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Good Samaritan Law protects people trying to help

The plan worked too perfectly. Your friends got together on a Friday night for a house party. You drank beer, played games and everyone you invited showed up. Then, some people you didn't know came, and they were offering more than just alcohol to your guests. Your friend goes into a room and comes out later acting differently. You leave to talk to other guests, and then come to find him later passed out and unresponsive. What do you do?

By this point, the party is out of control. If the police show up, you think you'll get in trouble for having a party, but your friend needs help. Are there any good options here?

Using the Good Samaritan Law

The Pennsylvania legislature passed a Good Samaritan Law in September 2014 in response to the country's rising opioid epidemic. Today, the law can be used to grant immunity to both the person calling for help and the person in need of emergency care due to an overdose of a controlled substance.

Now, there is less of a reason to worry if you think you might otherwise be held responsible in some way for the harm to your friend. Tonight, you called for help, and your friend got the lifesaving care he needed. You get a ride to the hospital later that night to check up on your friend, but now police want to question you about what happened. Aren't you protected by the law?

There are exceptions for law enforcement written in the Good Samaritan Law. Therefore, it doesn't protect all people in all circumstances.

Police are still allowed to conduct an investigation

The first officer on the scene will provide medical care to your friend, but that doesn't mean you couldn't be subject to questioning later.

Here are two exceptions law enforcement has in the Good Samaritan Law.

  1. The law may not protect people suspected of delivery or distribution of a substance.
  2. The law may not prevent police from conducting an investigation or bringing evidence against the accused in court.

What should I do if I am questioned by police?

If the police want to know more about the events that led to your friend requiring medical care, you have a right to refuse to answer questions. It is okay to seek the help of a criminal defense attorney even if you think you've done nothing wrong.

The Good Samaritan Law can protect you the night of the call, and the Constitutional protections against self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure can protect you during an investigation.

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