The explosion in overdose deaths from narcotics and prescription drugs across the nation has affected every state, and North Dakota is no different. However, North Dakota has now adopted a law to grant immunity to individuals who reach out for help and medical assistance for individuals suffering from a drug overdose.
North Dakota has a statute that codifies its version of a “Good Samaritan” law, as it relates to protecting individuals who seek medical help for those in need of medical treatment for overdosing on controlled substances. The “Good Samaritan” law, in general, states an individual is immune from criminal prosecution in many drug charges, if in good faith that individual seeks medical assistance for another individual in need of emergency medical assistance due to a drug overdose. This law only applies to certain drug charges (marijuana is excluded). Also, this law doesn’t apply to those seeking medical assistance during the course of the execution of an arrest warrant or search warrant or during a lawful search.
To receive immunity under the North Dakota “Good Samaritan” law, the person must complete a few steps. First, the individual receiving immunity must have remained on the scene until assistance arrived. Second, the individual must cooperate with the medical treatment of the reported drug overdosed individual. Finally, the overdosed individual must be in a condition a layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug overdose requiring immediate medical assistance.
This law is designed to help save lives, though it is not a green light to use or be in possession of drugs. Neither the individual who experiences a drug-related overdose and is in need of emergency medical assistance nor the cooperating individual seeking medical assistance may be charged or prosecuted for the criminal offenses listed in this section or for the sharing of controlled substances among those present. Immunity from prosecution under this section does not apply unless the evidence for the charge or prosecution was obtained as a result of the drug-related overdose and the need for emergency medical assistance.
It is important for anyone charged with a criminal offense to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney, even if the appearance is via electronic means. Criminal charges can be intimidating and also lead to confusion regarding a criminal defendant’s rights. If you have a charge pending or an investigation ongoing, seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you navigate through this process.