Last September, Texas enacted a law similar to one that many states across the country have. It’s a “Good Samaritan” law that offers some legal immunity to people who get emergency help for someone who is suffering an overdose and for overdose victims if they seek emergency help for themselves.
The law protects people who call 911 or otherwise seek emergency medical aid for someone they believe is overdosing as long as:
- They’re the first to call or otherwise ask for help in a situation.
- The overdose or suspected overdose is currently happening.
- They remain at the scene and cooperate with medical and law enforcement personnel.
The law, known as the Jessica Sosa Act, offers some important protections that are designed to encourage more people to seek help, both for themselves and others, and to help minimize the number of overdose deaths.
There are exceptions under the law
However, some have expressed concern that there are too many limitations. For example, people are not protected from arrest and prosecution if:
- Police are in the process of an arrest or search when the overdose is reported.
- They are committing an unrelated crime at the time.
- They have previously been convicted of a felony.
A law professor at Texas A&M University says, “These caveats, in my opinion, and my experience in working in the federal government and seeing how laws were made….were political compromises.”
The law has only been in effect for less than six months. Therefore, there may still be some confusion around what situations people are protected from arrest. If you end up facing legal consequences after seeking help for someone or for yourself, it’s crucial to seek experienced legal guidance.