Throughout North Carolina, opioid abuse has risen to an epidemic level. Coupled with this epidemic is a drastic increase in drug-related overdoses. All too often, people delay or never call emergency services for an overdose victim from fear of arrest. In response, the North Carolina legislature has adopted a law designed to encourage people to seek medical assistance for those suffering from an overdose without fear of criminal liability for possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia.
Immunity for Drug Crimes: The “Good Samaritan Law”
N.C.G.S. § 90-96.2 provides that a person may be granted immunity for the felony offenses of possessing less than one (1) gram of heroin or cocaine if certain requirements are met. The immunity, or freedom from criminal prosecution, also applies to misdemeanor charges of possessing narcotics as well as misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia. The immunity also covers violations of pretrial release, probation, parole, and post release supervision.
Who gets immunity?
Under the law, BOTH the caller and the victim are granted immunity. This means the BOTH the person that calls for medical assistance as well as the person who receives the medical assistance cannot be charged criminally for the drug crimes listed above, so long as certain conditions are met.
The overdose immunity law only applies when the evidence of a drug crime is discovered by law enforcement as a result of responding to a drug-related overdose. The law for overdose immunity also requires the following conditions:
- A person called 911, law enforcement, or emergency medical services to obtain medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug-related overdose,
- The person calling acted in good faith and believed they were the first person to call for help,
- The caller provided their name when calling, or when law enforcement arrived,
- The person did not call during the execution of an arrest or search warrant, or during some other lawful search, and,
- The evidence of the crimes was obtained because of the medical assistance provided to the overdose victim.
Contact a North Carolina Drug Crime Attorney
As the drug abuse epidemic continues to spread, more and more people will inevitably suffer from drug-related overdoses. The purpose of this law is to allow people to reach out to emergency medical services without fear of arrest for certain drug crimes.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a drug-related offense, it is very important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Dugan & Leger handle a large variety of drug crimes, and are standing by to help you or your loved one through this difficult time. To speak with an attorney, contact the drug crime attorneys at Dugan & Leger at (910) 253-5400.