Are Prescription and Over-the-Counter Drugs Controlled Substances in Utah?

Salt Lake City criminal lawyer

Drugs and medications play a vital role in our daily lives. Although medications are prevalent, they can be very dangerous. As such, they are subject to rigid legal restrictions.

Controlled substances (i.e., drugs) are not always illegal. Prescription medicine and over-the-counter drugs are perfectly legal under the right circumstances. However, if these medications are obtained or used in an unlawful way, you might face criminal charges. Many prescriptions and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs fall under Utah’s drug Schedules, and many are classified as very serious substances. The penalties for illegal possession of prescription and OTC drugs may vary based on their Schedule.

You might face criminal charges for the possession of prescription or OTC drugs, depending on your circumstances. Our Salt Lake City drug crimes defense attorneys can help you fight these charges. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 and ask about a free case evaluation.

Is a Controlled Substance Always Illegal in Utah?

The definition of a controlled substance can be found under Utah Code § 58-37-2(1)(f). The law states that any substances listed under drug Schedules I, II, III, IV, or V are legally considered controlled substances. This definition also includes any drugs listed under the federal Controlled Substance Act. Additionally, anything that is a “controlled substance analog” is also considered a controlled substance.

For the average person picking up medication from their local pharmacy, identifying how serious a particular controlled substance is might be difficult. Most people are unfamiliar with drug schedules. To make things more difficult, drug Schedules do not differentiate between prescriptions, OTC drugs, or illicit substances. All are contained within the same Schedules. You can contact our Utah drug crimes defense attorneys about the substances involved in your case.

With that being said, some controlled substances are not illegal 100% of the time. Prescriptions and OTC medication can usually be obtained legally with a prescription from a doctor or by simply purchasing it from a pharmacy. However, some drugs may become illegal if someone obtains them illegally or uses them for an unlawful purpose, like reselling them.

Can Over the Counter and Prescription Drugs Be Controlled Substances in Utah?

OTC drugs and prescription medications can certainly be considered controlled substances in Utah. In fact, some of the most important prescription medications available are also extremely dangerous if misused and may are classified as controlled substances. For example, OxyContin is a powerful painkiller that many people rely upon to function after surgery. It is also a Schedule II controlled substance under Utah Code § 58-37-4(2)(b)(i)(A).

The same goes for certain OTC drugs. OTC drugs are medications that can be purchased from a pharmacy without a prescription. Some of these medications may be classified as controlled substances. For example, codeine, a widely used analgesic, is an OTC drug that is also classified as a Schedule V controlled substance. Yet codeine is sometimes found in over-the-counter cough medicines. Our Park City drug crimes defense lawyers can help identify whether your medicines count as controlled substances and help with any associated charges for drug possession.

Even though prescription and OTC drugs are legally available, they can land you in legal trouble under the wrong circumstances. Obtaining a prescription drug without a valid prescription from a licensed physician may be considered illegal possession. Certain OTC drugs may be purchased freely, but you might face criminal penalties if you exceed a certain quantity or use it to manufacture illicit drugs.

When Is a Prescription or Over the Counter Drug Considered Illegal in Utah?

An OTC or prescription drug becomes illegal when obtained unlawfully or used for unlawful purposes. While many illicit controlled substances like heroin, crack cocaine, and meth can never be obtained legally or used for a lawful purpose, prescription and OTC medications are different. They have numerous lawful uses, and possessing them is not inherently illegal in many cases.

According to Utah Code § 58-37-8(2)(a), a person may be charged with illegal possession for having any controlled substance. However, the charges are negated if the defendant obtained the controlled substance through a valid prescription. If you possess a prescription drug without a valid prescription from a doctor, you can be criminally charged. Not only that, but using a faked or forged prescription to obtain controlled substances is also a criminal offense in Utah.

OTC drugs may become illegal when a person exceeds a certain amount. For example, it is illegal to have more than 200 milligrams of codeine for every 100 grams of medicine. If you are found with more, you can be charged. Our West Jordan drug crimes defense lawyers can help you fight these charges. Some OTC drugs are also used as precursor material to make illegal drugs. Manufacturing drugs is also illegal.

Penalties for Illegal Possession of Prescription and Over the Counter Drugs in Utah

The penalties for illegal possession of prescription or OTC drugs may vary based on what kind of drugs are involved and how they are Scheduled. According to Utah Code § 58-37-8(2)(b)(ii), possession of a prescription drug classified as a Schedule I or II controlled substance without a valid prescription may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Possession of prescription controlled substances of all other Schedules can be charged as Class B misdemeanors.

A defendant convicted of a Class A misdemeanor for possession of illegal prescriptions or OTC drugs can be sentenced to a jail term of no more than 364 days. For Class B misdemeanors, the potential penalty is up to 6 months in jail. Remember, these jail terms apply to each charge. If you are facing multiple counts of possession, you may be facing many years in jail.

Our West Valley drug crime defense attorneys can help you fight these charges. In many cases, people who are in possession of illegal prescriptions or OTC drugs do not even realize it. We can help you argue that you had a valid prescription and lawfully obtained the medications.

Call Our Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys for Help

If you are facing criminal charges related to the illegal possession of prescription drugs or OTC medications, call our Utah drug crimes defense attorneys immediately. We can help you prove your medication was obtained legally. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 and ask about a free case evaluation.