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What you should know about Michigan’s “Good Samaritan” law

On Behalf of | Feb 18, 2024 | Criminal Defense

A person shouldn’t have to fear being arrested for using drugs if they call 911 or otherwise seek emergency help for someone who appears to be suffering an overdose, nor should they be afraid that the person they’re trying to help will be arrested. Likewise, someone shouldn’t fear calling 911 for themselves because they think they’ll end up in jail.

That’s the reasoning behind what are known as “Good Samaritan” or “overdose immunity” laws across the country – including here in Michigan. When a person suffers a drug overdose, emergency treatment can make the difference between surviving it and not. These Good Samaritan laws provide immunity from prosecution for relatively minor drug-related crimes if they’re discovered only because someone sought emergency aid.

When does Michigan law provide immunity?

Michigan’s law applies to anyone who “in good faith attempts to procure medical assistance for another individual” or anyone “who seeks medical assistance for himself or herself or who requires medical assistance….” for an apparent overdose or any other medical emergency related to drug use. The immunity applies if they have drugs in an “amount sufficient only for personal use” and the evidence “is obtained as a result of the individual’s seeking or being presented for medical assistance.”

When doesn’t the law apply?

The law doesn’t provide immunity from being charged or prosecuted for serious drug-related crimes like trafficking. It also doesn’t prevent authorities from charging someone for other types of criminal offenses if evidence is discovered at the scene – for example, stolen goods or illegal weapons. It applies only to drug possession and use in the particular instance where someone called for help or they were the person for whom they sought help. It doesn’t provide blanket immunity from being charged for future offenses.

The law doesn’t necessarily guarantee that someone won’t be arrested who qualifies for immunity. Police don’t always have all the facts before they arrest someone, and an overdose scene can certainly lead to confusion. 

If you believe you’ve been wrongly charged with a drug-related crime or that your actions to help save someone’s life should be considered if evidence of another type of crime was discovered, your best first step is to seek legal guidance. This can help you protect your rights and present your case.