One of the most serious charges that a physician can be accused of is violating the Controlled Substances Act. Under the Act, doctors are authorized to dispense controlled substances covered under the law by prescription to patients but only under if that medication is provided for a “legitimate medical purpose.” Violations of this law can result not only in a doctor losing their medical license but they could also face a prison sentence if found guilty.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of two doctors who were convicted in two different cases of unlawful drug distribution. In a unanimous decision, the justices sent both cases back to the lower courts in each case’s respective state.
Accusations of Unauthorized Prescriptions
In the first case, a doctor who ran a clinic in Alabama was accused of issuing almost 300,000 prescriptions for controlled substances in a four-year period. Prosecutors said the clinic was the country’s leading source of fentanyl drug prescriptions.
The second case involved a doctor who was convicted for writing prescriptions for controlled substances in both Arizona and Wyoming, charging prices that were equal to the prices charged for similar drugs sold illegally by street drug dealers. The doctor was accused of taking payments in cash, firearms, and other personal property.
Both defendants appealed their cases, contesting the instructions given to each of their juries regarding their individual “mens rea” and whether or not prosecutors had met the burden of proving that each doctor “knowingly or intentionally” prescribed the drugs in violation of the law.
Under the law, mens rea – which in Latin means “guilty mind” – refers to the state of mind that is legally required in order to find a defendant guilty. In their decision, the justices wrote that because the doctors were legally authorized to prescribe controlled substances, it was up to the prosecutors to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant know that he or she was acting in an unauthorized manner, or intended to do so.”
Both cases will go back to the appeals courts, which will consider if the juries in each case had been properly instructed and – if not – then decide whether these errors were harmful to the case and whether the convictions should be overturned.
Contact an Illinois Professional License Defense Lawyer
If you are a doctor who has been accused of overprescribing medications or other Controlled Substance Act violations, contact an Illinois medical license defense attorney right away. It is critical to realize that you may not only be facing the loss of your medical license but could also be arrested and charged with serious criminal offenses. Call The Law Offices of Joseph J. Bogdan, LLC today at 630-310-1267 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.