When a Pharmacist Steals Drugs
Prescription drug fraud has received a good deal of media attention in recent years, but this attention typically focuses on drug-seeking patients and consumers. Rarely do we think about this issue in connection with pharmacists and other medical professionals who have the closest access to the distribution of these controlled substances in the first place. The charge that is levied against pharmacists who steal drugs is diversion by a medical professional, which refers to the act of diverting prescription medications for any purpose other than the ones for which they are lawfully prescribed.
Drug Diversion Is a Federal Crime
When a pharmacist diverts drugs, he or she can face federal criminal charges that are brought under the federal Controlled Substances Act and that are investigated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Federal drug diversion charges are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in federal district court, and the charges and potential consequences are exceptionally serious and should be afforded the careful legal attention they demand.
Texas Drug Diversion Criminal Charges
Drug diversion is also a crime in the state of Texas, and it can lead to state charges. Consider the following two categories of drug diversion charges and their legal consequences:
A charge of diversion of a controlled substance for one’s personal use is a state jail felony, and the penalty for a conviction is up to $10,000 in fines and from 6 months to 2 years in jail.
A charge of diversion of a controlled substance for the benefit of another is a third-degree felony, and the penalty for a conviction is up to $10,000 in fines and from 2 to 10 years in prison.
The State of Texas takes drug-related charges of every kind very seriously.
Pharmacists and Professional Discipline
In Texas, the Board of Pharmacy handles all professional disciplinary actions for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and pharmacy technician trainees. If any one of these professionals faces a state or federal drug diversion charge, the Board may suspend his or her licensure during the pendency of the legal investigation. Further, the Board conducts its own disciplinary actions. This means that, even if the charges the accused faces are ultimately dismissed, the Board may exert its discretion in the matter and may refuse to reinstate the pharmacy professional’s license if it believes this refusal is warranted (based on evidence of the accused’s professional misconduct).
Seek the Professional Legal Counsel of an Experienced Killeen Defense Lawyer
Both state and federal drug diversion charges are serious charges that can ultimately lead to serious fines, jail time, and professional censure. If you are facing such a charge, it is time to consult with attorney Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard – proudly serving Killeen, Texas. Mr. Pritchard is a well-established criminal defense lawyer who is well prepared and well positioned to help craft your strongest case in defense of your rights and in pursuit of a desirable case resolution. Our dedicated legal team is in your corner, so please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.