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In recent years, prescription drug abuse has risen to historic levels. The federal government estimates that over 1,700 young adults died from prescription overdoses in 2014, which is a fourfold increase from 1999. If you are facing charges for a prescription drug offense, you could discuss your case and your legal options with a Birmingham prescription drug lawyer.

Types of Prescription Drugs

There are a variety of prescription drugs on the market, each with their own set of uses. These include opioids for pain, depressants for anxiety or insomnia, stimulants for ADHD or narcolepsy, and others. Popular prescription drugs that have “street value” and are commonly involved in criminal cases include Roxicodone, Xanax, Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Valium, steroids, morphine, and Ritalin.

Prescription Drug Offenses

An individual can be charged with a prescription drug offense in several different ways. Courts consider a variety of factors when determining a defendant’s sentence. Factors range from the strength of the drug to the quantity of pills in possession to the harm it causes to society.

Possession refers to the control of a drug that one is not authorized to have, whether it is a stronger version of a legal drug or a drug that requires a doctor’s approval.

“Doctor shopping” refers to soliciting multiple healthcare providers to procure prescription medications or illicit narcotics, or attempting to find a medical provider that gives a diagnosis that will allow the illicit obtaining of prescription drugs.

“Intent to sell” refers to possessing enough of a drug to sell it to others, and actually intended to sell (commonly proven by past sales). The potential jail time and monetary penalty increase substantially as the quantity someone intended to sell increases.

Trafficking refers to widespread sale and distribution. It is the most serious of all drug offenses, and sometimes even includes conspiracy charges or homicide charges for victim overdoses making it important that a Birmingham prescription drug attorney is consulted.

Finally, there are several prescription-specific offenses that a Birmingham resident may be charged with, many of which have to do with forged, altered, or stolen prescriptions.

Potential Defenses to Prescription Drug Crimes

The prosecutor has the burden of proof on every element of the crime charged. Failure to satisfy this burden on any element of the crime could result in an acquittal.

For example, if the defendant is in possession of a legal prescription for medication intended for personal use that was issued by an authorized doctor, it can be difficult for a charge of unlawful possession of that prescription drug to stick.

Furthermore, the possibility of unwitting possession can be raised in limited circumstances to argue that while the defendant was in possession of a prescription drug, the defendant did not know that the possession was illegal. For instance, a friend could leave a vial of prescription drugs in the defendant’s vehicle, which the defendant thought they had a valid prescription when they were in fact illegally obtained. In this instance, the defendant may be able to raise an unwitting possession defense.

Finally, in some cases, a defendant may be able to prove they did not have constructive control over the prescription medication in question. In a home rented by several people, culpability for possession often cannot be imputed to an individual who did not have actual possession of the illegal narcotic. This can be raised under circumstances where another person had possession of the illegal prescription medication in a shared residence or vehicle.

Contact a Birmingham Prescription Drug Attorney Today

Criminal charges present some of the most difficult times in any person’s life. If you are facing criminal charges, contact a Birmingham prescription drug lawyer to learn about your options.

Case outcomes are fact-specific and depend on many factors. However, some cases may resolve before trial as a result of the skillful negotiation by your attorney. If you have questions about your case and the possible consequences, contact a prescription drug attorney in Birmingham now for more information.