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Date: 03-29-2021

Case Style:


Case Number: 20CA000019

Judge: Earle E. Wise, Jr.


Plaintiff's Attorney: JASON R. FARLEY

Defendant's Attorney:

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Canton, Ohio - Criminal defense attorney represented Justin Todd Coyle with two counts of possession of drugs (Fentany related compound and heroin) charge.

On February 6, 2019, Cambridge police officers were dispatched to a KFC
restaurant on a report that a man had struck one of his two children. Officers found
appellant passed out in the restaurant bathroom from what appeared to be a drug
overdose. An ambulance was called and appellant was transported to the hospital.
The officers located appellant's two children seated inside a vehicle parked in the KFC
parking lot. An open air canine search of appellant's vehicle detected drugs therein.
{¶ 3} On April 29, 2019, the Guernsey County Grand Jury indicted appellant on
two counts of possession of drugs (Fentanyl related compound and heroin) in violation
of R.C. 2925.11, felonies of the fifth degree. On December 26, 2019, appellant filed a
notice of incarceration, informing the trial court that he was serving time in the Noble
County jail for theft from elderly. In the Noble County case, appellant had been placed
on community control on July 1, 2019.
{¶ 4} On March 3, 2020, appellant pled guilty to possessing the Fentanyl related
compound and the heroin count was dismissed.
{¶ 5} On July 2, 2020, appellant filed a motion for leave of court to withdraw
plea of guilty and for dismissal, arguing he was a qualified individual under R.C.
2925.11 and was therefore immune from prosecution. A hearing was held on July 27,
2020. By entry filed July 29, 2020, the trial court denied the motion, finding appellant Guernsey County, Case No. 20CA000019 3
was not a qualified individual. By judgment entry filed August 18, 2020, the trial court
sentenced appellant to three years of community control.
{¶ 6} Appellant filed an appeal and this matter is now before this court for
consideration. Assignment of error is as follows:
{¶ 8} In his sole assignment of error, appellant claims the trial court erred in
denying his motion to dismiss. We disagree.
{¶ 9} As explained by our colleagues from the Second District in State v. Miller,
2d Dist. Montgomery No. 28284, 2019-Ohio-3294, ¶ 13:
A de novo standard of review has been applied to decisions
interpreting R.C. 2925.11(B), because "the correct interpretation of a
statute is a question of law subject to de-novo review." State v. Simmons,
2018-Ohio-2018, 112 N.E.3d 327, ¶ 18 (4th Dist.), citing State v.
Pountney, 152 Ohio St.3d 474, 2018-Ohio-22, 97 N.E.3d 478, ¶ 20.
(Other citation omitted.) In this situation, appellate courts do not defer to a
trial court's interpretation. Id. Furthermore, appellate courts generally
apply de novo review when reviewing trial court decisions to dismiss
indictments. State v. Brown, 2018-Ohio-2267, 114 N.E.3d 228, ¶ 12 (4th
Dist.). Guernsey County, Case No. 20CA000019 4
{¶ 10} In his July 2, 2020 motion to dismiss, appellant sought dismissal of the
charges under R.C. 2925.11(B)(2)(b) which states the following:
(b) Subject to division (B)(2)(f) of this section, a qualified individual
shall not be arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, or penalized
pursuant to this chapter for a minor drug possession offense if all of the
following apply:
(i) The evidence of the obtaining, possession, or use of the
controlled substance or controlled substance analog that would be the
basis of the offense was obtained as a result of the qualified individual
seeking the medical assistance or experiencing an overdose and needing
medical assistance.
(ii) Subject to division (B)(2)(g) of this section, within thirty days
after seeking or obtaining the medical assistance, the qualified individual
seeks and obtains a screening and receives a referral for treatment from a
community addiction services provider or a properly credentialed addiction
treatment professional.
(iii) Subject to division (B)(2)(g) of this section, the qualified
individual who obtains a screening and receives a referral for treatment
under division (B)(2)(b)(ii) of this section, upon the request of any
prosecuting attorney, submits documentation to the prosecuting attorney
that verifies that the qualified individual satisfied the requirements of that
division. The documentation shall be limited to the date and time of the
screening obtained and referral received. Guernsey County, Case No. 20CA000019 5
{¶ 11} "Minor drug possession offense" means a violation under R.C. 2925.11
that is a misdemeanor or a felony of the fifth degree. R.C. 2925.11(B)(2)(a)(iv).
{¶ 12} R.C. 2925.11(B)(2)(a)(viii) defines "qualified individual" as follows:
"Qualified individual" means a person who is not on community
control or post-release control and is a person acting in good faith who
seeks or obtains medical assistance for another person who is
experiencing a drug overdose, a person who experiences a drug overdose
and who seeks medical assistance for that overdose, or a person who is
the subject of another person seeking or obtaining medical assistance for
that overdose as described in division (B)(2)(b) of this section.
{¶ 13} Appellant argues he was not on community control or post-release control
at the time of the incident, and was subject to another person seeking medical
assistance for him for his drug overdose. Appellant sought opioid treatment the next
{¶ 14} A hearing was held on July 27, 2020. Appellant testified he overdosed on
heroin and "woke up in an ambulance when they gave me Narcan. When I asked what
had happened." T. at 5. He stated this was his first overdose. Id. He was treated at
the hospital for an hour and released. T. at 6. The next day, February 7, 2019,
appellant sought help with Spero Health, "a buprenorphine clinic where they help people
with opioid addiction issues." Id. He received treatment and counseling until August 2,
2019. T. at 7. Guernsey County, Case No. 20CA000019 6
{¶ 15} In an Incident/Offense Report dated February 6, 2019, attached to
appellant's July 2, 2020 motion, Cambridge Police Officer Frederick Wagner stated
officers were dispatched to the KFC restaurant "in reference to a male who struck one
of his children." After discovering appellant passed out on the bathroom floor, the
officers performed a sternum rub. Once awake, appellant advised "that he hasn't been
taking his medication." Officers called an ambulance to treat appellant, and continued
their investigation on the report of appellant striking his child.
{¶ 16} In its July 29, 2020 entry denying appellant's motion to dismiss, the trial
court concluded at the time of the incident, appellant "was not a person who
experienced a drug overdose who sought medical assistance for that overdose."
{¶ 17} As explained by Judge Thomas A. Teodosio in his concurring opinion in
City of Akron v. Pari, 9th Dist. Summit No. 29029, 2019-Ohio-1083, ¶ 10:
Understanding that persons overdosing or witnessing an overdose
hesitate to seek help or simply do not call for assistance out of fear of
police involvement, the Ohio Legislature passed the "Good Samaritan" law
to encourage more people to call 911 in the event of an overdose by
providing immunity from being "arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted,
or penalized" for low-level drug offenses, both for the person calling for
medical assistance as well as the person who overdosed.
{¶ 18} The initial call to police was not to report an overdose, but to report a
father striking one of his children. When police arrived on the scene, appellant did not
claim an overdose, but stated he had been neglecting to take his medication. The Guernsey County, Case No. 20CA000019 7
continued investigation of appellant striking his child led to the discovery of drugs in
appellant's vehicle. The drug possession charges did not stem from appellant
experiencing an overdose and needing medical assistance. Given the facts of this
case, we agree appellant was not entitled to immunity under R.C. 2925.11(B)(2).
{¶ 19} Upon review, we find the trial court did not err in denying appellant's
motion to dismiss.
{¶ 20} Appellant's sole assignment of error is denied.

Outcome: The judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Guernsey County, Ohio is
hereby affirmed.

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