Good Samaritan Law for Ovedoses is clarified, effect 8/1/15

When you call 911 for help for a drug overdose, you and the person who overdoses are immune from prosecution for simple possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, drug paraphernalia, et cetera.  Contraband will be seized by the police, but possession of 1 gram or less shall not be prosecuted, pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 90-96.2. Limited Immunity for Samaritan. – A person shall not be prosecuted for any of the offenses listed in subsection (c3) of this section if all of the following requirements and conditions are met:
  • (1) The person sought medical assistance for an individual experiencing a drug-related overdose by contacting the 911 system, a law enforcement officer, or emergency medical services personnel.
  • (2) The person acted in good faith when seeking medical assistance, upon a reasonable belief that he or she was the first to call for assistance. (3) The person provided his or her own name to the 911 system or to a law enforcement officer upon arrival.
  • (4) The person did not seek the medical assistance during the course of the execution of an arrest warrant, search warrant, or other lawful search. Page 2 Session Law 2015-94 Senate Bill 154-Ratified
  • (5) The evidence for prosecution of the offenses listed in subsection (c3) of this section was obtained as a result of the person seeking medical assistance for the drug-related overdose.
The immunity described in subsection (b) of this section shall extend to the person who experienced the drug-related overdose if all of the requirements and conditions listed in subdivisions (1), (2), (4), and (5) of subsection (b) of this section are satisfied. Full text of the updated statute: Good Samaritan Law Clarified Read more "Good Samaritan Law for Ovedoses is clarified, effect 8/1/15"

Narcan Opiate Overdose Emergency Kits Available for FREE

The Harm Reduction Coalition of of Asheville is providing much needed Narcan kits for those in need in Asheville.  They have kits that consist of two vials of Narcan and syringes with instructions, and they have a few kits of Narcan Auto injectors, for people who are not comfortable with needles.   You can buy Narcan kits at Pharmacies, but the auto injector kits are expensive, running $700-$800 .  This is life saving technology available for free.

Confidential Contacts for information and kits.

What is Narcan™ (naloxone)?

Narcan™ (naloxone) is an opiate antidote. Opioids include heroin and prescription pain pills like morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin. When a person is overdosing on an opioid, breathing can slow down or stop and it can very hard to wake them from this state. Narcan™ (naloxone) is a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. It cannot be used to get a person high. If given to a person who has not taken opioids, it will not have any effect on him or her, since there is no opioid overdose to reverse.

How does Narcan™ (naloxone) work? 

If a person has taken opioids and is then given Narcan™ (naloxone), the opioids will be knocked out of the opiate receptors in the brain. Narcan™ (naloxone) can help even if opioids are taken with alcohol or other drugs. After a dose of  Narcan™ (naloxone), the person should begin to breathe more normally and it will become easier to wake them. It is very important to give help to an overdosing person right away. Brain damage can occur within only a few minutes of an opioid overdose as the result of a lack of oxygen to the brain. Narcan™ (naloxone) gives concerned helpers a window of opportunity to save a life by providing extra time to call 911 and carry out rescue breathing and first aid until emergency medical help arrives.

Doesn’t a person need to be a medical professional to be able to spot a serious overdose and give Narcan™?  Research has shown that with basic training, nonmedical professionals, such as friends, family members or even concerned bystanders, can recognize when an overdose is occurring and give Narcan™ (naloxone), and in North Carolina, you are protected from civil liability for giving Narcan by the Good Samaritan Law.

 NCGS § 90-96.2 Good Samaritan/ Naloxone Access law, effective April 9, 2013, states that individuals who experience a drug overdose or persons who witness an overdose and seek help for the victim can no longer be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of drugs, paraphernalia, or underage drinking.  The purpose of the law is to remove the fear of criminal repercussions for calling 911 to report an overdose, and to instead focus efforts on getting help to the victim. The Naloxone Access portion of  NCGS § 90-96.2 removes civil liabilities from doctors who prescribe and bystanders who administer naloxone, or Narcan, an opiate antidote which reverses drug overdose from opiates, thereby saving the life of the victim.  NCGS § 90-96.2 also allows community based organizations to dispense Narcan under the guidance of a medical provider. As a result, officers may encounter people who use opiates and their loved ones carrying overdose reversal kits that may include Narcan vials, 3cc syringes, rescue breathing masks and alcohol pads.

