With the opioid crisis on the rise, and more people than ever before dying as a result of opioid overdoses, victims’ families, medical providers, and local, state, and federal governments are all looking for answers and solutions to the problem. Options like emphasizing prevention, reducing the number of opioid prescriptions that are given out, and increasing access to opioid treatment centers have all been proposed solutions.
One of the results is that many doctors have had civil charges filed against them, with plaintiffs alleging over-prescribing and medical malpractice. In fact, some doctors are even facing criminal charges related to patients’ deaths and opioid drug access.
Doctors Charged with Murder After Patients’ Opioid Deaths
Doctors around the nation are facing criminal charges, with prosecutors alleging crimes like second-degree murder, illegal distribution of controlled substances, Medicare fraud and conspiracy, and numerous other drug charges. Some doctors have even been convicted of charges and sentenced to prison, including the first-ever doctor to be convicted of murder for overprescribing painkillers and given a 30-year prison sentence (Dr. Hsiu-Ying in 2015).
In the Richmond, Virginia area another doctor is facing numerous drug charges, including federal drug charges, after evidence suggests that the doctor–Clarence Scranage, Jr.–has been operating a oxycodone “mill” operation, which included the selling of more than 120,000 oxycodone pills on the streets that were originally obtained by prescriptions written by the doctor.
In yet another similar story in Maryland, prosecutors have brought charges against two doctors who “flooded Maryland streets with more than a quarter-million doses of illegally prescribed painkillers and sedatives…” One of the doctors faces more than 280 counts of drug offenses.
The Fallout of Being Charged with an Opioid-Related Crime as a Doctor
For doctors, the opioid crisis has presented an issue that is difficult to navigate – should physicians cease or limit the prescription of opioids, even when patients complain of pain? How do doctors know when a patient is truly suffering pain and is in need of a painkiller? Should there be a point at which doctors limit prescriptions?
For many doctors, facing charges for crimes related to opioid prescription, whether murder or drug charges, may come as a complete shock. And if the doctor is convicted of the crime, the consequences will no doubt be significant. Indeed, a conviction can carry consequences such as large fines, imprisonment, and a black mark on one’s permanent record and reputation. Further, a doctor may lose their license to practice medicine, a devastating blow.
Defending Yourself Against Opioid-Related Criminal Charges
If you are a physician in Virginia who is facing opioid-related criminal charges, the first thing that you should do is secure the help of an experienced attorney immediately. From there, you and your attorney will work together to build your case and defense. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecution has the burden of proof to establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can help you to prove that the prescriptions that you wrote were written legally and with just cause.
In the event that a verdict of innocent is unlikely, an experienced criminal defense attorney can also help you to understand other options on the table, such as negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecution, where you could possibly plead guilty in exchange for a concession from the prosecution, such as reduced charges.
Contact Our Law Offices if You Are Facing Criminal Charges Today
If you are facing criminal charges as a physician in Virginia who has been charged with an opioid-related crime, our experienced Virginia criminal defense attorneys at the law offices of St. John, Bowling, Lawrence & Quagliana, LLP are prepared to represent you and defend you against charges. We understand how emotional and frightening being charged with a crime as a physician may be, and all that you face losing.
Our law firm has decades’ worth of combined experience, and our attorneys have experience in both state and federal courts. When your career and your future are on the line, our law firm works hard to protect you.
Do not hesitate to take action if you are facing opioid-related criminal charges as a physician. Contact us today to start the process of building your defense. You can reach us at 434-296-7138.