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Criminal Justice Reform Bill: Expansion of “Good Samaritan Law” for Drug Possession
On April 13, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a new bill that made a number of important changes to the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System. The Attorneys at Coughlin Law Group paid close attention in order to best serve our clients. One part of the law that was amended was the “Good Samaritan Law.”
The “Good Samaritan Law” (G.L. c. 94C, § 34A), protects from criminal prosecution people who experience drug overdoses, and people who call for emergency medical help for another person experiencing a drug overdose. The law was put in place in order to encourage people to seek medical assistance for drug overdoses, without fear that criminal charges will result. Essentially the law immunizes prosecution for charges of drug possession where a person makes a good-faith request for medical assistance after a drug overdose. While this law has been in existence for some time, the new reform bill makes two major expansions to the bill.
Probation/Parole/Pre-Trial Condition Violations
First, under the new bill, a person is not only is given immunity for criminal drug possession charges, but also from being found in violation of probation, parole, or any conditions of pre-trial release. As such, when a good faith request for medical assistance is made, any evidence seized cannot be the basis of a violation of any conditions. If you are issued a notice of a probation violation for drug possession or any other reason, contact a probation violation attorney in order to address the situation and minimize any potential consequences.
Purchase or Possession of Alcohol by a Minor
Another additional protection added in the new bill is the grant of immunity from charges of possession or purchase of alcohol by a minor, where there is a good-faith request for medical assistance based upon ”alcohol-related incapacitation.” These protections serve the same purpose as the other provisions of the “Good Samaritan Law,” while further expanding its protections. If you are charged with possession or purchase of alcohol by a minor, call an experienced defense attorney who can assist you in fighting this charge.