reporter must submit an accurate report in good faith. The reporter may contact emergency personnel for their own overdose or the overdose of another person. Additionally, the reporter must contact approved emergency personnel, including but not limited to police, firefighters, and paramedics.
- Remain at the Scene — The overdose reporter must remain at the scene until law enforcement arrives. If law enforcement is unable to arrive at the scene immediately, then the reporter must cooperate fully with instructions from law enforcement.
- Provide Identification — The overdose reporter must identify themselves to any law enforcement officers who arrive at the scene.
- Cooperate with Police — The overdose reporter must cooperate with law enforcement officers in any related investigation. This condition only applies if the investigation is related to the drug overdose in question.
Assuming that the overdose reporter complies with the requirements above, there is one final condition. The overdose report must lead to prosecutable evidence. Stated otherwise, the authorities must discover key evidence as a direct result of the overdose report.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you are facing criminal charges after reporting an overdose in Virginia, it is essential that you reach out to an adept criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Simms Showers LLP, servicing Leesburg, Winchester, Fairfax, and Manassas, are experienced in representing criminal defendants, including overdose reporting and other drug crimes. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.