Drug crimes and other offenses related to substance abuse and addiction are rampant throughout Utah and the rest of the United States. Today, law enforcement tends to crack down hard on drug violations to prevent further exacerbation of a growing national problem. Strict laws make sharing or distributing all kinds of drugs a crime, including prescription drugs. Exactly how the unlawful possession of prescription drugs is charged will depend on several different factors.
Possession of someone else’s prescription drugs could be charged as a felony offense in Utah. You might think sharing pain medication with a friend for recreation or because they cannot afford to see a doctor would be okay. However, the government considers this act of sharing to be illegal drug distribution. It is important to keep in mind that while sharing prescription medication is technically illegal and possibly a felony, small cases of friends or family members sharing legitimate medications are not always prosecuted. However, when a larger group of people begins sharing prescriptions, the authorities may intervene and make arrests.
If you are facing criminal charges because you were in possession of someone else’s prescription drugs, you need the help of a skilled attorney. Our Salt Lake City drug crimes defense lawyers will help you fight your charges. Schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with the team at Overson Law, PLLC. Call our offices at (801) 758-2287 as soon as possible.
Criminal Charges for Possessing Someone Else’s Prescription Drugs in Utah
According to the Utah Code § 58-37-8, simply possessing certain drugs or controlled substances may be charged as a criminal offense. This includes the unlawful possession of prescription medications. Not only can possessing someone else’s prescription medications lead to criminal charges, but those charges could be serious felonies, depending on the kind of drugs involved.
How prescription drug possession crimes are charged largely depends on how the drugs are classified. Drugs, including prescription drugs, are classified into five different Schedules. Schedule I consists of the most serious drugs with the highest potential for abuse and the lowest potential for medical use. On the other end of the spectrum are Schedule V drugs, which, while serious, have the lowest potential for addiction or abuse and may have some legitimate medical usage. Schedules II, III, and IV contain controlled substances that fall somewhere in the middle of this range.
If you are found to be in unlawful possession of prescription drugs classified as Schedule I or II, you could be charged with a second-degree felony. A subsequent violation may be upgraded to a first-degree felony. Possession of prescription drugs classified as Schedule III or IV may be met with third-degree felony charges. Those charges could be similarly upgraded to second-degree felonies for subsequent violations. Schedule V prescription drug possession is often charged as a Class A misdemeanor as this is the least serious classification. However, subsequent violations with Schedule V drugs could be charged as third-degree felonies.
If you are facing legal consequences for having someone else’s prescription drugs, call our offices now. Our Ogden drug crimes defense lawyers are prepared to fight your charges and protect your rights.
Penalties in Utah for Felony Possession of Someone Else’s Prescription Drugs
As stated above, the unlawful possession of prescription drugs may be charged as a felony offense. Felonies are some of the most serious charges a defendant can face and often come with lengthy prison terms and heavy fines. Your charges will depend on what Schedule the prescription drugs in question were classified under. Penalties for these charges can be found under the Utah Code § 76-3-203 and § 76-3-301.
If you were in unlawful possession of prescription medications classified as Schedule I or II, you might be charged with a first- or second-degree felony. A first-degree felony may be punished with a prison term of at least 5 years up to a life sentence. A second-degree felony may be penalized with at least 1 year in prison and up to 15 years. Fines for first- and second-degree felonies could be as high as $10,000.
The unlawful possession of Schedule III and IV prescription drugs could be charged as either second- or third-degree felonies. Third-degree felonies may be punished with no more than 5 years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. The penalties for second-degree felonies are mentioned above.
For cases involving Schedule V prescription drugs, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony for subsequent offenses. A Class A misdemeanor may be punished with up to 364 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Call our Park City drug crimes defense lawyers for assistance dealing with your criminal charges.
Can I Be Criminally Charged Just for Sharing Prescription Drugs in Utah?
While it is illegal to possess someone else’s prescription drugs, there are numerous circumstances in which criminal prosecution may seem a bit extreme or downright ludicrous. For example, you might be thinking there’s no way you could be charged with a felony because your friend let you have their leftover painkillers to treat your bad back.
To an extent, you are probably right. Law enforcement and prosecutors are more interested in offenders abusing prescription drugs or making them available to others for abuse. A single instance of sharing medications between friends is not likely to raise an eyebrow.
It is also important to understand that sharing medication, which might start as a small act of kindness, can snowball into a serious situation. For example, suppose you give your friend some of your leftover prescription pain medicine because they cannot afford to see a doctor. Eventually, other friends and acquaintances learn about your generosity and begin asking you if they can have some medication too. Pretty soon, you are illegally distributing drugs to a larger group of people. It does not matter if these people truly need help or are struggling with addiction.
If you are facing charges for the illegal possession of prescription drugs, call our West Valley City drug crimes attorneys for help.
Reach Out to Our Utah Drug Crimes Defense Attorneys
Charges for the unlawful possession of someone else’s prescription drugs can be extremely serious. It is crucial that you contact our Utah drug crimes defense lawyers for help with your case. Schedule a free legal consultation with our team at Overson Law, PLLC. Call our offices at (801) 758-2287 to get started.