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"

Asheville Police Text a Tip

Information from the community remains one of the most important tools officers use when cracking cases. Community policing, in the form of observations and tips, often offers the best set of eyes and ears a department has. That’s why the Asheville Police Department has many ways to make it easy and confidential to relay information to them. Text-a-Tip is the latest in a selection of opportunities for the community to report criminal activity and interact with the Asheville Police Department. The software, which enables tips through smart phones, already rivals the APD’s other tip lines in terms of volume. Since Text-a-Tip launched in July, the department has received 58 tips over the system, says APD Sgt. Michael Lamb, and the information has resulted in several arrests and drug seizures. “It’s a way to give us information in almost real time and at the same time remain completely anonymous.” Lamb says. “We need the eyes and ears out in the community. They know about things before we ever could.” The system allows people to text information to the APD through a third party provider, meaning the source of the tip remains anonymous. By texting and responding, the tipster and the officer can communicate back and forth. “This is technology that is comfortable and easy to use, especially for young people who are used to texting,” Lamb says. To use Tex-a-Tip, text “APDTIP” plus your message to 274637 (CRIMES) on your cell phone or mobile device (Note: standard rates may apply). A third party routes the message to an APD Criminal Investigations Supervisor who assigns it to the on-duty patrol commander. “We’re all set up for it,” Lamb says. “It goes straight to our smart phones.” Officers never see the phone number or identity of the person relaying information, and the tipster can end the conversation by texting “STOP.” Text-a-Tip is especially helpful when used alongside the mapping technology found atcrimereports.com that lets a viewer track calls for service around town and in their neighborhood. They can click on an icon and a window displays the type of crime under investigation. If the person has any information, he or she can report specifically about the incident through Text-a-Tip or on a personal computer through the WebTips link.   http://coablog.ashevillenc.gov/2012/11/texting-tech-helps-apd-get-community-crime-tips/ Read more "Asheville Police Text a Tip"

A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment.

Rodriguez v. United States, 575 U.S. __ (April 21, 2015). A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment. After an officer completed a traffic stop, including issuing the driver a warning ticket and returning all documents, the officer asked for permission to walk his police dog around the vehicle. The driver said no. Nevertheless, the officer instructed the driver to turn off his car, exit the vehicle and wait for a second officer. When the second officer arrived, the first officer retrieved his dog and led it around the car, during which time the dog alerted to the presence of drugs. A search of the vehicle revealed a large bag of methamphetamine. All told, 7-8 minutes elapsed from the time the officer issued the written warning until the dog’s alert. The defendant was charged with a drug crime and unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence seized from his car, arguing that the officer prolonged the traffic stop without reasonable suspicion to conduct the dog sniff. The defendant was convicted and appealed. The Eighth Circuit held that the de minimus extension of the stop was permissible. The Supreme Court granted certiorari “to resolve a division among lower courts on the question whether police routinely may extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct a dog sniff.”

The Court reasoned that an officer may conduct certain unrelated checks during an otherwise lawful traffic stop, but “he may not do so in a way that prolongs the stop, absent the reasonable suspicion ordinarily demanded to justify detaining an individual.” The Court noted that during a traffic stop, beyond determining whether to issue a traffic ticket, an officer’s mission includes “ordinary inquiries incident to [the traffic] stop” such as checking the driver’s license, determining whether the driver has outstanding warrants, and inspecting the automobile’s registration and proof of insurance. It explained: “These checks serve the same objective as enforcement of the traffic code: ensuring that vehicles on the road are operated safely and responsibly.” A dog sniff by contrast “is a measure aimed at detect[ing] evidence of ordinary criminal wrongdoing.” (quotation omitted). It continued: “Lacking the same close connection to roadway safety as the ordinary inquiries, a dog sniff is not fairly characterized as part of the officer’s traffic mission.”

Noting that the Eighth Circuit’s de minimus rule relied heavily on Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106 (1977) (per curiam) (reasoning that the government’s “legitimate and weighty” interest in officer safety outweighs the “de minimis” additional intrusion of requiring a driver, already lawfully stopped, to exit the vehicle), the Court distinguished Mimms:

Unlike a general interest in criminal enforcement, however, the government’s officer safety interest stems from the mission of the stop itself. Traffic stops are “especially fraught with danger to police officers,” so an officer may need to take certain negligibly burdensome precautions in order to complete his mission safely. On-scene investigation into other crimes, however, detours from that mission. So too do safety precautions taken in order to facilitate such detours. Thus, even assuming that the imposition here was no more intrusive than the exit order in Mimms, the dog sniff could not be justified on the same basis. Highway and officer safety are interests different in kind from the Government’s endeavor to detect crime in general or drug trafficking in particular. (citations omitted)

The Court went on to reject the Government’s argument that an officer may “incremental[ly]” prolong a stop to conduct a dog sniff so long as the officer is reasonably diligent in pursuing the traffic-related purpose of the stop, and the overall duration of the stop remains reasonable in relation to the duration of other traffic stops involving similar circumstances. The Court dismissed the notion that “by completing all traffic-related tasks expeditiously, an officer can earn bonus time to pursue an unrelated criminal investigation.” It continued:

If an officer can complete traffic-based inquiries expeditiously, then that is the amount of “time reasonably required to complete [the stop’s] mission.” As we said in Caballes and reiterate today, a traffic stop “prolonged beyond” that point is “unlawful.” The critical question, then, is not whether the dog sniff occurs before or after the officer issues a ticket . . . but whether conducting the sniff “prolongs”—i.e., adds time to—“the stop”. (citations omitted).

In this case, the trial court ruled that the defendant’s detention for the dog sniff was not independently supported by individualized suspicion. Because the Court of Appeals did not review that determination the Court remanded for a determination by that court as to whether reasonable suspicion of criminal activity justified detaining the defendant beyond completion of the traffic infraction investigation.

Author:

Jessica Smith

W. R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professor

School of Government

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CB 3330, Knapp-Sanders Building

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3330

T: 919.966.4105  |  http://www.sog.unc.edu/user/150

Follow me on Twitter

Read more "A dog sniff that prolongs the time reasonably required for a traffic stop violates the Fourth Amendment."

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?"