Under the Good Samaritan Rule which is not valid in all states, someone could not be sued or prosecuted if, in good faith, they voluntarily rendered and/or summoned aid for an imperiled stranger. Under the American Bystander Rule a person would have to have the legal duty to act or aid, and be required to do so, if they are employed in some helping occupation, or if they have some other legal obligation which requires them to act a special, or familial, relationship with a person in distress.
In the United States, individuals do not have a duty to intervene when someone else is in danger. This is known as the American bystander rule and is different from the European rule that obligates intervention, called the Good Samaritan rule. There are exceptions to the American bystander rule, however. If one’s child, spouse, or employee is in danger, then an individual has an obligation to provide assistance. This can include situations like the need to obtain medical treatment.
Parents can be held responsible, for example, for the death of a child if it is clear that the child requires medical attention but the parents fail to procure such attention. A person also incurs a duty to act if that person causes another individual to be put in harm’s way. If someone voluntarily acts to assist another, then they also incur a duty and can be held responsible for what happens to the individual they are assisting. A duty to act may also be required by a contractual agreement between parties.
Possession is considered to meet the requirement for actus reus because it involves an act of obtaining the contraband, as well as an omission in the perpetrator’s failure to dispose of the contraband. In my opinion I think the American Bystander Rule is best because potential rescuers will have to carefully consider whether or not to attempt rescues. There is no legal duty to rescue or call for help to aid someone who’s in danger even if helping poses no risk whatsoever to the potential rescuer.
Courtney from Study Moose
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