California is one of several states that have taken positive steps to tackle a significant factor contributing to overdose deaths. Namely, many people die because people are too scared to seek help for fear of arrest.
The Uniform Controlled Substances Act protects you from prosecution if you seek medical help because you are overdosing. Or if you seek it for someone else who is overdosing. However, the protection only covers being:
- Under the influence of a controlled substance
- In possession of a controlled substance for personal use
- In possession of a controlled substance analog
- In possession of drug paraphernalia
There must be a connection between what the police catch you with and what the person is overdosing on. You could still be prosecuted for having a different drug or unrelated paraphernalia. If you obstruct the police or medical services, you lose your rights to protection altogether.
You can still be prosecuted for other crimes
If you drive the person to the hospital while you are under the influence of illegal drugs, the police can prosecute you for the driving offense.
They can also charge you for offenses related to selling, exchanging or giving the drugs to someone or if they believe you forced the overdose victim or anyone else to take them.
Most other crimes would also be prosecutable. If, for example, you attack the dealer you believe gave your overdosing friend poor-quality drugs, you could be convicted of assault.
You cannot rely on law officers to give you the immunity the law provides. They may arrest you anyway and wait for a judge to sort it out. Getting legal help will be essential to protect your rights if facing criminal charges.