New York based attorneys with Joseph Potashnik and Associates successfully represent healthcare providers and other clients facing drug diversion investigations by DEA and other government agencies. Amongst our clients are physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, and many others. We represent individuals in DEA administrative and criminal investigations and prosecutions.
The U.S. war on drugs claims more victims every day, but the reasons used to justify law enforcement actions vary widely. Drug diversion is an increasingly common charge with strict penalties that may target members of the general public as well as healthcare professionals. Here’s what you need to know about DEA drug diversion criminal investigations and the roles attorneys might play in protecting the accused.
What Is Drug Diversion?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, drug diversion is when prescription drugs are improperly used for illegal purposes. Multiple parties may be charged in conjunction with such activities.
For instance, a doctor who sells Oxycontin tablets to a drug dealer may face diversion-related criminal penalties, but so could the drug dealer and potentially any individuals who purchase the drugs for their personal use. As with other drug crimes, charges can be combined together by prosecutors who push for harsher penalties.
What Happens In a DEA Drug Diversion Investigation?
DEA drug diversion criminal investigations vary widely. Many involve other law enforcement agencies, and officials might observe suspected drug providers for some time before taking action. After gathering evidence they think they’ll be able to use in court, they may pursue formal charges or set up sting operations in which they pose as drug dealers or other illicit users so that they can justify arrests or evidence seizures.
Some states have attempted to stop drug diversion with their own laws. These statutes may be applied to secure evidence of suspected wrongdoing. For instance, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that 23 different states prevent valid patients from obtaining more than 30-day supplies of medication. Many states have limits on emergency dispensing. DEA investigations can focus specifically on violations of these laws by trying to get pharmacies or doctors to fulfill orders they shouldn’t.
Drug users might also be targeted for accusations of related crimes, like doctor shopping, or trying to get multiple prescriptions filled by covertly going to different doctors. Unfortunately, many people don’t know their rights, and they may be coerced into making statements to investigators that put them in tricky positions. When threatened with diversion charges coupled with conspiracy and drug distribution allegations, some accused individuals end up accepting plea deals that aren’t as favorable as they seem. Doctors and nurses are also vulnerable to such prosecutorial maneuvers.
How to Deal With Accusations
Drug diversion is a serious problem that needs solving. As these examples demonstrate, however, existing DEA methodologies may not be effective at combating prescription drug abuse. For individuals suffering from drug addiction, prison sentences and fines rarely help solve the actual problem. Those who are accused or indicted need to keep their rights in mind before taking action.
Talking to attorneys is always a good start. You should never discuss anything with any investigators because you could easily incriminate yourself. You should always speak to an experienced attorney even if you’ve already given the police a statement. Before agreeing to a deal that might not actually be that beneficial, it’s important to learn about alternative options and have your case evaluated. Although many officials are enthusiastic about pursuing prosecution, they still have to prove beyond doubt that crimes were committed. With the right representation, you may be able to argue against charges or refute them on the grounds of improper police conduct. Our NYC DEA drug diversion defense lawyers have handled numerous DEA cases. We are here to hear you out and offer help.
The Impact of Drug Diversion Policies
Why do DEA drug diversion efforts impact so many Americans? Increased focus on the dangers of prescription drugs plays a part, but it’s not the only important factor.
Sweeping state and federal investigations that round up large numbers of suspects often serve as beneficial publicity for law enforcement. Agencies that crack down harder and produce visible results might secure increased funding. For the accused, however, such trends mean that judges and other officials might be less likely to be lenient or understanding.
Politics also plays a big role. Legislators who want to look “tough on crime” may institute laws that focus on increased punishment or establish mandatory minimum sentences. Although a few target drug makers with similar actions, this is rare due to political lobbying, and officials are more likely to spend time prosecuting lower-level offenders.
Finally, it’s important to remember just how widespread prescription drug abuse is. The U.S. National Institute of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse said that in 2009, the country contained only 5 percent of the global population yet consumed 75 percent of all prescription drugs. By 2011, around 6.2 million people over the age of 12 were using prescription drugs for non-medical reasons each month. With the majority of abusers obtaining their drugs from a doctor or acquaintance with a valid prescription, it’s easy to see why authorities might target medical professionals and individuals who fail to control their prescribed medications.
If you are under investigation for drug diversion or related offenses in New York, New Jersey, or anywhere else, please contact our New York DEA drug diversion attorneys today to speak an experienced attorney.