New York has strong laws on the books when it comes to prescription drug fraud. Criminal diversion of prescription medications is something New York state law takes very seriously. This article should provide a starting point for educating yourself on this offense. Criminal diversion of prescription medication and prescriptions – which is covered under NY Penal Law section 178.10, 178.15, 178.20 and 178.25) can range in penalty from a “Class A” misdemeanor — which is punishable with up to one year in jail — or to a Class C felony – which is punishable with up to 15 years in a state prison.
In order to understand what you’re facing – when charged with Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication and Prescriptions, you need to understand what the criminal diversion act is. Penal Law 178, a “criminal diversion act,” is an act where someone transfers, delivers, or receives, something of financial value in exchange for a prescription medication – or device, which the recipient has no medical need for, or prescription for. The statute is clear – that as long as one has reasonable grounds to understand the recipient didn’t need the medication – he shouldn’t have given it. Transferring, or receiving, in exchange for money – satisfies the “criminal diversion act,” component.
There are a few different degrees when it comes to criminal diversion of prescription medications.
Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 4th Degree – NY PL 178.10
Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 3rd Degree – NY PL 178.15
Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 2nd Degree – NY PL 178.20
Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications in the 1st Degree – NY PL 178.25
Fourth Degree Diversion
You are guilty of Penal Law 178.10, if you commit a criminal diversion as listed above. This is a Class A Misdemeanor, and punishable by up to 1 year in jail.
Third Degree Diversion
You are guilty of Penal Law 178.15, when you commit a criminal diversion act. The value has to be greater than $1,000 from the act. If it’s less than $1,000 – and you were previously convicted in the 4th degree, then your new charge is bumped up to third degree. This is a Class E felony, and punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
A person guilty of Penal Law 178.15, is guilty of a second degree of criminal diversion act. The value of the fraud perpetrated must be greater than $3000. This is a D felony, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
A person is guilty of Penal Law 178.15 if the person commits a criminal diversion act of a value greater than $50,000. The crime is punishable by up to 15 years in a state prison.
There are no cookie cutter criminal defense strategies to these charges. There are certain level facts, and points, which can be beneficial to your case. Certain points/elements can help mitigate your case, or have it dismissed. New York Penal Law sets forth possible defenses. For example, if you were a doctor and were authorized to administer the prescription, and you did it in good faith – with no malice intent, then you have a defense. If you are someone who has a condition, and were looking for treatment for that condition – and pursued that treatment in good faith – then you have a possible defense. As long as there is a legitimate or valid reason, you have a defense for mitigating and/or having the case dismissed.
Another possible defense is identifying what proof the prosecutor has. For example, videos, confessions, or the actual drugs themselves. If you were the victim of a sting operation, and were entrapped, or had the drugs planted on you – then this could be sufficient grounds to ask for a dismissal of charges or reduction. If the prosecutor doesn’t have the drugs you allegedly sold – then the prosecutors case is much weaker. There are numerous legal grounds, which can help improve your situations.
Often, Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication can also result in other charges such as grand larceny, health care fraud, insurance fraud, and criminal sale of a prescription of a controlled substance.
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