This opioid crisis? It’s gonna be the death of us all. Literally. Here are some horrifically depressing facts about Maryland for you to mull over:
- Drug-related deaths have increased every year for the last 7 years.
- We’re 5th in the nation for drug-addicted moms.
- Fentanyl killed 1,594 people in 2017. Cocaine killed 691.
This “war on drugs” we’ve been fighting since Nixon? We’re losing – badly. And because of how strict the drug laws are, the penalties can be really severe if you’re convicted of a crime. So, a lot of people just weren’t calling the cops for help if their friends started to OD right next to them.
In 2015, the State of Maryland ratified the Good Samaritan Law. This law provides a measure of protection to citizens of Maryland against arrest and prosecution for certain designated crimes. The measure was enacted primarily to protect individuals who call for help, or offer assistance, in emergency situations that involve drug overdoses. In other words, you can call for help to save your friends’ lives without worrying about getting arrested.
Your friend lives and you stay free – it’s a win/win
Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law applies to anyone who seeks, provides, or in any way helps with delivering medical assistance to a person who has consumed, or is using, drugs or alcohol. The law also applies to people who receive medical assistance after another person has sought help for them. In short, neither one of you is going to jail.
But it does a little more than, too. See, the law protects people who might have otherwise faced a violation of a requirement for their probation, parole, or pretrial release, if the evidence was exclusively obtained from the actions of the individual offering, seeking, or providing medical assistance for the purpose of saving someone’s life. So even if you were breaking probation or parole, you’re still not going to jail.
To recap: if you do the right thing for your friend while he or she is ODing, or having a reaction of some kind – even if you’re on your third strike and are surrounded by pills or needles – IF you call the cops or an ambulance, and IF you stick around to help out while the police or the EMTs are there, then you can’t be charged with a crime. The person who needs help can’t be charged with one, either.
What’s the catch?
Ahh. There’s always a catch, isn’t there?
Okay: even the Good Samaritan Law is pretty broad, certain individuals are exempt from its protection. If you’re there while your buddy is seizing on the ground and you don’t do anything to help? Exempt. Police show up and ask you to assist them, and you run away? Exempt. If you’re in the middle of committing an actual felony when the cops show up? Exempt.
Also, don’t think that law enforcement isn’t going to evaluate what happened. You can still get in trouble with the cops for unrelated charges that stem from any investigation they conduct; you just can’t get busted for anything that they see happening at the time you call them.
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, I take accusations of drug crimes seriously. The Good Samaritan Law is supposed to protect you when you do the right thing; if it doesn’t, then I’ll be there to protect your rights, instead. Give my Annapolis office a call at 410.777.8103, or fill out my contact form to set up a time to discuss your case.
Just remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.