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Kentucky’s “Good Samaritan” law may protect you from drug charges

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Drug Crimes |

There’s a law on the books in Kentucky – similar to laws in other states – that too many people don’t know about. Unlike most laws related to criminal wrongdoing, its purpose isn’t to spell out the elements of a criminal offense and possible penalties. Its purpose is to save lives – and save people from prosecution for their own personal drug use if they try to help themselves or someone else.

Laws like this are often called “Good Samaritan” laws because they provide immunity for certain drug-related offenses if evidence is discovered only because the person who would otherwise be charged with wrongdoing was discovered in the act of committing wrongdoing because they sought emergency help for someone (or, in some states, if they were the person in need of help).

The goal is to help minimize the number of fatal overdoses. Sometimes, a matter of minutes can make all the difference. However, people too often panic and leave the scene because they’re afraid of being arrested or won’t call for help for themselves for the same reason.

Under Kentucky’s law, people are exempt from “prosecution for possession of controlled substance or drug paraphernalia” if they make a “good faith” effort to get medical assistance for another person (or themselves) whom they reasonably believe is suffering a drug overdose. That exemption extends to the overdose victim if someone else seeks help for them. The person who gets help must stay on the scene or with the victim until that help arrives.

Some important limits of the law

The term “good faith” in this law means someone’s only goal is to get help and not to get out of being arrested if police are already on the scene. The law doesn’t apply if someone reports an overdose “during the course of the execution of an arrest warrant, or search warrant, or a lawful search.”

It’s important to note that the law doesn’t apply to more serious drug-related offenses like selling, distributing or trafficking. It also doesn’t apply if evidence of a non-drug-related crime is discovered by police when they arrive at the scene.

Because police who arrive on the scene may not always make a correct assessment of the situation, they’re protected under this law from criminal or civil penalties if they wrongly arrest someone. The law specifically protects people from being prosecuted. Therefore, if you’ve been wrongly arrested or if you believe that your actions should be considered if you were arrested for an offense other than drug possession, it’s crucial to get legal guidance as soon as possible. Call 859-495-1857 to learn about how we can help.