Opioids are synthetic (or partly synthetic) prescription drugs typically administered as painkillers. Their active ingredients are intended to mimic drugs derived from the opium plant. Common opioids include:

Because of their synthetic nature, opioids can be manufactured in a way that increases their potency when compared with other painkillers. Opioids are distinct from opiates, which are drugs that are derived naturally (not synthetically) from the opium plant. Opiates include heroin, morphine, and codeine.

What do Opioid Laws Regulate?

Opioid laws regulate the control and possession of opioids. In some cases, opioid laws may also cover or overlap with opiates as well. Opioid laws may vary by state. However, they typically cover aspects such as:

  • Which persons may legally own or possess opioids
  • The manufacture of opioids
  • Opioid distribution
  • Prescription and administering of opioids

Some of the most common opioid violations include: illegal possession of opioids, possession without a prescription, prescription fraud, and illegal distribution of opioids.

Opioid crimes often interact with other drug crimes. For instance, users of opioids may get addicted to them. When their prescription runs out, they may turn to cheaper illicit substances, such as street heroin, to continue their pain killer abuse habit.

What are the Legal Penalties for Violations of Opioid Laws?

Criminal penalties for opioid violations may depend on several factors, including state laws, as well as the type of conduct in question. For instance, illegal possession of an opioid may lead to a misdemeanor charge, resulting in penalties such as criminal fines and/or up to a year in jail. More serious felony charges may result for distribution of opioids, or possession with an intent to distribute. These can result in higher criminal fines and longer periods in prison (1-5 years or longer).

The strictness of the penalties depends on the amount possessed or the amount distributed. Penalties can also increase due to other factors (for instance, if a person was seriously injured due to distribution of illegal opioids).

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With an Opioid Crime Case?

Opioid and opiate laws can be very strict, and may also be different from state to state. You may need to hire a drug lawyer in your area if you need assistance with a charge for an opioid violation. Your lawyer can provide you with legal research and guidance for your case. If you need to make an appearance in a criminal court, your attorney will also be able to represent you during those times as well.