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"

Do you need a “do-over”? And what is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

Motion for Appropriate Relief   Did you get some bad advice?  Did you pay your ticket online without consulting an attorney?  Or you may have pled guilty due to coaxing by an officer or other unqualified party, and now your insurance has increased or you found out your license is suspended. If you believe your conviction was defective, there is a second chance available by a "Motion for Appropriate Relief" (MARs).  MARs can be filed for most criminal matters, including traffic violations, misdemeanors and felonies. For example, if you were convicted of a criminal offense and someone other than your attorney told you to plead guilty, that may be a defect that warrants an MAR. A MAR is a motion made after judgment to correct any errors that occurred before, during, or after a criminal trial or proceeding, including errors related to the entry of a guilty plea.  It is a legal mechanism that allows people who have been convicted of a crime to challenge their conviction because the conviction was obtained in violation of their Constitutional rights. The most common grounds raised in a MAR are:
  • violation of the right to effective assistance of counsel
  • Pleading guilty without advice of an attorney
  • Improper advice by unqualified parties such as police officers, DMV or Court personnel
  • newly discovered evidence
  • prosecutorial misconduct
  • actual innocence or
  • Illegality of sentence.
All the grounds for a Motion for Appropriate Relief under listed under N.C.G.S. § 15A-1415.    Under a related statute G.S. 15A-1414, a person convicted of a criminal offense may seek relief for any error that occurred before or during trial within 10 days after entry of judgment.   G.S. 15A-1417 describes the relief available when a court grants a motion for appropriate relief, including vacating of a conviction if the court finds it invalid for one of the reasons described in G.S. 15A-1415. An order vacating a conviction does not necessarily terminate the criminal case; the State may retry the defendant unless, in addition to vacating the conviction, the court enters an order dismissing the charges. The Court has the authority to order that an MAR or dismissal nunc pro tunc, a Latin phrase literally meaning "now for then," is a concept derived from the common law that is utilized by courts as clerical correction or as an equitable remedy. An order issued nunc pro tunc has retroactive legal effect, essentially modifying a previous order or entering an effective date of a court order retroactively. This can be critical when your license is suspended by DMV because of prior convictions that were obtained defectively.   Filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief can be very complicated depending on the case. An experienced attorney will review your case, and may need to interview witnesses, investigate the facts of the case, review the discovery that leads to new evidence, and review the entire history of the case from start to finish. Sometimes the court will require an evidentiary hearing to be held on the motion, where the lawyer will have to call witnesses, present evidence, and challenge the State's evidence, and make arguments to the court.   Hiring the right attorney for the job can be the difference between a winning motion and a losing motion.  Call today for a free consultation on whether an MAR is the right action for you. Read more "Do you need a “do-over”? And what is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?"

New Good Samaritan Law may be tested.

 Man drops off body at mission hospital.  His lips were blue. Every day in the United States, 113 people die as a result of drug overdose, and another 6,748 are treated in emergency departments (ED) for the misuse or abuse of drugs.[i] The State of North Carolina has recognized that sometimes the only people to witness an overdose are themselves using illegal drugs, and they may be afraid to call for help because they may get in trouble.  That is changing.  Good Samaritans have some legal protection in drug and alcohol overdose cases under a new law, as of April 2013 in North Carolina[ii].  If you witness someone experiencing an overdose from cocaine, heroin, or alcohol, and they need medical attention, call 911 for help and stay with them.  A new law that is designed to save lives, give protection to someone who acts in good faith to get medical treatment for someone experiencing a "drug-related overdose" meaning an acute condition, including mania, hysteria, extreme physical illness, coma, or death or conditions that a layperson would reasonably believe need immediate medical assistance.  The Good Samaritan shall not be prosecuted[iii] for misdemeanor drug possession, misdemeanor drug paraphernalia, felony possession of up to one gram of heroin or 1 gram of cocaine.  The same scheme applies to underage drinkers. When someone overdoses on opiates, including heroin, they may turn blue in their lips and nails, become unresponsive to screaming and shaking, stop breathing, have seizures and even die.[iv]  Sometimes they can be saved with an injection of Naloxone Hydrochloride, a fast acting opiate antagonist.  This law grants limited immunity to “anyone in a position to assist” who in good faith does assist by providing Naloxone to a person who overdoses on opiates. The related laws for underage drinking grant similar protections for underage drinkers who call for help for a friend who has drank too much, and needs medical help.  If you call for medical help under the good faith exception, you shall not be prosecuted for underage possession or consumption of alcohol. Bottom line, if someone needs immediate medical help, call for help.  When you call 911 for an ambulance, the police may come too.  The police may seize things they see in plain view that are contraband or illegal to possess, but at the end of the day, if you are a Good Samaritan acting in good faith to save someone from an overdose of heroin, cocaine or alcohol, you will not be prosecuted under the new laws.  Please tell your kids about this, they are the ones who are in real danger. Note: this is not blanket immunity from prosecution of all crimes.  The police will still do their job.  This new law gives limited immunity from some but not all drug crimes.  If you have questions, call us.  We are here to help. [i] http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/overdose/facts.html [ii] § 90-96.2 (possession of 1 gram or less of heroin, cocaine or related drug paraphernalia ) and§ 18B-302.2 (underage alcohol possession/consumption) [iii] http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S20v7.pdf [iv] Wikipedia Opioid Overdose Contact us. [contact-form subject='blog contact'][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Comment' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form] Read more "New Good Samaritan Law may be tested."