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Are people who overdose charged with crime?

Posted on July 10, 2019

It may seem like someone who overdoses on heroine should get a criminal charge in Colorado. However, that is not how the law works. Obviously, this person has used drugs and has the drugs in his or her system, so why does law enforcement not immediately take them from the hospital and lock them up on drug charges? The answer is a little complicated.

While it is very clear the person has broken the law by purchasing and using an illegal substance, the National Conference of State Legislatures explains that the state has a Good Samaritan overdose immunity law. This law seeks to encourage people to get help for overdose situations by protecting them against criminal charges.

The idea is that if people are afraid of being charged with a crime, they will not seek help. This includes the person who is using and the people with the person. So, most states in the country have these laws that make it so they get immunity from charges.

Because the opioid epidemic has already taken so many lives, the government is looking for ways to help with this. Lawmakers feel that by charging someone with a crime when they seek help for an overdose, it is going to make them not call for help next time, which could lead to his or her death. They would much rather see people seek help than be too afraid of criminal charges. This has led to the immunity laws that say a person who overdoses cannot be charged with a crime. This information is for education and is not legal advice.