Pretrial

Good Samaritan Policies

Overview

The term “Good Samaritan” comes from a Bible story, where a traveling Samaritan stopped in the road to help a man who was injured, after he had been passed by several others.

As the opioid crisis has raged across America and drug overdoses have soared, states have looked for ways to decrease the number of fatalities from overdoses. Good Samaritan laws have emerged as a way to encourage reporting of overdoses by providing criminal immunity for those reporting the overdose. By shielding the individual reporting the overdose from prosecution for illegal drug use, Good Samaritan laws remove a powerful disincentive that can discourage individuals from seeking medical attention.

To ensure maximum benefit, Good Samartian protections should be broad, covering all individuals at the scene of an overdose and providing immunity from any drug-related charges stemming from the report. Additionally, immunity should be established without extra preconditions, like law enforcement cooperation or required treatment.

Paramedics resuscitating unconscious person. Doctor and assistant applying cardiopulmonary resuscitation to lying outside. Vector illustration for emergency, accident, first aid training concept
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Immunity from Charges

Does immunity extend to all drug-related charges, or only certain offenses?

50 points

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Immunity from Other Sanctions

Does immunity extend to other sanctions, like community supervision violations, violations of a restraining order, civil asset forfeiture, or others?

25 points

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Requirements

What requirements must be fulfilled for immunity to be established? Is the individual required to cooperate with other law enforcement investigations or required treatment?

15 points

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Extension of Immunity

Is immunity extended to both the individual experiencing the overdose as well as the individual reporting the overdose and anyone else present at the scene?

10 points

State Overview

Mississippi has a good Samaritan law that protects those who seek medical attention as well as those experiencing an overdose, but only in certain circumstances.

The law only provides immunity from prosecution for simple possession of very small amounts of controlled substances, leaving individuals liable for possession as little as five grams of a controlled substance. The state’s law could be improved by extending protections to all drug-related violations.

Details

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Immunity from Charges

Mississippi’s law provides only very narrow protections against charges for possession of very small amounts of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia. Even small, user-level amounts of a controlled substance are not covered by the law. Additionally, individuals acting in good faith could still be liable for possession with intent to distribute, sale or transfer of a controlled substance, or trafficking of a controlled substance.

10/50 points

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Immunity from Other Sanctions

While drug-related immunity is limited in the statute, Mississippi’s law provides broader immunity from other charges, including: supervision violations, restraining order violations, and civil asset forfeiture. This provision could be improved by extending immunity to alcohol-related charges, including public intoxication and providing alcohol to a minor.

20/25 points

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Requirements

Mississippi’s law imposes no additional requirements on individuals to receive immunity, they must simply be acting in good faith when seeking medical attention for the individual experiencing the overdose.

15/15 points

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Extension of Immunity

Immunity in Mississippi’s law extends to both the individual experiencing the overdose and the individual reporting the overdose, but does not explicitly protect other individuals in the immediate vicinity.

5/10 points

Sources

6. For more info, see Drug Policy AllianceNCSL, and NAMSDL 50 State Survey.
7. Miss. Code Ann . § 41-29-139
8. Ibid.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.