SENATE, No. 851

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2012 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JOSEPH F. VITALE

District 19 (Middlesex)

Senator  LORETTA WEINBERG

District 37 (Bergen)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senators Lesniak, Whelan, Bateman, Turner, A.R.Bucco and Scutari

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Extends limited protection from certain penalties if medical assistance is sought for drug overdose victim in certain cases.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning drug overdose prevention and supplementing Title 2C of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act.”

 

     2.  The Legislature finds and declares that encouraging witnesses and victims of drug overdoses to seek medical assistance by protecting them, in instances where evidence was gained as a result of the seeking of medical assistance, from: arrest, charge, prosecution, and conviction; penalties for parole and restraining order violations; and civil forfeiture of property; saves lives and is in the best interests of the citizens of this State.

 

     3.  As used in this act:

     “Drug overdose” means an acute condition including, but not limited to, physical illness, coma, mania, hysteria, or death resulting from the consumption or use of a controlled dangerous substance or another substance with which a controlled dangerous substance was combined and that a layperson would reasonably believe to be a drug overdose that requires medical assistance.

     “Share” or “sharing” means providing a controlled dangerous substance, drug paraphernalia, or a hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any other instrument adapted for the use of a controlled dangerous substance or a controlled substance analog to another person without consideration or compensation.

 

     4.  a.  A person who, in good faith, seeks medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose shall not be:

      (1) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for obtaining, possessing, using, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance pursuant to N.J.S.2C:35-10;

     (2) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for possessing an imitation controlled dangerous substance pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-11;

     (3) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for using or possessing with the intent to use drug paraphernalia pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36-2 or for possessing a hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any other instrument adapted for the use of a controlled dangerous substance or a controlled substance analog pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:36-6;

     (4) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for sharing or possessing with the intent to share a controlled dangerous substance, drug paraphernalia, or a hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any other instrument adapted for the use of a controlled dangerous substance or a controlled substance analog;

     (5) subject to the any of the penalties prescribed in section 5 of P.L.1999, c.334 (C.2C:35-5.8) for a violation of a restraining order issued pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1999, c.334 (C.2C:35-5.7);

     (6) subject to any sanction for a violation of a condition of parole as provided in sections 16 through 21 of P.L.1979, c.441 (C.30:4-123.60 through 30:4-123.65);

     (7) subject to the revocation or modification of the conditions of probation; or

     (8) subject to the provisions of N.J.S.2C:64-1 concerning property subject to forfeiture except that prima facie contraband shall be subject to forfeiture.

     b.  The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall only apply if:

     (1) the person seeks medical assistance for another person who is experiencing a drug overdose and is in need of medical assistance; and

     (2) the evidence for an arrest, prosecution, conviction, penalty, violation, revocation, modification, or seizure was gained as a result of the seeking of medical assistance.

 

     5.  a.  A person who experiences a drug overdose and who seeks medical assistance or is the subject of a good faith request for medical assistance pursuant to section 4 of this act shall not be:

     (1) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for obtaining, possessing, using, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance pursuant to N.J.S.2C:35-10;

     (2) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for possessing an imitation controlled dangerous substance pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:35-11;

     (3) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for using or possessing with the intent to use drug paraphernalia pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36-2 or for possessing a hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any other instrument adapted for the use of a controlled dangerous substance or a controlled substance analog pursuant to subsection a. of N.J.S.2C:36-6;

     (4) arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for sharing or possessing with the intent to share a controlled dangerous substance, drug paraphernalia, or a hypodermic syringe, hypodermic needle, or any other instrument adapted for the use of a controlled dangerous substance or a controlled substance analog;

     (5) subject to the any of the penalties prescribed in section 5 of P.L.1999, c.334 (C.2C:35-5.8) for a violation of a restraining order issued pursuant to section 4 of P.L.1999, c.334 (C.2C:35-5.7);

     (6) subject to any sanction for a violation of a condition of parole as provided in sections 16 through 21 of P.L.1979, c.441 (C.30:4-123.60 through 30:4-123.65);

     (7) subject to the revocation or modification of the conditions of probation; or

     (8) subject to the provisions of N.J.S.2C:64-1 concerning property subject to forfeiture except that prima facie contraband shall be subject to forfeiture.

     b.  The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall only apply if the evidence for an arrest, prosecution, conviction, penalty, violation, revocation, modification, or seizure was gained as a result of the seeking of medical assistance.

 

     6.  The act of seeking medical assistance for someone who is experiencing a drug overdose shall be considered a mitigating circumstance in a criminal prosecution for a violation of an offense defined in chapter 35 or 36 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     7.  Notwithstanding any other law, rule, or regulation to the contrary, it shall be an affirmative defense in any criminal prosecution for a violation of N.J.S.2C:35-9 if evidence was gained as a result of seeking or receiving medical assistance pursuant to section 4 or 5 of this act.

 

     8.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     The Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act is intended to save lives in the State of New Jersey by providing timely medical attention to the victims of drug overdoses.  Deaths from drug overdoses are the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey, but many of these deaths could be prevented if medical assistance were sought immediately.  It is the sponsor’s intent to address the fear of arrest and prosecution which prevents people from seeking appropriate assistance in the face of a medical emergency by offering limited protection from certain drug charges. 

     The bill protects the witness and victim of a drug overdose from being subject to:

·        an arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction for: (1) obtaining, possessing, using, or being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance; (2) possessing an imitation controlled dangerous substance; (3) using or possessing with the intent to use drug paraphernalia or for possessing a hypodermic syringe or needle; (4) sharing or possessing with the intent to share a controlled dangerous substance, drug paraphernalia, or a hypodermic syringe or needle;

·        any penalty prescribed for a violation of a restraining order;

·        any sanction for a violation of a condition of parole;

·        the revocation or modification of the conditions of probation; or

·        civil forfeiture, except for prima facie contraband. 

     In addition, the bill specifies that the act of seeking medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose is to be considered by the court as a mitigating factor in a prosecution for other drug offenses and that the act of seeking medical assistance is an affirmative defense against a prosecution for strict liability for a drug-induced death.