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How saving a life could save you or a loved one from jail

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

If you have a child going to college here in Georgia, it’s important for them to know about the state’s “911 Medical Amnesty” law. It’s a version of the “Good Samaritan” drug immunity laws in states across the country.

The law provides immunity from arrest, charge and prosecution for relatively minor drug-related crimes (as well as underage alcohol offenses) for those who, in good faith, call 911 or otherwise seek emergency medical assistance for someone suffering an overdose. It also provides protection for those who administer Narcan to an overdose victim.

Some specifics about the law

The law provides immunity for possession of a small amount of illegal drugs (basically enough for personal use). It also provides immunity from penalties for violating conditions of probation, parole and pretrial release.

This immunity applies to the person who seeks help and the person suffering the overdose. A person who gets help for someone else must stay at the scene and then cooperate with first responders (including police) when they arrive.

The law was enacted largely to prevent people from fleeing the scene of an overdose rather than calling for help because they fear arrest for their own drug use. This emergency help can mean the difference between life and death – especially as fentanyl becomes increasingly popular. According to the Georgia Department of Health, fentanyl overdose deaths among preteens and teens rose 800% between 2019 and 2021. Often, people don’t realize that the drugs they’re using have fentanyl in them.

What can happen when people don’t know about

Even though Georgia’s law has been on the books for a decade, not enough people are aware of it. Needless tragedies still occur. For example, last year, a teen suffered a fatal overdose in Gwinnett County. His parents tracked him down via social media, but it was too late. His best friend, also a teen, hadn’t sought help and was charged with concealing a death, which is a felony.

It’s crucial for kids and parents to know about this law. Unfortunately, no parent can guarantee that their child will never be at the scene of an overdose or alcohol poisoning. It’s never the wrong decision to seek help rather than run away. That doesn’t mean that police get things right initially. If your child has been arrested for a drug-related crime when they qualify for immunity under the law, it’s important to get legal guidance to protect their rights.