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Everyone should know about Florida’s Good Samaritan overdose law

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Drug Charges

It can be terrifying to witness someone suffering what appears to be a drug overdose. This situation can be even more frightening if you’re in possession of illegal drugs while it’s unfolding.

Unfortunately, that fear has caused too many people to panic and run from the scene rather than call 911 or otherwise try to get help for the overdose victim. It can’t be known for certain how many people who could have survived an overdose if they’d gotten emergency medical attention died because those who were with them didn’t get help.

In an effort to help curb the epidemic level of fatal overdoses that has swept the country in recent years, many states began enacting “Good Samaritan” laws that provide immunity from prosecution for drug possession charges for those who seek help. In some states, this immunity also extends to the overdose victim, whether they seek help for themselves or someone else calls for help on their behalf.

What does Florida law say?

Florida’s Good Samaritan law states that anyone “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” won’t be “arrested, charged, prosecuted, or penalized” for violating laws related to drug and drug paraphernalia possession. That includes penalties for violating any terms of probation or parole related to drug possession.

This immunity applies only “if the evidence for such offense was obtained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance. In other words, it’s not going to protect someone from charges if police find them with drugs outside a home where someone else called for help since they weren’t the “Good Samaritans.”

The immunity also doesn’t apply to other alleged offenses that may be discovered when police arrive on the scene. For example, if officers discover what appear to be stolen goods, illegal weapons or evidence of other crimes, even the person who sought help may be arrested and charged. The law states that the immunity it provides “may not be grounds for suppression of evidence in other criminal prosecutions.”

Overdose scenes can be highly confusing and chaotic, with first responders, police and others going in and out. If you or a loved one has been arrested for an offense that you believe qualifies for immunity under this law due to a mistake or misunderstanding, it’s smart to get legal guidance as soon as possible.