Montana certainly hasn’t been spared from the epidemic of opioid and other drug addiction that has swept the nation in recent decades. That’s why, in an effort to curb fatal overdoses, lawmakers have enacted a “Good Samaritan” law similar to those in many other states.
The “Help Save Lives From Overdose Act” provides immunity from prosecution from drug-related offenses discovered only because someone sought emergency treatment for another person or themselves if they were suffering an overdose or what they “reasonably perceived” to be an overdose.
The law is intended to prevent people from fleeing the scene of an overdose out of fear of arrest and leaving someone to potentially die (as has too often happened). It’s also intended to encourage people to call for help for themselves if they’re alone when they overdose. The law provides protections for both the person seeking help “in good faith” and the person for whom help was sought from “arrest, charge or prosecution” for drug-related offenses.
What else does the law say?
The law also protects:
- Those who are pregnant from facing charges if they are “seeking or receiving evaluation, treatment, or support services for a substance use disorder.”
- Those on “pretrial release, probation, furlough, supervised release, or parole” from having those revoked for allegedly committing the offenses covered under the law.
Further, if a person is arrested and charged with an offense not covered under this law, the fact that they sought help for someone can be “used as a mitigating factor” in their prosecution. The law doesn’t protect people from being charged with other types of offenses that police may find evidence for, such as theft, illegal weapons and more.
If you believe you were wrongfully charged with a drug-related offense after seeking help for yourself or someone else or if you believe your “good faith” actions should be considered for other types of charges you may be facing, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance to protect your rights and present your case.