Michigan’s “Good Samaritan” law seeks to minimize fatal overdoses

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Too often, when people are using drugs with someone who appears to overdose, their first instinct is to flee the scene. Many won’t even call 911 out of fear that their call will be tracked to their cellphone. Sometimes, even if they’re able to, people won’t even call 911 for themselves because they’re afraid they’ll end up in jail. 

These concerns, and the disturbing number of overdose fatalities across the country, are why most states, including Michigan, have enacted “Good Samaritan” laws that provide immunity from prosecution for relatively minor drug offenses for those who seek help for an apparent overdose. Let’s take a brief look at Michigan’s law.

What does Michigan law say?

The law applies to anyone who “in good faith attempts to procure medical assistance” for themselves or another person. It provides immunity from drug charges for having an “amount sufficient only for personal use” if police obtained the evidence because the person sought emergency medical aid.

Certainly, non-medical professionals can’t know for sure if what someone (including themselves) is suffering is an overdose. That’s why the law extends to cases where someone is suffering what “a layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug overdose….”

When won’t this law protect you?

The law doesn’t protect people from more serious charges – drug-related or not. For example, if police show up and find what appears to be a drug manufacturing or trafficking operation, it wouldn’t apply. It also wouldn’t apply if police find evidence of other criminal activity, like stolen goods or illegal weapons. 

Of course, if evidence of a serious crime is discovered because someone did the right thing and sought help for someone, they can always try to get the charges or criminal consequences lessened. That’s where the help of an experienced legal professional can make all the difference.

Police don’t always get it right – especially when there’s a chaotic scene with first responders around. If you’re facing charges for which you believe you have immunity under the law, be sure you have the guidance you need to protect your rights.