Pursuant to criminal laws, controlled substances are defined as any drug or material which is subject to federal laws and state laws. These types of substances are usually substances that pose a danger or the risk of:
- Addition; or
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) outlines a list of substances which are regulated based upon factors including the potential for misuse versus the potential medical benefits of the substance. This list is updated frequently because newer substances are always being created or discovered.
State criminal laws and federal criminal laws regulate when an individual is permitted to use, sell, or distribute a controlled substance as well as in what amounts. Depending upon the circumstances related to the substance, the term controlled substance may include both certain prescription drugs as well as illegal or illicit drugs.
What is the Controlled Substances Act?
The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is an act that resulted from the efforts of the federal government to regulate the following issues related to the use of certain drugs and other dangerous substances, referred to as controlled substances:
- Distribution; and
There are significant criminal penalties and civil penalties may be imposed on individuals who unlawfully violate the CSA. The CSA provides a list of the different substances and categorizes them into 1 of 5 categories, referred to as schedules.
Controlled substances are assigned to schedules based upon their characteristics, including:
- Their medicinal value;
- The possibility of abuse;
- The safety to the public; and
- The likelihood for dependency.
By placing these substances into categories, it is easier for them to be regulated or deregulated as needed.
Who May Reclassify or Decontrol a Drug or Substance?
The Attorney General may commence proceedings to transfer a substance from one schedule to another schedule based on the scientific and medical evaluation from the Secretary of Health and Human Services and based upon the characteristics noted above. In addition, the Attorney General is permitted to initiate a proceeding to complete this change 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 is Oxycodone?
Oxycodone is a pain medication that is only available with a prescription. It is derived from specific poppy plants.
Oxycodone functions in a similar manner to opiates, including heroin. In recent years, addictions to oxycodone have become the basis for numerous different drug crimes.
Oxycodone is utilized 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 a Schedule II controlled substance, which is the same category as:
- Morphine; and
- Other substances.
What is Oxycontin?
As noted above, Oxycontin is the brand name for the prescription drug oxycodone. Oxycontin is used to manage a patient’s moderate to severe pain symptoms.
This drug is a slow release pain medication which can be mixed with aspirin or other pain killers as needed. Oxycontin is a semi-synthetic substance which is usually sold in a tablet form, although some individuals may inject the drug.
Is Oxycontin Dangerous?
Oxycodone is a substance that has been used and prescribed since before 1920. There may be side effects related to normal use, including:
- Cramps; and
- Other symptoms.
Oxycontin, however, may be considered addictive and may lead to addiction, dependence, and withdrawal. Severe symptoms of Oxycontin abuse may include:
- Muscle pain;
- Shallow breathing;
- Loss of consciousness; and
There is also a potential for overdose if the dosage is too high. Additionally, street-grade Oxycontin may be dangerous because a dealer will often mix the product with other chemicals so that they can earn a profit.
Is Oxycodone Illegal?
Oxycodone as well as oxycodone-based drugs are legal, so long as the individual taking the substance has a valid doctor’s prescription. However, unauthorized use, possession, or sale of oxycodone is illegal.
An individual may face serious criminal penalties for the use or sale of oxycodone without having a prescription or license to sell the drug. Oxycodone is often obtained legally and then sold illegally for a profit either on the streets or on the black market.
Oxycodone, in some cases, is also obtained illegally in the armed robbery of a pharmacy. These types of crimes are becoming more widespread, especially in states in the midwest United States.
What are the Legal Consequences of Oxycontin Related Crimes?
Oxycontin was introduced for use as a prescription drug and is still available for individuals to obtain with a prescription. Abuse and drug trafficking, however, have resulted in drug operations which may involve other aspects of violence.
For example, there are drug dealers who obtain the substance illegally in large quantities and resell them on the black market. There are certain areas in the U.S., as previously noted, which have begun to experience recurring robberies and shootings at pharmacies when dealers and addicts seek to obtain the product.
Similar to any drug crime, an Oxycontin crime may result in misdemeanor charges, typically for simple possession of a small amount without a prescription. This offense may also result in felony charges, especially in cases that involve mass distribution or a violent assault.
Penalties for these types of Oxycontin crimes can range from up to 1 year in jail for misdemeanor charges or up to 20 years or more for felony charges. If an individual does not have a prescription, the possession of oxycodone for personal use may result in serious charges.
Conviction of this offense may result in jail time of between 1 to 5 years as well as criminal fines. The terms of an individual’s punishment depends upon the state laws and the laws of the jurisdiction.
The possession of oxycodone with the intent to sell may result in felony charges, which are punishable by prison terms of 5 to 10 years as well as criminal fines ranging between $250,000 to several millions of dollars, depending on the amount of oxycodone the individual possessed. The intent to distribute the substance can be inferred from the facts of the case.
For example, if an individual is in possession of tablets that are packaged and ready to be distributed, law enforcement will assume that the defendant is preparing them for sale.
In addition to the criminal penalties previously discussed, there are also other consequences that may result from drug crime convictions, including:
- Confiscation of vehicles which were used to transport the controlled substance;
- Confiscation of money from sales;
- The loss of the defendant’s right to possess firearms;
- 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:
- student loans; and
- other benefits.
The penalties for these offenses may be enhanced if a victim becomes seriously injured or dies as a result of the defendant’s actions, for example, with an overdose.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Oxycontin Crimes?
The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing concern and spans across all age groups, affecting young and old individuals alike. A crime involving Oxycontin is serious and may lead to serious legal consequences.
If you have any issues, questions, or concerns related to Oxycontin, it may be helpful to consult with a drug lawyer. Your lawyer can advise you regarding the laws related to online purchases if you are considering attempting to purchase Oxycontin online.
If you have been charged with a drug crime related to Oxycontin, your lawyer can review your case, advise you of your rights, and represent you in court. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a reduction of your charges or a plea deal.