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Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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IL Good Samaritan Laws: What To Do in an Overdose

In Illinois, drug-related crimes are a topic that law enforcement is very concerned with – lawmakers, as well. Illinois has worked to decriminalize some drug crimes to help people struggling with addiction. One of the ways it has done that is through the Good Samaritan drug overdose law.

An alarming number of people die each year in Illinois from drug overdoses. It is thought that, if these people were to get medical help at the right time, they might not have died. But they don’t get medical intervention, because the people around them are worried that they’ll be arrested for drug possession if emergency medical personnel and police are called to the scene.

The solution to this issue that Illinois state lawmakers invented is the Good Samaritan law related to drug overdose. This law can help to provide immunity from prosecution to those involved in a drug overdose if they call emergency services or take the victim to a medical facility.

Here is what you need to know about the Good Samaritan law in Illinois and how immunity can extend not only to those who are reporting the overdose but also to those who have overdosed.

What Is the Illinois Good Samaritan Overdose Law?

Since 2012, Illinois has worked to get the word out about the Good Samaritan law in an effort to save lives. What this law does is offer a limited amount of immunity to those who help to get medical attention for someone who is overdosing, as well as the person who is overdosing.

If a person seeks help in good faith for someone experiencing a drug overdose, then they will not be charged with felony drug possession. Also, law enforcement cannot use the information given in the call to emergency services as probable cause for a warrant or probable cause for executing a search of a person or their property.

Are There Exceptions to the Law?

It’s vital to understand that, while the Good Samaritan overdose law is meant to help, it does not provide blanket immunity. In fact, there are some important exceptions to the law to be aware of.

It may still be possible to be charged with drug possession and other drug felonies in certain situations. The type of drug and the amount of the drug at the scene of the crime may still lead to charges.

For example, the state only guarantees immunity from charges if three grams or less of cocaine or heroin are at the scene. If the police arrive and there is more than that, then you may get charged.

A few more important exceptions include:

  • Three grams or more of LSD or morphine
  • Six grams or more of PCP, quaaludes, ketamine, or pentazocine
  • 40 grams or more of Schedule I or II drugs, as well as peyote, amphetamines, or barbiturates

Illinois Good Samaritan Laws

Additionally, if police can demonstrate that they already had probable cause for a warrant or a search, then they can execute those things.

If you are at the scene of a drug overdose, the right thing to do is to seek help for those in need of medical attention. If you find yourself arrested and charged with drug possession as a result, then seek out the counsel of an experienced attorney. They will help protect your rights and make sure that the Good Samaritan laws have been applied to your case.

About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.

 

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