It’s generally common knowledge that possessing certain drugs without a valid prescription is illegal. It’s also illegal to possess more of a drug than you need, even if you have a valid prescription for them.
There are heavy consequences for people who are found to be illegally possessing prescription drugs. The exact charges and consequences will vary on a case-by-case basis.
What are the possible charges?
There are a few different charges that someone found to be possessing or using prescription drugs illegally can be charged with. They’re all related to either the use, acquisition, possession, or distribution of the medication.
Someone who is found to be taking too many prescription drugs might just be charged with a misdemeanor. A felony prosecution might follow after repeat offenses though.
Individuals who are found to be possessing the drug in large quantities will also be charged with a felony though. They’ll also be charged with a felony if they’re found to have used fraud to obtain the drugs, or if they were caught selling the drugs.
What influences the charges?
The amount of the prescription drug as well as the type of the drug is the main factor in how a person is charged. Drugs have a federal classification that determines how strictly a drug is regulated.
For example, painkillers and Adderall medication are considered Schedule II drugs because of how easy it is for people to get addicted to them under the wrong circumstances. Drugs like steroids or ketamine are less regulated as they are Schedule III drugs.
If a person is found to be in illegal possession of a Schedule II drug, especially in large quantities, the charge is going to be more severe than a Schedule III drug. The punishment for distribution is also harsher.
Do you face federal charges?
Most drug charges are processed at a state level, and many states will have their own laws about how drugs are regulated. Other offenses – such as trafficking drugs across state lines – would be charged at the federal level.
Felony convictions will have minimum penalties of up to $100,000 as well as a prison sentence of 1 to 20 years. Even if you have a legal script, if your medication is outside of its original pill bottle with your name on it, you could be charged.