Facing Possession Charges for Prescription Drugs?

When you think of drug crimes, you likely think of “street” drugs such as heroin, methamphetamines, or cocaine. You may not realize the consequences that may come with drug crimes involving prescription drugs. Many people believe that prescription drug offenses are not as serious since doctors can lawfully dispense these drugs to the public. However, any possession or distribution of these medications without a valid prescription is illegal just like any other controlled substance, and defendants can face serious penalties.

Barnes Law handles all types of drug-related crimes in the Knoxville area, including cases involving prescription drugs. We thoroughly investigate what happened leading up to and after your arrest, and we formulate aggressive defense strategies for every client. Our criminal defense lawyer understands that each criminal case has its own unique circumstances and legal issues and will navigate the complex criminal process for you. Call today at 865-805-5703 or contact us online to discuss how Barnes Law can help you today.

Prescription Drugs are Controlled Substances

When a prescription drug has a tendency for abuse or the likelihood of causing dependence, it is classified as a controlled substance. There are seven different schedules of controlled substances in Tennessee, with the most dangerous drugs categorized as Schedule I and the least dangerous as Schedule VII. Prescription drugs are scattered among the schedules, however, it is illegal to possess any scheduled controlled substance without a valid prescription or authority, no matter what schedule it is in.

Some prescription drugs that are commonly involved in crimes include:

  • Adderall
  • Amphetamine
  • Ritalin
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • OxyContin
  • Vicodin
  • Tranquilizers
  • Xanax
  • Ambien

Many high school and college students try to obtain drugs like Adderall to stay up longer and study, thinking that it is harmless. They do not realize that possession or distribution of Adderall can result in an arrest and criminal charges, no matter why they wanted to have the drug. It is important to remember that prescription drugs are just that – drugs. If you do not have a valid prescription in your name for a particular substance, you can face criminal charges for possessing that substance.

Common Prescription Drug Crimes in Tennessee

There are several different offenses related to prescription drugs under Tennessee law:

Possession – You can face charges for drug possession if authorities discover even one pill in your possession or constructive possession.

Delivery – Delivery charges can apply anytime you transfer possession of a prescription drug to another person. This can involve selling pills or even giving a single pill to a family member. If authorities believe that you possessed the prescription drugs intending to sell them but you haven’t yet, you can be charged with the offense of possession with the intent to deliver.

Prescription fraud – You can face criminal charges if you obtain a prescription by fraudulent means. This can include forging or altering prescriptions, stealing doctor’s prescription pads, stealing someone else’s prescription, and similar acts.

Most charges related to controlled substances are felonies in Tennessee. The severity of your charges and the possible penalties will depend on the type of prescription drug you are accused of having, the quantity, whether you have prior drug charges, and whether you are charged with simple possession, possession with intent to deliver, or delivery. However, all felony charges can mean prison time, costly fines, and the lasting consequences of a permanent criminal record. A felony conviction can affect your job and many other aspects of your life, so it is extremely important to have the strongest possible defense to avoids a conviction whenever possible.

Defending Against Serious Drug Charges 

If you’ve been accused of a drug crime, it’s easy to feel like the odds are stacked against you. This is particularly true in cases where the police found prescription drugs on your person, in your vehicle, or in your home. It’s crucial to understand, however, that there are often legal defenses available that may significantly improve the outcome of your case.

Most drug charges arise after a police search results in the discovery of controlled substances. For this reason, in many drug cases, the most obvious defense is to attack the legality of the search. Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, the police cannot conduct a search or seizure without a warrant or probable cause, and if they conduct a search without either, any evidence they find can often be suppressed, which means that the prosecution cannot use it in court. Without access to the evidence seized, the state will usually be forced to drop their case entirely. Importantly, the 4th Amendment also applies to government surveillance, so even if your arrest was not the result of a search, you should have an attorney review your case.

Some of the other defenses that are often available in prescription drug cases include the following:

  • You were not aware that you were in possession of prescription drugs
  • You were authorized by law to possess the drugs (i.e., you are a pharmacist)
  • Introducing evidence that the substance which you possessed is not the substance prohibited by law
  • You had a valid prescription for the drugs you possessed

In some cases, a defense attorney’s role is less about raising legal defenses and more about mitigating the consequences that his or her client is facing.  An experienced criminal defense lawyer can attempt to negotiate a plea bargain that avoids the most serious consequences with prescription drug charges. In some cases, an attorney may even be able to get you into a diversionary program which could help you avoid a conviction entirely.

Don’t Wait to Consult with a Knoxville Drug Crime Defense Attorney

Criminal charges related to the possession or sale of prescription drugs are a serious matter and can have significant legal and professional consequences. At Barnes Law, we’re committed to helping people accused of crimes protect their rights.