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New Hampshire nurse receives a sentence for theft charges

What happens when someone does something that others say is blatant theft? In the absence of irrefutable proof, it's up to America's courts to decide, and many times the lawyers representing either side can hold the most sway over the outcome. A recent case involving a nurse from Raymond, New Hampshire, highlights the importance of building a case for both the prosecutor's table and the defense team's table.

While we cannot say a nurse accused of stealing a medication patch from a Fremont nursing home is either guilty or innocent, we can evaluate how she chose to respond. According to reports, the nurse allegedly removed a three-day-old Fentanyl patch from a patient and replaced it with a new one last May, but the patient never received the new patch. Moreover, the nurse allegedly operated outside of procedure when she "wasted" the old patch, an action that requires signed verification by another staff member.

Prosecutors also claim DNA taken from the "stolen" patch matched the nurse's DNA. On the surface, it would appear the defendant is guilty, but as she physically handles medications routinely, who can say with certainty? The patient says the nurse did remove the old patch but left for an emergency before applying the new patch. In some people's eyes, this could look more like a mistake than a crime of theft. Again, who can say for sure?

In the end, the nurse and prosecutors reached a plea agreement in which the defendant pleaded guilty to theft charges in exchange for a deferred sentence of 12 months. She also agreed that she would not seek future employment treating patients or work that gives her access to controlled substances.

Is this an outright admission of guilt? Again, we can't say, but it's important to remember that had she been tried and convicted, she could have been sentenced to as much as seven years in prison. A good theft and property crimes defense attorney will look at both sides to calculate the best possible outcome for his or her client.

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, "Ex-nurse sentenced for drug theft at Fremont nursing home" James A. Kimble, May. 15, 2014

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