SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
ASSEMBLY, No. 578
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
DATED: JUNE 21, 2012
The Senate Judiciary Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 578 (1R).
This bill, designated the “Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act,” would protect a person from arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction if that person in good faith sought medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose, and the evidence for the offense was obtained as a result of the person’s efforts to obtain the medical assistance. The same prosecutorial immunity would also apply for a victim of a drug overdose who sought medical assistance or was the subject of a good faith request for such assistance.
The bill would protect the witness and victim of a drug overdose from arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction for: (1) obtaining, possessing, using, being under the influence of, or failing to make lawful disposition of, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog pursuant to subsection a., b., or c. of N.J.S.2C:35-10; (2) inhaling the fumes of or possessing any toxic chemical pursuant to subsection b. of section 7 of P.L.1999, c.90 (C.2C:35-10.4); (3) using, obtaining, attempting to obtain, or possessing any prescription drugs pursuant to subsection b., d., or e. of section 8 of P.L.1999, c.90 (C.2C:35-10.5); (4) acquiring or obtaining possession of a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog by fraud pursuant to N.J.S.2C:35-13; (5) unlawfully possessing a controlled dangerous substance that was lawfully prescribed or dispensed pursuant to section 9 of P.L.1999, c.90 (C.2C:35-24); and (6) using or possessing with the intent to use drug paraphernalia, or having under his control or possessing a hypodermic syringe, needle, or other instrument (N.J.S.2C:36-2 and N.J.S.2C:36-6);
In addition to immunity from arrest, charge, prosecution, or conviction for the above enumerated drug offenses, the bill also provides immunity for the witness or victim for: (1) violating a restraining order issued pursuant to the “Drug Offender Restraining Order Act of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.334 (C.2C:35-5.4 et seq.); (2) violating 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); (3) violating the conditions of probation; and (4) forfeiting property pursuant to the provisions of N.J.S.2C:64-1, except that prima facie contraband would still be subject to forfeiture.
The bill provides for an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of N.J.S.2C:35-9 (strict liability for drug-induced deaths), if the defendant proves that the evidence obtained for the prosecution occurred as a result of seeking or receiving medical assistance for a drug overdose.
In addition, the bill provides that for any other offense defined in chapter 35 (controlled dangerous substances) or chapter 36 (drug paraphernalia) of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, the act of seeking medical assistance for someone experiencing a drug overdose would be considered by the court as a mitigating factor in a criminal prosecution.
This bill is identical to Senate Bill No. 851, as amended and also reported by the committee today.