Charged With Buying and Selling Body Parts in Georgia?

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cocaine trafficking

Human trafficking has become a global crisis. Each year, the number of missing young girls and boys continues to rise—kidnapped, abducted or lured away with promises of work in the entertainment business such as modeling or even promises of making money working as nannies for wealthy families. And, when most of us think about human trafficking, we think of these missing young women and men being sold for sex, slavery and servitude. However, as if it couldn’t get any more heinous, there is a darker side to human trafficking—organ harvesting.

Further, when we think of the people who run human trafficking operations, we think of “pimps” or “hustlers.” We think of bad people. However, body parts are being purchased on the black market by families and individuals who are in need of a new heart, lung, kidney or other body parts they’ve been placed on a waiting list for and have been waiting years for. Whether for good or evil, it is a criminal offense to harvest organs, traffic body parts and perform transplants for legal medical and/or scientific purposes.

Buying & Selling Body Parts in Georgia

Under Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 16-12-160, it shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to buy or sell, to offer to buy or sell, or to assist another in buying or selling or offering to buy or sell a human body or any part of a human body or buy or sell a human fetus or any part thereof.

However, the statute does not apply to:

(1) The purchase or sale of whole blood, blood plasma, blood products, blood derivatives, other self-replicating body fluids, or hair;

(2) A gift or donation of a human body or any part of a human body or any procedure connected to the payment of a fee in connection with such gift or donation;

(3) The reimbursement of actual expenses, including medical costs, lost income, and travel expenses, incurred by a living person in giving or donating a part of the person’s body;

(4) The payment of financial assistance under a plan of insurance or other health care coverage;

(5) The purchase or sale of human tissue, organs, or other parts of the human body for health sciences education; or,

(6) The payment of reasonable costs associated with the removal, storage, or transportation of a human body or any part of a human body given or donated for medical or scientific purposes.

The Penalty for Buying & Selling Body Parts in Georgia

Any person, firm, or corporation convicted of violating this statute shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000.00 or by imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than five years, or both.

Suspicious “Missing Organs” Cases with Ties to the State of Georgia

In 2013, Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a gym at Lowndes County High School. It was reported that state medical examiners concluded that Johnson suffocated after getting stuck in a rolled-up gym mat while reaching for a sneaker. If the death of their son wasn’t tragic enough, Johnson’s parents discovered that their son’s body and skull had been stuffed with newspaper before the burial. Dr. Bill Anderson, the private pathologist who conducted the second autopsy, “opened up the teen’s remains, the brain, heart, lungs, liver and other viscera were missing. Every organ from the pelvis to the skull was gone.” Gym Mat Death Shocker: Body Stuffed with Newspaper, Victor Blackwell and Devon Sayers, CNN, 2013.

In 2014, Atlanta actor Ryan Singleton went to California in pursuit of acting jobs. After visiting New Mexico, Arizona and Las Vegas during a weekend in July, Singleton apparently stopped at a gas station. It was the last time he was seen alive. Two joggers discovered Singleton’s body which was badly decomposed. When police found him, Singleton’s eyes, lungs, liver, kidneys and heart were missing from his body. Atlanta actor found dead in California desert: Mom is begging for answers, Yvette Caslin, Rollingout, 2016.

Possible Defenses Against a Charge of Buying & Selling Body Parts in Georgia         

Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there may be some possible defenses that can lead to your case being dismissed or the charges against you reduced. In order to be convicted of buying or selling body parts in the state of Georgia, the prosecution must prove all of the elements of the statute beyond a reasonable doubt. Thus, the best defense in a case such as this is to provide evidence that the organs were being harvested for a legitimate medical or scientific purpose. Or, that the reason for harvesting another’s organs fall within one of the exceptions under the statute.

Contact Bixon Law Today

Buying or selling body parts in the state of Georgia is a serious offense. If you have been charged with this offense, call Bixon Law. We represent clients in Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. Our lawyers are committed to helping people in difficult situations and working to get our clients the best possible outcome. We invite you to call us at 404-551-5684 for a free consultation today.