Is the use of naloxone by non-medical people controversial?

No.  Recently the American Medical Association endorsed the training of lay people in the use of Narcan (naloxone) to prevent overdoses.  Also the director of Office of National Drug Control Policy,Gil Kerlikowski (the U.S. Drug Czar), remarked that naloxone distribution is a key component of overdose prevention.

Can Narcan™ (naloxone) harm a person?       

No. Narcan™ (naloxone) only affects people who are using opioids. If a person is not having an overdose but has been using opioids, Narcan™ (naloxone) will put them into immediate withdrawal. This can be very uncomfortable for the person, but is not life threatening.

Read more "Narcan Opiate Overdose Emergency Kits Available for FREE"

Overdose Awareness Free Naxolone Training & Kits August 29, 2015 6:30-9pm, Firestorm Books 610 Haywood Rd.

Free Narcan Kits and Training Saturday, 8/29 6:30-9 at Firestorm Book Store at 610 Haywood Rd. Drop in for a few minutes and save a life. Narcan is treatment for opiate overdose that is safe, fast acting, and effective. Narcan is legal to give to anyone who has OD'd on Heroin, Fentanyl, Morphine, Oxy - most opiates. Life saving information and life saving medicine. If someone you love is an opiate user, you need to be there.   In preparation for International Overdose Awareness Day (8/31), the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition will be hosting a drop-in naloxone training. Kits will be distributed to participants at no cost. Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) is a medication called an “opioid antagonist” used to counter the effects of opioid overdose, for example morphine and heroin overdose. Specifically, naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication.  Citizens who give Narcan to someone who has overdosed is protected from civil liability under the Good Samaritan Law which also protects users from prosecution when they call for medical aid. The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) is North Carolina’s only comprehensive harm reduction program. NCHRC engages in grassroots advocacy, resource development, coalition building and direct services for law enforcement and those made vulnerable by drug use, sex work, overdose, immigration status, gender, STIs, HIV and hepatitis. Firestorm Books & Coffee
610 Haywood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806
https://www.facebook.com/events/492684954221185/
  Read more "Overdose Awareness Free Naxolone Training & Kits August 29, 2015 6:30-9pm, Firestorm Books 610 Haywood Rd."

It was the district attorney’s job to protect the rule of law rather than to ignore wrongdoing by law officers…

Orange County D.A. Office removed from Murder Case Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals ruled Thursday that prosecutors had shown a "chronic failure" to comply with orders to turn over evidence to the defense, and had so far deprived Dekraai — who has pleaded guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder — of his right to a fair penalty-phase trial, in Orange County, California. The legal wrangling involved how Dekraai came to occupy a jail cell next to a prolific jailhouse informant. Prosecutors and jailers said it was a coincidence, but Dekraai's attorney insisted it was part of a widespread operation to elicit incriminating remarks from defendants who were represented by lawyers, a violation of their rights. Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas' conflict of interest in the Dekraai case "is not imaginary," the judge wrote. "It apparently stems from his loyalty to his law enforcement partners at the expense of his other constitutional and statutory obligations." In hearings last year, the judge heard testimony from Orange County jailers Seth Tunstall and Ben Garcia, who belonged to the "special handling" unit that dealt with informants. Despite extensive questioning, however, neither made mention of secret jailhouse computer logs — called TRED records — with which both had extensive experience...The ruling marked a victory for Dekraai's defense attorneys, who said the district attorney's office had covered up wide-ranging misconduct in its zeal to put the killer on death row. On Oct. 12, 2011, Dekraai walked into the Salon Meritage and opened fire, killing his ex-wife, Michelle Fournier, 48, along with salon owner Randy Fannin, 62; Lucia Kondas, 65; Michele Fast, 47; Victoria Buzzo, 54; Laura Elody, 46; Christy Wilson, 47; and David Caouette, 64, who was shot as he sat in his car outside. Read more "It was the district attorney’s job to protect the rule of law rather than to ignore wrongdoing by law officers…"

