Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan Laws Are A Good Start, But They Still Have Too Many Loopholes
Few things are scarier than seeing someone suffer a drug overdose in your presence. These days, Narcan nasal spray has become widely available enough that, if you happen to have it, you can reverse the effects of opioid overdose simply by administering it to the victim. First responders always carry Narcan, and fear of criminal prosecution should not stop you from calling 911 if you see someone suffering an overdose. Most states, including Pennsylvania, have laws on the books that provide legal protections for bystanders who seek medical help for overdose victims, even if the bystander who called 911 was under the influence of illegal drugs at the time and if drugs and drug paraphernalia are present at the scene when first responders arrive. The availability of Narcan and the legal protections for bystanders who seek help for overdose victims have helped to reduce overdose fatalities, but critics of Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan laws say that these laws do not do enough to encourage people to call 911 in the event of an overdose. To find out more about legal immunity from drug charges, or if you have been unfairly charged with a drug crime, contact a Pittsburgh drug crime lawyer.
When Can You Speak Openly About Your Drug Use Without Fear of Legal Repercussions?
If you are under arrest or have been charged with a drug crime, you always have the right not to answer questions from agents of the law about your drug use. In other situations, though, it is your right and your responsibility to speak truthfully about having taken illegal drugs recently or in the past. In a healthcare setting, you should always tell your doctor about your current and prior drug use, so that your doctor can have an accurate medical history and provide effective treatments. Medical privacy laws prohibit doctors from telling the police about patients’ drug use. Likewise, if prosecutors have given you immunity as part of a plea deal or ongoing investigation into someone else’s drug use, you must speak truthfully, and you cannot be prosecuted for what you say. Even in this situation, though, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer.
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Pursuant to Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan law, you can and should call 911 if you see someone overdosing. If you do this, you will be immune from being charged with or prosecuted for possession of controlled substances or drug paraphernalia. The trouble is that you can still be arrested. Case law also involves disputes over whether a bystander who invoked immunity under the Good Samaritan law acted in good faith. If you see someone suffering an overdose, you should call 911 immediately, and as soon as you are sure that the victim is safe, you should talk to a criminal defense lawyer.
Contact Gary E. Gerson About Drug Crimes Defense
A drug crimes defense lawyer can help you if you are facing charges for drug possession when you should be protected under Good Samaritan laws. Contact the law offices of Gary E. Gerson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania about your case.