Opioids, Science and the Law: How High is Too High?

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Course Information

Time 90 Minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Course Description

Attorneys not only encounter opioids in everyday news. Criminal attorneys hear of these drugs on a much too regular basis when it comes to impairment, fatalities, and street drug dealings. What pearls of science do attorneys need to know about these drugs? How do they work? How do they poison and take the lives of so many? Where do they fit into postmortem cases? Where is fentanyl found? How does naloxone work and when does it work and when does it not? 

Taught by board-certified toxicologist Allison Muller and criminal law attorney Joseph Lesniak, this program will provide attorneys with a crash course on the science of opioids, including insights for the use of toxicology evidence in the courtroom.

Learning Objectives:

  1. List three effects of opioids on the body
  2. State two examples of unexpected sources of opioids
  3. Describe one example of a drug that can intensify opioid toxicity
  4. Explain pitfalls in interpreting drug screen results as they relate to opioids
  5. List two reasons for the presence of morphine in the blood

Credit Information

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Joseph Lesniak

The Law Offices of Joseph Lesniak, LLC.

Joe spent over nine years as an Assistant District Attorney in Delaware County. During his tenure he served as the Chief of the Special Victims/ Domestic Violence Division prosecuting over 400 domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse and child exploitation cases. He was also the lead prosecutor for the Pennsylvania Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), a federally funded program fighting to end the online exploitation of children. He was responsible for training other prosecutors and developing policies to ensure the successful prosecution of these types of cases. Joe has presented nationally on a variety of topics including: Protection From Abuse Orders, Child Abuse, Computer Crimes and Internet Safety.

Also, Joe served for over two years as the Nether Providence Township Solicitor where he drafted ordinances, provided legal advice to the Board of Commissioners and negotiated contracts.

Joe is also an adjunct professor of political science at the Pennsylvania State University. He is active in a number of community organizations including his local library, Rotary and the Delaware County Bar Association.

Joe has a strong work ethic and is committed to helping the community. Over the years he has developed superior organizational, communication and litigation skills. He is now utilizing these skills to build a thriving law practice. 

Dr. Allison Muller


Dr. Allison Muller is a board-certified toxicologist (D.ABAT), fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology (FAACT), and registered pharmacist with over 20 years’ experience in the field of clinical toxicology. After a nearly 20-year career leading the Poison Control Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which included consulting on toxicology cases from 21 counties in Pennsylvania and Delaware, Dr. Muller is presently an independent consultant specializing in medical communications and providing expert witness testimony on cases involving medications, alcohol, chemicals, and environmental toxins. She is also adjunct faculty, teaching pharmacology and toxicology to second-year veterinary medicine students, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.