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Appeals court overturns drug conviction under Good Samaritan law

On June 8, it was reported that a Florida man who was convicted on drug possession charges had the conviction overturned under the state’s “Good Samaritan” law. This law, which was passed in 2012, protects individuals from prosecution for drug-related charges if they seek medical assistance for others who overdose as long as they are acting in “good faith.”

The man and two of his friends were using heroin in December 2016 when one of the friends suffered an overdose and suddenly stopped breathing. The man called emergency services and used the instructions provided by the 911 operator to offer aid until help arrived. However, the appeals court argued that the man had initially refused to allow entry for the first responders and that he had left the overdosed woman briefly unattended. While the woman did survive, the man was eventually charged with the possession of both heroin and marijuana that were seized from the home.

Initially, the man had sought to have the charges dismissed under the 2012 “Good Samaritan” law. However, the dismissal was rejected by a Duval County circuit judge. The man ultimately pleaded guilty to the charges but appealed the decision. The appeals court overturned the decision, saying that the man met the law’s “good faith” purpose.

Those who are convicted on drug charges, such as possession of heroin, could face serious consequences, including jail time. However, there are a few defense strategies a criminal law attorney may utilize. In some cases, legal counsel could provide proof that any drugs that were found did not belong to the accused person. If the defendant is convicted, the attorney may appeal the decision, especially if the person may potentially be protected under a “Good Samaritan” law.