When Prescription Drug Use Turns Fatal
Drug overdose death rates have never been higher, and painkillers, the CDC reports, cause three out of four prescription overdoses. For whatever reasons, patients are sometimes given prescriptions that are well beyond what was medically safe or necessary. Some patients may even mix medications, producing fatal results.
In recent news, a South Florida resident overdosed on painkillers and his mother called in the investigators because she blamed his prescribing doctor. The doctor who prescribed the extremely high dosage of methadone was slapped with manslaughter charges and now faces prison time.
Besides overprescribing, the doctor is charged with negligence for insufficiently reviewing his patient's past history which would have alerted the doctor to his previous dependency on methadone.
The state of Florida recognizes two types of manslaughter:
- Voluntary manslaughter – an intentional act that results in another’s death.
- Involuntary manslaughter – culpably negligent behavior that results in someone’s death.
Penalties for Manslaughter Charges in Florida
When physicians are charged with manslaughter, the penalties they face depend upon the situation surrounding the case and the judge’s discretion. While the help of an experienced criminal lawyer can help lessen the sentence, manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Florida, and if convicted, the physician will face a minimum prison sentence of over nine years in prison.
The judge may impose additional penalties including:
- up to 15 years in prison;
- up to 15 years of probation; and
- $10,000 in fines.
Charges may be elevated to aggravated manslaughter if culpable negligence by a doctor causes death to an elderly person, disabled person or a minor. A physician could then face first-degree manslaughter charges, which carry sentences up to 30 years.
Because of the emerging area of criminal liability where doctors are held legally responsible for their patients overdosing, physicians across the board are becoming more cautious when they prescribe medications.
Defense from a Fort Lauderdale Criminal Lawyer Can Help Lessen the Sentence
If you have recently been charged with a crime related to:
- prescription medications;
- healthcare fraud; or
- involuntary manslaughter, it’s important to secure an experienced criminal lawyer immediately to begin working on your defense.
A criminal lawyer can help comb through evidence, build stonewall defenses, and present client’s cases in the best possible light. Contact our firm online or call (954) 861-0384 for a free, no-obligation consultation with Robert David Malove.