How Much Prison Time? – There’s an App For That

Federal Sentencing Guidelines App The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are used as a guide for judges to determine how much time a person gets after pleading guilty or being found guilty at trial.  After a conviction, the government prepares a pre-sentencing report based on those guidelines to determine a recommended range of months in prison for the jude to consider.  This range is based on factors such as the offense, the dollar amount of the crime, previous criminal history, whether the person cooperated, was there a gun involved, etc.  In other words, it can be difficult to determine exactly how much time a person could spend in prison unless you are an expert.  But this is something that both the person going to prison and the victims of the crime might be interested in knowing before the actual sentence is imposed.  Lucky for us, there’s an App for that... The developer cautions that this is a professional tool, though it is available to anyone.  It is meant to be used by lawyers or professionals as an estimating tool.  Again, it is only a guide.  After all, the judge can sentence someone outside the guidelines...  Forbes Article by Walter Pavlo   Read more "How Much Prison Time? – There’s an App For That"

“Watch for Me, N.C.” Campaign August 4, 2015 in Asheville.

Asheville area earned the dubious distinction of having the highest pedestrian accident rate among the largest 10 metro areas in the state.  So the Police, Deputies and District Attorney are targeting these offenses.  As part of this campaign, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists could see more warnings and tickets as part of a campaign to cut accidents in the area, cited as having one of the highest collision rates in the state. Warnings and later tickets could happen for violations that include walking on the road when a sidewalk is present or riding a bike at night without lights. When you’re driving: • Yield to people in crosswalks. • Be prepared for bicyclists to take the whole lane — it’s their right if they need it. • Pass bicyclists only when it is safe to do so and be sure to give them plenty of room. When you’re walking: • Obey all pedestrian traffic signals. • Always walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can. • Look for cars in all directions before crossing a street or parking lot. When you’re bicycling: • Obey all traffic signals and come to a full stop at “stop” signs and red lights. • Ride in the direction of traffic. • Use front and rear lights and reflectors at night. • Use hand signals to indicate when turning. (NOTE: The city allows bicycling on sidewalks.) Find more at http://watchformenc.org. Read more "“Watch for Me, N.C.” Campaign August 4, 2015 in Asheville."

Same Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide

Same sex marriage is now legal in all fifty states. Agree or disagree, it is now the law of the Land. We ask you to join us in celebrating this decision on behalf of our GLBT friends and family members who now have the unqualified right to marry. Here is the opinion. It will be read and cited for decades to come. The Entire Case Holding: The right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. Same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. Baker v. Nelson is overruled. The State laws challenged by the petitioners in these cases are held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples. Read more "Same Sex Marriage Legal Nationwide"

Taking your Driver’s License, even for a moment, may be Unconstitutional

  At 11:30 p.m. on 30 April 2012, Lilesville Police Chief Bobby Gallimore was on patrol. He noticed a parked car in a gravel area near Highway 74, and stopped to see if the driver needed assistance. Before approaching the car, Chief Gallimore ran the vehicle’s license plate through his computer and was advised that the car was owned by Keith Leak (defendant). Chief Gallimore spoke with defendant, who told him that he did not need assistance, and had pulled off the road to return a text message. Chief Gallimore then asked to see defendant’s driver’s license, and determined that the name on the license – Keith Leak – matched the information he had obtained concerning the car’s license plate. After examining defendant’s driver’s license, Chief Gallimore took it to his patrol vehicle to investigate the status of defendant’s driver’s license. It was undisputed that Chief Gallimore had no suspicion that defendant was involved in criminal activity. Defendant remained in his car while Chief Gallimore ran a check on his license and confirmed that his license was valid. However, the computer search revealed that there was an outstanding 2007 warrant for defendant’s arrest. Chief Gallimore asked defendant to step out of his car, at which point, defendant informed Chief Gallimore that he “had a .22 pistol in his pocket.” Defendant was arrested for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon; the record does not indicate whether defendant was ever prosecuted for the offense alleged in the 2007 arrest warrant State v. Leak (whole case.) TLDR: Court of Appeals (with a dissent) held that the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated when an officer, who had approached the defendant’s legally parked car without reasonable suspicion, took the defendant’s driver’s license to his patrol vehicle. This does not mean checkpoints are now illegal. Checkpoints are still legal, even though they are by definition, stops absent reasonable suspicion, because they are specifically authorized by statute, as long as they follow the applicable law. Read more "Taking your Driver’s License, even for a moment, may be Unconstitutional"

U.S. Attorney announces new limits on asset seizures.

