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Does California's New Assisted-Suicide Law Mean I Can Help my Terminally-Ill Relative Die with Dignity?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Oct 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

Unless you are a physician and the other person is your patient, the answer is no.

In September 2015, California's legislature approved the state's first-ever "assisted-suicide" law.

This new law allows doctors to help terminally-ill patients end their lives without worrying about criminal penalties. It has received praise from people who advocate for the option of "death with dignity" for those who have only a short time left to live.

But it is important to note that this law applies only to doctors. Ordinary people who want to help their terminally-ill friends or relatives die a peaceful, painless death still have to worry about charges under Penal Code 401 PC, California's law against aiding a suicide.

If you help a sick friend purchase pills or a gun so that s/he can end his/her life, for example, you will be subject to felony penalties under that law.

And if you go a step further and actually kill a terminally-ill friend at their request, then you can be charged with California murder--even if the "victim" wanted your assistance in dying.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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