People are prescribed medications for illnesses and medical conditions every day. When following a doctor’s instructions, prescription drugs should not pose a significant danger. However, just like illicit controlled substances, prescription medications have the potential for abuse. People frequently share or distribute prescription drugs without a proper prescription. Sometimes, this occurs as part illegal selling of prescription drugs. Other times, the exchange is between friends, one of whom needs medicine but cannot afford it.
Whether you are caught dealing prescription drugs to addicts or simply giving a friend some of your leftover pain pills for recreational use, sharing prescription drugs in Utah is a crime. Prescription medicines often find themselves on Utah lists of controlled substances alongside dangerous, illicit substances. Anyone caught sharing or distributing a controlled substance, illicit or prescription, might be criminally charged. Your charges will depend on several factors, including how the drug was classified and how much of the drug you shared.
If you have been criminally charged for sharing prescription drugs, you might be up against some serious penalties. Fines and incarceration are both possible outcomes of your case. Contact our Park City drug crimes lawyers for assistance. Schedule a free consultation with the team at Overson & Bugden. Call (801) 758-2287 to get started.
Why Sharing Prescription Drugs is a Crime in Utah
Sharing prescription drugs is a criminal offense in Utah because any drugs, even prescription medications, have the potential for abuse. Some prescription medicines are relatively mild and appropriate for everyday uses like pain management. However, other prescriptions are incredibly strong and may have serious side effects if misused. There has been an especially hard crackdown on prescription drug sharing in Utah and throughout the country due to increasingly widespread prescription opioid abuse.
The laws surrounding sharing or distributing prescription drugs can be found under the Utah Controlled Substances Act § 58-37-8. Criminal offenses include knowingly sharing any controlled substances without the proper authority or license to do so. This means unless you are a licensed physician or pharmacist, sharing your prescription medications is a crime.
Not all prescription drugs are equal. Like mild to moderate pain killers, some medications are less dangerous and have a relatively low risk for abuse. However, other medications, like prescription opioids or narcotics, can be extremely dangerous and addictive if misused. More dangerous drugs usually lead to more serious charges.
According to the Utah Controlled Substances Act § 58-37-8(1)(b), a person convicted of sharing prescription drugs classified as Schedule I or II, the more dangerous classifications, will be guilty of a second-degree felony. Charges for Schedule III or IV controlled substances may result in convictions for a third-degree felony. Charges for sharing Schedule V controlled substances, the least dangerous, may be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
If you are facing charges for sharing prescription medications, contact our offices for help. Our Ogden drug defense attorneys will help you fight your charges.
Prescription Drugs as Controlled Substances in Utah
Prescription drug crimes are not listed in separate statutes from other drug offenses. Instead, drug crimes encompass any drug that is a controlled substance. By law, a controlled substance is any drug or medication listed under Utah’s drug schedules or other statutes that classify the substance as controlled. These lists include many different prescription medications in addition to illicit drugs.
As with any other drugs, prescription medications are classified based on their dangerousness and potential for addiction and abuse. The most severe classification, Schedule I, encompasses drugs that have a high potential for abuse and little to no legitimate medical use. However, some prescription drugs manufactured for legitimate medical purposes are classified as Schedule I controlled substances because of their serious risk for addiction and high risks to health if misused.
Many defendants are confused when they are criminally charged for sharing their prescription drugs because they did not realize that prescription medications are classified as controlled substances. Not only that, but they believe their actions were legal because they did not accept money in exchange for the medication. In many cases, a defendant was sharing medications with a friend or relative who needed them but could not afford to visit a doctor and get a prescription. If this sounds like you, call our Utah prescription drug crimes attorneys for help.
Penalties for Sharing or Distributing Prescription Drugs in Utah
As mentioned above, convictions for sharing prescription drugs may be punished as a felony for more serious drugs or as misdemeanors for some less serious medications. Prescription drug crimes are punished in the same way as crimes related to illicit controlled substances. Penalties include prison time and steep fines.
If you are convicted of sharing a Schedule I prescription drug, you can be convicted of a second-degree felony. Such a felony carries a prison term of at least 1 year and up to 15 years. You could also be fined up to $10,000. A subsequent offense for sharing Schedule I or II controlled substances can be charged as a first-degree felony, which carries a prison term of at least 5 years but no more than life, and fines up to $10,000.
If you are convicted of sharing Schedule III or IV prescription drugs, you may face third-degree felony charges. Such charges can be punished by a prison term of up to 5 years and a fine of no more than $5,000. Sharing Schedule V prescription drugs may result in charges for a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 346 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.
If you have been criminally charged for sharing prescription medications, contact our Utah prescription drug crimes attorneys for help.
Call Our Utah Prescription Drug Crimes Lawyers
Our Salt Lake City drug defense attorneys can help you fight your charges and work to clear your name. Call (801) 758-2287 to arrange a free legal consultation with the team at Overson & Bugden.