Doctors facing drug charges

When you think of drug crimes, you may picture college kids getting caught with marijuana, or dealers on the street corner with pockets full of methamphetamines. However, police sometimes charge respected professionals with drug crimes.

It has been a year since a high-profile opioid sting resulted in the federal prosecutors charging dozens of medical professionals with drug crimes. Most charges centered on prescribing opioids unnecessarily. Lately, an increasing number of health professionals are seeking treatment for using the substances themselves. If you are a doctor or nurse charged with a drug offense of any kind, you may have questions.

Should I talk to police?

In general, no. Police are eager to collect information, whether it be about your or a colleague. They sometimes become overbearing or use intimidation tactics to achieve their goals. Remember that you have the right to decline their requests. You do not have to answer their questions nor let them search your premises without a warrant.

What if police arrest me?

An arrest can be humiliating and frightening, but do not make decisions out of fear. Stand up for your rights by refusing to speak without a lawyer present. Educate yourself by asking questions. Police should inform you of the charges against you. If officers collected evidence illegally or violated your right to due process, you should have a strong defense.

What will happen to my practice?

California lawmakers have recently drafted several measures aimed at stemming the tide of opioid abuse in the state. Laws and sentencing trends are changing rapidly. Abusing or over-prescribing opioids is a serious offense, and conviction carries stiff penalties including fines and imprisonment.

Your best strategy involves defending yourself rigorously. Your goals include staying out of prison, maintaining your license and being able to return to your medical practice. If you are battling addiction, you may be able to seek treatment. Completing a recovery program can help you restore your career and your reputation.

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