Public awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse has fueled the enforcement of drug laws in the state, and the prosecution of these offenses are on the rise. Law enforcement treats the illegal possession of prescription medications the same way it treats the criminal possession of street drugs.
If you have been charged with the illegal possession or abuse of prescription medication, you may benefit from legal assistance. A Hennepin County prescription drug lawyer could help you analyze your charges and develop an effective legal strategy based on the circumstances of your case.
Common Prescription Drugs
There are three major categories of prescription drugs that carry a high risk of abuse:
- Opioids, including codeine, oxycodone, and morphine typically prescribed for pain management
- Stimulants such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dextroamphetamine typically prescribed to treat attention disorders
- Central Nervous System depressants, including barbiturates and benzodiazepines typically prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders
An individual may improperly obtain these medications through fraudulent prescriptions, family and friends, illegal online pharmacies, theft and burglary, or intentional overprescribing by physicians or pharmacists. A person accused of gaining access to illegal prescription drugs through any of these means should contact a Hennepin County lawyer for help as soon as possible.
Criminal Charges for Prescription Drugs
Charges can be filed for the illegal possession of a controlled substance in Hennepin County, even if the person charged produces a prescription for the medication. Following are examples of situations where charges could be filed:
- The prescription is made out to someone other than the person who collected and used the medication.
- Someone forged the prescription.
- A prescription pad stolen from a physician’s office is used to obtain the medication.
Penalties for Prescription Drug Charges
Penalties for the possession and sale of controlled substances depend on how the drugs are categorized under state law. Many prescription medications such as fentanyl, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, Adderall, and Ritalin are categorized as Schedule II substances. Drugs like Norco are classified as Schedule III substances, and the popular prescription drugs Xanax, Valium, and Ambien are Schedule IV drugs.
The possession of any Schedule II, III, or IV drug is a fifth-degree violation, carrying maximum penalties of a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine for a first offense. Subsequent violations can result in a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $20,000. The sale of any schedule IV drug is also a fifth-degree violation.
The possession of any Schedule II or III drug with the intent to sell is a fourth-degree violation. This offense carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years and a maximum fine of $100,000. Subsequent offenses could lead to a prison term of up to 30 years and a maximum fine of $100,000.
State law also allows police to seize any vehicle they believe was used in a controlled substance violation, but they must first provide the owner a notice of intent to seize the vehicle. If the owner does not appeal the action within 60 days, they may permanently forfeit their vehicle to the state. A Hennepin County lawyer could explain this rule in more detail if applicable to a defendant’s prescription drug arrest.
Consult a Hennepin County Prescription Drug Attorney to Fight Your Charges
The illegal possession or abuse of prescription drugs is a serious crime with harsh consequences. However, it could be possible to reduce your charges, or possibly dismiss them, if you have a seasoned attorney at your side.
A Hennepin County prescription drug lawyer could help you determine an appropriate defense and work with you to secure the best possible outcome. Call today to schedule a consultation.