Arizona has a “Good Samaritan” law that protects people who seek emergency medical assistance for someone suffering a drug overdose from prosecution for their own drug possession and use at the time. This applies both to those who seek help for someone else and those who get help for their own overdose.
The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, which was enacted in Jan. 2018, was designed to help curb the rising number of overdose fatalities throughout the state. Too often, overdose victims are left to die by people who were afraid to call 911 because they are using illegal drugs themselves. Sometimes, people won’t even get medical help when they need it for fear they’ll end up in jail once they’re released from the hospital.
What is covered under the law?
While you should always seek medical help for someone experiencing an overdose, regardless of the consequences, it’s important to know what the law does and doesn’t cover. According to the law, someone who seeks medical help in good faith for a drug-related overdose “may not be charged or prosecuted for the possession or use of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia or a preparatory offense if the evidence for the violation was gained as a result of the person’s seeking medical assistance.” The law defines “medical assistance” as “to call 911 or otherwise contact law enforcement, poison control or a hospital emergency department.”
Immunity applies only to the offenses listed in the law. For example, if the police show up at the scene with paramedics and find stolen goods or other illegal activity, they can still arrest and potentially charge someone. However, under the law, the fact that you sought medical help “may be used as a mitigating factor” in your case.
It’s important to remember that the details of these immunity laws vary by state. However, it’s never the wrong decision to seek help for someone whose life may be in danger. Leaving the scene could have far more serious criminal consequences.
If you believe that you were charged with a drug-related crime for which you should have had immunity, it’s wise to seek legal guidance. Even if the charges are warranted, the fact that an offense was discovered because you sought medical help for someone should be considered.