Hamilton County Joseph T. Deters announces grant of immunity in drug cases

Today, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters announced that he sought immunity from prosecution for certain drug cases as allowed by the Ohio Revised Code.

Prosecutor Deters filed a Motion for Immunity from Prosecution Pursuant to O.R.C. 3719.70 for Certain Individuals.  Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Presiding Judge Robert Ruehlman heard the motion this morning at 10:00 a.m.  In attendance at the hearing this morning in addition to Prosecutor Deters, were Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis J. Deters (Chair of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition), Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco and Hamilton County Public Defender Raymond Faller.

Prosecutor Deters explained to Judge Ruehlman that Sheriff Neil contacted his office to suggest this idea given the increasing number of drug overdoses in Hamilton County.  After explanation from Prosecutor Deters, and with agreement from all law enforcement members in attendance, Judge Ruehlman granted the motion.

Judge Ruehlman granted the motion and signed an order, “that immunity from prosecution is granted to anyone who appears at any law-enforcement agency in Hamilton County, Ohio and turns over any substance or combination of substances said person believes may cause the user of said drug to have an overdose.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters commented, “This type of action is unprecedented.  We have an emergency situation in Hamilton County.  We had 414 drug overdoses in our area in 2015 and we have had 177 as of June, 2016. 

Sheriff Neil had a great idea to try to do something to appeal to the public to help us stop this epidemic. 

We urge anyone, drug user, family member, friend, whoever may come in contact with these drugs to please turn them in to law enforcement with the promise of immunity from prosecution.  I cannot overstate that the drugs on our streets today will kill people.  It is the hope of everyone involved in law enforcement that people will turn in these dangerous drugs and seek treatment and help.”

Hamilton County Commissioner Dennis J. Deters commented, “As chair of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition, I am well aware of the major problem we have with drugs in our community.  The drugs on our streets today are a death sentence.  Law enforcement must work with public health officials to combat this situation.  I am glad that we have allocated more money for addiction treatment and recognize that everything possible must be done to engage those addicted to drugs with doctors and addiction specialists to help them conquer this problem.  It is encouraging to work with so many different members of law enforcement to help combat this epidemic.”

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil commented, “Talk is cheap and we are committed to action.  This is another effort in fighting this epidemic.  We are still aggressively going after the dealers who prey on people who are addicted to drugs. If a family member or friend brings forth these deadly drugs to potentially help save the life of their loved one, we are not going to arrest them.”