Prescription drugs are drugs that are issued under the care and instruction of an authorized physician. These types of drugs cannot be possessed or sold without the proper documentation. Prescription drug abuse has become increasingly common in the past decade. Some prescription drugs often considered just as dangerous as illegal drugs such as heroin or cocaine because they are narcotics or stimulants just like those drugs.
Criminal laws regulate the possession, use, and distribution of prescription drugs. Some common examples of prescription drug crimes include:
- Unauthorized possession of prescription drugs (possession without a valid prescription or with a prescription obtained through fraud)
- Distribution of prescription drugs, or intent to distribute (including buying or selling prescription drugs online or through a pill mill)
- Armed robbery of pharmacies (this is becoming an increasing concern due to serious addiction among users)
Can Other Persons Be Held Liable for Prescription Drug Crimes?
In many cases prescription drug crimes involve persons using the drugs illegally, or persons obtaining them illegally and reselling them on the black market. However, other persons can be found guilty for prescription drug crimes, such as medical professionals.
In some cases, the pharmacist or doctor may be part of the criminal activity, acting in collusion with drug sellers or distributors. For instance, they may be issuing fake prescriptions. This can constitute pharmacist malpractice for the professional and they risk losing their license. Such practices can also lead to criminal penalties for the medical professional.
What Are the Legal Penalties for Prescription Drug Crimes?
Legal penalties for prescription drug crimes can be very serious. They will depend on the type of crime involved, the type of drug being addressed, and the amount of drugs in question. Lesser crimes involving possession of drugs without a prescription (no intent to distribute) may result in misdemeanor charges. These can result in fines and jail time of up to a year.
More serious crimes, such as possession of large amounts of drugs, or actual distribution of drugs can result in felony charges. These are punishable by higher fines (sometimes up to $10,000) and longer prison sentences (anywhere from 2-20 years). Repeat offenses and crimes involving violence will also result in more serious penalties.
Other consequences can result from drug convictions, such as the loss of the right to possession of a firearm, or the confiscation of vehicles used to transport the controlled substances.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Prescription Drug Charges?
Prescription drug charges can be just as serious as more conventional types of drug cases. You may need to hire a qualified criminal lawyer if you have any legal issues or concerns involving prescription drug crimes. Your attorney can provide you with legal representation if you need to appear in court. Also, your lawyer can inform you of your rights, legal options, and possible defenses if applicable.