Accidental drug overdoses – many of them fatal – have become an increasingly serious problem across the country. To prevent as many deaths as possible, most states, including Florida, have passed some type of Good Samaritan law. These laws provide immunity from arrest and prosecution for specified crimes for those who seek emergency medical help for someone suffering an overdose – including themselves.
These laws are intended to incentivize those who may be doing drugs with someone who suffers an overdose to call for help rather than panic and run away. This often happens if they were the ones who provided the drugs to the overdose victim.
In too many cases, the victim dies before anyone discovers them. In some cases, people suffering an overdose are afraid to seek medical help for themselves because they fear being arrested. That fear can prove fatal.
Florida law offers specific protections
Florida’s Good Samaritan law applies to alcohol as well as drug overdoses. It states, “A person acting in good faith who seeks medical assistance for an individual experiencing, or believed to be experiencing, an alcohol-related or a drug-related overdose may not be arrested, charged, prosecuted or penalized…if the evidence for such offense was obtained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance.”
The same applies to a “person who experiences, or has a good faith belief that he or she is experiencing, an alcohol-related or a drug-related overdose.” Those who report overdoses also can’t face penalties for violating probation, parole or other correctional conditions by using drugs or alcohol if that was discovered because they called for help.
The law also notes that this protection “may not be grounds for suppression of evidence in other criminal prosecutions.” If you call 911 for assistance when a friend overdoses, you likely won’t be arrested for having illegal drugs on you at the scene. However, if you have some stolen laptops laying around, you could find yourself facing charges for those.
People often don’t know about these Good Samaritan laws. Studies have shown that young adults who use prescription drugs recreationally tend to be unaware of them. Unfortunately, too many law enforcement officers aren’t as clear on them as they should be.
If you or a loved one is facing drug-related charges after seeking help for an overdose, it’s crucial to ensure that the arrest didn’t violate Florida law. Having experienced legal guidance can help protect your rights.