You are at a party doing some opioids or methamphetamines when one of your friends becomes unresponsive. You are afraid if you will be arrested if you call for help. But if you don’t, your friend may die.

What should you do?

This very dilemma has caused many unnecessary deaths. As of 2012, Illinois law fortunately offers some immunity to those seeking emergency care for themselves or another during an overdose. Under these circumstances, you may not be charged with possessing a controlled, substance if the evidence against you was discovered because you sought emergency help in good faith, and the amount of the substance was within certain limits. (See Overdose; limited immunity from prosecution).

A recent Illinois appellate decision, People v Teper, however, allowed the state to prosecute a woman who received emergency aid during an overdose. The court held that immunity applies to evidence acquired as a result of seeking medical assistance. In this case, the defendant had not called for help but was unconscious when police arrived after reports that a woman was slumped in her car. The police saw drug paraphernalia in the car before inferring that an overdose had occurred.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An experienced attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Maybe the overdose law protects you. If so, an attorney can petition the court in the hope of getting your case dismissed. Even if you don’t qualify for immunity and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to obtain a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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