In the very first hours of 2015, Mason Mizwicki died of a drug overdose. He was at a New Year’s eve party in Watervliet, MI with friends. They were using drugs. While he lay dying, Mizwicki called out for help. But his friends chose not to assist him. Why? Because the teenagers he was with at the time were more afraid of the legal repercussions for themselves, than allowing their friend to die of an overdose.
In the heartbreak that followed Mizwicki’s death, his parents began lobbying for changes to Michigan’s law. Changes that would have protected their son’s friend’s from prosecution, if they had helped him. Changes that would have saved Mason’s life, if only they had already been in place. The result was the Good Samaritan Bill.
Although it took over a year from the time the bill was introduced in December of 2014, until it was finally signed into law just days ago, the result is a law that will save lives. When it was introduced, House Bill 4843 proposed that anyone under the age of 21 would have automatic immunity from criminal prosecution in the event that they report a prescription drug overdose.
It may seem strange to want to protect underaged drug users from prosecution, but if it means the difference between saving someone’s life and leaving them to die, it will be worth it. As Lori Mizwicki said when she testified before the House and the Senate committees, the goal is to educate other teenagers about the dangers of drug abuse, but also to protect them if they try to save someone’s life.
Prior to this particular Good Samaritan law making it onto the books in Michigan, the only other law of its kind was one that protected minors from prosecution in alcohol-related medical emergencies. Now however, anyone seeking help for themselves or others for a drug overdose can do so without fear of prosecution. There is no age limit. This new statute in Michigan is in addition to other Good Samaritan laws that have been in place for decades in Michigan. They mostly pertain to helping others that are injured.
No one should have to choose between saving a life and going to jail!
This is a very big deal, because drug charges in Michigan are no joke, and the penalties are incredibly harsh. It is difficult to imagine a teenager, let alone an adult, being willing to risk decades behind bars to save a friend who willingly participated in recreational drug use. Very few were tough enough to brave the possible consequences in order to save a life, and now – thank goodness – they don’t have to.
Under Michigan law, there are different penalties depending on which drug a person is accused of dealing with, and whether the charges are for use, possession, distribution, or manufacture. Most drug-related crimes are felonies in Michigan, which can mean prison time and very serious fines for those who are convicted.
According to Chuck Kronzek, a founding partner at the Kronzek Firm, ” Use of a drug tends to have less severe penalties than Sale or Manufacture. A classic example of this would be charges related to Oxycontin or Vicodin, where a charge for use is penalized by only one year in jail and a fine of $2,000. However, being charged with manufacture or distribution of either one could land you behind bars from four years all the way up to a life sentence, depending on the quantity in question.”
Contact our criminal defense attorneys immediately if you or a loved one are facing charges related to drug crime. Whether you were reporting drug use to save someone’s life, or are accused of possessing or selling drugs, you are going to need an experienced defense attorney on your side. Don’t wait and hope that this will go away, or clear up on it’s own. That seldom happens. Call us today at 866-766-5245. The aggressive defense attorneys at the Kronzek Firm are available 24/7 to help you deal with your legal challenges.