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Understanding the New York State 911 Good Samaritan Law

by | Sep 13, 2022 | Criminal Defense

When kids go off to college, they’re exposed to all kinds of new people and experiences – not all of them positive. If your child finds themselves in a situation where they believe someone is suffering a drug overdose, they should never be afraid to seek help.

Unfortunately, too many people have died from drug overdoses after the people who were using drugs with them fled the scene rather than call 911 because they feared being arrested when police showed up or even that their call would be traced. That’s why states, including New York, started implementing Good Samaritan laws to protect those who call for emergency help from facing prosecution for minor drug offenses.

What protections does – and doesn’t — the law offer?

The law protects those calling for help as well as the person suffering an overdose — including those who seek emergency help if they believe they’re overdosing. Specifically, it protects people (both minors and adults) from being charged and prosecuted for crimes involving possession of:

  • Less than 8 ounces of controlled substances
  • Any amount of marijuana
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Alcohol (by a minor)

The law doesn’t apply to anyone who has an open warrant or is in violation of their probation or parole conditions. It also doesn’t protect those found in possession of more than 8 oz. of controlled substances or those suspected of “sale or intent to sell controlled substances.”

However, calling for help can be considered a factor in your defense or in reducing your sentence in some cases if you are charged with a crime related to the sale of drugs.

Seeking emergency help is always the right thing to do

It’s important to understand that while most states have some kind of 911 Good Samaritan law involving drug overdoses, they all differ somewhat. Some have far more conditions than New York has.

People should always seek emergency medical help if they believe someone is in grave danger. Leaving someone in that condition without getting help can put someone in far more legal jeopardy than they’d be in for most drug-related charges.

It’s still important to know about this law. If you believe that your child is facing drug-related charges for which they should have immunity under this law (or facing them under any circumstances), it’s crucial to protect their rights.