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City of Akron v. J.B.

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Ninth District, Summit

June 5, 2019

CITY OF AKRON Appellant
v.
J.B. Appellee

          APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE AKRON MUNICIPAL COURT COUNTY OF SUMMIT, OHIO CASE No. 2018 CRB 07054

          EVE V. BELFANCE, Director of Law, GERTRUDE E. WILMS, Chief Prosecutor, and BRIAN D. BREMER, Assistant Director of Law, for Appellant.

          JOSEPH S. KODISH, Director, and SUSAN MANOFSKY, Summit County Legal Defender, for Appellee.

          DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

          THOMAS A. TEODOSIO, PRESIDING JUDGE

         {¶1} Appellant, the City of Akron, appeals an order of the Akron Municipal Court that granted J.B.'s motion to dismiss the criminal charge against him. This Court reverses.

         I.

         {¶2} The facts underlying this appeal are not disputed. On August 8, 2018, J.B. suffered a drug overdose. The police officers who responded to the 911 call regarding J.B. discovered a crack pipe on his person. J.B. was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in violation of Akron Municipal Code 138.28. J.B. moved to dismiss the charge, arguing that he was immune from prosecution under R.C. 2925.11(B)(2)(b)(i) because the police found the crack pipe when they responded to his need for medical assistance related to an overdose.

         {¶3} The trial court granted the motion, concluding that "protecting a 'qualified individual' * * * from prosecution for drug possession, but not protecting that person from prosecution for the instruments used to take the drugs[, ] results in an absurd and unreasonable consequence." The City appealed.

         II.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT GRANTED APPELLEE'S MOTION TO DISMISS.

         {¶4} The City's assignment of error argues that the trial court erred by granting J.B.'s motion to dismiss because the unambiguous language of R.C. 2925.11(B)(2) limits immunity to minor drug possession offenses. This Court agrees.

         {¶5} Under R.C. 2925.11(B)(2)(b), a "qualified individual" cannot be "arrested, charged, prosecuted, convicted, or penalized" for a minor drug possession offense if:

(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 ...

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