Possession of a Controlled Substance Not Prescribed to You

When it comes to drug possession charges, people usually associate them with the possession of illicit substances such as marijuana or cocaine. However, it is essential to note that individuals can also face charges for possessing prescription medication that has not been prescribed to them. This is considered a crime in North Carolina and can have serious legal consequences.

In recent years, North Carolina prosecutors have been actively cracking down on drug-related offenses, including low-level marijuana possession charges and cases involving individuals who possess medication prescribed to others. The focus on prosecuting these crimes is part of a broader effort to combat drug abuse and protect public safety.

Possessing prescription medication without a valid prescription is a severe offense due to the potential risks and dangers associated with unauthorized use. It is crucial to understand that even if the medication was legitimately prescribed by a healthcare professional, possessing it without a prescription can still lead to criminal charges.

Law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in North Carolina are committed to enforcing drug laws and holding individuals accountable for their actions. If you are found in possession of prescription medication that does not belong to you, it is essential to be aware of the potential legal consequences.

Being charged with possession of prescription medication without a valid prescription can result in criminal penalties, which may include fines, probation, mandatory drug treatment programs, and even imprisonment, depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the type of medication involved.

North Carolina Laws Related to Prescription Medication

In recent years, we have seen a surge in prescription drug addiction. Individuals with addictions to prescription drugs may be tempted to take extreme measures to obtain these prescriptions. Prosecutors can charge individuals for possession of another person's prescription medication. When the rules for prescribing medication are not followed, patients, healthcare facilities, physicians, healthcare companies, pharmacists, and others can face criminal charges for prescription drug fraud.

A prescription is a written order for a controlled substance or for the preparation, combination, or mixture of the substance issued by a physician licensed in North Carolina to administer or prescribe medication. It is illegal for a pharmacist or physician to give a person a prescription drug without a valid prescription or for a patient to have drugs in their possession if they do not have a prescription for what they are using.

There are two main criminal charges related to prescription drugs — illegal possession and possession of prescription drugs intending to sell, manufacture, or distribute them. A person can be charged with possessing prescription drugs intending to sell, manufacture, and distribute them, even when a prosecutor cannot prove that they intended to sell the drugs. Generally, prosecutors will bring these charges when the defendant has been found with a significant quantity of prescription medication. An individual can be arrested for prescription drug fraud for engaging in the following activities:

  • Obtaining prescription drugs through their employment with the attempt to use the drugs personally or distribute them. 
  • Obtaining prescription drugs through fraud, forgery, or dishonesty
  • Obtaining a prescription drug through a valid prescription when it was obtained by withholding information or lying.
  • Manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance through the use of a false or stolen registration number
  • Engaging in doctor shopping, where a person seeks treatment from multiple doctors for the same symptoms to obtain many prescriptions for a specific type of controlled substance.
The Penalties for Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs

Prescription medications are considered controlled substances under North Carolina law. As such, they are classified as Schedule I-VI drugs. Schedule I drugs are typically considered the most dangerous and carry the harshest penalties. Suppose a person is convicted of illegally possessing prescription drugs. 

In that case, they will be sentenced according to North Carolina's complicated sentencing system that involves multiple factors, such as the person's prior criminal history. There will be a range of sentences that the judge may impose for each type of drug classification. The higher the quantity of prescription medication, the more severe the penalties. The following includes a range of sentences that a defendant can face for each type of drug classification:

  • Schedule I: Possession of a Schedule 1 drug is a Class 1 felony that carries three to 12 months in prison.
  • Schedule II, III, and IV: Having a prescription medication that falls into this category is usually considered a class one misdemeanor. In limited situations, possessing prescription medication in this category could be considered a class one felony. A person can be sentenced to between one and 120 days of punishment if convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Schedule V Drugs: Charges in this category are usually considered a class to a misdemeanor with a possible punishment of up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Schedule VI Drugs: A charge for possessing a Schedule VI controlled substance is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor. The maximum sentence could be 30 days in jail with a $200 fine.
Discuss Your Case With a Charlotte Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime related to prescription medication, you could face jail time, heavy fines, or even a permanent criminal record. Contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a free case evaluation.