Many criminal offenses include an element of intent. In other words, the prosecution must show that the defendant acted knowingly or intentionally in order to obtain a conviction. When the terms of a criminal statute are vague, however, it may be unclear what evidence is necessary to obtain a conviction. The United States Supreme Court recently clarified what mens rea the prosecution must establish to convict a doctor of disbursing controlled substances in an unauthorized matter in violation of federal law. If you are charged with a drug crime or any other federal offense, it is smart to meet with a Michigan criminal defense attorney to assess your options.
History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant and numerous other pain management doctors were charged with and convicted of operating a medical practice that was essentially a racketeering enterprise in violation of federal law, including the Controlled Substances Act. At trial, the prosecution presented evidence that the defendant prescribed Schedule II drugs outside of the standard of care that applied to his practice and did so for their financial gain rather than the benefit of their patients. The defendant appealed his conviction, and the appellate court affirmed. The defendant then sought certiorari review.
The Mens Rea Needed to Convict a Defendant for Unauthorized Distribution of Controlled Substances
On appeal, the Court answered the question of whether a doctor that allegedly prescribed drugs outside of the usual scope of their professional practice should be convicted of unlawful distribution in violation of the Controlled Substances Act, despite the fact that they intended or reasonably believed that their prescriptions fell within the scope of their practice. Continue Reading ›