Pursuant to criminal laws, a controlled substance is defined, in general, defined as any material or drug which is subject to state laws and federal laws. These substances are typically substances which pose some type of danger or risk of:

  • Harm;
  • Addition; or
  • Abuse.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) provides a list of substances which are regulated based upon factors such as their potential for misuse versus their potential medical benefits. This list is frequently updated because newer substances are always being invented or discovered.

Federal criminal laws and state criminal laws regulate who is permitted to possess, sell, distribute, and use controlled substances, and in what amounts. Depending upon the circumstances, the term controlled substances may include both illicit or illegal drugs in addition to certain prescription drugs.

What is the Controlled Substances Act?

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is a result of the comprehensive efforts of the federal government to regulate the following related to use of certain drugs and other dangerous substances, together referred to as controlled substances:

  • Manufacture;
  • Possession;
  • Dispensing;
  • Distribution; and
  • Use.

Significant civil penalties and criminal penalties may be imposed on any individual who unlawfully violates the CSA. The CSA has provided a lengthy list of different products into one of five categories called schedules.

Controlled substances are assigned to different schedules based upon their characteristics, which includes:

  • Their medicinal value;
  • The possibility of abuse;
  • The safety to the public; and
  • The likelihood for dependency.

By categorizing these substances and drugs, it is easier to regulate or to deregulate the substances and drugs as needed.

Who May Reclassify or Decontrol a Drug or Substance?

The Attorney General may commence a proceeding from time to time to control or transfer a drug from one schedule to another schedule based upon a scientific and medical evaluation from the Secretary of Health and Human Services and based on the characteristics discussed above. The Attorney General is also permitted to initiate a proceeding to complete this task on the petition of an interested party, which may include:

  • The DEA;
  • The United States Health and Human Services;
  • A drug manufacturer;
  • A public interest group;
  • An individual citizen; or
  • A state or local agency.

What Drugs or Substances are Covered in the CSA Schedules?

The list of the different substances and drugs which are covered in the 5 schedules pursuant to the CSA is fairly exhaustive. However, the substances generally fall into several recognizable larger groups, including:

  • Narcotics, including:
    • heroin;
    • methadone;
    • morphine;
    • opium; and
    • fentanyl;
  • Stimulants, including:
    • cocaine;
    • amphetamines; and
    • methamphetamines;
  • Depressants, including:
    • GHB;
    • rohypnol; and
    • benzodiazepines;
  • Hallucinogens, including:
    • LSD;
    • peyote; and ecstasy; and
  • Other substances, including:
    • marijuana;
    • steroids; and
    • Inhalants which are essentially household products, for example, spray paint, felt markers, or anything that give off chemical vapors and which may be inhaled for psychoactive effects.

The schedule categories are ranked from the most dangerous substances, or those with the least medicinal value and the highest potential for abuse to the least dangerous substances, or those with the most medical value and least potential for abuse.

Information regarding the categories of substances and drugs include:

  • Schedule I drugs and substances do not have currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse and dependency. They include popular drugs such as:
    • heroin;
    • ecstasy; and
    • marijuana;
  • Schedule II drugs and substances have a lesser potential for abuse than Schedule I substances and have some accepted medical use. They still, however, carry a high potential for psychological or physical dependence. Examples include:
    • Vicodin;
    • cocaine; and
    • oxycontin;
  • Schedule III drugs and substances, while still considered dangerous when compared to schedules IV and V, have a lesser potential for abuse and also have some medical accepted use;
    • They carry a risk of moderate to low physical or psychological dependence;
    • Examples of Schedule III products include:
      • codeine;
      • anabolic steroids; and
      • testosterone;
  • Schedule IV drugs and substances are those which have a low potential for abuse when compared to schedules 1 through 3 of controlled substances;
    • These substances have an accepted medical use and a risk for limited dependence when compared to other drugs and substances;
    • Schedule IV products include:
      • Valium;
      • Ambien; and
      • Xanax; and
  • Schedule V drugs and substances have the lowest potential for abuse compared to other scheduled substances and drugs. They have an accepted medical use and a risk of limited physical or psychological dependence also when compared to the other scheduled controlled substances;
    • This schedule contains only limited quantities of narcotics. Cough medicines fall under Schedule V.

What is Oxycodone?

Oxycodone is a pain medication which is only available by prescription. Oxycodone is derived from certain poppy plants and works in a similar manner to opiates, including heroin.

In recent years, oxycodone addictions have become the basis of many different drug crimes. Oxycodone is used in certain brand name prescription drugs, including:

  • OxyContin, the brand name for oxycodone;
  • Percodan, which is oxycodone combined with aspirin; and
  • Percocet, which is oxycodone combined with paracetamol.

Oxycodone is considered to be a Schedule II controlled substance, which is the same as cocaine, morphine, and other substances.

Is Oxycodone Illegal?

Oxycodone and oxycodone-based drugs are legal, as long as the individual taking the substance has a valid doctor’s prescription, or script. The unauthorized possession, use, or sale of oxycodone is illegal.

A violator may face serious criminal penalties for the sale or use of oxycodone without a prescription or seller’s license. Oxycodone is commonly obtained legally and then sold illegally for a profit on the street or on the black market.

The drug is sometimes obtained illegally in an armed robbery of a pharmacy, which is becoming more widespread, especially in states in the midwest United States.

What Are Some Penalties for Oxycodone Crimes?

The possession of oxycodone for personal use may result in serious charges if an individual does not have a prescription. A conviction may result in jail time of anywhere from 1 to 5 years in addition to criminal fines.

The terms of the punishment will depend on the state laws and the jurisdiction. In contrast, the possession of oxycodone with the intent to sell it is a different story.

This offense may result in felony charges, which is punishable by a prison term of 5-10 years. The criminal fines may range from $250,000 to several millions of dollars, depending on the amount of oxycodone possessed.

The intent to distribute oxycodone may be inferred from the facts surrounding the case. For example, if the individual is in possession of tablets which are packaged and ready for distribution, law enforcement authorities will assume that the suspect is preparing to sell them.

In addition to these criminal penalties, there are other consequences which may result from a drug crime conviction, including:

  • Confiscation of any vehicles which are used to transport a controlled substance;
  • Confiscation of money from sales;
  • The loss of the individual’s right to possess a firearm;
  • Restricted from being a certain distance from a school zone if the defendant was selling drugs to minors; and
  • Loss of some Federal benefits, such as:
    • grants;
    • housing;
    • student loans; and
    • other benefits.

The penalties for this offense may be greatly enhanced if an individual becomes seriously injured or dies, such as with an overdose, as a result of the actions of the defendant.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Oxycodone-Related Drug Charges?

A drug crime may lead to some very serious legal penalties which extend beyond having a criminal record. It may be helpful to consult with a drug lawyer if you need assistance with a violation of prescription drug laws.

Your lawyer can explain the laws in your state as well as what your options are and what rights you have. A qualified lawyer will also assist you if you need to make a formal appearance in a court of law.