GHB is prescribed to help people with sleeping disorders, but it also is used for illegal purposes. For instance, possessing GHB for personal use is prohibited in California. Any time a person has the drug without a valid prescription, it’s considered a Schedule III controlled substance. In California, it’s also a crime to be under the influence of GHB without a valid prescription.
Adverse reactions experienced and some common side effects GHB users encounter are dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, exhaustion, and difficulty focusing. More extreme side effects include comas, respiratory issues, loss of consciousness, seizures, tremors, and aggressive behaviors.
The Federal Drug Administration has identified the link between these adverse reactions and the drug and has declared the product dangerous.
See your doctor if you have experienced serious health problems after taking GHB. Further, you should contact a personal injury attorney who can help you protect your legal rights and get compensation for your injuries.
What Does Being Under the Influence of GHB Mean in California Law?
When the substance is found in the defendant’s body, an individual is deemed “under the influence” of GHB. In addition, the prosecution must also show the defendant:
- Did not have a valid prescription or
- Used the drug beyond the scope of their prescription.
What Are Some Examples of Prescription Drug Crimes?
Prescription drugs are issued under the care and instruction of an authorized doctor or other types of physicians. These types of drugs cannot be legally possessed or sold without proper documentation.
Prescription drug abuse has become more common in recent years. Certain prescription drugs are deemed just as dangerous as illegal drugs, including heroin and cocaine, because these drugs are narcotics or stimulants, just like some illegal drugs.
Criminal laws regulate the possession, use, and distribution of prescription drugs. Common examples of crimes involving prescription drugs include:
- Unauthorized or illegal possession of prescription drugs, such as possession without a valid prescription or with a prescription obtained by fraud;
- Illegal distribution of prescription drugs, or the intent to distribute, which includes buying or selling prescription drugs online or through a pill mill;
- The armed robbery of a pharmacy, which is becoming an increasing concern due to serious addiction among some users;
- Altering prescription drugs;
- Tampering with prescription drug labels;
- Stealing prescription notes;
- Forging a physician’s signature for a prescription;
- Illegally using someone else’s prescription; or
- Posing as someone else to obtain their prescription.
Can Other Individuals be Held Liable for Prescription Drug Crimes?
In many cases, a prescription drug crime involves an individual using the drugs illegally or obtaining the drugs unlawfully and reselling them on the black market. Nevertheless, other people may be guilty of a prescription drug crime, such as medical professionals.
In some instances, the physician or pharmacist may be involved in criminal activity by colluding with the drug seller or distributor. For instance, the physician or pharmacist may issue a fake prescription.
These acts may constitute pharmacist malpractice for the professional, and these people risk losing their license. These practices may also lead to criminal penalties for the medical professional.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Prescription Drug Crimes?
The legal penalties for prescription drug crimes may be severe. The penalty will depend on the type of crime perpetrated, the type of drug involved, and the amount of the drug.
Lesser crimes involving drug possession without a prescription and intent to distribute may result in misdemeanor charges. Misdemeanor charges may result in jail time of one year and criminal fines.
A more severe crime, such as possessing large quantities of a drug or the actual distribution of drugs, may result in felony charges. Felonies are punishable by longer prison sentences, between 2 and 20 years, and higher fines, in some cases up to $10,000. If an individual engages in repeat offenses or crimes involving violence, the penalties may be more intense.
Other consequences can result from a drug conviction. These may include the loss of the privilege to possess a firearm or the seizure of a car used to transport the controlled substance.
In addition to these consequences and punishments, there will be other results from a drug charge. The drugs will be confiscated, and any paraphernalia, money, and property associated with the drug operations.
Some defenses may be available to defendants charged with prescription drug crimes. It is best to consult with an attorney to determine what defenses may apply.
What Is the Unwitting Possession Defense?
The unwitting possession defense is a defense that a defendant may use when they are in actual possession of a prescription drug but were not aware that the possession was prohibited. This defense is available because an individual must be conscious that they are in possession of the drug illegally.
An example of unwitting possession happens when one person gives another person a bag to hold. If the person holding the bag is unaware that it contains prescription drugs, they do not possess the required knowledge to be found guilty of illegal possession.
Another example happens if the drugs are left in an individual’s vehicle, later discovered during a traffic stop. A defendant may not be found guilty if they were utterly ignorant of the presence of the prescription drugs.
What Is the Lack of Possession Defense?
A lack of possession means that a defendant did not have actual control over the drug. The foundation of a prescription drug charge is physical possession.
For example, suppose that an individual shared an area with a group of other individuals, such as a car or a house. The prosecution must show that the prescription drugs were in the exclusive possession of the person, such as in their bedroom. Anyone who used the shared area or shared car could have possessed the drugs.
What Is the Illegal Search and Seizure Defense?
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits law enforcement from searching an individual’s house without a warrant. In addition, it prohibits law enforcement from searching a car without probable cause.
If law enforcement searches without probable cause or a warrant, the prescription drugs may be excluded from use as evidence in a courtroom or suppressed. A defense lawyer is best equipped to determine whether this defense may apply to a case.
Can I Be Charged With Being Under the Influence of GHB and Have a Valid Prescription?
Yes. If you are in possession of more than the prescribed amount of GHB but have a valid prescription, you can be found guilty of being under the influence of GHB.
What Is the Punishment for Being Under the Influence of This Drug?
In California, being under the influence of GHB is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail. It is also possible to receive an alternative sentence, such as drug diversion, instead of time in jail.
What Are the Possible Defenses I Can Use to Fight This Criminal Charge?
Some possible defenses include:
- Having a valid prescription
- Using the drug within the scope of the valid prescription
- Not knowing that the GHB was in your possession
Should I Contact a Lawyer about This Charge?
Contact a California drug lawyer regarding your under the influence of GHB charge. A conviction for a prescription drug crime may result in incarceration or hefty fines. You may also lose certain rights, especially if you are convicted of a felony.
Your lawyer can review your case, determine if any defenses are available to you, and represent you during any court proceedings. The consequences of prescription drug charges can be devastating and include the loss of your professional license if you have one.