New York Penal Law § 178.15: Criminal diversion of prescription medication and prescriptions in the third degree

Criminal diversion is defined as transferring a prescription medication or device for money knowing that the recipient has no medical need for it, or receiving a prescription medication or device knowing that the seller does not have the legal authority to sell the prescription medication or device. There are 4 offenses in the New York criminal code related to criminal diversion, including criminal diversion of prescription medication and prescriptions in the first, second, third and fourth degrees. Under New York Penal Law § 178.15, you could be prosecuted for criminal diversion of prescription medication and prescriptions in the third degree if you commit an act of criminal diversion and the value of the medication or devices involved exceeds $1,000. You will also face this charge if you commit the crime of criminal diversion of prescription medication and prescriptions in the fourth degree and you have already been convicted of the crime.

Examples

A police officer observed Christophe Polanco attempt to exchange two envelopes each with 300 milligrams of Reyataz for $2,408. Based on this evidence Polanco was convicted of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the third degree. The person who handed Reyataz the $2,408 also faced criminal charges. People v. Polanco, 875 N.Y.S.2d 761 (N.Y. Crim. Ct., 2009)

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the fourth degree: New York Penal Law § 178.10
  2. Criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 178.20
  3. Criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 178.25
Defenses

If you are a licensed physician or pharmacist who dispensed the prescription in good faith, then you would have a defense to a charge of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions. However, this defense would be valid only if you were acting in good faith in the lawful course of your profession. In addition, you would have a defense to this charge if you are a person seeking treatment for a medical condition or you are assisting someone in need of medical treatment.

To convict you of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the third degree, the prosecutor must prove that the value of the medications is over $1,000. If there is evidence that the value is less than $1,000, then you may be able to successfully challenge the charge.

Sentence

Criminal diversion of prescription and prescriptions in the fourth degree is a class E felony. If you are convicted your sentence may include up to 4 years in prison, a probation term of 5 years, and a fine.

New York Penal Law § 178.15: Criminal Diversion of Prescription Medications and Prescriptions in the Third Degree

A person is guilty of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the third degree when he or she:

  1. commits a criminal diversion act, and the value of the benefit exchanged is in excess of one thousand dollars; or
  2. commits the crime of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the fourth degree, and has previously been convicted of the crime of criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the fourth degree.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are under investigation for criminal diversion of prescription medications and prescriptions in the third degree, it is important that you are represented by someone with experience. If you are convicted you could end up in prison for up to 4 years, and you will have a criminal record for the rest of your life. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with crimes related to criminal diversion as well as grand larceny, embezzlement, and white collar crimes. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of larceny in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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