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Can the state’s Good Samaritan Act protect you from drug charges?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The crisis of fatal drug overdoses has hit virtually every part of the U.S. Amid this crisis, states have increasingly enacted laws that provide immunity from being arrested, charged or prosecuted for relatively minor drug charges for those who seek medical help for someone who’s overdosing. Many states also provide immunity for overdose victims.

These laws vary somewhat among states. The goal is to encourage people to call for help for themselves or someone else out of fear that they’ll be arrested for evidence of personal drug use discovered only because they sought help. Every state’s law is a little different though, and Mississippi’s Medical Emergency Good Samaritan Act is no exception.

When does the law provide immunity?

The law proves immunity from criminal charges for possession of a small amount of a controlled substance (for example, under four grams of a solid controlled substance and under one milliliter of a liquid substance) as well as drug paraphernalia if they acted in good faith in seeking professional medical help for an overdose victim and for the person who is overdosing.

The immunity applies even if the person is under the influence when law enforcement officers arrive. The law also provides immunity from penalties for violations of court-ordered supervision and restraining and protective orders.

When doesn’t the law provide protection?

The law doesn’t cover more serious drug-related crimes, including sale, transfer, intent to distribute and trafficking. It also doesn’t cover non-drug-related crimes if evidence is discovered at the overdose scene. It also doesn’t protect anyone else who happens to be at the scene.

There’s no guarantee that in all the frantic activity of an overdose, someone won’t be arrested who qualifies under the law for immunity. If you believe you’ve been wrongfully charged or that your actions should be taken into consideration if you’re facing charges for an offense not covered under the law, it’s smart to get legal representation as soon as possible.