When you are facing a prescription drug crime, you need the help of a skilled Fresno prescription drug defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer. If you end up with a prescription drug that is also a controlled substance without a prescription or you naively let a friend use or carry your medications, you could be in serious trouble. Law enforcement agencies take the mishandling and abuse of prescription controlled substances as seriously as they do the manufacturing, selling, and abuse of street drugs. You cannot expect a slap on the wrist simply because the drug comes in a prescription bottle. Call us today at (559) 443-7442 to schedule a consultation.
Prescription drugs are heavily regulated throughout the U.S. and many of them are designated controlled substances and are dangerous when taken incorrectly. While there are proven scientific benefits from these controlled substances, the drugs can also be abused, sometimes resulting in serious injury and death. To reduce the chance that controlled substances fall into the wrong hands, you are required to have a prescription, keep the drugs in your possession, and only use them as directed.
California Prescription Drug Crimes
While you may legally have prescription drugs and take them as necessary for a medical condition, there are many instances in which you could unlawfully have prescription drugs. Depending on the specific allegations, this could lead to a number of different criminal charges.
Possession of Prescription Drugs: Under California Health and Safety Code Section 11350, it is illegal to possess any usable amount of a controlled substance without a prescription. There is a wide range of controlled substances under the federal schedule, including illegal drugs like cocaine and crystal meth and prescription narcotics, like oxycodone. You are not entitled to possess a prescription drug that is a controlled substance without a valid prescription.
If you are found to possess a controlled substance without a valid prescription, then you could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Proposition 47, passed in 2014, decreased some drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. If you qualify under this law, you may be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a drug diversion program. If you do not qualify for the reduced charge, then you may face a felony based on the amount in your possession and your criminal history.
Prescription Drug Fraud: Health and Safety Code Section 11173 dictates that you cannot obtain or try to obtain a prescription for a controlled substance from a physician through fraud, misrepresentation, concealment of a material fact, or deceit. You are not allowed to make false statements in a prescription, record, or order. You cannot falsely represent yourself to obtain a controlled substance. You may also not create or put a false label on a package that contains controlled substances. If you are accused of fraud in relation to prescription drugs, you can be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
Use of Prescription Drugs: Health and Safety Code Section 11550 states it is illegal to use or be under the influence of a controlled substance without a valid prescription from a physician. This means you cannot take your friend’s prescription medication or purchase a prescription medication from someone else. You can only obtain a controlled substance with a valid prescription and through a pharmacy.
If you are found to have used a controlled substance that you did not have a valid prescription for, then you can be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. However, you might be eligible for a drug diversion program or probation.
Sale or Transportation of Prescription Drugs: Based on Health and Safety Code Section 11352, you are prohibited from transporting, importing, selling, furnishing, or giving away a controlled substance or offering to take any of these actions. While this law seems to be intended to target traffickers who smuggle narcotics into and throughout the country, you do not have to be caught with a large amount of a drug to be charged. Even being found with a small amount of a prescription drug without a valid prescription can lead to a charge under this section. You can be charged with a felony, punishable by three to five years in prison.
This drug allegation can quickly become a federal crime if you are accused of transporting a controlled substance across the state line. If law enforcement believes you brought drugs into California from another state or you took drugs from California to another state, then you may be prosecuted in federal court, which comes with much harsher punishments.
Possession of Prescription Drugs for Sale: Under Health and Safety Code Section 11351, you are not allowed to possess any type of controlled substance with the intention to sell it. You can be charged with this crime if you lawfully possessed a prescription narcotic yet you intended to illegally sell it to someone else. You can also be charged if you had a narcotic you were not prescribed and intended to sell it. This is a felony offense, punishable by three to five years in prison.
Defending Against Prescription Drug Crimes
Being accused of a prescription drug crime can be intimidating. However, there are many potential ways to defend yourself in court, such as:
- You had a valid prescription for the controlled substances in your possession
- There was no reasonable suspicion for the stop that led to your arrest
- There was no probable cause for your arrest
- Compromised or incorrect drug test results
- Another constitutional violation
Contact a Fresno Prescription Drug Defense Lawyer Today
If you are facing prescription drug charges, you need an experienced and skilled attorney by your side. Call Fresno drug defense lawyer Michael McKneely at (559) 443-7442 to schedule an initial consultation. There are many ways to gather evidence for your case and to build a strong defense. If you need treatment or rehabilitation, Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer will strive to help you get the care you need and not a harsh, unhelpful punishment. With the help of a knowledgeable and experienced Fresno criminal defense attorney, many strategies may be available to prove your innocence and defend your freedom.