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 16, 2015
Attorney General Prohibits Federal Agency Adoptions of Assets Seized by State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies Except Where Needed to Protect Public Safety
Today, Attorney General Eric Holder issued an order setting forth a new policy prohibiting federal agency forfeiture, or “adoptions,” of assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies, with a limited public safety exception.  A federally adopted forfeiture – or “adoption” for short – occurs when a state or local law enforcement agency seizes property pursuant to state law and requests that a federal agency take the seized asset and forfeit it under federal law.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury, which has its own forfeiture program, is issuing a policy consistent with the Attorney General’s order and that policy will apply to all participants of the Treasury forfeiture program, administered by the Treasury Executive Office for Asset Forfeiture. “With this new policy, effective immediately, the Justice Department is taking an important step to prohibit federal agency adoptions of state and local seizures, except for public safety reasons,” said Attorney General Holder.  “This is the first step in a comprehensive review that we have launched of the federal asset forfeiture program.  Asset forfeiture remains a critical law enforcement tool when used appropriately – providing unique means to go after criminal and even terrorist organizations.  This new policy will ensure that these authorities can continue to be used to take the profit out of crime and return assets to victims, while safeguarding civil liberties.” The Attorney General ordered that federal agency adoption of property seized by state or local law enforcement under state law be prohibited, except for property that directly relates to public safety concerns, including firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography.  The prohibition on federal agency adoption includes, but is not limited to, seizures by state or local law enforcement of vehicles, valuables, cash and other monetary instruments.  This order is effective immediately and applies to all Justice Department attorneys and components, and all participants in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program.  The new policy will ensure that adoption is employed only to protect public safety, and does not extend to seizures where state and local jurisdictions can more appropriately act under their own laws. Both the Justice and Treasury Departments regularly review their asset forfeiture programs to ensure that federal asset forfeiture authorities are used carefully and effectively to take the profit out of crime, combat organized crime groups, and enable victim compensation, while ensuring that laws are followed, civil liberties are protected, and our constitutional system is strengthened.  Since 2000, the Justice Department has returned approximately $4 billion in forfeited funds to victims of federal crime.  Both departments will be part of the Law Enforcement Equipment Working Group, which will provide recommendations to the President regarding actions that can be taken to improve programs, like asset forfeiture, that help local law enforcement obtain equipment. The Justice Department’s policy permitting federal agencies to adopt seizures dates from the inception of the Asset Forfeiture Program in the 1980s.  The Treasury Department’s adoption policy has been part of its Asset Forfeiture Program since its inception in 1993.  At the time that these policies were implemented, few states had forfeiture statutes analogous to the federal asset forfeiture laws.  Consequently, when state and local law enforcement agencies seized criminal proceeds and property used to commit crimes, they often lacked the legal authority to forfeit the seized items.  Turning seized assets over to federal law enforcement agencies for adoption was a way to keep those assets from being returned to criminals.  Today, however, every state has either criminal or civil forfeiture laws, making the federal adoption process less necessary.  Indeed, adoptions currently constitute a very small slice of the federal asset forfeiture program.  Over the last six years, adoptions accounted for roughly three percent of the value of forfeitures in the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Program. The new policy applies only to adoptions, not to seizures resulting from joint operations involving both federal and state authorities, or to seizures pursuant to warrants issued by federal courts.  The policy does not limit the ability of state and local agencies to pursue the forfeiture of assets pursuant to their respective state laws.  Law enforcement agencies working on joint task forces are required to follow the 2015 Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity. attorney_general_order_prohibiting_adoptions
Read more "U.S. Attorney announces new limits on asset seizures."

Can the government take my money without arresting me for anything?

Yes.  But it appears the Federal Government is putting the breaks on a policy and practice of routine civil forfeiture of suspected illegal proceeds.  If this has happened to you or someone you care about, call us.  Those seizures can be contested in court, and a judge can order the police to return your money.  Jeff Welty discussed the issue on the UNC school of government website in detail On Friday, January 20, 2015, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced major new limits on asset forfeiture. In a nutshell, he put a stop to the federal civil forfeiture of assets seized by state and local law enforcement and “adopted” under the Equitable Sharing program. The details are a little fuzzy, but this may be a very big deal in the world of forfeiture, for reasons Jeff Welty, UNC School of Government, discuss below. New_Limits_on_Forfeiture   Read more "Can the government take my money without arresting me for anything?"