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Good Samaritan laws provide some immunity from drug crime charges

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2021 | Criminal Defense

 Many people die of drug overdoses who could have been saved if they’d gotten prompt medical assistance. Too often, the reason they don’t is that the people who are with them when they OD are afraid that if they call 911 or take them to a hospital, they’ll be arrested. 

That’s particularly true if they were the ones who supplied the drugs. They may panic and run, without calling anyone for help, wait until they can find a payphone so their call can’t be traced before they call for help or drop the overdose victim at a hospital emergency department and then leave. 

Limited immunity for Samaritan law

In an effort to save lives, North Carolina, like most other states, has a “good Samaritan” law. The limited immunity for Samaritan law states that someone won’t be prosecuted for having a small quantity of drugs or if they have drug paraphernalia if they sought help “in good faith” for an overdose (someone else’s or their own) by calling 911 or seeking help from a law enforcement officer or emergency medical services (EMS) professional. 

The person must give their real name to those they contact. They must also have a “reasonable belief” that no one else was trying to get help. Notifying authorities about an overdose while they’re in the midst of a search or arrest does not qualify someone for immunity.

Naloxone access law

This law offers protection from civil lawsuits to those who administer this emergency drug for opioid overdoses to someone who is having (or in danger of having) an overdose. However, the person must use reasonable care – even just reading instructions for how to do it – in administering the naloxone. If the person who administered naloxone and also called 911 or first responders, the Samaritan law could also apply. 

If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, and you believe that you have “good Samaritan” immunity under the law, it is crucial that you find out whether the law protects you. Experienced legal guidance can help you protect your rights.