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"Good Samaritans" now shielded from potential drug charges

A conviction on drug charges can carry very serious criminal penalties including jail time and hefty fines. In the past, the friends and acquaintances of overdose victims were too afraid of being charged with a drug crime themselves to seek assistance for those in need assistance. In an attempt to change this, Governor Chris Christie recently signed a new bill into law that is intended to shield the individuals who report drug overdoses from potential drug charges.

Under the newly enacted New Jersey Emergency Response Act, overdose victims and others who might assist overdose victims seek medical help are now shielded from prosecution for drug crime charges. One of the major proponents of the new legislation was rock star Bon Jovi. Bon Jovi's daughter overdosed last year in New York. Charges against the rock star's daughter and another student were dropped on New York State's own Good Samaritan law.

Drug charges in New Jersey vary dramatically depending on the type of illegal substance involved and other factors such as quantity and prior arrests. Individuals arrested for drug crimes such as possession, drug manufacturing or intent to distribute need to understand their legal rights.. If the defendant in the matter was acting as a "Good Samaritan" at the time of their arrest it may be possible to have the drug charges dismissed entirely.

While overcoming a drug charge may seem like a monumental task at the time there are actually a number of strategies that may be available to challenge the prosecution's case. For example, understanding the circumstances of a particular case and the available protections - such as whether a person's conduct might fall under this new provision - is vital to developing a strong defense.. To develop the best strategy possible, however, it is important that defendants work closely and cooperatively with their counsel.

Source: CBS News, "Bon Jovi praises N.J. governor on drug overdose law," May 2, 2013

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