PA Enacts Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Immunity Law
On December 1, 2014 a new law went into effect in Pennsylvania which changes the state’s drug laws to provide immunity for people who suffer a drug overdose and for people who report a drug overdoes, as long as certain criteria is met. The law can be found at 35 P.S. 780-113.7 and is titled Drug Overdose Response Immunity.
The law states that a person who assists a person experiencing a drug overdose cannot be criminally charged and is immune from prosecution in either of the following instances:
1. The person transported a person experiencing a drug overdose to a law enforcement agency, campus security office or health care facility AND law enforcement only became aware of the incident and of certain criminal offenses because of that person’s assistance;
2. The person reported the drug overdose in good faith to law enforcement AND the person provided their name and location to law enforcement AND the person remained with the person needing medical attention until law enforcement arrived.
The law also provides that a person experiencing a drug overdose cannot be criminally charged and shall be immune from prosecution if the person who assisted them qualifies for immunity in one of the two instances listed above.
The prohibition on charging or prosecution applies to the filing of new criminal charges that are named in the law and include possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia, as well as the filing of probation and parole violations. However, the prohibition on charging or prosecution is limited and does not apply to circumstances in which law enforcement learned of the drug overdose independent of the actions of the person who assisted a person experiencing a drug overdose, and does not apply to charging or prosecution for drug delivery, drug induced homicide, or any other crime not specifically listed in the law.
Several other states already have such immunity laws. Clearly the intent of the new law is to encourage people to cooperate with law enforcement to assist someone who experiences a drug overdoes without fear of prosecution. Proponents of the new law believe it may save the lives of individuals who may otherwise have been left to suffer a drug overdose without the proper medical attention.
If you have been charged with a crime, the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney can be invaluable. Many law enforcement officers are not aware of this new law and are filing criminal charges against people who are immune from prosecution. Our firm has represented people in such instances and has successfully fought to have the criminal charges dismissed. Please call to schedule a free consultation in one of our two offices located in Doylestown, Bucks County or Norristown, Montgomery County.
This article is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.