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Can I be prosecuted for drug possession if I call 911?

You may have heard of the Good Samaritan law, but do you know how it relates to drug offenses in the state of Kansas? In general, Good Samaritan protections shield helpful bystanders from civil liability because of actions they take to help victims of car accidents and other injurious incidents. Some states take these protections even farther, prohibiting arrest in cases involving a friend who calls 911 for a victim who is suffering from a health emergency related to illegal drug use.

What does a 911 Good Samaritan Law do? These laws, which have been enacted by 20 states, provide limited immunity for those who seek medical attention for overdose victims. The person who calls 911 to seek help is generally protected from lower-level drug crimes if they summon emergency responders to help with an overdose.

Does the state of Kansas offer this type of broad-reaching protection? No. The fact remains that Kansas law does not shield those who call 911 to report drug-related health conditions. Those who seek help for their friends or family members may still be charged with a state or federal drug crime if they are found to be in possession of drugs when emergency responders arrive.

What does this mean for overdose victims? Public health officials report that 911 Good Samaritan laws help promote the use of emergency medical services in the event of an accidental drug overdose. In many cases, those who are with the victim at the time of the overdose are afraid of calling 911 because they fear police involvement and an arrest for drug possession.

If you have done the ethical and responsible thing by helping a friend who has suffered from an overdose, you could still be subject to criminal prosecution. The state of Kansas has not yet passed laws that provide such important public health protections. As a result, those who summon assistance to the scene of an overdose may need assistance, themselves, from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance, "Kansas Overview" Sep. 30, 2014

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