Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Changes to Massachusetts Law

In April 2018, Governor Baker signed a bill into law which changed a variety of regulations in the state of Massachusetts. The motivation behind these numerous changes were to decrease the number of people who are sent to prison. One of the areas that was recently revised are “Good Samaritan” laws.

What are Good Samaritan Laws?

Massachusetts “Good Samaritan” laws protects people who experience drug overdoses as well as individuals who contact emergency services to help these individuals. These “Good Samaritan” laws were created to encourage individuals to promptly obtain medical assistance when drug overdoses occur without being afraid that doing so will result in a criminal conviction. This body of law has existed for some time and many states have similar versions, but the recent reforms to this area of regulation concerned two significant changes, which include the following:

  • Parole, Pre-Trial, and Probation Conditions: In accordance with the new law, an individual is given immunity from both criminal drug possession charges as well as any violations regarding parole, pre-trial release, or probation. This means that whenever a person makes a good faith request for medical assistance, any evidence that is obtained cannot be the basis of any criminal charges. If you do receive any charges as a result of these situations, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

  • Possession or Purchase of Alcohol by a Minor: This new law also grants protection of immunity to minors who are charged with possession or purchase of alcohol when there is a good faith request for medical assistance due to alcohol related incapacitation.

What are Drug Possession Charges?

It is important to understand the various laws in Massachusetts addressing drug possession to understand the significant amount of immunity that these “Good Samaritan” laws offer individuals. The exact penalties that a person faces concerning drug possession charges depend on the type of drugs that are found in his or her possession. Drugs are grouped from Classes A to F, with drugs that are classified as A resulting in the most severe penalties because these are viewed as the most dangerous type of drugs.

Being convicted of possession of a Class A substance results in a person facing two years in jail as well as additional fines. Subsequent penalties result in even more severe penalties. Possession of substances that are considered less than Class A drugs, however, often results in individuals facing less severe charges. If a person is charged with possession of a Class D substance, for example, he or she can end up facing six months in jail and fines of up to $500. By remembering “Good Samaritan” laws, though, individuals are often able to avoid these penalties altogether.

Speak with an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with a drug crime in Massachusetts, it can be overwhelming to decide how to proceed. While it is important to remember the existence of these “Good Samaritan” laws, it is also important to speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial free consultation.