Oftentimes, when people hear about drug charges, they think of the “classic” illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc. However, there is an abundance of drugs which normally are perfectly legal, but which still can result in drug charges if legitimate prescriptions for their medical usage have not been issued by a doctor.
Illegally obtained prescription drugs are a growing problem in New York City. Recreational usage of prescription drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, Adderall, Valium, and Xanax — to name just a few of the more popular choices — has boomed across the nation in recent years. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that in 2008, opioid analgesics (like OxyContin and Vicodin) caused approximately 12,000 accidental overdose deaths — about twice as much as heroin and cocaine that year combined.
Illegally obtaining a prescription medication, or even just the prescription, is a serious crime in New York. Penalties range from a Class A Misdemeanor — at the very least — to a Class C Felony, all of which can lead to incarceration. If you or someone you love is facing these allegations, you need a New York City prescription charges attorney immediately. Call the law offices of Dietrich P. Epperson at (347) 561-0025 to arrange a free and confidential consultation, or schedule a meeting online.
Penalties for the Illegal Use of Prescription Medication in New York
Article 178 of the New York Penal Law covers illegal use of prescription medication in New York City and throughout the state. The specific legal term for these crimes is Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medication and Prescriptions.
Article 178 states, “A person is guilty of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions… when he or she commits a criminal diversion act.” A criminal diversion act is any act (or acts) in which an individual deliberately:
- transfers or delivers either a plain prescription or the actual prescription medication for payment, while knowing the recipient does not need the medication or prescription for medical purposes
- receives a plain prescription or the actual prescription medication, while knowing that the seller has no legal authority to sell the medication or prescription
Acts of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions range in severity from 4th to 1st Degree.
In accordance with Article 178, “A person is guilty of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the fourth degree when he or she commits a criminal diversion act.” This is a Class A Misdemeanor, which, in New York City, is punishable by up to a year in prison, and a fine of up to $1,000.
The guidelines defining criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions are similar to those for 4th Degree, with the added points that either:
- the monetary value involved exceeds $1,000
- the individual is committing the crime in the 4th Degree for the second time
This is a Class E Felony, punishable in New York by up to four years in prison.
- the monetary value involved exceeds $3,000
This is a Class D Felony, punishable in New York by up to seven years in prison.
- the monetary value involved exceeds $50,000
This is a Class C Felony, punishable in New York by up to fifteen years in prison.
Illegal prescription charges can empty your wallet and put you in prison. Don’t wait until it’s too late — call (347) 561-0025, or contact Dietrich P. Epperson via web immediately.