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Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law: Immunity from certain charges

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Public health crises sometimes call for bold measures. Lawmakers in state legislatures across the country – including here in Maryland – have determined that one way to curb the crisis of fatal drug overdoses is to encourage those who are with a person who appears to be suffering an overdose to call 911 or otherwise seek emergency medical help rather than leave the scene out of fear of being arrested.

That’s the reasoning behind Good Samaritan drug overdose immunity laws. These laws, which vary among states and in Washington, D.C., provide immunity from prosecution for selected relatively minor drug possession offenses for those who seek help (and often for the overdose victim) if evidence of those offenses is discovered only because of a call for help.

The Maryland law

Maryland’s Good Samaritan Law provides immunity from arrest, charge and prosecution for offenses involving the possession or use of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), as well as the possession or use of drug paraphernalia. Further, it provides immunity for offenses that involve underage possession and consumption of alcohol. That includes furnishing alcohol to those who are underage. The immunity extends to the overdose victim.

In addition to the immunity from criminal charges, the law also protects those who are on probation, parole or pretrial release. The law states that they have immunity from incurring what would otherwise be a violation of the terms of their release if that violation is discovered because of they sought help or someone sought help for them.

Understanding the limitations of the law

This immunity doesn’t apply to more serious drug-related crimes like trafficking or manufacturing. It applies to six specific misdemeanor drug and alcohol offenses, as described above. It also doesn’t apply to non-drug-related offenses that police might discover evidence of when they arrive on the scene or to any alleged offenses committed at another time.

If you have been arrested and charged with an offense covered by the Good Samaritan Law when you believe you met the criteria for immunity, or if you’ve been charged with another offense after you sought help for an overdose victim, it’s important to get legal guidance as soon as possible to protect your rights and work to minimize the consequences of your situation.