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West Chester criminal defense blog

Four Pennsylvania doctors facing multiple drug charges

Drug crimes can range from relatively minor possession charges to major charges associated with drug rings. When an individual is charged with a drug crime, it is important for them to understand where it falls on this spectrum. The criminal consequences of a drug charge can be harsh, making it imperative to explore the criminal defense options available to the accused.

According to recent reports, four Pennsylvania doctors are facing criminal charges for writing illegal prescriptions for opioids, fraud and other criminal allegations. One doctor was charged with corrupt organization, 31 counts of unlawful prescribing and 18 counts of prescribing a drug to a dependent person as well as the criminal use of a communication facility.

Is drug court an option for you?

As a Pennsylvania college student, having a drug-related criminal conviction on your record can lead to serious consequences. You may, for example, lose financial aid or student housing eligibility, or in some cases, you may have to pay major fines or even spend time behind bars. Increasingly, however, some people who commit drug-related crimes are learning that they may be able to participate in a drug court program as an alternative to serving time in jail or prison.

Just what are drug courts? Designed to help treat what is often the root of criminal behavior, drug courts, per the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, offer addicts a combination of treatment and accountability. Typically, drug court participants must show up regularly for drug tests and appearances before a judge, and they also must undergo one or more types of substance abuse treatment in order to graduate from the program.

What is credit card fraud?

Nowadays, it is fairly common for individuals in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to not carry cash with them. Because credit and debit cards are convenient, one is more likely to use these to make payments. However, there are concerning issues with these, and it is possible to steal the information of others. While this can cause an individual much financial hardship, these allegations can be very impactful for the accused.

What is credit card fraud? Credit card fraud is a form of identity theft, which involves the unauthorized taking of another person's credit card information. That information is then used for the purpose of making charges to an account or removing funds from it. There are three situations where this crime can be committed.

Traffic stop leads to drug charges

When a driver is signaled to pull over, he or she is likely thinking they will end up with a speeding ticket or a citation for a broken taillight. While this is a possibility, it is also possible that law enforcement is suspicious of other crimes going on. When a police officer believes that a driver is under the influence or smells marijuana, this could cause criminal charges to stem from a traffic stop.

This is what recently happened when a Port Arthur man was pulled over. The stop initiated when officers saw a vehicle was missing a license plate. When officers stopped the 27-year-old man, they stated that they smelled marijuana coming form the vehicle. This resulted in probable cause to search the vehicle.

Helping you defend against embezzlement allegations

There are a few situations where a person is entrusted to handle the assets of another party. A common situation is in the workplace. When someone is entrusted to deal with the finances in the workplace, he or she is expected to handle money and assets properly. If funds are short or not properly distributed, this could cause some red flags. This could also cause individuals in Pennsylvania and elsewhere to face allegations of embezzlement.

There are various situations that could result in a person being accused of embezzlement. Criminal charges could occur if a person is accused of taking another party's property, gaining ownership of property through deception or failing to fully pay for an acquired piece of property.

Constructive possession in Pennsylvania

Possession of narcotics is against the law in Pennsylvania. One thing that many people do not realize, however, is that an individual could still face drug charges, even if they do not technically possess the controlled substance. If, for example, a person leaves heroin in someone else's car and the other person is subsequently stopped and the contraband is found by law enforcement officers, the car owner could ostensibly be charged with possession.

This is legally possible through a concept known as "constructive possession." Although constructive possession is a widely used concept in the United States, each state has its own laws with respect to how and when it applies. In Pennsylvania, courts and law enforcement use a test that examines the "totality of the circumstances" in which the contraband was found.

What to know regarding fentanyl-laced heroin

There is a new variation of heroin that has popped up all over the United States, including Pennsylvania. Some outlets report that fentanyl-laced heroin could be the next wave of the opioid epidemic plaguing the country. 

Heroin even without fentanyl can result in serious drug charges. However, it is vital for people in Pennsylvania to be aware of the danger. Fentanyl-laced drugs pose extreme risks to the user, and citizens should avoid them at all costs. 

Explaining 'plain view' in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, if a law enforcement officer does not have a warrant, they will need what is known as "probable cause" before they are allowed to search or seize property or to search or arrest a person. In fact, to obtain a search or arrest warrant, an officer will need to offer probable cause and swear to it under oath. These protections against "unreasonable" searches and seizures are afforded citizens by both the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

Probable cause is typically thought of as any combination of facts or circumstances that would lead an officer to believe that a crime has been or is about to be committed. For example, an officer cannot just search someone's car after pulling it over for speeding without additional probable cause to do so. This is because the only observed crime was speeding. The officer has stopped the driver and that is the scope of the officer's authority with respect to that crime - even if there is a bag of narcotics in the trunk.

What is embezzlement and who could be accused?

It isn't any shock that money can make people greedy or make them act in ways they usually wouldn't. When a person is running low on funds and needs to make ends meet, it can turn into a desperate situation. While many people will push through tough financial times without major incident, others may be facing a world of trouble with white collar crime accusations related to embezzlement. But, what is embezzlement and who could be accused of such a crime?

The reality is that just about anyone could be charged with embezzlement if a person or a business believes that funds have been illegally funneled out. Embezzlement is defined as theft of assets, including money or property, by a person who is responsible for overseeing those assets. It often is seen in corporate settings, but small business can be affected by embezzlement as well. People accused of embezzlement are often given the job of overseeing assets like business accounts, financial accounts and are then accused of manipulating those accounts to funnel money or assets to themselves.

The opioid crisis and heroin offenses

Looking at the big picture, the opioid epidemic and heroin offenses are linked hand-in-hand. When prescription painkillers hit the mainstream population by means of doctors roughly two decades ago, it led to the direct increase in heroin offenses and addictions. This is because chemically, many prescription painkillers and heroin are the same chemical structure. This means you can get a similar high by using either drug - whether found on the street or prescribed.

Many heroin offenses stem from addiction. Because of this, Chester County set out to determine the underlying factors that impact West Chester residents and their families when heroin comes into play. The District Attorney's office has also been tough on heroin users and dealers. With prosecutions in place like Operation Wildfire, the District Attorney's Office has targeted heroin and opioid dealers. Chester County has one of the longest tenured drug courts in Pennsylvania, diverting addicts from the prison system.

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Donatoni & Crichton Attorneys at Law
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