In an attempt to curtail fatal drug overdoses, Pennsylvania and many other states have amended their drug laws to provide immunity for people who suffer drug overdoses and those who assist overdose victims. This immunity only applies to charges like drug and paraphernalia possession, as well as parole and probation violations. Drug-induced homicides and delivery of drugs are among some of the charges not covered by the immunity. This immunity is often referred to as a “good samaritan law.”
Additionally, certain criteria must be met for the immunity to apply. First, the person who helps the overdosing person may have immunity if the only reason police became aware of the illegal activity was because the assisting party transported the overdosing person to a medical center or police station. If police learned of the overdose and other criminal activity independent of the assisting party’s actions, then the immunity will not apply. Alternatively, the assisting party may have immunity if they alert police in good faith to a drug overdose involving another person that reasonably appeared to be necessary to report in order to prevent death or serious injury. The person reporting the overdose must also provide their own name and location and remain with the overdose victim until police arrive.
The person who suffered the overdose will be immune from prosecution if the person who provided transportion or who reported the overdose to police is immune as well due to the above circumstances. However, law enforcement may still sometimes be unaware of these somewhat recent amendments to the drug laws and consequently arrest those who are actually covered by the immunity. Because of this, it is important to know the law and seek legal help if you or someone you know is placed in such a situation.
To read the entire law, click here.
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