One of the reasons that so many drug overdoses are fatal is that too often people don’t get the lifesaving care they need in time. That’s in part because those who are using drugs with someone who overdoses are often afraid to call 911 or go to an emergency room because they assume they and the person overdosing will be arrested. Some people are even afraid to get help for themselves.
That’s why states, including Maryland, started enacting “Good Samaritan” overdose immunity laws. These are intended to protect those who get help for someone from being charged with certain drug-related offenses that are discovered only because they sought help.
When does Maryland law provide immunity?
Under Maryland law, people can receive immunity for the following offenses if they’re discovered because they sought emergency medical help or were the recipient of such help:
- Possession or use of controlled dangerous substances (CDS)
- Possession or use of drug paraphernalia
- Offenses related to the furnishing or possession of alcohol for or by an underage person
The law also offers immunity from penalties for violating a condition of their parole, probation or pretrial release.
When doesn’t immunity apply?
Note that the law specifies that this immunity is only for someone who seeks help “in good faith.” It doesn’t apply to people who just happen to be on the scene or to those who point out that someone is overdosing if law enforcement is already on the scene for some reason.
Further, the immunity doesn’t apply to more serious drug-related crimes like trafficking or non-drug-related crimes if evidence of them is found at the scene. Further, it doesn’t give someone any future immunity from drug-related charges.
Police can’t always know exactly what’s what when they arrive at an overdose scene. If you believe you’ve been wrongly arrested for a drug-related charge after seeking help for someone or yourself or if you’re facing charges for a non-drug-related crime discovered because you called for help, it’s crucial to ensure that authorities have the full story. Getting legal guidance as soon as possible can help you protect your rights.