Drug enforcement agencies have invested a vast amount of financial resources toward the prosecution of narcotics offenses involving street drugs over the last several decades. However, the growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction has shifted the investment of law enforcement efforts to the possession, sale, and distribution of prescription drugs in recent years. Our Minnesota drug crimes attorneys often hear from people embroiled in a common factual scenario. The individual becomes dependent on pain pills like hydrocodone, fentanyl, oxycodone, Percocet®, OxyContin®, or codeine while taking the medications for legitimate medical reasons. Otherwise law abiding individuals can face serious criminal penalties for unlawful possession of these and other controlled substances even if the person at one time was taking the medication according to his or her doctor’s orders.
How You Can Face a Possession Charge for a Prescription Drug
Even if you can produce a prescription for a medication, you can still face drug possession charges in a number of common scenarios:
- The prescription is forged and presented to the pharmacy to be filled.
- A prescription issued in the name of another patient is used by someone else.
- The patient misrepresents his or her identity to obtain the drug via a prescription.
- A prescription pad is stolen and used to obtain a controlled substance.
The relatively innocent nature of conduct that can result in criminal liability in this context is demonstrated by the fact that many people have inadvertently violated drug laws involving prescription drugs. If you have lent a prescription pain pill that is a controlled substance to a friend or relative to ease their intense back pain or a migraine headache, you and the person to whom you give the medication might face exposure to criminal drug charges. Although you have a valid prescription for the medication and you did not charge for the pills, these facts do not provide a viable defense.
A Legitimate Prescription Drug Can Cause Dependency and Lead to Crime
Prescription pain medications and anti-anxiety drugs often are used to alleviate pain after surgical procedures or to treat emotional conditions. The highly addictive nature of many of these medications can relegate patients to a struggle with dependency. This chemical dependency can leave patients in a difficult position when their refills are exhausted. If the addicted patient steals prescription pads, engages in prescription shopping, or forges a “scrip,” the individual can be charged with a serious drug crime. Under Minnesota law, possession of a controlled substance through use of a fraudulent prescription or the sale of such medications can result in a felony conviction that carries a sentence up to thirty years and substantial fines depending on the specific facts.
Protect Yourself With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
When our criminal defense law firm represents clients charged with the unlawful possession or sale of prescription drugs, we carefully review law enforcement investigative procedures. Our law firm will look for grounds to file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence if the controlled substances or other evidence was obtained through an unlawful search. The officer might have lacked probable cause to stop you and search your person or have improperly executed a search warrant. Efforts to identify technical and procedural flaws in the law enforcement investigation are accompanied by consideration of other defenses. Innocent people might be arrested because their prescription pill container expired or their pills might have been put in a travel container rather than the approved prescription bottle. Along with factual and procedural defenses, we also explore alternate sentencing options, such as drug courts and diversion programs.
If you have been arrested for a drug offense involving a prescription medication in the greater Minneapolis area, we invite you to speak to a Minnesota Drug Crimes Lawyer at Gerald Miller, P.A. as soon as possible. Contact us today at (612) 440-3212 to schedule your free and confidential case evaluation.