When does Minnesota law provide immunity from drug charges?

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If you’re the parent of a teen or young adult, you likely are aware that fatal drug overdoses remain at epidemic levels. Too many overdoses become fatal because the people who are with the overdose victim don’t call 911 or otherwise get emergency medical aid because they fear being arrested for their own drug use.

That’s why states throughout the country, including Minnesota, have enacted “Good Samaritan” immunity laws that protect those who seek help and those they seek help from from being charged and prosecuted for their personal drug use if it’s discovered only because they sought help.

A few details about Minnesota’s law

Under the law, a person who “in good faith” seeks medical assistance for someone suffering an overdose cannot be prosecuted for the “possession, sharing, or useof drugs or paraphernalia discovered as a result. This immunity extends to the person suffering the overdose – whether they get help for themselves or someone else seeks help for them.

There are a few requirements. Immunity is available only for the person who is the first to call for assistance and only if they remain on the scene and cooperate with authorities. The illegal items must have been found as the result of their call for help. 

Note that the law doesn’t apply to more serious drug-related crimes like sale and trafficking. It also doesn’t apply to non-drug-related crimes discovered at the scene. Nonetheless, the fact that someone sought help for a person in medical distress could potentially be considered a mitigating factor in charging them for those other offenses.

No law works perfectly in real life. Sometimes, police arrest people without knowing the full story. If you or a loved one has been charged with an offense covered under the law or for one not covered by the law based on evidence found because they sought emergency help, it’s important to get legal guidance as soon as possible.