If you were arrested and charged with a drug-related crime after you called 911 to report that someone appeared to be suffering a drug overdose, you may actually have immunity from prosecution. Like most other states, Minnesota has a “Good Samaritan” law that provides immunity in some cases for people who report drug overdoses. Our law is also known as Steve’s Law.
Under the law, a person who calls 911 to report an overdose cannot be prosecuted for the “possession, sharing, or use” of the drugs or drug paraphernalia associated with the overdose. The immunity is available only to someone if they’re the first to call for assistance, remain on the scene and fully cooperate with authorities.
The illegal items must have been found as the result of their call for help. These protections also apply to a person who’s experiencing an overdose if they call for help themselves. The immunity doesn’t apply to other non-related criminal charges or to evidence of drug-related crimes that was obtained independently of the response to the call for help.
Helping prevent fatal overdoses
Many states, as we noted, have implemented these laws as drug overdose fatalities – particularly involving opioids – have skyrocketed throughout the country in recent decades. Too often, people die from overdoses because those who are using drugs with them panic and run. Sometimes, a person who’s suffering an overdose won’t even call for help for themselves because they don’t want to be arrested.
These Good Samaritan laws have undoubtedly saved lives. However, they aren’t always applied when they should be. If you believe that you qualify for immunity under this law because you called 911 for help, it’s crucial that you seek legal guidance to determine whether you were wrongfully arrested or, if not, whether your Good Samaritan act could be a mitigating factor in your case.