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Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication Lawyers

By Spodek Law Group | February 13, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 18, 2023)

Last Updated on: 18th October 2023, 09:02 am


Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication Lawyers

Getting charged with criminal diversion of prescription medications can be scary. But their are options and defenses. This article will give you the information you need to understand the charges, potential penalties, and legal options if you are facing accusations of prescription diversion.

What is Prescription Diversion?

Prescription diversion is when someone gives away, sells, or otherwise transfers thier prescription medications to another person illegally. It’s also considered diversion if someone obtains extra prescriptions from multiple doctors with the intent to distribute or misuse the medications.

Some examples of prescription diversion include:

  • Selling your leftover painkillers to a friend or on the street
  • Giving your ADHD meds to a classmate to help them study
  • Visiting multiple doctors to get extra prescriptions for opioids to sell or abuse
  • Stealing medications from someone else to get high or self-medicate

Even if your intent seems harmless–like helping out a friend–diversion is illegal. The penalties can be severe depending on the circumstances.

Why is Diversion Illegal?

Prescription medications are controlled substances. That means thier distribution is regulated by law. Diversion circumvents these laws and can be dangerous. Diverted drugs often end up in the hands of people they weren’t prescribed for. This raises the risk of misuse, addiction, overdose, and other harm.

Different classes of prescription drugs have different diversion laws. But in general, transferring your prescriptions to someone else is illegal without proper medical supervision.

What are the Penalties for Prescription Diversion?

The specific penalties for diverting prescriptions depend on:
-What medication you diverted
-The quantity diverted
-Your criminal history
-The jurisdiction you are charged in

But potential penalties often include:

  • Misdemeanor or felony charges
  • Fines up to $250,000
  • Years in prison
  • Probation
  • Loss of prescription privileges
  • Loss of professional license (for doctors/pharmacists)

Penalties tend to be harsher if:
-You diverted opioids, stimulants, tranquilizers or other high-risk drugs
-You diverted large quantities for profit
-You have a previous record

But even “minor” diversion like sharing a few pills with friends can lead to criminal charges in many states.

What Should I Do if Charged with Diversion?

Being accused of prescription diversion can be scary. But the first step is simple – don’t panic! There are options and defenses. Here’s what to do next:

  1. Get a lawyer – Never try to handle diversion charges alone. A prescription diversion lawyer can help build your defense and negotiate reduced penalties.
  2. Stay quiet – Anything you say to police can be used against you. Invoke your right to remain silent until your lawyer is present.
  3. Follow pre-trial instructions – If released, follow all instructions for checking in with the court and probation office.
  4. Consider diversion programs – Many states offer pretrial diversion programs that can lead to dismissed charges after a probation period.
  5. Build your defense – Your lawyer may argue you lacked criminal intent, were entrapped, have an addiction issue requiring treatment, or that procedural errors occurred.

With an experienced attorney, many diversion cases can result in reduced or dismissed charges. Don’t go it alone.

While every case is different, some possible defenses to explore with your lawyer include:

Lack of Intent

Prosecutors must prove you knowingly and intentionally diverted medications illegally. Your lawyer may argue you lacked criminal intent – for example:

  • You didn’t realize sharing your meds was illegal
  • You were unaware the prescription wasn’t in your name
  • You were coerced or threatened into diverting your meds


If police pressured you into committing diversion, your rights may have been violated. This is called entrapment. Other diversion defenses focus on technical errors or violations in how your case was handled.

Improper Procedure

Examples include:

  • Illegal searches & seizures
  • False confessions obtained through coercion
  • Mishandling of evidence
  • Missing or inaccurate police reports
  • Miranda rights violations

Challenging procedural mistakes can sometimes lead to suppressed or thrown out evidence.

Addiction & Necessity Defenses

If addiction or dire medical need motivated your diversion, treatment-based diversion programs or necessity defenses may apply. This requires proof of actual necessity.

What is the Diversion Process Like?

Each state handles diversion a bit differently. But the general process often includes:

  1. Arrest & booking – If caught in the act, you may be arrested on the spot.
  2. Charging & bail – Prosecutors review police reports and decide what charges to file. You’ll appear before a judge for setting bail terms.
  3. Pre-trial – This involves meeting bail requirements, plea negotiations with your lawyer, and building your defense.
  4. Diversion hearing – If granted diversion, you’ll appear before a judge and agree to probation terms.
  5. Probation – You must comply with conditions like drug testing and treatment. Charges are dismissed after completion.
  6. Trial – If diversion is denied, your case may go to trial where a jury decides your guilt.
  7. Sentencing – If found or plead guilty, the judge determines your penalty within statutory guidelines.

An experienced lawyer can help negotiate the process and achieve the best outcome given your charges.

Finding the Right Diversion Lawyer

Don’t go through diversion charges alone. The right lawyer can make all the difference. Look for an attorney with experience handling prescription diversion cases in your area. Key credentials to consider include:

  • Graduated from a top law school
  • Member of the state bar association
  • Years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer
  • Strong record of diversion case results
  • Knowledge of local prosecutors and judges

Also look for good client communication skills and someone you feel comfortable with. Diversion charges are complex, but the right lawyer can help put together the strongest defense.

What’s Next After a Diversion Case?

The consequences after a diversion case depend on the outcome. Possible scenarios include:

  • Charges dropped – Best case, charges are dismissed after completing diversion probation.
  • Conviction – If found guilty, consequences include fines, jail time, probation, and a criminal record.
  • License suspension – For doctors/pharmacists, loss of a professional license is possible.
  • Treatment – Addiction counseling or drug rehab may be mandated.
  • Employment issues – Diversion crimes may impact future job opportunities.

Any diversion conviction remains on your record. Expungement may be possible after a period of time. Your lawyer can advise you on restoring your rights.

Takeaways: What to Know About Prescription Diversion

A few key takeaways about prescription medication diversion:

  • All forms of diversion like sharing, selling, or improperly obtaining prescriptions are illegal.
  • Penalties vary but can include huge fines and years in prison.
  • Never try to handle diversion charges without an experienced criminal lawyer.
  • Diversion programs are available in many states and may dismiss charges.
  • Valid defenses include lack of intent, entrapment, procedural issues, and necessity.
  • Good lawyers can negotiate reduced penalties or dismissed charges.

Prescription diversion laws are complex. But with the right guidance, many individuals avoid the harshest penalties. If you or a loved one are facing diversion accusations, don’t go it alone. Consult with a lawyer right away.


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