The opioid crisis has taken overdose numbers to new levels across the country. Many states have introduced Good Samaritan laws to try and tackle this growing problem.
Texas is known for taking a hardline on drug use, and its laws are not particularly understanding of those stuck in a cycle of drug addiction. Yet, in 2021, this state too introduced its version of a Good Samaritan law, albeit a more limited one than you’ll find in many other states.
The Jessica Sosa Act
The 2021 Jessica Sosa Act gives some people a defense to certain drug charges that result from a call to the emergency services to report a suspected overdose. They can be the victim themselves (when someone else called for help) or a bystander, provided they were the first to call 911, the situation was an emergency and they hung around and co-operated with the police.
Yet, the protection this law offers is extremely limited. A person cannot use the act in their defense if any of the following apply:
- They called for help while under arrest or while the police were conducting a warranted search
- They were committing another crime at the time (bar a certain few related to possession or usage)
- They have a previous drug conviction or were put on probation for drug offenses
- They had already called 911 to report someone overdosing in the previous 18 months
It’s also a one-off defense. Once you use it, you can never do so again.
All things considered, many will still face the dilemma between calling 911 to try and save their own life/someone else’s or staying silent to save themselves from legal trouble. As such, getting help to explore your legal defenses will be crucial if you find yourself charged after trying to help yourself or someone else out in this way.