New York has some of the toughest drug laws in the United States. Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that a “surge” of Drug Enforcement Administration agents and investigators will be focusing on pharmacies and prescribers that they say are dispensing out an unusually high number of medications.
While these initiatives have been effective in many ways, they have also put many healthcare providers under investigation that do not overprescribe medications. In addition, many don’t know that there are multiple types of prescription drug charges that providers, as well as individuals, can be charged with. It’s essential to know what these are and how drug defense lawyers can help defend you.
Prescription Drug Fraud
In the state of New York, there are two kinds of prescription drug fraud. The first involves writing fraudulent prescriptions using medical prescription pads. This could either be the medical professional or healthcare provider using his or her own name to knowingly write false prescriptions or overprescribe a medication to a patient.
The second type of prescription drug fraud involves hiring individuals to obtain for them addictive prescription drugs from their doctors. Prescription drug fraud is considered a third or fourth-degree felony under federal law and can carry punishments of up to 18 months in prison, fines of up to $30,000, or both.
Common New York Prescription Drug Charges
New York divides controlled substances (CS) into five schedules. Schedule l is considered the most potentially addictive with the following schedules up to Schedule V decreasing in potential addictive qualities and probability of abuse. In 2010, there were 139 million prescriptions for hydrocodone dispensed, making it the most frequently prescribed opioid in the U.S.
The U.S. Senate passed the FDA Safety and Innovation Act in May 2012 that reclassified all products containing hydrocodone from Schedule lll to Schedule ll drugs because of their addictive qualities and high change of abuse among users. As such, punishments are now more severe for these types of drug offenses.
In New York, it’s illegal to possess CS without a valid medical prescription, and the severity of punishment will vary based on amount and type of drug found, if it’s a first or second offense, or if the act was considered violent.
A “felony drug offender” means a defendant who is convicted of any felony. Under New York State Penal Law (PEN § 70.70), the following applies to felony drug offenders:
Class B: at least one year in prison and not exceeding nine years, except for the criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near a school grounds, on a school bus, or the sale of a controlled substance to a child; in this case, the term will be at least two years and not exceed nine years
Class C: at least one year and not exceeding five and one-half years
Class D: at least one year and not exceeding two and one-half years
Class E: at least one year and not exceeding one and one-half years
Keeping in mind the history and character of the defendant, the court may decide that one convicted of a felony drug offense could receive a term of one year or less.
A second felony drug offender is one whose prior felony conviction was not a violent felony. The following applies to second felony drug offenders:
Class B: at least two years and not exceeding twelve years
Class C: at least one and one-half years and not exceeding eight years
Class D: at least one and one-half years and not exceeding four years
Class E: at least one and one-half years and not exceeding two years
A second felony drug offender who was also previously convicted of a violent felony shall receive the following:
Class B: at least six years and not exceeding fifteen years
Class C: at least three and one-half years and not exceeding nine years
Class D: at least two and one-half years and not exceeding four and one-half years
Class E: at least two years and not exceeding two and one-half years
Penalties for the sale or trafficking of prescription drugs in New York will vary depending on the amount, type of drug, and if minors were or would be involved. Charges range from first to fifth degree, with first being the most severe and punishable by:
A minimum of eight to 20 years in prison for non-major drug traffickers, followed by a five-year period of post-release supervision
At least 12 to 20 years in prison for second felony drug offenders
At least 15 years in prison with a maximum term of life imprisonment for major drug traffickers
Fines of up to $100,000
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Drugs
Those who are pulled over or arrested under the influence of drugs may face DWI charges in New York. Those convicted could face severe forms of punishment that will vary based factors such as age, substance impairing the individual, driver’s license status, and whether or not it is your first DWI offense. Most punishments will include jail time, license suspension or revocation, and/or fines.
Experienced Nassau County Drug Defense Lawyers
Prescription drug charges are considered severe offenses and can lead to harsh punishments in the state of New York. However, there are defenses that experienced drug defense lawyers can help you formulate after evaluating each and every aspect of your case. Our firm has been representing individuals for over 25 years in Nassau County. The experienced criminal defense lawyers at Foley Griffin work through the nuances of each of our clients’ unique and individual cases to protect their rights, help them avoid jail, and limit their likelihood of drug charges and convictions.
Contact our firm at (888) 966-8480 for aggressive legal representation against prescription drug charges.