North Carolina is a state that has been deeply touched by the opioid epidemic in the United States. Unfortunately, the problem only seems to be growing. Drug overdoses and deaths related to them are growing in the state each day.
The opioid crisis in the state exists in spite of the strict drug laws North Carolina has in place and new laws they are passing to increase penalties associated with drugs. It’s because of this that many people fear calling emergency services if someone is overdosing or to report if they are in distress.
The state does offer immunity to those who get help for an overdose in some circumstances, but this immunity can be complex to understand. Here’s what you need to know to help you understand if an overdose in North Carolina can lead to drug charges and arrests.
Overdose: What Does North Carolina Mean By Limited Immunity?
Under North Carolina law, limited immunity guidelines are set up to ensure those Good Samaritans who report overdoses aren’t charged. They also cannot receive any probation or have their parole revoked.
However, these guidelines must be met in order for them to have limited immunity:
When they sought medical assistance for the victim by contacting emergency services or law enforcement
- they believed they were the first to call for help, which is considered acting in good faith
- they gave their name to emergency medical services or police when they arrived on the scene
- the evidence collected for police and prosecution was obtained during the events that took place getting help for the overdose
What all that means is if a person is honestly seeking assistance for a person who is experiencing an overdose and they aren’t attempting to hide who they are or other information, then they are likely covered by state laws that provide limited immunity from prosecution. This limited immunity also applies to the person who is experiencing the overdose if the criteria are met.
Does Limited Immunity Cover All Drug Offenses in NC?
In our state, there are only certain drug offenses that will be covered by limited immunity. These include:
- Misdemeanor drug possession
- Possession of one gram or less of heroin
- Possession of one gram or less of cocaine
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
If you call emergency services to report an overdose and are found in possession of more than the above, then you may face criminal charges for it. So, while it’s still important to call for help if someone is having an overdose or to seek help if you think you are having an overdose, it’s equally important to understand the legal consequences of it.
North Carolina Drug Charges: Hiring an Attorney
After reporting an overdose or being treated for one yourself, it’s a good idea to contact an experienced drug crimes attorney to protect your rights. This applies to situations where someone supplied drugs that led to the overdose as well, since that can put you in legal jeopardy too.
While limited immunity may apply, the laws can be complex to understand and navigate and you don’t want to suffer penalties for doing the right thing to save a life, even if that life is your own.
If you are facing charges related to getting help for an overdose, contact an attorney as soon as you can in order to understand what charges you are facing.