Is “The Meds Made Me Do It” a Good Defense?

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

Prescription medication can cause a host of emotional and psychological side effects. Certain sleep aids, for example, are notorious for causing users to do weird things in the middle of the night. Those who've been prescribed these medicines consistently report odd behavior that they have little to no memory of. Sometimes this behavior is violent.

What happens if you commit a crime while under the influence of prescription medication? It happens. Medication error occurs too often in many scenarios, including the following:

  • Doctor error
  • Patient use error
  • Incompatibility with other drugs
  • Misuse of prescription

In some cases, the patient may bear responsibility for a bad reaction. If you've been prescribed a narcotic and you decide to partake in other recreational drugs or alcohol, you could end up in an altered state that puts others at risk.

Other times, medical error or malpractice can be to blame for a patient's bad reaction to treatment. When these circumstances occur in conjunction with behavior that's charged as a crime, the defendant may be able to use these facts as an affirmative defense to the crime.

When Rx Medication Is NOT a Criminal Defense

Use of prescription medication isn't automatically a defense to a crime, even if that medication is what contributed to your act of violence or illegal behavior. All prescription medications come with instructions and a list of what you can and can't do while using them. If you take narcotics for pain management, you can't then hop behind the wheel. Doing so is a violation of your medical provider's instructions as well as a violation of the law. You can and will be arrested for a DUI in Pennsylvania if you drive while under the influence of narcotic pain medication, even when you're using it as directed.

When Rx Medication Is a Criminal Defense

In limited scenarios, someone arrested for a crime may be able to claim their prescription drug use as a defense. Crimes require an element of intent, and a prescription drug can distort a person's rationale to the extent they aren't operating as they otherwise would. This legal strategy requires the help of an experienced attorney who can help demonstrate the necessary elements of your defense. The success of this defense strategy will vary. In some cases, you may be able to get the charges dropped, or you might be able to get an aggravated assault charge reduced to a simple assault charge.

Call a PA Criminal Defense Attorney

Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a dedicated PA criminal defense attorney who believes you deserve someone fighting in your corner. If you or someone you love has been arrested, don't hesitate to call the Lento Law Firm right away. To learn how Attorney Lento and his experienced team can help you, call 888-535-3686 today, or contact us online.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients in criminal courtrooms in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and nationwide. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. With unparalleled experience occupying several roles in the criminal justice system outside of being an attorney, Joseph D. Lento can give you valuable behind-the-scenes insight as to what is happening during all phases of the legal process. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings!


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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

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