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Stephen Wolfe Aug. 6, 2021

As an opioid epidemic continues to ravage the United States, a related crisis involving prescription medications unfolds. Considered a serious crime in most states, it is important to make sure you are not caught on the wrong side of the law. Read on to see some penalties you may face if caught dealing with prescription drugs.

Getting Caught While Intoxicated on Prescription Medications

This is often classified as the illegal use of prescription medications and attracts penalties similar to those for the criminal use of a controlled non-prescription substance. These offenses generally do not attract any jail time except in the case of convicted offenders who already have a criminal record. For people on drug treatment, monitoring, or probation, the penalties tend to be more severe and often result in criminal prosecution.

Getting Caught With A Prescription That Is Not Yours

When found possessing a prescription that either does not belong to you, or was obtained by illegal means or through fraudulent ways, you can be charged according to the classification of the drug, and your specific state's laws on the same. The penalties you may face include arrest, court fines, probation, prosecution, getting a lifelong criminal history, and even incarceration.

Improper Storage of Prescription Outside the Bottle

Many states use the same penalty structure and guidelines to prosecute people charged with improper storage of prescription medications. The charges for this may be anything usually served for misdemeanors like jail time and financial penalties. These guidelines vary by state and so it is advisable to seek clarification either from your physician or from a knowledgeable attorney.

Possession of Prescription Medications Without a Prescription

This potentially carries heavier penalties and has more issues for which you could be charged. Some of these charges include possession, which is a misdemeanor, and intent to distribute, which is a felony. You may also be charged if you have a valid prescription, but have in your possession a form, concentration, or quantity of the medication that does not align with your current prescription.

In 2016, 84.7% out of the 1,186,810 arrests made concerning drug law violations in the U.S. were for the possession of a controlled substance. This is not too hard to fathom when you consider that different states have different laws, so what is legal in one state may very well be illegal in the next. Always seek clarification when unsure to avoid mistakenly committing a crime.