Pittsburgh Prescription Drug Charge Lawyer
Just about every medicine cabinet in America has several prescription drug containers in it: medicines that people are currently taking for a particular condition, leftovers from past prescriptions, even medicine that is simply there “in case” someone needs it. Many of these medicines–especially pain relievers and tranquilizers—produce mind altering effects similar to drugs that are banned from commercial use. In the case of OxyContin/oxycodone and some amphetamines, the effects may well be stronger than many banned drugs. Our Pittsburgh prescription drug charges lawyer understands that many people, especially younger people, are tempted to use the prescription drugs to get high. Others who at some point have been prescribed these drugs legitimately may become addicted and seek larger and larger quantities, long after the need for the drugs should have passed. And students may obtain amphetamines to enhance their ability to study for extended periods.
In general, the unlawful possession, use, and distribution of prescription drugs involve several distinct groups of people:
- Younger people, often students, who either swipe the drugs from friends and family or buy small quantities and may informally trade them among their circle of friends;
- People who sell their prescription drugs to dealers, sometimes after having obtained the prescriptions specifically for that purpose;
- People who are in the business of selling prescription drugs that have been stolen or otherwise acquired in considerable quantity;
- Doctors and pharmacists who write or fill prescriptions knowing the drugs will be used illegally; this includes clinics that prescribe or otherwise supply prescription drugs to people they know intend to use them recreationally.
What Pennsylvania Laws Prohibit
When is it illegal to use or sell prescription drugs? That’s a complicated question. Pennsylvania does not single out “prescription drugs” as a specific category that it is unlawful to possess, sell, etc. Our state’s statute simply lists the individual drugs that are controlled substances and renders the possession, sale, etc. unlawful when the drugs are obtained, used, or transferred outside of proper medical channels. Many of those controlled substances are prescription drugs used by the medical community, which requires a determination of whether the possession, sale, etc., is lawful or unlawful, based on such questions as:
- Is the user the person for whom a legal prescription was written?
- Was the prescription forged or obtained by fraud?
- Did the user steal the drugs from someone else or buy them from someone else outside of the prescription process?
Pennsylvania specifically prohibits obtaining controlled substances by means of fraud or misrepresentation.
If the possession is unlawful, the penalties vary according to the specific drug that is involved. If you are charged with the more serious crimes of sale or distribution, the penalty again depends on the specific drug involved. Hiring an experienced Pittsburgh prescription drug crimes attorney can be the difference between a severe and lenient penalty.
Federal law has similar provisions prohibiting the transfer of prescription drugs in the absence of the legal right to prescribe them.
Fraud by Doctors and Pharmacists
Both Pennsylvania and federal law prohibit using professional credentials to transfer controlled substances to people who don’t legitimately need them by means of prescriptions. For example, Pennsylvania law specifically prohibits a practitioner or assistant from giving or administering any controlled substance unless it is done in good faith and as part of the patient relationship, in accordance with accepted principles of treatment.
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health care providers charged with these offenses not only face the general criminal penalties, but risk the loss of their professional license and all rights that come with it.
Federal law has similar provisions that prohibit doctors and pharmacists from selling, or even giving, prescription drugs to people who don’t have a legitimate need and a valid prescription for them.
Legal Help When You Need It From A Pittsburgh Prescription Drug Charges Lawyer
Being labeled a drug abuser does nothing good for your employment prospects and can limit your social prospects as well. Criminal drug charges stemming from prescription medications have just as great an impact on your life as other drug charges. Most people suffer a major and long term negative impact on their lives following a conviction.
Whether you are a doctor accused of writing phony prescriptions, the parent of a teenager accused of selling a bottle of pills to a classmate, or have more extensive involvement in the drug trade, charges of sale, distribution, or transportation of drugs threaten your future and the future of your entire family. Get the help of an experienced Pennsylvania drug crime lawyer and get it as soon as possible.
If you have been charged with a prescription drug offense in Pittsburgh or anywhere in Western Pennsylvania, contact prescription drug charges lawyer Gary Gerson today. Gary brings to the table 25 years of experience as a dedicated drug crimes lawyer, practicing in both the state and federal court systems. Having a skilled and competent legal advocate can make all the difference in the outcome of your case, so call at the very first indication that you could be charged. The sooner your lawyer becomes involved, the more options are available and the better the odds for a favorable outcome that will preserve your freedom and your future, so don’t delay. Contact the Gerson law offices now.