When can you get immunity from drug-related charges in Georgia?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Drug Charges

You’ve probably heard of “Good Samaritan” laws that protect people from civil liability if they accidentally cause harm as they administer aid to someone suffering an overdose or other medical event. That’s also the term often used for those who call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help for someone who appears to be overdosing.

These “Good Samaritans” can receive immunity from some drug charges if their own alleged drug possession or use is discovered only because they sought help for someone else or for themselves. These laws have been enacted to minimize the number of fatal drug overdoses in this country that could have been prevented if someone had gotten emergency help rather than flee the scene.

Georgia’s “911 medical amnesty” law

Georgia law gives immunity from arrest, charge and prosecution both to those who call 911 “or otherwise contacts or assists in contacting law enforcement or a poison control center and provides care to a person while awaiting the arrival of medical assistance to aid such person” and for the victim of a drug or alcohol overdose. This immunity applies to offenses related to possession of small amounts of illegal drugs (enough for personal use) and drug paraphernalia. It also applies to offenses related to underage drinking. Further, the law provides immunity for violations of conditions of parole, probation, pretrial release and restraining orders.

To qualify for this immunity, the person who calls must do so “in good faith.” In other words, they’re notifying first responders to get help and not to get out of an arrest. They must also remain at the scene until help arrives. The immunity applies only to the specified drug- or alcohol-related offenses discovered only because they sought help. It’s not a “get out of jail free” card for any possible future drug-related arrests. The immunity also doesn’t extend to other types of criminal offenses that might be discovered at the scene. If police show up and find what appear to be stolen electronics of weapons or a meth lab, for example, that’s not covered.

Police don’t always accurately assess a situation when they arrive on a scene – particularly if someone is in medical distress. If you believe you were wrongfully arrested and charged for an offense covered under the law, it’s crucial to get legal guidance as soon as possible to protect your rights.