Florida lawmaker wants to make sure someone in distress gets the help they need

Helping others in need -- many of us believe it's the right thing to do, but it's not the law.

We have laws on the books to protect you if you help someone during an emergency and something goes wrong. But what about laws that make it a crime if you don't help in the first place.

Earlier this year, teens in Central Florida recorded disturbing video of a man drowning. The teens didn’t help the man. Instead, they recorded the incident and made fun of him. The teens who took the video may not face any charges.

While Florida does have a statute that requires a person to report a death, the State Attorney's Office for Brevard and Seminole counties is still deciding whether it will apply here.

RELATED: Teens who filmed drowning may face charges

In the meantime, Florida State Sen. Debbie Mayfield is drafting a bill with the goal of holding people accountable if they don't step in to help or even call for help.

"These youths could have easily called on the phone they were videotaping on to get help instead of standing there and watching him drown. That's what we're trying to accomplish with this legislation. In situations like that, there is some punishment for individuals who record it and put it on the internet instead of calling for help for this gentleman so he wouldn't have drowned,” said Senator Mayfield.

Mayfield wants to make sure people who see someone in need of help call for help or step in if possible.

“Our society needs to stop videotaping horrible incidents like this and using phones to call for help instead of getting a shock factors to see how many hits they can get,” said Mayfield.

This type of law is not unheard of especially overseas.

"There are European countries that do have an obligation for citizens to intervene to make a good faith effort when something is happening before them. Manifestly before them. Somebody is drowning or injured in a car crash, you are there and expected to intervene or make a good faith effort, not just stand on the sidelines -- it's considered illegal to not make an effort to do something. To call police or help person stop bleeding -- whatever you can do,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, who specializes in Health Law, Policy and Safety at the University of South Florida.

But Wolfson says when it comes to putting something like this on the books in the United States, it may be difficult.

"In the United States we are careful to say there are moral obligations but we don't translate those things into legal responsibility," he said.

Again, this bill is just in the initial stages of being written. Mayfield is working with the State Attorney’s Office to avoid any unintended consequences.

A representative from the State Attorney's Office told us they are "working to research and address any potential legal ramifications that may arise in the application of the proposed law".

Mayfield hopes to have the bill drafted by November. 10News will stay on this story and let you know how it progresses.

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