Oakland Prescription Drug Crimes Defense Lawyer
Prescription drugs have many uses, such as reducing anxiety and treating pain. Although these drugs serve a medical purpose, some are considered Schedule II-controlled substances. Without a doctor’s prescription, some medication becomes illegal drugs that could result in jail time and fines.
In some cases, you might be well within your right to possess prescription drugs. An experienced Bay Area prescription drug lawyer can create doubt in your case and possibly argue that you legally possess prescription drugs.
Common Drugs Doctors Prescribe
According to the Food and Drug Administration, over 19,000 prescription drug products are approved for marketing. However, the following are the most commonly seen in prescription drug cases.
- Opioids – Often used for pain relief, opioids include OxyContin and Vicodin. These drugs are Schedule II-controlled substances because they have a high potential for abuse. According to the World Health Organization, 60 million people used opioids in 2021.
- Central Nervous System Depressants – CNS depressants include anti-anxiety medications, such as Valium and Xanax. These drugs are Schedule IV-controlled substances due to their low potential for abuse.
- Stimulants – Stimulant drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are Schedule II-controlled substances. These drugs are commonly used by children and adults diagnosed with ADHD to help them manage their symptoms.
California Prescription Drug Charges & Penalties
Prescription drugs are different from typical drug charges because there is an exception for them in California Health and Safety Code § 11350. The law states that drugs with a written prescription do not apply to California’s controlled substance charges.
However, if a physician, dentist, or podiatrist licensed in the state didn’t write a prescription for the drug you possess, you could face the following charges.
- Possession – California Health and Safety Code § 11350 makes it illegal to possess a controlled substance. This offense results in up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.
- Possession for Sale – California Health and Safety Code § 11351 states that it is illegal for anyone to possess a controlled substance for sale or purchase to sell. This is a felony offense resulting in a prison sentence of two, three, or four years.
- Sale or Distribution – California Health and Safety Code § 11352 states that anyone who transports, imports, sells, furnishes, administers, gives away controlled substances or offers to faces felony charges, resulting in three, four, or five years in prison.
- Distributing Without a License – Health and Safety Code § 11352.1 makes it illegal to dispense and furnish prescription drugs without a license. This is a misdemeanor offense, resulting in up to one year in jail and as much as $5,000.
- Drug Crimes Involving Minors – California Health and Safety Code § 11353 states that anyone over 18 who solicits, induces, encourages, or intimidates any minor to use or distribute a controlled substance faces a prison sentence of three, six, or nine years. Adults face the same prison sentence for selling controlled substances directly to minors.
It’s also important to note that marijuana is legal for recreational and medical use in California. However, possessing more than 28.5 grams of marijuana results in six months jail time and a fine of up to $500. If you possess over eight grams of concentrated cannabis, you could face a prison sentence of one year and fines of $500.
Prescription Drug Fraud
California Health and Safety Code § 11173 states that no person should obtain controlled substances or procure the administration of or prescription for controlled substances by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation or by the concealment of a material fact. This law also prohibits the following:
- Making false statements in any prescription
- Falsely assuming the title of a manufacturer, wholesaler, or pharmacist.
- Affixing any false or forged label to a package containing controlled substances.
Drug fraud is a wobbler offense. You could face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to a year in prison. Felony charges may result in 16 months, two, or three years in prison.
Common Defenses for Oakland, CA Prescription Drug Crimes
The prosecutors have the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced prescription drug lawyer can create doubt in your case by arguing the following:
- You Are Lawfully Using Prescription Drugs – Millions depend on prescription drugs to help them manage a variety of symptoms. So, there is a possibility that you lawfully possess and use prescription drugs. In this case, your charges should be dismissed.
- The Evidence Obtained is Not a Drug – Many pills may be mistaken for prescription drugs when, in fact, they aren’t. Lab testing may reveal that the drugs are legal, over-the-counter substances.
- You Are Not in Lawful Possession of the Substance – There are three types of possession: actual, constructive, and joint. Actual possession means the drugs are on your person, constructive possession means they are in an easily accessible place (such as the backseat of a car), and joint means that two or more people have actual or constructive possession of a substance. If none of these forms of possession can be proven in your case, your charges will be dismissed.
- Unlawful Search & Seizure – It’s essential to examine the legality of your arrest in the first place. If police do not have probable cause to search you or your vehicle, any evidence they obtain cannot be used in court.
- Errors in the Chain of Custody – Any issue with the collection, transfer, or testing of evidence obtained during your arrest must result in the evidence being dismissed before trial.
Drug Treatment Options
Given the high potential for abuse, some cases of prescription drug use might result from a constant cycle of addiction. In these cases, your attorney could argue that jail might do more harm than good and you’d benefit more from a drug treatment program. Programs in California like Proposition 36 allow non-violent drug offenders to get treatment for substance abuse instead of a jail sentence.